LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky farmers and landowners new to land management should save the date for one of three conservation workshops focused on managing pollution. The University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment will host the spring events in April and May. The programs are a collaboration between the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service and the Kentucky Woodland Owners Association.
“These workshops look at the big picture,” said Amanda Gumbert, CAFE extension water quality specialist. “We want to help producers have vibrant production without pollution. If you are new to farming or managing land, there are some key programs and agencies you need to know about that can help you get the right information and possibly financial assistance.”
Agricultural and forestry practices can contribute to sediment and nutrient loading in streams, causing unhealthy conditions. Excessive nutrients produce algal blooms and low dissolved oxygen levels, leading to fish kills. Farmers and landowners can use conservation practices to manage their land to reduce nutrient waterway pollution.
“As smaller streams flow into larger streams and rivers, the problem can magnify,” Gumbert said. “Kentucky’s water contributes to the Mississippi River, then that flows into the Gulf of Mexico. Excess nitrogen and phosphorus get into the Mississippi River and ultimately contribute to the Gulf’s dead zone. That’s the big driver.”
Networking opportunities between farmers are also a workshop highlight.
“It’s great when farmers talk to each other about practices they use on the farm to decrease runoff,” Gumbert said. “Not only that, but we want farmers leading the conversation. At each workshop, a producer will tell their story about how they have used conservation to achieve their goals as well as reduce runoff. This is how conservation really starts.”
The initial workshop is April 25 at the Campbell County Extension office, with another offering April 27 at the Warren County Extension office. The series wraps up May 23 at the Bullitt County Extension office. All workshops are identical and occur 6-8:30 p.m. local time. To register, visit https://forestry.ca.uky.edu/stewardship-steps.
— Jordan Strickler, UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment