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North FL Research & Education Center- Suwannee Valley

North FL Research & Education Center- Suwannee Valley

Best Management Practices (BMPs)

Driven by a need to ensure safe and adequate water for urban and rural purposes, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) has rolled out crop and animal specific production guides to encourage stewardship of our natural resources. The Vegetable and Agronomic Crop (VAC) manual details how growers can comply with state regulations through implementation of BMPs including:

New regulations from the Spring Protection Act and Senate Bill 552 further regulate the flow and nutrient (Total Maximum Daily Load) levels of various “Impaired water bodies” including the Sante Fe and Suwannee Rivers where a large number of natural springs occur.

Studies at the NFREC-SV center in Live Oak and local farms build off these guidelines to offer farmers ways to improve or limit the environmental impact on these waterways. Because many of these new techniques are unproven, cost-share money is offered on Best Management Practices (BMP’s) to reimburse 50 to 90% of the cost of implementation. Hopefully, as time and science bear out the value of these practices, more growers will implement these management practices, and impact both their bottom line and the environment in positive ways.

Projects at the NFREC-SV center in Live Oak and local surrounding farms build off Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ (FDACS) guidelines for Best Management Practices, including the Vegetable and Agronomic Crops Manual. Through these research projects, we aim to improve crop production while limiting the environmental impact on our springs and rivers. Using research projects to demonstrate techniques and tools to growers with hands-on workshops and one-on-one technical assistance will hopefully improve their adoption and positively impact their bottom line. A few of the projects underway include: evaluating various soil moisture sensors (), on-farm corn fertility trials, sod-based rotation (SBR) with agronomic crops and cattle, grid sampling and variable rate fertilizer application, strategic soil mapping with appropriate fertility inputs, irrigation and nutrient management in corn and peanut, nitrogen rate management in conventional vegetables (watermelon and carrot), and developing a nutrient BMP for organic carrots.