California could be example for fertilizer use assistance
The new technical assistance funding will help translate research findings into real-world assistance for growers so they can better address nutrient management issues. The approval of this bill will allow the University of California Cooperative Extension, local Resource Conservation Districts, nonprofits and others to apply for funding for projects that help growers develop nutrient management plans. In addition, the bill will help fund technical education for fertilizer users and research to improve nutrient management practices to help minimize the environmental impact of fertilizer use, including greenhouse gases and nitrates in the groundwater.
In light of the fact that the number of county-based UC Cooperative Extension farm advisors is at an all-time low, with many counties closing offices and eliminating positions, this bill comes at a critical time, according to the California Climate and Agriculture Network’s analysis of AB 2174. State funding for technical assistance programs has been significantly reduced in recent years. This bill provides access to about $1 million of existing, underutilized funds collected under the FREP to specifically support research and technical education programs developed at California research institutions. The goals are to result in cost savings and reduce contamination of the state’s watersheds that could be used for drinking water, according to the goals outlined in the bill.
The University of California report released this summer stressed the importance of reducing the impact of fertilizer in the groundwater. Funding for research into better ways to use fertilizer is critical for this state. How California deals with this challenge could be applicable to states in the Corn Belt that surround the Mississippi River, which is also under scrutiny for nitrate loads.
Read more here about the University of California report.