Tampa Spring Expo and Booth Auction

It is that time of year again. The Tampa Bay Wholesale Growers Spring Expo is right around the corner. The show opens on Friday Feb. 25, 2011. Check out what is new at the local nurseries. In an age where everthing is done electronically or by mobile device it is nice to go and put a face with a name and shake a hand. Along with the Expo is the booth auction. Vendors donate their entire booth and allied members donate items to be auctioned off on Saturday at 1:00 pm. Proceeds from the Tampa Spring Expo are pledged to SHARE's FNGLA Endowed Research Fund at the University of FL and to educational Programs of the Hillsborough County Cooperative Extension Service Horticultural Programs. The Tampa Bay Wholesale Growers has contributed over $50,000 to the FNGLA Endowed Research Fund collected from this auction and is the second largest contributor behind FNGLA. For more information about the expo here is a site for you. http://www.tbwg.org/TSE.html

For more information about the auction please give me a ring.


Money for BMP's

As an Extension Agent attending a training on the cost of removing nitrogen and phosphorous from water once it is leaving the farm, I would implore any producers to first monitor your fertilizer program and water quality. To measure is to know. You need to know what you are doing in terms of fertilizer before you can affect change to the system. You also don't want to be spending any more money that you absolutely have to in order to grow your plants. Secondly, I would also implore you to sign up for the BMPs if you haven't already done so. Eventually you will you need to prove you are not adversely affecting the water leaving your farm or you can sign up for the notice of intent to implement the best management practices for nursery crops and fall within the presumption of compliance. The process is fairly painless and quick to do. If the whole thing sounds scary don't take my word for it. Please give me a ring and I can get you in contact with producers that have gone through the process and let you speak with them directly.

Here is a notice from SWFWMD about some of their programs to help producers do a better job of regulating their irrigation quantities that quality.

Implementation Cost Share Programs:
1. SWFWMD Mini-FARMS Program
a. Fiscal Year 2010 – 2011, $14, 700 left for growers interested in implementing water quality improvement or water conservation projects
i. Maximum Reimbursement is $5,000 or 75% of the project total cost
ii. Growers have to meet eligibility requirements and complete a simple application
iii. Growers have to be located within the SWFWMD and have less than 100 acres
b. Fiscal Year 2011 – 2012, next round of funding available in October
i. Growers can be put on list for next years’ funding

Mini-FARMS Contact Information

FDACS Office of Agricultural Water Policy
Noel Marton, Environmental Specialist III(Polk, Manatee, Hardee, Highlands, Sarasota, Desoto, and Charlotte counties)
Office: (941) 377-3722 Ext. 6516
Fax: (941) 373-7660 noel.marton@freshfromflorida.com

BMP Implementation Cost Share Programs:
FDACS Office of Agricultural Water Policy
Jessica McCoy Stempien, Environmental Specialist II (Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Lee, Hernando, Sumter, Citrus, and Marion counties)
Office: (813) 985-7481 Ext. 2125
Fax: (813) 987-6746

Mini-FARMS Eligible Cost Share Practices List
Soil Moisture Probes / Tensiometers
Soil Testing to Determine Fertilizer Recommendations
Water Table Observation Wells
Weather Station with ET Measurement
Data Logger/Telemetry Unit/Power Source/Software
Culverts with Riser Board Structures
EC / Salinity Measuring Devices or Equivalent Technologies
Irrigation Pumps, Controls, Filtration, Infrastructure
Totalizing Flow Meters for Systems Not Required to Meter for WMD
Closed-Pipeline Water Delivery/Tailwater Recovery
Water Quality Test Kit
Petiole Sap Test
Soil PH Testing Kit
Permanent Fertigation Facility
Wetland Exclusion Fencing/Temporary Fencing for Cow/Calf and Equine Operations
Other Approved Water Conservation Projects

BMP Implementation Cost Share Programs Continued:
2. Hillsborough County Soil and Water Conservation District Mini-FARMS Program
a. $13,500 left until June 30th for growers interested in implementing water quality improvement or water conservation projects
i. Maximum Reimbursement is $5,000 or 75% of the project total cost
ii. Growers have to meet eligibility requirements and complete a simple application
iii. Projects are for a 100 acres or less
3. Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Agricultural Water Enhancement Program (AWEP)
a. For growers located in the SWFWMD’s Dover/Plant City Water Use Caution Area
i. Cost share program for tailwater recovery, surface water pump upgrades, irrigation efficiency improvements, laser leveling, etc.
ii. Growers must register with the Farm Service Agency
iii. Deadline to enroll is mid March
iv. If interested please contact, Jennifer Abbey, Hillsborough County District Conservationist at 813-752-1474 ext 3

BMP Development/Adoption:
Water Quality BMPs for Florida Equine Operations Pending Adoption
Water Quality and Quantity BMPs for FL Specialty Fruit and Nut Operations Pending Adoption
Notice of Rule Development sent to the capital
Manuals can be found at http://www.floridaagwaterpolicy.com/BestManagementPractices.html.


2011 Nursery, Landscape, and Floriculture Career Development Event

Check out the pictures and winners: http://animoto.com/play/bHCw1OB7AbX0i765mfPd1A

We had our annual Nursery, Landscape and Floriculture Career Development Event at the Hillsborough County Extension Office in Seffner on Jan 27, 2011.

Nearly eighty students and their sponsors from around Hillsborough County descended upon the Extension office for a grueling half day of testing related to the nursery, landscape, and floriculture industry. All students belonged to their respective high school or middle school’s Future Farmers of America Chapter and have been preparing for this test with their teachers for the last few months. The students were tested on identification skills with landscape and floriculture plants, insects, weeds, and disease pests, and industry related tools. They were also tested on their book knowledge on materials related to the production of plants, and the installation of Florida Friendly Landscapes. This is also a practice run for the state and national championships for similar FFA events. Multiple volunteers and staff noted how well mannered and behaved the students were during the event. The students really did a great job on their tests showing off how much they worked up to this event.This extension agent sponsors the event with designing the tests, scoring and procuring all the materials as well as helping to provide lunch to the students, sponsors, and volunteers. There is also a great deal of industry supporters during the event, which was welcomed from ProSource One providing the drinks for the event, Tampa Bay Wholesale Grower members J and R Nursery, Riverview Flower Farm, and Tampa Wholesale Nursery providing the plants for identification. The food was provided from Holmberg Farms and Pam Walden from Hillsborough County schools. We also received help from volunteers, and Hillsborough County Extension Staff. The awards and trophies are supplied from the Tampa Chapter FNGLA. The money that they buy awards with is from the Fall Plant Auction held during the Hillsborough County Fair. They will supply trophies and plaques for the overall school winners in a Jr. and Sr. division. They will also award checks and certificates to the highest individuals overall and for individual test winners. Check out the winners by clicking the above link.


Conduct an Energy Audit with USDA Help

This just in from USDA. This might be a good opportunity to check out your operations' energy usage and where you can save especially if you are heating greenhouses to grow plants. This program could lead to mangement and financial help implementing the audit findings.

Gainesville, FL., February 1, 2011 – Have you ever wondered about what techniques you could utilize to reduce the amount of energy used on your farm? The USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) may have the answer. A USDA-NRCS initiative to help farmers and ranchers conduct energy audits and improve their overall energy efficiency has been expanded for 2011. The initiative builds on the existing energy audit initiative to also help producers implement the energy conservation and efficiency recommendations that result from an energy audit.

“Providing producers with the opportunity to assess their energy usage and make needed improvements can save money while also benefitting the environment and reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” said NRCS acting state conservationist Jeffrey Woods.

On-farm energy audits are tailored to each agricultural operation’s primary energy uses. The audits help producers determine the amount of energy used by the entire operation and also identify short- and long-term measures producers can implement to conserve energy and achieve greater energy efficiencies.
The On-Farm Energy Audit/Implementation Initiative is offered through USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), which provides technical and financial assistance for this purpose through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). The on-farm energy audits, which are offered as EQIP Agricultural Energy Management Plans (AgEMP), must be conducted by certified technical service providers. Producers who have had an on-farm energy audit conducted that meets or exceeds the criteria of an EQIP Agricultural Energy Management Plan may apply for technical and financial assistance to implement the audit’s recommendations.
The application deadline for FY 2011 funds is February 25, 2011. Interested producers should contact their local NRCS office immediately. To find the nearest office go to

Additional information on NRCS and our programs is available on our Website at
www.fl.nrcs.usda.gov or at your local USDA NRCS office.