3-year pilot project helps SC farmers save large amounts of resources

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FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) – A three-year pilot project designed to help South Carolina farmers conserve water, reduce energy, and save dollars was announced at the 2020 South Carolina AgriBiz and Farm Expo.

Mobile irrigation laboratories will improve efficiency for farms across South Carolina, saving an abundant amount of resources. The cost for farmers? It’s completely free.

Ten to 12 advanced irrigation laboratories will launch the first year, calculating energy and water use for crops.

Free testing stations will then provide site-specific data using only conservative amounts of resources to maximize efficiency, saving farmers many dollars in the future.

South Carolina Department of Agriculture and Department of Natural Resource experts says agri-business has the greatest economic impact on the state, generating $42 billion and 200,000 private job sectors.

“This is a huge opportunity for them to come in here and use this opportunity at no cost. Since budgets are tight for our farmers and crops aren’t yielding revenue quite like they were, this is another avenue where we can assist them and help them not only save money but do the right thing as far as conserving water,” SCDNR Conservation District Program Manager, Tyler Brown, said.

Another state like Florida, which has tested the system, reports nearly 200 million gallons of water per year was saved. Geographic diversity will factor into the lab locations. The Pee Dee is one of the regions the pilot program wants to get center pivots audited.

SCDNR tells News13 the farm economy has experienced depressed crop prices since 2012 after major natural disasters hit the state.

“Over the last few years there has been a lot of negativity, so I think this project comes at a good time because it can help farmers be more profitable by reducing their expenses and also conserve those natural resources going forward,” said Aaron Wood, SC Department of Agriculture assistant commissioner of operations.

The Aiken Soil and Water Conservation District will accept applications from farmers or producers with center pivots through Feb. 15, 2020. Application information can be found here. Applications can be emailedhere.

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