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Annual farm tour gets into countys agribusiness
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Sophie Usher makes a friend during a visit to Bootleg Farm. - photo by Photo by Pat Donahue

The annual Effingham County Young Farmers tour let participants see how advanced agriculture has become — and get a glimpse of a burgeoning new agribusiness endeavor.

Tour stops included Ijon Webb Farm Supply, as Carroll Zitterour helped display a baler that turns round bales into square ones, which are preferred by some customers.

A visit to Shiloh Farms also allowed tourgoers to see a massive pump and irrigation system. The fields east of Springfield haven’t needed much irrigation this season, but it can deliver as much as 2,400 gallons per minute if needed.

The tour also stopped at the farm of Richard and Wendy Cowart, who have started Bootleg Farm, LLC, the state’s only Grade A dairy goat farm. The Cowarts, who started on six acres with eight goats outside of Faulkville, have relocated to nearly 50 acres north of Springfield.

They currently have 72 does and want to get up to 100. The Cowarts want to market their products to Savannah’s growing farm-to-table restaurant sector and will be able to sell limited amounts of goat milk and cheese at their farm.

The Cowarts are aiming to get a gallon of milk from each doe each day. A gallon weighs about 8.6 pounds, and it takes two gallons to make a pound of cheese.

The tour’s final stop was a peanut field off Old Dixie Highway, where Michael Morgan explained the various trials under way for fungicides. The plots will help measure which fungicides work best in Effingham’s growing conditions and which lead to the biggest yields of peanuts.

“Farming isn’t a straw hat and overalls,” Morgan said. “Those days are over.”