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Dasher Farms

Contact: Abby Johnson, Office of Communications
Suwannee River Water Management District
386.362.1001 or 800.226.1066 (FL)
www.mysuwanneeriver.com
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Dasher FarmsRandall Dasher with his daughter and granddaughters

Suwannee Valley farmer BMP success story, Dasher Farms

LIVE OAK, FL, July 22, 2015 - Randall Dasher is an outstanding farmer in Suwannee County who is at the forefront in the implementation of best management practices (BMPs) that go above and beyond voluntary or regulatory program requirements.

Dasher still lives on the same land his family bought and has been farming in Suwannee County since 1948. Since Dasher took over 200 acres of the originally 400 acre family farm in 1991, he has grown various row crops including small grains and peanuts. This year he will plant rye grass and oats for the seed business and then he will follow with sesame using management practices that are good for the environment and sustainable.

During his 44 years of farming, Dasher has experienced many changes in agricultural practices. Most notably, a shift in irrigation and tillage are very beneficial methods to preserving our natural resources that he has witnessed. Dasher has improved his tillage practices to conserve soil moisture and build up organic matter. He has taken a systems approach, which includes crop rotation, cover crops, cool season small grains and forages. This "systems approach" allows a farmer to grow peanuts and other crops long-term without installing irrigation systems. Equally as important, Dasher adopted practices that reduce disease and pests resulting in decreased needs for fungicides and insecticides.

In 1986, Dasher began greenhouse farming with one for growing tomatoes. After 13 years of growing tomatoes and a half a year growing lettuce, he began growing and selling herbs, which has been a large part of the family farm for the past 15 years. As a leader in the greenhouse vegetable industry for almost 30 years, Dasher has perfected the use of hydroponic systems that recirculate nutrient in the most environmentally friendly manner.

He also uses his greenhouses to grow lettuce for the Farm to School program, sponsored by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. This program puts fresh and locally grown products into our public school lunches in an effort to give farmers a local buyer and to offer the schools a healthy and local food option.

Dasher is a leader in the newly established sesame industry in the Suwannee Valley. He also learned that sesame can be grown without irrigation and with moderate to low rates of fertilizer. Dasher decided to plant 35 acres of sesame in 2013, when the first contracts were offered to farmers in the area. Sesame acreage grew from fewer than 1,000 acres in 2013 to more than 6,000 acres in 2014 throughout the Suwannee Valley.

This story is the second in a series of articles provided in partnership with the Suwannee River Water Management District, the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, the Suwannee River Partnership and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' Office of Agriculture Water Policy. This series highlights the remarkable work of local farmers practicing sustainable and environmental best management practices. This story was written by extension program assistant, Andrew Horvath in collaboration with SRWMD staff.

For information about this story contact Bob Hochmuth, Regional Specialized Extension Agent - Vegetables, Center Director Suwannee Valley Agricultural Extension Center at 386-362-1725 x103 or bobhoch@ufl.edu.


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This page was last updated on: August 4, 2015