Board approves ranking of agricultural projects to share in $1.5 million for water conservation, nutrient reduction

Last year’s agricultural cost share funded a micro-drip irrigation conversion project at a blueberry farm.

Last year’s agricultural cost share funded a micro-drip irrigation conversion project at a blueberry farm.

PALATKA, Fla., Nov. 14, 2017 — Twelve agricultural projects will share in $1.5 million from the St. Johns River Water Management District to improve water conservation and reduce nutrient loading to area waterways. The district’s Governing Board approved the project ranking at Tuesday’s meeting. Proposed projects are anticipated to collectively conserve an estimated 519 million gallons of water each year and reduce total nitrogen by an estimated 52,945 pounds per year and total phosphorus by 8,149 pounds per year.

“Sustainable farming practices protect the environment but also can increase growers’ production and quality,” said District Executive Director Ann Shortelle. “I’m excited to see proactive measures being taken by the agricultural community to increase irrigation efficiency for water conservation and to reduce nutrient loading to the St. Johns River and its tributaries.”

Projects receiving funds are:

  • Long and Scott Farms Inc., Lake County, to convert seepage to drip and microjet and for injection pumps for fertigation;
  • Boggy Marsh Citrus, Lake County, for irrigation system retrofits;
  • Cherrylake, Inc., Lake County, for a pump station to convert from groundwater to surface water;
  • Lake Jem Farms Inc., Lake County, for variable rate fertilizer application equipment with GPS and weather stations with telemetry;
  • Blue Goose Growers LLC, Indian River County, for pump stations with automation, fertigation, soil moisture sensors;
  • Golden River Fruit Co., Indian River County, for irrigation system retrofits, pump automation, soil moisture sensors;
  • Eljim Dairy, western Putnam County, to pass dairy effluent through parabolic rundown screens to remove suspended solids and reuse of treated water;
  • Estes Citrus Inc., Indian River County, for pump automation and retrofit;
  • Island Grove LLC, Marion County, for full irrigation automation;
  • Triple J Farms, Brevard County, for variable rate fertilizer technology with GPS and air spreader;
  • Raiford G.Hagstrom Ferneries, Volusia County, for irrigation system retrofits;
  • A. Duda & Sons Inc./Cocoa Ranch, Brevard County, for conversion from seepage to irrigation drain tile.

The district received 30 applications seeking funds through the Fiscal Year 2017-2018 Districtwide Ag Cost-share Program for projects in the 15 counties outside the Tri-County Agricultural Area (portions of Flagler, Putnam and St. Johns counties), which has its own separate funding program for row crop projects.

The Districtwide Agricultural Cost Share program began in 2015 to assist farmers and growers with implementing projects that conserve water and result in nutrient loading reductions. To date, 51 projects have been approved for funding since the program’s inception.

For information about district cost-share programs, visit www.sjrwmd.com/localgovernments/funding/.