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AGRICULTURAL

BEST MANAGEMENT
PRACTICES
Nicole Messacar
La Porte County Soil & Water Conservation District
Eugene Matzat
Purdue Extension – La Porte County
Compared to 2005, consumer demand in
2050 is estimated to drive farmers to
produce:

■ 80 percent more meat


■ 52 percent more grain
■ 40 percent more roots and tubers
■ From the Danforth Center for Plant Science
https://www.danforthcenter.org/
RAINFALL SIMULATION
Cover crops come in a wide diversity of species, form and function.
Cover crops can be divided into different species of grasses,
brassicas, legumes and non-legumes.
For more information, visit the Midwest Cover Crops Council website:
http://mccc.msu.edu/
The International Food Policy Research
Institute says…(in a 2014 report)
■ No-till farming alone could increase maize
(field corn) yields by 20 percent, but also
irrigating the same no-till fields could increase
maize yields by 67 percent in 2050.
■ Nitrogen-use efficiency could increase rice
crop yields by 22 percent, but irrigation
increased the yields by another 21 percent.
■ Heat-tolerant varieties of wheat could
increase crop yields from a 17 percent
increase to a 23 percent increase with
irrigation.
■ Source: http://www.ifpri.org/
The Indiana Conservation Partnership is
comprised of eight Indiana agencies and
organizations who share a common goal of
promoting conservation. To that end, the
mission of the Indiana Conservation
Partnership is to provide technical, financial
and educational assistance needed to
implement economically and environmentally
compatible land and water stewardship
decisions, practices and technologies.
ICP Mission Statement (http://icp.iaswcd.org)
ICP Partner Agencies
CONSERVATION CROPPING
SYSTEMS INITIATIVE (CCSI)
■ Established mentoring program
■ Over 250 field days/workshops/events reaching over 15,000 people
■ Over 250 producers have been assisted with one-on-one support
■ 16 mentors evaluated and trained; worked with 30 producers in first year
■ 5 workshops for agency staff reaching over 190 employees
■ 8 private providers attending high level trainings; 52 industry staff from
one event
■ Promoting top farmers via website, videos, etc.
■ Assisting with INfield Advantage program
■ In 2012, Indiana led the nation on acres of cover crops planted.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service estimates that close to 1
million acres of Indiana’s 12 million acres of cropland had one or more
cover crops on them.
■ More information at http://ccsin.iaswcd.org/
Conservation Plans
1. Consider the needs and capabilities of
each acre within the plan
2. Consider the client’s facilities,
machinery, and economic situation
3. Incorporate the client’s willingness to try
new practices
4. Consider the land’s relationship to the
entire farm, ranch, or watershed
5. Ensure the conservationist’s presence
out on the land

Source: Elements of Soil Conservation, Hugh Hammond Bennett, 1947


Conservation planning
■ A systems approach that considers natural resources and ecological
processes.
– A watershed is a subsystem of a larger interconnected system (the earth).
– Considers the relationship between living organisms and the environment
– Prediction of both on-site and off-site effects is essential
■ Human values and activities influence structure/functions of ecological
systems
– Direct and indirect impacts on natural resources, both detrimental &
beneficial
– Balance short-term demands with long-term sustainability of systems
■ The goal of conservation planning is to operate:
– Ecologically sustainable, socially acceptable, using operator’s values
– Using current knowledge and technology but be adaptable to new
techniques
■ A conservation plan balances natural resource issues with economic and
social needs.
Benefits of Conservation
Planning
■ Help protect, conserve, and enhance natural
resources
■ Design alternatives that meet local resource
planning criteria for identified resource issues
■ Include human concerns for achieving sustainable
agricultural systems
■ Consider the effects of planned actions on
interrelated geographical areas (i.e., looking off-site,
beyond the planning unit boundary)
■ Consider and explain the interaction between
ecological communities and society
■ Focus on ecological principles
Benefits of Conservation
Planning (continued)
■ Consider the effects, risks and interactions of planned
systems and practices on the natural resources, as well
as economic and social considerations
■ Identify where indigenous stewardship methods might be
needed or explored
■ Assist with development of plans, regardless of scale,
which will help achieve the client’s and society’s
objectives
■ Identify where knowledge, science, and technology need
to be advanced
■ Assist with meeting requirements for the National
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which is incorporated
into all steps and activities of the conservation planning
process
NRCS Landscape Planning
Programs
■ Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program –
safeguards lives & property before & after a natural disaster
occurs
■ Watershed & Flood Prevention Operations (WFPO) Program
– provides technical & financial assistance to state & local
government entities for planning & installing watershed
projects
■ Watershed Rehabilitation Program – provides technical &
financial assistance to rehab dams constructed through
these programs
■ Watershed Surveys and Planning (WSP) – cooperative effort
to work with federal, state and local agencies to protect
watersheds from damage caused by erosion, floodwater,
sediment and to conserve and develop water and land
resources.

