Southern Regional Water Program

Research, Extension & Education Water Quality Programs through the Land Grant University System

Nutrient and Pesticide Management in Tennessee

Tennessee, nutrients and pesticides are utilized at various levels in the production of most crops, from food, forage and fiber crops in agricultural production systems to turf and ornamental crops for cities, businesses, schools and homes. However, proper nutrient and pesticide management are critical to protect our vital, but limited water resources since many of these compounds also are potential pollutants of both surface and ground water. Some watersheds already have been identified as having contamination problems related to nutrients and pesticides.

In Nutrients can originate from a variety of sources including organic and inorganic orchards.jpgfertilizers used to enhance plant growth, animal manures and human septage. 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 insect, disease and weed control in agricultural and urban areas. Accidental spills, back-siphoning of chemicals into wells, leaching or runoff of chemical residues, spray drift and improper disposal of plow.jpgpesticide containers all can lead to water contamination. 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 waterbodies (stream, rivers, lakes) in Tennessee is available through the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC). TDEC provides online information on source water quality. Also, the US Environmental Protection Agency maintains online information on public water systems. The Federal Clean Water Act requires states to develop a listing of impaired waters which is updated every 2 years. FCWA provides the most current assessments.

Resources and Programs

The University of Tennessee 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.

The University of Tennessee has established programs designed to provide assistance in the proper use of nutrients and pesticides. Below are some key links to information and resources available to assist you.

Extension Outreach

The University of Tennessee is the home of the U.T. Agricultural Extension Service which develops and delivers programs designed to provide educational outreach into all counties of the state in concert with Tennessee State University. Extension education enables the research developed at colleges and universities and from other sources throughout the world to be interpreted and delivered to the end user (e.g., families, business owners and agricultural producers). Some of the major Extension education programs addressing nutrient and pesticide management are:

The Tennessee Farmstead Assessment System or Farm-A-Syst guides a farmer in evaluating practices, structure and conditions around the farmstead that can affect water quality.

The Tennessee Home Assessment System or Home-A-Syst is designed to help families assess factors in and around their home that can affect water quality and their health.

Home Hazards Hunt© Is a self-paced, interactive CD program based on Home-A-Syst that teaches 4th -6th graders about protecting water quality and the environment through a computer game.

The Pesticide Applicator Training Program or Pesticide Safety Education patseal.gifProgram is available through The University of Tennessee to provide education in the safe and proper use of pesticides in order to protect humans and the environment, including water.

Pesticide Management Programs are available through The University of Tennessee to provide research information and recommendations for the environmentally safe and effective use of pesticides in crop and turf management systems. These include programs in various departments in insect, disease, and weed management (integrated pest management).

The UT Agricultural Extension Service offers certification in Animal Waste Comprehensive Nutrient Planning.

Contact your county Extension office for information on other educational programs such as the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program that works with limited resource families on a number of issues including food/water safety issues and ways to address them.

Extension Publications at The University of Tennessee can be accessed through any of the following links:

Scientific Research

Researchers at The University of Tennessee investigate and develop new technologies in pest control with the goal of eliminating adverse impacts of nutrients and crop protection chemicals.

The Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology and the Department of Plant Sciences and Landscape Systems conduct research in technologies for safe and efficient use of nutrients and pesticides for crop production. Key areas include pesticide management in an IPM program.

The Department of Biosystems Engineering and Environmental Systems conducts research in the areas of biological systems engineering and environmental and natural resources. For example, animal waste management is an area of active research.

College and University Education

Degree programs and continuing education are critical to develop and enhance our skills and abilities to address the water quality issues of the future. Educational curricula in nutrient and pesticide management are available within several departments at The University of Tennessee. Graduate and undergraduate programs in key departments include:

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