Grower Discusses Conservation Steps

Ernie NeffAwards

Travis Miller with daughters Riley, left, and Hailey

Travis Miller, part owner and manager of the 330-acre DeSoto Grove in DeSoto County, was recently recognized by the Florida Farm Bureau Federation for his natural resource conservation efforts. Miller and 22 other Florida farmers and ranchers received the Farm Bureau’s County Alliance for Responsible Environmental Stewardship (CARES) award.

Miller reports on the conservation steps taken at DeSoto Grove:

“We enrolled into the BMP (Best Management Practices) program in 2017. Our company, Wetlands Resource Center, background doesn’t come from farming; we started in land conservation and wetland restoration. We have always been environmentally conscious. If we don’t protect our natural resources, our farms will eventually fail as well.

“Two of the most important ways to protect our natural resources are by preventing soil erosion and preventing fertilizer from entering our waterways. We protect our water and waterways by trying to prevent erosion into that waterway by keeping the herbicide row as small as possible for the mower to make one pass. We planted our ditches with grass and treat the sides to keep broadleaf weeds out. This allows the sides of the ditches to keep from washing out but not allowing weeds to take over the ditches.  

“We also use our surface water pump as much as possible to conserve subsurface water. Almost our entire grove is filtered into the pond where we can recycle the water and restrict it from leaving the property.

“When we fertilize the grove, whether liquid or dry, we watch the weather to make sure there are not any rain events that will wash nitrogen into the canals.

“We also look at the grove to make sure that it’s not too wet in the summertime, especially when using liquid fertilizer. When watering the groves, we also use soil moisture meters to evaluate when to irrigate and how often; we irrigate more frequently at less time.”

Another citrus grower, Marlon Pendergrass of The Groves of Peace River in Hardee County, also received the CARES award. Learn the conservation steps he takes here.

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About the Author

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large