Saving water one farmer at a time - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Saving water one farmer at a time

March 19, 2003

Mitchell County - New farming techniques and equipment many save South Georgia's water supply from contamination and depletion. With use of high-tech irrigation systems and even alligators, farmers learned how to be stewards of the land.

The Golden Triangle Conservation Group, along with the USDA or other agricultural groups, hosted a Water Quality and Conservation Bus Tour in Mitchell County on Wednesday.

Rad Yeager is the director of the C.M. Stripling Irrigation Research Park in Mitchell County. His goal on this conservation tour is to introduce farmers to techniques and equipment that can save the aquifer. "We have a new irrigation systems design by engineers in Tifton.  Each set of 3 heads work independently so you can monitor where and how much water is spread on the crops," said Yeager.

And, farmers don't have to go in alone. The Natural Resource Conservation Service will pay for farmers to curb their wells which stops contamination from reaching the aquifer. The group also will help farmers buy the equipment needed to practice no-till farming, a technique that slows soil erosion.  "If every acre of land saved one inch of water a year, we could save 21 days of water running through the Flint River," said Yeager.

William and Doris Johnson grow everything from peanuts to corn on their Camilla farm. They plan to implement the techniques they've learned immediately.  "We are taking the idea of no-till farming to the major owner of our farmer as soon as possible. We can save the soil and plant cover crops for profit at the same time," said Johnson.

Chicken litter used for fertilization or discarded at stack houses can contaminate the water, and that's where alligators step on the farm. "We started the alligator farm as a way to get rid of the chicken litter. They eat the waste and we make a profit of their hide and meat," said Glass Enterprises Inc, owner Mark Glass.

By using just a few unusual or tradition conservation techniques, farmers can make huge improvement to water quality. Another water conservation bus tour will be held Thursday in Bainbridge. The tour starts at 8:00AM at the Earle May Boat Basin.

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