The LSU Agricultural Center has started an aggressive plan to improve the state’s water quality with a new approach to best management practices.
This new BMP education and outreach program will cut across commodities toward a common goal of reducing nonpoint source water pollution. Traditionally, farm management has focused primarily on yields and production for individual crops. The strategy will embrace virtually all Louisiana agriculture, including forestry.
Water quality is a major concern both nationally and locally among the voting public, according to Paul Coreil, assistant director for environmental affairs. Louisiana farmers are not out of step with the public sentiment, he added. They are willing and eager to address the issue of water quality through voluntary practices. He said they are asking the Ag Center to develop practical, economical solutions based on research. They know that taking a wait-and-see attitude could invite regulations both unsuitable and unachievable under local conditions.
“The focus of land-grant institutions has been on yields and production,” Coreil said. “Now, it is yields, production and water quality.”
Nonpoint source pollution is the general runoff from the landscape. It includes potential contaminants from a variety of sources, such as sediment, fecal materials, fertilizers, pesticides and organic materials. All are spread by rainfall or irrigation water discharge. Because they do not observe property lines or parish boundaries, these threats become community or regional challenges. Homeowners, municipalities, industries and businesses all contribute.
Coreil said a series of BMP publications will be ready for distribution in mid-2000. Through most of 1999, extension and research personnel, along with producers and other agencies, have been examining and refining BMP recommendations for each commodity.
“The publications are a major part of the strategy to reach the producer,” Coreil said. “They will be spokes in the wheel for education and outreach.”
All information and publications eventually will be made available on an Ag Center website and on CD.
(This article was published in the winter 2000 issue of Louisiana Agriculture.)