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Agrochemical and Erosion Management in Sugarcane to Reduce Surface Water Impairment in the Gulf Coastal Region

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Pp. 192-192 in Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Environmental Regulations: Proceedings of the March 11-13, 2002 Conference, (Fort Worth, Texas, USA)  701P0102.(doi:10.13031/2013.7556)
Authors:   Brandon C. Grigg, Ted S. Kornecki, James L. Fouss, and Lloyd M. Southwick
Keywords:   agrochemical, nitrate, phosphate, runoff, soil erosion, sugarcane, residue, management systems

Sugarcane is a key agricultural commodity for the coastal region of Louisiana. Current sugarcane production in Louisiana uses significant agrochemical pesticide and fertilizer inputs and typically remove crop residue by burning. High annual rainfall and intense rainfall events result in surface runoff, soil erosion, and transport of agrochemicals and sediment to surface waters prevalent throughout the region. To date, impaired surface waters in Louisiana have been identified, TMDL for those waters are established or being established in accordance with USEPA guidelines. In coastal Louisiana, impaired waters are often adjacent to sugarcane production areas, however, little is known about the contributions of sugarcane production to nutrient or sediment load in these impaired waters. Scientists with the USDA-ARS, Soil and Water Research Unit in Baton Rouge, LA have established the St. Gabriel Water Quality Field Site in cooperation with Louisiana State University (LSU) and the Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station (LAES). In cooperation with LSU and LAES scientists, we are determining the effects of various sugarcane residue management and soil stabilizing strategies on the quality of surface runoff waters and on soil erosion. Measured water quality parameters include nitrate and phosphate and pesticides transported in both water soluble and sediment-bound forms. The rate of runoff-induced soil erosion is determined from the quantity of sediment in runoff waters. This project will demonstrate the impacts of sugarcane residue management on effluent water quality, and will enable regulatory agencies to accurately gage the contribution of current and potential sugarcane management practices to the TMDL of nearby surface waters.

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