Published: May 05, 2010 4:26 PM EDT

DEFUNIAK SPRINGS, Fla. (AP) - A Florida Panhandle county plans to spray hay into the Gulf of Mexico to absorb oil before it reaches the coastline.

Walton County Emergency Management and a local contractor say barges equipped with blowers would spray hay into the water, where it will adhere to the oil and make it easier to remove.

Officials say they can't count on booms to stop oil from reaching shore. In a statement Tuesday announcing the county's plans, the sheriff's office said booms are "90 percent ineffective in open water."

The county will also set up silt retention fences along the beach as a backup. Bales of hay will also be placed along the county's 26-mile coastline in front of the fences, if needed. To protect dune lakes, officials plan to build concrete walls.