Education of Best Management Practices in the Arroyo Colorado Watershed
The Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) and the Texas AgriLife Extension Service (Extension) implemented an educational program within the three-county area of the Arroyo Colorado watershed to address water quality protection and improvement for the agricultural community. The educational program, focusing on nutrient management, best management practices, pesticide safety and compliance, was one of the goals outlined in the Arroyo Colorado watershed protection plan and was funded through a Clean Water Act Section 319(h) grant from the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board (TSSWCB) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Since the program’s inception in 2005, Extension educated agricultural producers on proper nutrient management and production techniques, promoted programs associated with the Arroyo Colorado Watershed Protection Plan (WPP) including cost-share programs, provided pesticide safety applicator certification education and continuing education, and conducted a soil testing campaign. To avoid duplication and enhance existing programs, Extension worked with the TSSWCB, the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDANRCS) and the local Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs).
Educational efforts reached 6,273 individuals with 3,640 of those attending outreach programs directly meeting the objectives of this project. A total of 3,311 soil samples were collected (representing over 100,000 acres) in the soil testing campaign and projected fertilizer savings based on soil tests were an estimated 3.3 million lbs of nitrogen and 3.8 million lbs of phosphorus compared to rates planned before testing. These reductions in nutrient loading represent a reduced threat for potential impacts to surface water and groundwater resources. Extension programs funded by this project provided a venue to promote cost-share programs that have assisted in the development of 131 water quality management plans by TSSWCB.
Education of best management practices in the Arroyo Colorado watershed has been and continues to be a key component in the overall effort of the agricultural community to meet the goals outlined in the Arroyo Colorado WPP.