AGRI-BRIEFS
  AGRONOMIC NEWS ITEMS
From Agronomists of the
Potash & Phosphate Institute
655 Engineering Drive, Suite 110
Norcross, Georgia 30092-2837
Phone (770) 447-0335

Winter 1999, No. 5

KNOW YOUR WATERSHED AND HOW YOUR NUTRIENT MANAGEMENT AFFECTS IT

    Farmers and those who advise them or provide production inputs should learn as much as they can about the watershed in which they are located and try to understand the potential water quality factors their decisions may influence. The local Extension office and soil conservation offices can help provide information relating to the local watersheds and recommended best management practices to help minimize impact of agricultural production on the water quality of local rivers and streams.

    Public concern about potential water quality problems from production agriculture will continue to put pressure on farmers to act responsibly in growing crops and livestock so that negative impact is kept to a minimum. Tillage systems, nutrient management, pest management and other decisions should consider the facts about the local watershed and any precautions that are important for the area.

    Nutrient management planning and practices should be implemented with the watershed characteristics in mind. In general, practices that are “watershed” friendly” are also good management practices for minimizing erosion losses and for optimizing production and nutrient use efficiency. If farmers in the watershed take steps to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus losses from their fields, they will help address the public’s concerns and at the same time more efficiently utilize the nutrients available for growing crops. Timing, rates, and methods of nutrient application can have a significant impact on water quality.

    The Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) has posted an internet web site that will help locate information about the watershed for any location in the country ( http://www.ctic.purdue.edu/KYW/). The information is provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other agencies. By simply typing in the local zip code, the user can search the web site to locate and display detailed information about the watershed, including water sources, maps and data about the watershed, potential water quality impairment hazards, watershed management projects in the area and a wealth of other facts and figures that may be helpful in developing crop and soil management plans for a farm.

    These pages list a wide variety of information about the watershed and the activities within it. Government agency programs in place in the watershed are outlined, demographic information is provided, and physical characteristics of the watershed are presented. Water from a given field may move into more than one watershed. This will be evident from the maps on the web site. Different management practices may be needed to meet the needs of the different watersheds, especially if public water supplies are affected or if special restrictions have been assigned to the watersheds.

Know your watershed….know your watershed zipcode….and know how your management impacts the quality of the water coming from your land. Adjust management so that your farm can be a positive factor in the water quality for neighbors downstream.


—HFR—

For more information, contact Dr. Harold F. Reetz, Jr., Midwest Director, PPI, 111 E. Washington Street, Monticello, IL 61856-8203. Phone: (217) 762-2074. E-mail: hreetz@ppi-far.org.
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