Oct. 30, 2015
Three Florida farmers will receive a prestigious statewide award for their outstanding conservation of natural resources at the 2015 Florida Farm Bureau Annual Meeting. Award recipients include Wes Carlton of Fort Pierce, Dennis Carlton of Tampa and Randall Dasher of McAlpin.
Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam will present the Commissioner’s Agricultural-Environmental Leadership Award at an Oct. 30 breakfast.
This award spotlights environmentally innovative farming practices of the state’s growers and ranchers. Recipients of the award all share a commitment to protect and preserve Florida’s resources while continuing to provide agricultural products for society.
Wes Carlton of Bull Hammock Ranch is a fourth-generation cattle producer. His family owns and operates more than 30,000 acres of Florida ranchlands. He works with various agricultural and conservation programs to make Bull Hammock a showcase for environmental stewardship.
Carlton employs several Best Management Practices (BMPs) such as rotating the grazing of his herd. He supplies fresh water for his herd in an alternative watering system and has a water farming area to store and treat more than 78 million gallons of water.
Nutrient load reductions associated with this water storage is estimated at more than 2,000 pounds of total phosphorus per year and more than 2,400 pounds of total nitrogen per year.
Dennis Carlton, Florida’s 2014 Farmer of the Year, operates Carlton and Carlton Ranch. Through a public-private partnership, he was able to restore 120 acres of wetland marshes as well as reclaim 1,200 acres of former phosphate land that is now pasture. This restoration project is one of the largest to be completed by private ownership in the Tampa Bay area.
Carlton continues to implement BMPs on his properties.
Carlton was recently granted approval for a project that is estimated to reduce groundwater use by 69,900 gallons per day and frost/freeze groundwater use by more than 1.3 million gallons.
Randall Dasher, current Suwannee County Farm Bureau President, operates Dasher Farms.
Dasher recycles the nutrients that accumulate in his greenhouse hydroponics systems to fertilize his row crops. Dasher Farms participates in the local Farm to School program in Suwannee County, and teaches about hydroponic farming around the country.
Dasher follows BMPs in the Suwannee Valley and carefully selects crops that allow row crop production without an irrigation system. Dasher is able to save at least 40 million gallons of water annually.
Dasher now has more than 6,000 acres of sesame. He works with UF-IFAS Extension Service to research varieties of sesame and share information with other growers.