New ag database helps tackle water conservation issues

New ag database helps tackle water conservation issues

Groups hope database will help farmers and ag professionals follow best management practices as they relate to water quality

A group of ag organizations on Thursday released a new database that will host agricultural best management practices for improved water quality.

Related: Water quality on the farm: Staying ahead of the regulatory curve

The database was released at the American Water Resources Association's Annual Conference on Water Resources. Contributing to the project were the National Corn Growers Association, the Water Environment Research Foundation and the United Soybean Board, along with other sponsors.

Groups hope database will help farmers and ag professionals follow best management practices as they relate to water quality

"The goal of the database is to provide farmers, agricultural advisors, planners, and consultants with information that enables them to implement cost-effective water quality improvement solutions," said NCGA Production and Stewardship Action Team Chair Brent Hostetler.

Hostetler said that currently, many conservation practices and pollutant reduction measures are being voluntarily adopted, but the effectiveness of various practices has been uncertain due to the limited field-scale data.

Related: Conservation can be profitable, too

The Agricultural Best Management Practices Database addresses this problem by providing a comprehensive set of monitoring and reporting protocols, he said, as well as a clearinghouse for collecting, storing, and evaluating ag BMPs.

Having this set of data for ag conservation will assist growers and watershed managers in making more informed choices and understand the impact of their decisions on water quality, said WERF Research Program Director Theresa Connor.

"Bringing the many available, diverse research projects into one data system can ultimately help growers more effectively implement conservation practices and researchers share information," she said.

The database includes performance data and metadata that document the many variables that affect BMP performance. These variables include geographic area, field conditions such as soils and slopes, tillage and nutrient management practices, and the existence of buffers, constructed wetlands, and other edge-of-field practices.

The database's initial release focuses on row crops, particularly corn and soybeans, and its primary analytical focus is on phosphorus, nitrogen, and sediment.

Related: Chesapeake Bay water clean-up regs would 'flood' Midwest farms

TAGS: Soybean
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