There are currently about 9.2 million acres of land in agricultural production in the state of Florida. There are another approximately 20 million acres that are considered natural lands and have not been dedicated to agriculture, development or conservation.
We grow a variety of crops including most of the vegetables for the South Eastern United States. One of the crops that used to sustain this state is citrus. Unfortunately, disease is winning and citrus is dying out in Florida. That leaves tens of thousands of acres ready for new opportunities.
Energy can be produced from Agriculture in a few of ways. One is through growing particular oil seed crops for bio diesel. Another is sugar extraction for ethanol, and the other is through the production of bio mass.
There are several crops that can be used for oil seed or sugar extraction. You will likely recognize soy, corn, sugar, canola, and even cotton. Others are available that do not compete with food or commodity crops. Carinata, Camilina, Castor, Chia, and Hemp are all excellent sources of oil that can be easily converted into bio diesel.
Bio mass can be any vegetative matter. Theoretically, any plant product that does not go to making product or food can be utilized for bio mass. There are certain crops that can grow at much vaster rates and volumes that are more suited for this type of production. Industrial Hemp is one of those crops.
The introduction of energy crops into Florida’s agriculture can not only offer farmers a more lucrative opportunity, but a majority of them, especially hemp are excellent cover crops, meaning they help recondition the soil in between the chosen staple crop of the farmer. So the farmer could enjoy growing the crop they are used to and then benefiting agriculturally and economically from a cover crop that can help provide energy independence.