Source: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/programs/landscape/
Nutrient Management Plans
■ Nutrient management strives to provide sufficient nutrients for optimum crop
yields while minimizing negative impacts on water quality.
■ Elements of nutrient management include:
– Soil testing
■ By soil type
■ On a grid throughout the field
– Setting realistic goals for crop yields
■ Field history (yields from past years)
– Proper application of nutrients for efficient crop uptake
■ 4 R’s of nutrient management
– Considerations for practices during time between cash crops
■ Keep the soil covered; manage crop residues
■ Minimize soil disturbance – no-till, strip till, vertical tillage
■ Use cover crops to protect soil surface from erosion & to be a nutrient
sink/source
■ Sound nutrient management reduces input costs and protects water quality by
preventing over-application of commercial fertilizers and animal manure.
Sample Soil Test Report
4 R’s of Nutrient Management
■ Right Amount (fertilizer or manure application rate)
– N-P-K; S, Ca, Mg, Mn, Cu, Zn
– Consider previous crop – N credit?
– Use of MMP
■ Right Source (commercial fertilizer, organic sources including manure,
biosolids)
– Availability for crop uptake
– Solubility in soil solution
■ Right Placement (method of application: broadcast, starter, surface
band, injected)
– Risk of runoff or leaching or volatilization
– Being a good neighbor (manure applications; not on frozen ground)
■ Right Timing (close to crop needs/uptake)
– Preplant vs. sidedress N; use of PSNT
– N-inhibitor
Resources from Purdue’s
www.the-education-store.com
Soil pH and Nutrient Availability
Confined Livestock Feeding Program
■ In Indiana, farms that have livestock confined
feeding operations with at least:
– 300 cattle
– 600 pigs or sheep
– 30,000 poultry
– 500 horses
■ Is considered a Confined Feeding Operation (CFO)
– CAFO – larger numbers; NPDES CAFO Individual
Permit
■ An operator must request and receive approval from
IDEM before operating a CFO
– Before starting initial construction
– Before starting an expansion of the operation
Confined Livestock Feeding Program
■ Program Purpose:
– Assist producers construct and operate CFOs
– Protect human health
– Protect the environment
■ IDEM’s Role:
– Design, construction, capacities for buildings, manure storage
– Operation/maintenance – recordkeeping, inspections,
response
– Land application requirements – agronomic rates, setbacks,
weather
■ IDEM Divisions:
– Permits – review designs, inspections during construction,
contact
– Compliance – routine & complaint-based inspections
– Enforcement – follow-up on serious or unresolved violations
Good Water Use Practices
■ Water is essential for proper crop growth and
livestock well-being
■ Water supply depends on location in
state/landscape
– NE Indiana tends to get more than SW Indiana
– Some areas need drainage in order to grow
crops (e.g. Kankakee
River Basin, Tipton Till Plain)
■ Glacial history influences water availability
– Northern Indiana has S&G aquifers near the
surface (outwash material)
– Adequate water recharge from annual rainfall
Irrigated Land in US
Selected States

State Acreage
Indiana 555,443
Michigan 670,212
Illinois 612,459
Wisconsin 454,362
Iowa 221,986
Ohio 50,665

40 Source: 2017 Ag
Census
Irrigated Land in US
Selected States

State Acreage
Nebraska 8,588,389
California* 7,833,593
Arkansas 4,803,613
Texas* 4,363,345
Idaho 3,398,266
Colorado 2,516,785
Kansas* 2,503,386
*Indicates declining acreage
Source: 2017 Ag Census
Irrigated
Areas in
Indiana
Irrigated Land in Indiana
Selected Counties (Acres Irrigated)
County Rank 2017 2012 2007 2002 1997 1992
Indiana 555,443 437,445 397,113 313,130 255,917 240,898
La Porte 1 68,459 54,378 47,849 32,400 27,673 25,922
La Grange 2 38,944 25,553 24,723 21,680 24,234 26,023
Starke 3 38,650 25,597 17,299 11,138 10,489 12,238
Knox 4 32,107 34,909 30,206 24,608 14,896 9,278
Kosciusko 5 30,091 18,043 28,007 19,057 12,603 13,384
Pulaski 6 29,856 18,454 19,978 19,199 11,591 15,237
St. Joseph 7 28,116 27,580 25,010 19,536 13,387 18,295
Jasper 8 25,942 21,052 22,584 20,618 16,528 14,616
Fulton 9 25,065 22,928 19,550 16,151 9,913 12,003
Elkhart 10 25,044 25,521 22,028 23,468 24,235 20,830

