Southern Regional Water Program

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

Nutrient and Pesticide Management in Texas

In Texas, 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, business, 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.

graintruck.gifNutrients can originate from a variety of sources including organic and inorganic fertilizers 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.

spraying.jpgPesticides are used for a wide range of purposes such as weed, disease and insect 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 pesticide 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 Texas is available through the state water quality agency, the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Federal Clean Water Act requires states to develop a listing of impaired waters which is updated every 2 years. The most current assessments can be found at http://www.epa.gov/owow/tmdl/.

Resources and Programs

The Texas A&M University System 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.

Texas A&M University 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

Texas A&M University is home to Texas Cooperative Extension, 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 and delivered to the end user, which is often a home or business owner or agricultural producer. Some of the major Extension education programs addressing nutrient and pesticide management are:

The Nutrient Management Planning Certification Program is a cooperative effort between the Texas Cooperative Extension and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. This program provides training for individuals interested in becoming Certified Nutrient Management Planners in Texas.

Programs addressing livestock waste management target beef, dairy and poultry production systems in the High Plains, Cross Timbers and East Texas land resource regions of Texas. Marketing Composted Manure is an innovative project designed to facilitate distribution and effective use of dairy manure (as compost) outside a nutrient impaired watershed. Compost use for forage and row crop production, and as a soil amendment in construction and landscape management are potential applications.

The TEX*A*Syst Rural Well Water Protection Program is a series of self-assessments factsheets and videos which enable rural water well owners to evaluate the condition of their well-head and to ensure that activities around the home or farm do not have the potential to cause problems.

Pesticide Management Programs available through Texas A&M University provide research information and recommendations for the environmentally safe and effective use of pesticides in crop and turf management systems. These include programs in weed management and control, brush management and integrated pest management.

Extension Publications at Texas A&M University can be accessed through either of the following links:

Scientific Research

Researchers at Texas A&M University investigate and develop new technologies to eliminate adverse impacts of nutrients and crop protection chemicals. The Texas Agricultural Research Database has information about nutrient and pesticide management research in Texas. The database allows you to browse or search, and researchers can submit their information online. The Texas Water Resources Institute also provides links to water-related research funded through the Institute. Some examples of major nutrient and pesticide management research efforts in Texas include:

The Pesticide Fate Research Laboratory at Texas A&M University is designed to evaluate the environmental fate of commonly used pesticides and their metabolites, off site movement (surface runoff and leaching) of pesticides applied within various agronomic situations, and methodologies that facilitate safe and efficient analysis of pesticides from soil, water, and plant material.

The Soil and Crop Sciences Department conducts research in technologies for safe and efficient use of nutrients and pesticides for crop production. Key areas of focus include soil management (http://soiltesting.tamu.edu/topics/Soils/soils_index.html) and pesticide and weed science.

The Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering conducts research in the areas of biological systems engineering and environmental and natural resources.

College and University Education

Youth and continuing adult education are critical to develop new talent and human resources to address the water quality issues of the future. Educational curricula in nutrient and pesticide management are available within several departments at Texas A&M University. Graduate and undergraduate programs in key departments include:

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