Florida’s cattlemen and women are true stewards of the land they utilize for grazing Florida cattle. Case in point is the 282 acres of Peter Frederick just south of Gainesville. The land was bought by Frederick and his wife some 15 years ago. Frederick, in an article in Southeast Farm Press, maintained, “It is a sanctuary, a personal space for work and developing land management techniques.” Frederick also works in the University of Florida’s Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, teaching wetland science and restoration, and he’s put the land to good use.

An Easement and Grazing Florida Cracker Cattle

The land borders Kanapaha Prairie and features prairie land, freshwater marshes, hammocks and stands of longleaf pine. The entire region hosts over 600 different species of plants and animals, including 29 species that are listed as threatened and/or endangered. The area is also key to recharging Florida’s all-important aquifer.

Frederick entered the land into a conservation easement in 2008 with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Alachua County Forever. Such easements protect wild land and water from development, but allow the land to continue to be used for agricultural purposes.

For the past 10 years, the land has been grazing Florida Cracker Cattle owned by Jack Gillen, and Frederick has been exploring the dynamic between grazing and wetlands. He cites examples from around the world where cattle are used specifically to preserve wetlands. “A longstanding practice all over the world,” he said, “grazing keeps the trees out and maintains the wetlands. Many places in South America have centuries-long histories of ranching in grasslands and wetlands. The Venezuelan Llanos and the Brazilian Pantanal are good examples. Some of those ranches are over 300-years old,” he shared in the article.

Frederick is also conducting field testing on plots that are roughly half an acre, examining the effects mowing, burning and grazing have on the diversity and productivity of the wetlands. ““It’s a constant reminder that we can produce food and wildlife in the same space, and keep ecosystems intact,” Frederick said.

Griffin Fertilizer is committed to helping both growers and ranchers make sound agronomic and economic decisions in order to maximize the health of their grove and pasture. As a full-service custom dry & liquid fertilizer blender and crop protection product distributor, we will continue our mission to further advance Florida agriculture. For questions or concerns about your farm or pasture, contact us and one of our team will be in touch.