Totals 342,274 274,015 257,234 207,855 165,549 167,826


Percent of IN 62% 63% 65% 66% 65% 70%

Source: USDA Ag Census


Irrigated Land in La Porte County
Acres of Selected Crops
Crop 2010 2005 2000
All Corn 35,879 25,213 22,574
Seed 19,830 15,130 14,498
Grain 15,236 9,876 8,0766
Other* 813 208 0
Soybean 17,585 14,529 11,165
Wheat 2,235 523 147
Tomato 1,706 976 650
Green
Bean 876 1,760 793
Mint 579 752 0
Other 2,588 387 2,905
Totals 61,488 44,140 38,234
* Includes sweet corn, silage & ornamental corn. Source: USDA FSA Office
Irrigation Assets of Michiana
■ Over 400,000 irrigated acres within
80-mile radius of South Bend, Indiana.
■ Largest “pool” of irrigated ground east
of Mississippi River.
■ Closest area of irrigated land to the
major US population centers.
■ Area is centered on excellent
transportation and utility resources.
■ Annual recharge is greater than
irrigation use – sustainable irrigation.
Irrigation Is Sustainable
7

6
Needed Irrigation
Corn Water Use 5.5 inches
5
Inches of Water

Normal Rainfall
4
Normal rainfall
38 inches
3

2 Crop need
15.6 inches total
1

0
Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec

More information at https://www.canr.msu.edu/irrigation/


Irrigation Assets of Michiana
■ Sandy & sandy loam soils provide
ready field access during planting &
harvest.
■ Available water at the surface or in
aquifers close to the surface.
■ Increase in energy costs has
encouraged production of more
higher value crops locally.
■ Desire to reduce production risks on
crops with higher input costs.
■ Higher value crops justify investment.
For example, seed corn production, under
irrigation, results in “explosion” in value
In spring 2010, #2 yellow corn value = $3.80/ bu.
Hybrid seed corn value = $110/bu.
29 x greater value
Investment in Irrigation
■ As of 2017, 9 northern Indiana counties
accounted for 56% of state’s irrigation.
■ Average investment was estimated at
over $1,000 per acre in irrigation
equipment & infrastructure.
■ Northern Indiana farmers have
benefited their rural economies by
investing over $300,000,000 in
irrigation equipment in these 9 counties.
Irrigation Impacts on Environment
■ State implemented “Significant Water
Withdrawal Facility” registration & reporting in
1980’s (Indiana Code 14-25;
https://www.in.gov/dnr/water/4841.htm).
■ 2014 Farm Bill offered Agricultural Water
Enhancement Program (AWEP) for improved
water use efficiency (funding now repealed).
■ Issues of increased soil erosion by water on
sloping land or flooding if it rains.
■ Soil compaction issues due to land use
(e.g. specialty crops with more frequent trips
across field).
■ Wise use of water by using irrigation scheduling,
soil moisture probes.
Additional Agriculture Best
Management Practices Resources
■ United States Geological Survey
https://www.usgs.gov/centers/glri/science/agriculture-best-management-practices?qt-
science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects

■ US Environmental Protection Agency


https://cfpub.epa.gov/watertrain/moduleFrame.cfm?parent_object_id=1362

■ USDA Agricultural Research Service


https://www.ars.usda.gov/is/np/BestMgmtPractices/Best%20Management%20Practices.pdf

■ Indiana Department of Environmental Management


– Watershed Restoration Guidance: https://www.in.gov/idem/nps/3470.htm
– Clean Water Act Guidance: https://www.in.gov/idem/nps/3432.htm
– Watershed Examples: https://www.in.gov/idem/nps/3360.htm

■ Indiana State Department of Agriculture


– Nutrient Reduction Strategy: https://www.in.gov/isda/2991.htm

■ Utah State University Extension


https://extension.usu.edu/waterquality/protectyourwater/howtoprotectwaterquality/bmps/index