Innovation is essential to Mosaic’s success. Many good ideas have led to new processes, improved efficiencies and safety in our operations, work flows and business strategy. It’s no different when it comes to extracting value from Mosaic’s reclaimed lands in Florida. Land Management’s Tom Pospichal and David Crum know this first-hand as they are the ones tasked with researching and implementing innovative agricultural growth on reclaimed land.
Tom and David have been working together at Mosaic for almost three decades now and their partnership is literally bearing fruit. Their day-to-day responsibilities include coming up with ideas on what crops could potentially grow well on reclaimed land, studying the crop’s viability and then sharing their research and studies with Ag communities and educational research facilities such as University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS).
Tom says studying what new types of crops are being grown in the agriculture industry and then looking at the possibilities to grow on reclaimed land is the exciting part of their jobs. “My goal also is to find ways for Mosaic to have alternative sources of income. I enjoy seeing something start on fresh ground, grow and then add value to our landholdings,” David adds.
If a crop is found to be viable, Tom and David then research commercial purposes for the product which can lead to an alternative source of income for Mosaic. Tom says sod farming and orange grove production have turned out well over the years, pomegranates and sorghum not so much.
Watch this photo slideshow for a look of what’s currently growing on our reclaimed lands.
Commercial sod is currently growing on approximately 300 acres of reclaimed land. Approximately 19,000 pallets are sold to a commercial contractor every year. The idea to start growing sod came about in 2004 on a small 10 acre test plot. It was discovered that St. Augustine turf grass grows well because the clay in the reclaimed land helps bind the roots.
Orange groves are growing on approximately 500 acres of reclaimed land, producing approximately 150,000 boxes annually and sold to orange processors.
With olive oil consumption increasing over the years, studying the growth of olive trees on reclaimed land started with 50 olive trees in 2014. Currently in the experimental stage to study the growth characteristics of 10 different varieties planted. Data from growth patterns is being shared with the Florida Olive Council & UF-IFAS.
Pongamia trees are currently growing on 35 acres of reclaimed land and 35 acres of clay settling areas (CSAs) in an experimental stage. The trees are producing seeds. The pongamia seed’s extract can be used for oil, cattle feed and spray adjuvants. The crop is showing excellent growth potential.
Eucalyptus is growing on approximately 100 acres of reclaimed land and clay settling areas since 2013 in an experimental stage. Preliminary findings are showing the crop to be a viable commercial enterprise. The trees would be processed into landscape mulch.
Fifteen hops plants are currently growing on reclaimed land. Two years into the experimental phase, the crop is still being monitored for Florida adaptation. Results-to-date are promising. Mosaic’s research findings will be shared with UF IFAS who are also studying the growth of hops which can be used for the production of beer.