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AgCenter scientist studies ways to help farmers reduce runoff

News Release Distributed 06/12/14

BOSSIER CITY, La. – Agricultural producers can help ensure precious water resources remain clean by implementing management practices that reduce runoff and pollution, according to LSU AgCenter water quality expert Changyoon Jeong.

Jeong recently joined a team at the AgCenter’s Red River Research Station in Bossier City that helps Louisiana producers manage irrigation systems and maintain good water quality. The group also includes an irrigation engineer, an economist and an agronomist.

Jeong is examining different methods to keep contaminants out of runoff water to develop viable management practices for growers. There are many ways to prevent pollution, he said, and they must all be explored because problems can come from both known and unknown sources.

For example, the low-oxygen, or hypoxic, zone in the Gulf of Mexico is associated with excess nutrients used on farms that flow into the Mississippi River drainage system. While Louisiana is part of that system, so are many other states. Jeong said this illustrates how water quality can be a product of potentially indeterminable factors that originate from far away.

By studying how a constructed wetland at the intersection of the Flat River and Red River works, Jeong hopes to learn more about how sediments and nutrients travel and identify ways to capitalize on natural filtering effects.

One way farmers can take advantage of those effects is by planting filter strips of grass along edges of fields to catch runaway nutrients, Jeong said. They can also apply soil amendments such as Biochar, which is made from feedstocks or harvest waste and absorbs excess chemicals and water.

"Some of these practices may take a little more effort, but it helps in the big picture," Jeong said. "It's important to promote awareness of water quality issues and educate producers about how they can help solve these problems."

Olivia McClure

Last Updated: 6/12/2014 4:31:07 PM

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