Florida Farmer of The Year Ron St. John Talks About The Dairy Side of Agriculture
Monday, October 31st, 2011
Ron St. John, Florida Swisher Sweets Farmer of the Year, talks about the dairy side of agriculture. He shares about the two dairies in Georgia, and three dairies in Florida he operates.
My name is Ron St. John and I represented Florida in the Swisher Sweets Farmer of the Year. It was a privilege to do that. We are in the dairy side of agriculture. We have two dairies in Georgia, and we have three dairies in Florida. Two of them in Florida are grazing dairies, where the cows harvest their own forage and distribute their own manure.
The confinement dairy's a lot more intense. We try and grow as much of the forage as we can, using the nutrients from the dairy. We think we're the ultimate recyclers. The ruminant, the dairy cow consumes a lot of cotton by‑products, a lot of citrus by‑products. Then we take the manure and we grow our crops with absolutely no fertilizer.
In Florida, we grow three crops a year. In Georgia, we grow about two and a half crops a year, and feed them back to the cow and it's a big recycling process. So, we are happy to be in the dairy business, and we're particularly happy to be in the dairy business in the Southeast.
In the cropping side, we use a GPS AutoSteer for spraying and planting. As far as on the dairy side, we're just getting ready to embark on an anaerobic digester, which, again, recycling the manure before it goes out to the crops. We recycle it through an anaerobic digester, making electricity. And we will use about 75 percent of what we produce on the farm, and the other we'll sell back to the co‑op into the grid.