What are Agricultural Best Management Practices?
Agricultural Best Management Practices (BMPs) are practical measures that producers can take to reduce the amount of fertilizers, pesticides, animal waste, and other pollutants entering our water resources. They are designed to improve water quality while maintaining agricultural production. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) has adopted BMPs for most commodities in the state. Each BMP manual covers key aspects of water quality and water conservation. Typical practices include:
- Nutrient Management to determine nutrient needs and sources as well as manage nutrient applications (including manure) to minimize impacts to water resources.
- Irrigation Management to address the method and scheduling of irrigation to reduce water and nutrient losses to the environment.
- Water Resource Protection using buffers, setbacks, and swales to reduce or prevent the transport of sediments and nutrients from production areas to waterbodies.
Why Should I Implement BMPs?
- Implementing (and maintaining) verified FDACS-adopted BMPs provides a presumption of compliance with state water quality standards for the pollutants addressed by the BMPs.
- Some BMPs can help you operate more efficiently and reduce costs, while you help protect the environment.
- Producers who implement FDACS-adopted BMPs might satisfy some water management district (WMD) permitting requirements. Check with your WMD.
- With some exceptions, the Florida Right to Farm Act prohibits local governments from regulating an agricultural activity that is addressed through rule-adopted BMPs that producers are implementing.
- The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is developing Basin Management Action Plans (BMAPs) to meet adopted water quality targets called Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs). Where FDEP adopts a BMAP that includes agriculture, producers must either implement FDACS-adopted BMPs, or conduct monitoring (prescribed by FDEP or the water management district) to show they are not violating water quality standards. This type of monitoring is very expensive.
How Do I Participate in BMPs?
- Schedule a meeting with a BMP team member, who will provide a free FDACS BMP manual and other BMP-related information.
- Participate with the coordinator in a free assessment of your operation to determine which BMPs apply to you.
- Fill out a BMP checklist and sign the Notice of Intent (NOI) to implement the BMPs.
- Keep a copy of the checklist and signed NOI in your records.
- Implement and maintain the applicable BMPs and keep adequate records to maintain a presumption of compliance with state water quality standards.