Best Management Practices Update
Contributed by Rance Ellis, FDACS Office of Ag Water Policy
In December 2012, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) held a meeting at Chipola College in Marianna and presented their total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) for nutrients in the Jackson Blue Spring Basin. In addition to the TMDLs, FDEP released a new map showing the boundaries of the basin that will be affected under the proposed Basin Management Action Plan (BMAP). These boundaries were expanded to include areas on the southwest side, which were not in the earlier basin boundary (see basin map).
The TMDL report calls for a 90% reduction in nutrients for the basin, all of which is attributed to commercial fertilizer applied by agriculture.
That’s a high figure to reach, but the good news is that Florida law provides a presumption of compliance with state water quality standards to agricultural producers who enroll in and implement Best Management Practices (BMPs) adopted by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS).
In areas with adopted BMAPS, agricultural producers have the choice of enrolling in and implementing FDACS BMPs or conducting water quality monitoring to show they are not contributing to nutrient loads. Monitoring is very costly, and is likely to show that the BMPs are needed after all.
Working with the agricultural industry, UF-IFAS, and others, FDACS has adopted BMP manuals for all major commodities in the state. Each BMP manual covers key aspects of water quality and water conservation. Typical practices include:
Nutrient Management to determine nutrient needs and sources, and manage nutrient applications (including manure) to minimize impacts to water resources.
Irrigation Management to address the method and scheduling of irrigation to reduce water and nutrient losses.
Sediment and Erosion Control to reduce or prevent the transport of nutrients and sediments from production areas to waterbodies.
Besides the presumption of compliance, other reasons to participate in FDACS BMPs are:
- BMP participants are eligible for cost share for certain BMPs. FDACS is providing funds to assist Jackson County producers to purchase precision application equipment, conduct grid-sampling, and implement other practices that will improve their efficiency while reducing nutrient inputs. The cost share is available on a first-come, first-served basis for those enrolled in FDACS BMPs.
- Some BMPs increase production efficiency and reduce costs, while protecting and conserving water resources.
- The Florida Right to Farm Act generally prohibits local governments from regulating an agricultural activity that is addressed through the implementation of FDACS-adopted BMPs.
- Producers who implement FDACS-adopted BMPs might satisfy some water management permitting requirements.
- BMP participation demonstrates agriculture’s commitment to water resource protection, and maintains support for this non-regulatory approach.
For more information on enrolling in BMPs and applying for cost share, contact:
Rance Ellis at (850) 394-9124 ext. 130 or Rance.Ellis@FreshFromFlorida.com
or visit www.FloridaAgWaterPolicy.com