Recently, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) announced that once again, sugarcane and vegetable farmers in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) surpassed annual phosphorus reduction targets by reducing phosphorus 44 percent – bringing the average annual reduction to 56 percent since the program began in 1996.
“Good news on water gets lost in the shuffle, but sugarcane farmers continue to clean every drop of water leaving their farms and get good results,” said Judy Sanchez from U.S. Sugar. “For more than twenty years, farmers have released water from their farms that’s is twice as clean as required, and helped restore a healthier, more sustainable ecosystem.”
“If restoration were a baseball team, EAA farmers would be the clean-up hitters. Our on-farm best management practices, designed in partnership with the University Florida, have knocked expectations out of the park, year after year—becoming a model nation-wide for removing nutrients from runoff. The winners are the downstream ecosystems that receive cleaner water and an unparalleled commitment to Everglades Restoration.”
According to SFWMD, farmers in the EAA achieved a 44 percent annual reduction in phosphorus for the Water Year 2019, which exceeds the 25 percent reduction required by law. In total, farmers prevented a whopping 107 metric tons of phosphorus from leaving the EAA in Water Year 2019 and, since its inception, the on-farm BMP program has prevented a total of 3,886 metric tons of phosphorus from leaving the farming area.
A recent SFWMD letter to farmers said, “These successes would not be realized without your active participation. Thank you for your continued contributions toward making the BMP program a success, as it is vital to the restoration and protection of the Everglades.”
Here is what others are saying about Florida sugarcane farmers achieving another water quality milestone:
“Using on-farm water management and sediment control techniques like modified pumping practices, GPS land leveling, vegetation to control windborne sediment, and cleaning canal ditches, Florida’s sugarcane farmers have been setting the standard for phosphorus reduction in the region,” said Gary Ritter, Florida Farm Bureau.
“For nearly a quarter century, Florida’s sugarcane farmers have been trusted partners in Everglades restoration and this latest water quality achievement continues to show we remain good stewards of the land,” said Robert Hammock, Frierson Farms.
“The progress being made by sugarcane farmers in the Everglades Agricultural Area is a national success story, and we are proud that we continue to more than meet water quality goals every year,” said John Scott Hundley of Hundley Farms.
Source: Florida Sugarcane Farmers