- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
The two community forums to explore solutions to nitrate in groundwater and the role of policy are being hosted by the UC California Institute for Water Resources and the CDFA Fertilizer Research and Education Program.
The UC Davis report “Addressing Nitrate in California’s Drinking Water,” delivered in March to the State Water Resources Control Board, concluded that more than 90 percent of human-generated nitrate contamination of groundwater in the Tulare Lake Basin and the Monterey County portion of the Salinas Valley has come from agricultural activity.
Plants need nitrogen to grow, but nutrients that are not used by the crop may move below the root zone. Nitrate, a byproduct of nitrogen, may infiltrate to groundwater.
“The report found that farmers have already begun employing numerous techniques to reduce the amount of nitrogen fertilizer available in the soil,” said Doug Parker, director of the UC California Institute for Water Resources and leader for the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources water strategic initiative. “At the forums, we will be discussing how those efforts are proceeding and exploring additional solutions to protect groundwater quality. We’ll be asking the agricultural community what additional research and education they need from UC Agriculture and Natural Resources.”
At the forums, UC Cooperative Extension specialists will describe methods of managing nitrogen on dairies and cropland. Members of the agricultural industry and representatives of statewide and regional programs will discuss the practical aspects of adopting nitrogen management practices. To wrap up the sessions, Parker will present a case study on the effects of policy on nutrient management in the Chesapeake Bay region in the Northeast and lead a discussion of the role of policy in nitrogen management in California.
The June 11 forum will be held at the California Farm Bureau Federation in Sacramento from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The June 18 forum will be held at the UC Cooperative Extension office in Tulare from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Both events are free and open to the public. To register or for more information about the events, please visit http://ucanr.edu/sites/managingagriculturalnitrogen.