Denyse B. Cummins, Rabb, James L., Coolman, Denise, Millhollon, Eddie P., Souvestre, Robert J.
BOSSIER CITY – LSU AgCenter Master Gardener volunteers recently took a small part in a research project that could someday help to reduce water pollution.
Members of the LSU AgCenter’s Northwest Louisiana Master Gardeners program helped transplant native aquatic plants into a "constructed wetland" located at the Ag Center’s Red River Research Station near Bossier City. The artificially constructed wetland, which is about 3 acres in size and ranges up to about 18 inches deep, is part of a study to see whether such an environment can be used to help reduce water pollution.
"Water from the station will filter through that artificial wetland before it runs into the nearby Flat River," said Denyse Cummins, an LSU AgCenter area horticulturist who works with the Master Gardeners. "Hopefully, this will make the runoff cleaner before it enters the river."
The LSU AgCenter researchers working on the larger wetlands project are studying how constructed wetlands can improve water quality. While farmers already have adopted conservation tillage and other practices to preserve water quality, researchers say they are looking for even more practices that could protect these precious natural resources.
"One such practice is the use of a constructed wetland, because it has long been known that the biological and physical properties of natural wetlands are beneficial in improving water," said Dr. Eddie Millhollon, an LSU AgCenter researcher at the Red River Research Station. "The specific goal of this project is to show how using natural resources, such as a wetland, can improve the water coming off agricultural land."
Nonpoint-source pollutants – or water pollution that comes from undetermined sources – have been cited as a major cause of impairment of waterways in the Red River Basin.
Millhollon and Jim Rabb, the leaders of the research project, rounded up nearly $1 million in federal and state funds for the cooperative study by the LSU AgCenter and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality. They are looking to see if the constructed wetland improves water quality by reducing nutrients, sediments and pesticides in runoff water.
The study is being done on more than 400 acres of agricultural land at the LSU AgCenter’s Red River Research Station and is expected to be completed in December 2005.
This is the first time members of the LSU AgCenter’s Northwest Louisiana Master Gardener Program have participated in such research. Cummins said this work is an example of the education participants receive in the program.
"This also is one example of their interest in assisting with an environmental program," Cummins said. "It also fulfills the mission of Master Gardener volunteers, which is to assist the LSU AgCenter in its quest to improve the lives of everyone living in Louisiana."
The Louisiana Master Gardener Program is a service and educational activity offered by the LSU AgCenter’s Cooperative Extension Service, said Bob Souvestre, head of the LSU AgCenter’s Master Gardener program.
"This program is designed to recruit and train volunteers to help meet the educational needs of home gardeners while providing an enjoyable and worthwhile service experience for volunteers," Souvestre said. "It also provides invaluable training and educational opportunities."
The program is open to all and is offered by the LSU AgCenter in an increasing number of parishes across the state.
"Experienced and beginning gardeners seeking up-to-date horticultural information can advance their gardening expertise and gain self-satisfaction through taking part in the Master Gardener program," Souvestre explained, stressing that education for the volunteers is one aspect of the program.
"Then the volunteer aspect of the Master Gardener program allows individuals to dedicate their time and talents to enhance the quality of life for citizens of their community by using the science and art of horticulture," he said, adding, "It allows individuals to put into practice what they know and learn."
For more information on the LSU AgCenter’s Master Gardener Program or the variety of LSU AgCenter programs offered in your area, contact your parish LSU AgCenter office or go to www.lsuagcenter.com.
Denyse Cummins at (318) 741-7435 or email@example.com
Eddie Millhollon at (318) 741-7430 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Jim Rabb at (318) 741-7430 or email@example.com
Bob Souvestre at (225) 578-1030 or firstname.lastname@example.org
A. Denise Coolman at (318) 644-5865 or email@example.com