April 12, 2022
Extension offers farmer-led watershed management training
By Tracy Courage
U of A System Division of Agriculture
- Farmers critical to successful watershed management
- Online sessions at 9 a.m. April 19, 26, and May 3
- Program aims to improve water quality in Arkansas, greater Mississippi River Basin, Gulf of Mexico
- Training free, registration required: https://www.uaex.uada.edu/watershed
LITTLE ROCK — When it comes to protecting the state’s waterways, Arkansas farmers are uniquely qualified to lead efforts in water quality management. The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture is offering a new leadership training program for farmers, farm advisers and crop consultants to learn more about how they can lead stewardship efforts.
The training will cover the importance of farmer-led watershed management and resources available for supporting agricultural production and local watershed management in the United States.
Three online sessions will be offered via Zoom, each starting at 9 a.m. CST:
- April 19 — The What, Why and How of Farmer Leadership to Protect Water
- April 26 — What Farmers Need to Know About Watersheds and Watershed Management
- May 3 — Individual and Collective Solutions Where Farmers Can Make a Difference
The training is free, but registration is required. More information and links to register are available at https://www.uaex.uada.edu/watershed.
“There are a lot of opportunities and benefits for farmers associated with water quality projects, namely more money through grants for farm resources to address conservation concerns and non-regulatory approaches to address water quality concerns,” John Pennington, extension water quality educator for the Division of Agriculture, said.
Arkansas has more than 600,000 acres of surface water, 91,000 miles of streams and 282 identified aquifers. Water resources, however, need protection and restoration from activities that influence the quality of the water and the health of the land from which it flows.
“Ultimately, protecting water quality is up to everyone,” Pennington said. “We know that our farmers and growers are already involved in stewardship efforts and can be a tremendous resource for others.”
The training was developed as part of a national effort to reduce nutrients entering the Gulf of Mexico that contribute to zones of hypoxia, or areas of low oxygen. In these zones, the concentration of dissolved oxygen drops to a level that can no longer support living aquatic organisms. Hypoxic areas — or dead zones — in oceans have increased in duration and frequency. These dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico have contributed to the decline of the fisheries that provide about 40 percent of U.S. domestic seafood.
The training is part of a multi-state effort, involving 13 states that border the Mississippi River and are part of the Mississippi River Atchafalaya River Basin, the largest basin in the country.
Farmers, researchers and watershed managers from across the basin had input into the development of the training. Several Arkansas groups participated in the development, including the Beaver Watershed Alliance, Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts, Arkansas Natural Resources Division, and the Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service.
“Our whole eastern edge of Arkansas borders the Mississippi River,” said Mike Daniels, extension’s associate department head of Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences, and director of the Arkansas Discovery Farms program. “We felt like we had to build capacity of farmers to get involved in local water issues. This is about trying to equip farmers through education and leadership training to belong to some of these water organizations so that agriculture has a voice. We want people who live in those watershed areas to be part of the process of implementing solutions to problems that arise.”
The program is made possible by funding provided by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and Arkansas Natural Resources Division. To learn about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit www.uaex.uada.edu. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @AR_Extension.
About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.
The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
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