Farmers' Environmental Tour - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

08/12/03

Farmers' Environmental Tour

Many people these days are worried that farmers are harming the environment with their pesticides and other chemicals. That is why some farmers and government workers who help them are on an eight county tour to see new methods that protect animals and their environment. The tour kicked off on Tuesday in Candler County.

Farmer Clayton Anderson is one of the farmers surveyed. He says it is hard to end three generations of farming tradition. He gave up age old tilling methods, though, to help the environment. "I got out of tilling completely. I sold my harrow. I sold my tiller," Anderson said.

He's not alone. Georgia Farmer of the Year Jimmy Donaldson told a tour group that by leaving straw and plant litter in the field saves soil, water, and fuel. "The less I till the fields, I save fuel and that cuts down the gas we have to import into this country," Donaldson commented.

In fact, the 2002 Farm Act assists and even rewards farmers who use the land and resources wisely. Not too far from Anderson and Donaldson, RE Hendrix tells how he qualified for federal money by building a holding pond that saves irrigation water for drier seasons.

Congressman Jim Marshall compliments farmers on their environmental awareness. "Most of the farmers I know are responsible and sensitive to the environment and use only what needs to be used."

County agents credit some of their awareness to new technology. They say it makes it easier on farmers when they are not forced to choose between land protection and profits. Wes Harris, a University of Georgia Extension Agent said, "We're not using near the chemistry we used to and the soil quality is benefiting."

Mostly, Clayton and others are glad that they can improve their bottom line and the environment at the same time.

Reported by: Dal Cannady, dcannady@wtoc.com

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