The Northeast Florida Livestock Agents Group hosted the University of Florida Institute of Food and agricultural Sciences Hay Field Day 2016 at Alan Hitchcock’s Santa Fe River Ranch, located at 2220 N.W. 122nd St, Alachua on July 14, 2016.
This annual event provides updates on the latest topics and research related to hay production and how they can be applied to our area of North Florida. The topics include fertilization, weed control, bales and different grass varieties.
Mr. Hitchcock runs a model ranch operation on approximately 1800 acres of grassland north of Alachua. He has a sustainable number of about 400 cattle on this large acreage and employs best management practices (BMPs,) with careful applications of fertilizer, always keeping run-off in mind.
OSFR President Pam Smith attended, along with your historian, and both were happy to see Mr. Barton Wilder of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services there distributing information on Best Management Practices for vegetable and agronomic crops, and also cow/calf operations.
BMPs are those that have been proven to be the most effective means of maintaining or improving the quality of both surface and ground water, which in effect prevent, reduce or treat pollutant discharges offsite.
Typical practices may include nutrient management, irrigation management and water resource protection. Employing BMPs has many advantages for the farmer/rancher, not the least of which is that usually they end up saving money. They may also allow the practitioner to be eligible for various subsidies or cost-share programs, and in some cases the BMPs might satisfy some water management district permitting requirements. Above all, they provide better protections for our water resources.
OSFR commends the Hitchcock Santa Fe River Ranch and also UF/IFAS for their work in protecting our water.