The current drought has forced some Baldwin County farmers to make their own rain. Water wells are in high demand right now. Some are left with no choice if they want to keep up with demand.
With the turn of a valve, Baldwin County farmer, John Bitto can direct water to his fields of sod. Currently, he must pump water from the ground to a holding pond, from that pond, across the road to another and then from that pond to the irrigation system. For every eight days of operation there are three down days for ponds to be replenished. That won’t cut it in times of drought and he’s doing something about it.
“We’ve been out irrigating non-stop for the last ten weeks. It’s very stressful and you get tired and cranky. It’s also very costly,” Bitto said. “You’re burning diesel fuel 24-hours a day. You’re burning electricity 24-hours a day. The bills do add up on that. It’s very costly just to keep the product growing.”
Enter Johnson Well Drilling. They began drilling a 400-foot well Tuesday morning, May 19, 2020 and will be finished by week’s end. The water demand is great and must be consistent. When done, the 10-inch well will be able to provide more than 1,000 gallons per minute, straight from the ground to the irrigation system. Owner, Malcom Johnson said the drought is keeping him busy.
“We’re two to three months behind. Doing residential work, also farm work, industrial work. The drilling part of it is an everyday thing for us. We are constantly trying to keep up with the demand,” Johnson explained.
Johnson just finished a similar well for Bitto on a Robertsdale farm. Bitto said the new wells will save time, energy and ultimately, money. He’s is not alone. As more Baldwin County farmers transition from row crops to sod, a consistent water source is critical.
“We should be able to grow grass right now once this gets installed instead of just maintaining,” said Bitto. “Right now, we’re just trying to keep the grass alive during a drought and with the well in, we should actually be able to put enough water out frequently enough where the grass can actually grow and we don’t have production time that is slowed down.”
Bitto said it’s a long-term investment in the hopes of keeping his land in agriculture for decades to come. He’s not alone and that’s sure to keep companies like Johnson Well Drilling busy for a long time to come.