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New farming techniques help improve water quality in SRWMD

Staff report

nnovative technologies are providing farmers and producers in the Suwannee River Water Management District with the opportunity to try new agricultural techniques and equipment aimed at improving water quality through precision fertilizer and nutrient application.

Provided by the district in partnership with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Precision Agriculture Program offers $2 million in new cost-share and grant funding for area farmers to implement technologies that improve water quality.

The program is estimated to reduce 1.3 million pounds of nitrogen across more than 50,000 acres within the district.

The program focuses primarily on row crop farming and includes a variety of technologies for the applicant to choose from including tissue sampling, soil quality testing, soil nutrient mapping, variable rate nutrient and irrigation application, aerial imagery and fertigation.

District staff worked with producers, researchers and subject matter experts across the country to identify technologies with the greatest return on water quality while maintaining, if not improving, crop yields.

Since the program’s approval in September, the district has received 58 applications for the program totaling more than $2.5 million. Forty-six applications were selected for the current available funding, and the district is considering other funding opportunities to fulfill the remaining projects.

To receive funding, recipients are required to enter a contractual agreement that includes water monitoring and data reporting.

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