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Conservation NewsBriefs

March 18, 2013
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A statewide network for monitoring agricultural water quality and water quantity in Arkansas
Journal of Soil and Water Conservation
The world population reached seven billion in 2011, and global population of nine billion is expected by 2050. To sustain agricultural production of food, fiber, feed and fuel for the world population, agriculture requires water and nutrient inputs, which can impair water resources by decreasing water quality and availability. Both are concerns in the agricultural region of the Lower Mississippi River Basin and specifically in the state of
Arkansas, where production of rice, cotton, soybean and poultry are critical to the state’s economy.

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New technology to conserve water while yielding successful crops

The ongoing drought has obviously taken a toll on agriculture, but new technology could help future crops thrive while conserving water. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Conservation and Production Research Lab in Bushland, Texas, has a radioactive device that measures water in soil with extreme accuracy. The new technology will allow farmers to use just the right amount of water on crops; using less water, but with higher efficiency.
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Louisiana agencies target Gulf’s ‘dead zones’
The Town Talk
Four Louisiana agencies are gathering information on nutrients in watersheds across the state with an eye toward reducing their impact on the Gulf of Mexico and “dead zones.” The “dead zone” is an area of low
oxygen that develops every spring and summer. It forms because fertilizer and other nutrients run into the Mississippi River, which empties into the Gulf.

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India farmers think big but grow micro to enrich their soil 
The Guardian
Since 2009, Bengaluru, India, has pursued an agricultural program called Bhoo Chetana, or soil rejuvenation, that has seen productivity shoot up by 20-50 percent, according to state officials. The gross value of crop production increased by $130 million in 2011. The rationale is that farmers can increase productivity and income through the judicious use of micronutrients while simultaneously reducing the use of fertilizers that
contaminate ground water.

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Environmental advocacy groups split over farm bill
Capital Gazette
Environmental advocacy groups are lined up on opposite sides of a bill that creates a voluntary program to certify pollution-fighting practices on farms. The program, called “agricultural certainty,” could encourage farmers to adopt Chesapeake Bay-friendly practices sooner rather than later, argues the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. The state’s riverkeepers, the Sierra Club, the League of Conservation Voters and other environmental groups disagree. They say the bill creates a 10-year exemption from clean water rules for farmers.

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Cover crop grant awarded 
The Journal-Register
New York’s Orleans County Soil and Water Conservation District will receive nearly $300,000 in funding for a program that will assist farmers taking part in soil-improvement projects. The purpose of the grant is to
encourage farmers to grow cover crops as a means to reduce erosion and soil loss from valuable crop land.

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