Precision Farming And Water Quality Efforts

Kurt LawtonConservation, Education, Fertilizer, Industry News, Resources, sustainability

Precision agriculture is more than just right source, right rate, right time and right place. It’s also about responsible conservation measures to help reduce nutrient and soil loss.

It’s anyones guess if the EPA will try to regulate farm field runoff. But irregardless of that, there are good programs in place now to help farmers pay for sound conservation practices that help reduce potential runoff.

The latest such initiative announced recently by the USDA-NRCS is a 12-state voluntary, incentive-based program to improve water quality in the Mississippi River Basin — heartily endorsed by the American Society of Agronomy (ASA).

“Clean water and profitable crop production are possible with deployment of crop production practices that have been developed by ASA members. The initiative will enable growers to put conservation practices into place on more acres. Our Certified Crop Advisers look forward to being able to work with producers to put the most appropriate practices into place for each field. Cleaner water and more sustainable production programs will result from this initiative,” says ASA President Mark Alley, Virginia Tech.

The USDA’s Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative provides a $320 million investment over four years to support programs in 12 states: Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, and Wisconsin to help farmers voluntarily implement conservation practices which avoid, control, and trap nutrient runoff, improve wildlife habitat, and maintain agricultural productivity.

According to Alley, agricultural researchers are committed to developing sustainable conservation practices to decrease soil erosion and nutrient runoff. ASA’s Certified Crop Advisers are uniquely qualified to provide nutrient management recommendations to farmers.

The goal of the USDA initiative is to target resources in those watersheds that could have the largest impact on improving water quality in the basin and the Gulf of Mexico. The program will be implemented by USDA-NRCS using funding from the Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative and other Farm Bill Conservation Title programs.

The causes of and solutions to the Gulf of Mexico’s hypoxia zone/dead zone in the Mississippi River basin will be discussed at the ASA Annual Meeting, Nov. 1-5 in Pittsburgh. Events include a presentation by Clifford Snyder, International Plant Nutrition Institute on Nov. 2, and a lecture by Duke University’s Curtis Richardson on Nov. 3. For more information on these lectures or other presentations about hypoxia, please visit or call 608-268-4948 or email

For information about the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative, please visit:

Check out this step-by-step guide to learn how this program works, and how you can implement it on your farm.

4 Comments on “Precision Farming And Water Quality Efforts”

    1. Thanks, David. The links are now fixed. They worked when I posted the story, but somehow broke later.

    1. Thanks, David. The links are now fixed. They worked when I posted the story, but somehow broke later.

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