Nutrient & Pesticide Management in Georgia
Pesticides and nutrients are an integral part of most modern agricultural production systems. These products are used to improve productivity and control disease, insects, and weeds that would make it difficult to produce many Georgia crops. However, proper nutrient and pesticide management are critical to protect our vital water resources since many of these compounds are also potential pollutants of both surface and ground water. Some watersheds already have been identified as having contamination problems related to nutrients and pesticides.
Nutrients can originate from a variety of sources including organic and inorganic fertilizers used to enhance plan growth, animal manure, and human waste. Nitrogen and phosphorus are the two most common nutrients associated with water pollution. Both are essential for normal growth and development of plants and animals. However, when not managed effectively, these nutrients can be transported by leaching and/or runoff and impair the quality of surface and ground water resources.
Pesticides are used for a wide range of purposes such as weed, disease, and insect control in agricultural and urban areas. Despite their benefit, however, pesticides can be a serious threat to human health and the environment. Many pesticides are broad-spectrum poisons. Non-target species may be injured through direct contact with the pesticide, or injury may occur indirectly because food and water sources are contaminated. Additionally, pesticides may contaminate surface or groundwater reservoirs. Proper storage and handling of these products are critical to prevent adverse impacts on water resources and aquatic habitats.
Conditions in Your Watershed
Information on nutrient and pesticide impaired water bodes in Georgia is available through the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Environmental Protection Division (GAEPD) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Federal Clean Water Act requires states to develop a listing of all impaired waters, including those impaired by pesticides and nutrients. Georgia’s list can be found on the GAEPD website.
Resources and Programs
The University of Georgia (UGA) provides research, education, and extension resources to assist state and federal agencies, business and industry, communities, and individual citizens in addressing water quality concerns. These programs are designed to provide information for specific audiences, such as farmers, homeowners, and youth.
UGA has established programs designed to provide assistance in the proper use of nutrients and pesticides.
UGA is home to the Georgia Cooperative Extension Service, which develops and delivers programs designed to provide educational outreach into all counties of the state. Outreach education enables the research developed at colleges and universities and from other sources throughout the world to be interpreted an delivered to the end user, which is often a home or business owner addressing nutrient and pesticide management are:
Nutrient Management for Agriculture
A comprehensive nutrient management plant (CNMP) is a strategy for making wise use of plant nutrients to enhance farm profits while protecting water resources. CNMPs consist of six major parts: evaluation of nutrient needs, inventory of nutrient supply, determination of nutrient balance, mortality management, preventative maintenance and inspection, and an emergency response plan. See the AWARE website for more information.
Proper Storage, Handling, and Disposal of Agricultural Pesticides
Although it is not illegal to possess canceled or unusable pesticides if they are properly stored, it is illegal to use them. Anyone using canceled pesticides could be held accountable if people or the environment are exposed to the pesticide through spills or leaks. Proper storage is key to avoiding contamination by pesticides. UGA’s County Extension Agents the Georgia Department of Agriculture, The Bugwood Network (and their Georgia Integrated Pest Management page) have a wealth of information regarding pesticide waste storage. In addition, the Georgia Department of Agriculture and the Cooperative Extension Service coordinate Georgia Clean Day to promote the collection and proper disposal of unwanted pesticide and pesticide containers.
Farm*A*Syst and Home*A*Syst
Georgia Farm*A*Syst and Home*A*Syst are voluntary programs that provide tools to assist farmers and rural residents assess the safety of their livestock waste management disposal practices, pesticide and herbicide management, chemical use and storage, animal production, and land management.
The Georgia Cooperative Extension Service has published information on wellhead protection for farm wells and private domestic wells. The CES’s Agricultural and Environmental Services Laboratories in Athens, Georgia provide accurate analyses for objective decisions and problem solving related to agriculture and the environment. Tests are conducted on a wide variety of materials, including soil, plant, water, animal feedstuffs, animal wastes, biosolids, and many others. Most samples must be submitted through a County Extension Agent. Each County Extension office has information on the laboratories’ services, sample submission, and fees.
Researchers at the University of Georgia investigate and develop new technologies to eliminate adverse impacts of nutrients and crop protection chemicals. Sources of information on major nutrient and pesticide management research efforts in Georgia include:
UGA’s Science-Based Water Management has information about all types of research regarding water management in Georgia.
The UGA Office of Environmental Science has compiled a list of research titles, principal investigators, and grand funds for water-related research at UGA.
Publications (Research and Others)
- How to Store, Handle, and Dispose of Agricultural Pesticides
- Pesticide Safety for Private and Commercial Applicators
- Hazardous Product Storage, Handling and Waste Disposal
- Fertilizer Storage and Handling
- Managing Pests on Croplands and Pastures
- Improving Drinking Water for the Rural Resident
- Improving Household Wastewater Treatment
- Broiler Production
- Layer Production
- Wellhead Protection for Farm Wells
- Wellhead Protection for Private Domestic Wells
- UGA Department of Entomology Publications
College and University Education
University of Georgia