THIRTY ALABAMA FARMS PARTICIPATE IN WATER POLLUTION PROGRAM
As part of ongoing efforts to address drinking water pollution in
the state, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System will target
30 small farms operators in three geographic locations of
Alabama with educational programming aimed at reducing the
risks of pollution.
Targeted geographic areas include west central Alabama and
the Sand Mountain/Lake Guntersville area. Farmers in Jefferson
County also will be included.
"Small-scale farmers comprise the lifeblood of Alabama
vegetable farming," said Dr. Jesse LaPrade, the Extension
environmental specialist who coordinates the program.
"However, problems occur when chemical residues associated
with these farming practices, such as herbicides, pesticides,
fertilizer and manure, wash into nearby surface water."
The primary goal of the program, known as Farm-A-Syst, is to
educate small-scale producers (especially minority producers)
about ways they can identify and deal with these problems in
order to reduce the threat of drinking-water contamination. The
training, which has been offered in Alabama since 1993, is
being revised to include the most up-to-date approaches to
pollution education. USDA's Cooperative State Research,
Education and Extension Service and the National Partnership in
Washington, D.C., provide crucial support for the program.
The program will test three delivery systems to address water
pollution: a third of the targeted farmers will work directly with
Extension personnel, while the remaining two-thirds either will
work with Extension-trained environmental volunteers or through
a self-help approach. The results of these tests will enable
LaPrade and other Extension experts to gauge which delivery
method is most effective.
"One of the program's key goals will be helping farmers
understand what they can do personally to reduce pollution,"
LaPrade says. "In some cases, this may be as simple as
properly maintaining septic tanks, choosing effective pesticides
and controlling pests without using pesticides."
An added advantage of the program is the savings some
producers will derive in operating costs in addition to improving
the quality of their drinking water. Youth and adults will be
recruited as volunteers for this program.