Additional, more efficient research aimed at nutrient management is a key to the long-term sustainability of the Florida farmer.
Scott Angle, Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Florida/IFAS, promises more nutrient-based research projects aimed at helping the state’s producers. It is essential considering the livelihood of Florida farmers are at stake.
“As I’ve traveled around the state the past couple of months, and I’m out almost every week talking to farmers and ranchers, of course to learn what their issues are so I can better represent them, the No. 1 issue I have heard is BMPs (Best Management Practices) and nutrient management regulations and requirements for the state of Florida. Senate Bill 712 now requires a lot of this to be mandatory,” Angle said.
Senate Bill 712
According to a 2020 press release, Senate Bill (SB) 712, also known as “The Clean Waterways Act,” was signed into law to protect water quality and conserve natural resources. One of its goals was to minimize nutrient pollution. One of the bill’s main components is detailed documentation of fertilizer use by agricultural operations to ensure compliance with BMPs and aid in evaluation of their effectiveness.
“The one that comes to mind are soil test recommendations for nutrients. We know that not all of them are correct. They were developed decades ago when yield potential was higher and cultural practices were different.,” Angle said. “As I travel around the state, I’m hearing from farmers, some of them at least, that if they follow our recommendations, they can’t make a decent living. They can’t grow enough of a crop. If they don’t follow the rules, they have some problems from a regulatory perspective. We’ve got to go back and redo a lot of our nutrient management recommendations.”
Angle said funding has been redirected into this initiative that could require up to three or four years of additional research data. But it should yield positive results for Florida farmers.
“It is critical that we get this right, because our farmers are relying on it,” Angle said. “I’ve been to meetings where I’ve literally had farmers crying in the meetings and saying they can’t go on any longer with some of the conditions they’re having to work under. They are in danger of losing the farm. A lot of it goes back to these IFAS recommendations for nutrients. Some of them are fine. Some of them aren’t. We’re going to make sure they all are by getting the research right.”