Best Management Practices Enable the Coexistence of Agriculture and the Everglades Environment.

in HortScience

Situated at the northern end of the historical Florida Everglades is the 280,000-ha tract of land called the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA). This land was diked, canalized, and drained in the early 1900s to encourage the production of primarily sugarcane, vegetables, sod, and rice on its Histosols. The phosphorus in drainage water from the EAA is believed to be causing undesirable changes to the ecosystem in areas subject to legislated environmental protection. Phosphorus (P) load reduction “Best Management Practices” (BMPs) are being developed and implemented in the EAA to reduce agricultural production impacts on the wetland areas. The BMPs can be categorized as fertilizer, water management, or particulate control related, and can be applied effectively across the EAA. Ten farms, representative of the EAA soils, rainfall, crops, farm size, geographic location, and water management practices, were used in the study. The farms were monitored under pre-BMP conditions for 1 to 3 years. By Jan. 1995, seven of the 10 farms were operating under project-designed BMP packages that included only the fertilizer and water management options. Depending on the method used for adjusting for hydrologic variability between years, calculated P load reductions ranged from 25% to 60% between 1994 and 1995.

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