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Local company working with area farmers to save water

It’s the water...seems like a simple statement but as Florida’s population grows, so does concerns over the water supply.
BMP Logic is a family owned company headquartered on SR129 in South Trenton. You may have passed by the white building located next door to A-1 Pest Control many times and never knew about the innovative water saving device that the company sells.
Justin Jones and Doug Crawford are partners in BMP Logic, which sells soil moisture probes also referred to as soil moisture sensors. The business began in 2014 and has grown steadily since that time. The business is a family affair, not only are Jones and Crawford brother-in-laws, their three sons work with them. Justus and Carson Jones have worked with the company over the summers and Brett Crawford works full time with BMP Logic.
Soil moisture probes were invented by Peter Buss in Australia back in the early 1990s. Australia is the driest continent on earth. Crawford said that through the years the software has improved to make the probes more user friendly. BMP Logic sells Sentek moisture probes which cost around $2000 each and are reported to be the best on the market.
These water saving probes measure the depth of the moisture in the soil, as well as the length or depth of the plant’s roots which needs the moisture to grow and produce the optimum crop. A grower or farmer can see how deep the moisture has penetrated the soil in a particular field or zone on the device of their choice. Many farmers use a smart phone to receive this data from their fields. The data that the probe collects is available to farmers every three hours 24 hours a day. Some farmers want data more often and the program can be set up to accommodate that. This information is a big help as farmers are good stewards of the land and don’t want to over water their crops. It costs to run irrigation equipment and over watering can leach out the fertilizer which causes them to have to apply more fertilizer. The idea is to have the plant use all the water and fertilizer the farmer applies. These moisture probes will also give an indication of the salinity in the soil which tends to be an indicator of the fertilizer remaining in the soil.
Another advantage of the probes is record keeping because they provide a record of the amount of water a given farmer is using on a crop during the growing season.
The most common crops the moisture probes are being used on in the Tri-County Area are watermelons, corn and peanuts. According to the Suwannee River Water Management Districts the soil moisture probes are saving 6,000,000 gallons of water per day. That equates to a saving of 151,000 gallons per acre over a growing season on these common local crops.
According to Jones and Crawford, the probes have a 90% saving in water use. One probe can save 5 1/2 million gallons of water per year. Standard probes measure moisture 20 inches deep but probes are available that measure up to five feet deep.
Farmers and growers are quickly adapting to this new technology. Many including area watermelon grower Loran Brookins are committed to the use of moisture probes. Brookins has been using the probes for three growing seasons in his watermelon fields. Brookins said, “I love them, I’m an old school farmer and I have learned to trust them, if you can do that you will save a lot of money.” Brookins said after the season the probes are removed from the field and stored. The next year the probes are moved to a new field. Brookins said he feels good about not wasting water. “It is good science and good for the environment,” Brookins said.
Jones and Crawford said that they are happy to help farmers become familiar with reading the data that the probes report. Crawford said with just a little training farmers are using the data to save water, save fertilizer and take care of their land.
Jones said, “I think the average citizen would be surprised to know how much technology farmers are using.”
To help farmers implement these water saving devices the Suwannee River Water Management District has a cost sharing plan for soil moisture probes. Hugh Thomas of the Suwannee River Water Management District said, “Currently, there is no better technology on the market for managing irrigation and water conservation than the soil moisture sensors (or probes). Our goal is to get at least one sensor on every farm in the Suwannee Valley within the next few years.”
Both Jones and Crawford have agriculture backgrounds. Jones was a county agent and later worked with UF/IFAS at Live Oak as a research coordinator before moving back home to Trenton. Crawford worked for 20 years with a local large farming operation in their fertilizer business then left that field to pursue other opportunities. Now both men are glad to be working with this technology and with farmers from South Carolina to south Florida.
Crawford said, “The good Lord has blessed our business more than we ever dreamed possible.” Both men are also proud that their business helps farmers and growers preserve the most important natural resource, the water.