Saturday, August 22, 2015

Everglades restoration and giving credit where it's due: SFWMD and Florida's farmers

Joe Collins penned a 'Point of View' in The Palm Beach Post that showed up in the print edition on Friday (8/21). He is the former chair of the Governing Board at the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) and now senior VP at Lykes Bros. Inc. Here are two excerpts from his Point Of View:
     Florida farmers are being recognized for their efforts to help restore the Everglades and improve water quality, verifying that their on-farm cleanup programs are making a big difference. [emphasis added] The South Florida Water Management District recently announced a 79 percent reduction in the annual level of phosphorus flowing from Florida sugar cane and vegetable farms south of Lake Okeechobee, one of the nation’s most productive farming regions, known as the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA).
     Even as debates regarding Everglades restoration have continued over the past two decades, farmers in South Florida have been actively working every day to help clean up our ecosystems. This good news about 2015’s phosphorus reductions is just the latest measure of this success.
[and. . .]
     A common misconception is that farm fertilizers are the source of phosphorus on sugar cane farms. The rich, organic “muck” soils south of Lake Okeechobee naturally are high in phosphorus. Therefore, the main strategy since the start of the program to reduce phosphorus has been to keep soil sediments on the farms rather than discharging soil with water flowing off of them.