News Release: LCBP to Evaluate Conservation Practices that Reduce Phosphorus Loss from Tile-Drained Agricultural Fields
The Lake Champlain Basin Program (LCBP) and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Vermont are pleased to announce a Request for Proposals (RFP) designed to evaluate the effectiveness of conservation practices in reducing phosphorus loss from tile-drained agricultural fields in the Lake Champlain Basin. Up to $240,000 is available for this project.
With the heavy clay soils found throughout much of the Champlain Valley, wet fields can be difficult to cultivate, plant and harvest. Installing tile systems on agricultural land allows farmers to cultivate fields that might otherwise be too wet. However, in the upper U.S. Midwest, tile drainage contributions of phosphorus have been linked to increases in Lake Erie algae blooms. Surveys have found an increase in the installation rate of new tile systems nationwide and thousands of agricultural acres across the Champlain Valley have been outfitted with tile drains. Agricultural and water quality specialists are assessing rates of phosphorus discharge from these tile drains, and determining whether simple technology can reduce the phosphorus loading to waterways.
Several conservation practices have been identified for use in treating water discharged from tile drains. These include constructed wetlands, drainage water management, and other phosphorus removal systems. Further information is needed on the effectiveness of these practices to inform decisions regarding future tile installation and technical assistance. As an outcome of the RFP, one successful applicant will implement conservation practices to reduce phosphorus loss from agricultural fields on a farm in northwestern Vermont, and measure the effectiveness of their approach.
“The development of these new phosphorus removal systems will provide an important tool to help control phosphorus losses from agricultural lands,” said Dr. Eric Howe, LCBP Program Director. “This project would not be possible without the partner contributions of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Farms and Markets.”
This project is supported by funds awarded to the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission in support of the Lake Champlain Basin Program, and also by NRCS in Vermont. Analytical laboratory services will be provided by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Farms and Markets. To download a copy of the Request for Proposals visit www.lcbp.org/grants. To receive a written copy of the Request for Proposals via US Postal Service contact the Lake Champlain Basin Program office at (802) 372-3213 or toll free in New York and Vermont at (800) 468-5227. Proposals are due in the LCBP office by electronic submission on March 3, 2017 at 4:30 p.m.