Commissioner Adam H. Putnam


Florida Agriculture: 500 Years in the Making

Commissioner's Agricultural Environmental Leadership Award

1995 Winner

Schroeder-Manatee Ranch
Bradenton, Florida

The Schroeder-Manatee Ranch encompasses approximately 28,000 acres in Sarasota and Manatee counties. Operating since the 1920s, the ranch is a diverse agricultural enterprise involved in cattle, citrus, row crops, sod and tree nursery production.

The Schroeder-Manatee Ranch is one of Southwest Florida's leaders in reducing water use. In a region with a growing population and increasing demands on water resources for agricultural, industrial and public use, the ranch employed a variety of conservation measures to minimize its deep aquifer water use. Conversion to drip irrigation was one of the major conservation measures used. The ranch also entered into an agreement with Manatee County to use treated domestic wastewater for its expansive citrus, vegetable and sod production. The ranch currently irrigates 1,290 acres of citrus and 720 acres of sod using treated effluent. The efficient irrigation systems and use of treated effluent have enabled the ranch to reduce its deep aquifer pumpage by an impressive 82 percent, based upon 1994 pumpage.

The Schroeder-Manatee Ranch is in the forefront of implementing strategies that allow the region's communities and growers to cooperatively address water resource issues in a mutually beneficial manner. Not only has the ranch been instrumental in forging an urban-agricultural formula for successful water reuse, it also produces a drought-tolerant grass known as FX-10. This grass will allow urban residents and businesses to also reduce their demand for irrigation water.

As stewards of the land, the Schroeder Manatee Ranch initiated a comprehensive crop rotation and cover crop management plan to reduce soil erosion during the early 1980s. The ranch is also an active civic partner through support of local 4-H and FFA programs and the Manatee Fair; and through membership in the local Chamber of Commerce and Farm Bureau. The ranch is also actively involved in the local Extension Service water resource education programs. -- 1995

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