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Training for Comprehensive Nutrient Management Planning for Technical Service Providers

R.S. Mylavarapu,R.B. Brown, R. Nordstedt, T. Obreza
Funding Agency: FDACS
Susan Curry, Project Coordinator

The goal of this project is to provide training for members of approved third party organizations and others desiring to be trained in one or more of the first three of six elements described in the USDA-NRCS Comprehensive Nutrient Management Planning Technical Guidance. Specifically, the two elements in which participants will receive training are Nutrient Management and Land Treatment Practices. Trainees will have the opportunity to become Certified Specialists in these two areas. Some training may be given for additional elements not requiring certified planners. Also, educational programs dealing with the rationale, concepts, and particulars of nutrient management will be targeted to farmers and ranchers, agency officials, decision-makers, and other citizens who need to become knowledgeable in nutrient management problems and solutions in Florida.

Provide technical training dealing with the rationale, concepts, and particulars of nutrient management will be targeted to farmers and ranchers, agency officials, decision-makers, and other citizens who need to become knowledgeable in nutrient management problems and solutions in Florida and are seeking certification from the USDA-NRCS.

Nutrient Management Training Courses
Seven training sessions of the Nutrient & Pest Management Module 7 - Florida Practicum Training Course have been delivered. Four were held in Okeechobee, Florida in May of 2002-2005 and three at the Suwannee River Water Management District Office in Live Oak, Florida in November, 2002, December, 2003 and December, 2004.The course is designed as a 2½ day training session.

This course is intended for those seeking certification to complete Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans (Nutrient Management & Land Treatment Practice Elements), Conservation Plans, Nutrient Management Plans, and/or Pest Management Plans. This course is provided at no charge to the participants.

Prior to attending this course the participants should successfully complete"Introduction to Water Quality", and "Nutrient & Pest Management Modules 1 - 6" courses offered by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. These self paced courses are located on-line at: .
Presenters for the course have included Rao Mylavarapu (IFAS), Randy Brown (IFAS), Roger Nordstedt (IFAS), Gerald Kidder (IFAS), Jerry Sartain (IFAS), Vince Seibold (Florida Department of Environmental Protection), Mary Beth Hall (IFAS), Tom Obreza (IFAS), Greg Hendricks (NRCS), Steve Boetger (NRCS), Nga Watts(NRCS), Justin Jones (IFAS), Darrell Smith (DACS) and Susan Curry (IFAS). Students are provided with a course manual, student workbook and CD-Rom. These presentations have been well received by the participants. All participants have rated the training program either good or excellent.
A field visit to a nearby dairy is conducted to collect baseline data for a Nutrient Management Plan. The data collected includes soil survey information, field inventories and land uses, identification of sensitive areas, cropping history and rotations, and current practices and land treatments. There is also discussion of the waste management system, bio-security, and conservation practices. The assessment and calculations involved in determining the Florida Phosphorus Index (P-index) are explained. Other topics of discussion are land treatment practices to reduce risks, current manure and fertilizer applications, and irrigation methods.

The course provides the students with the basic understanding of why a nutrient management program is necessary. During the field visit the students learn to apply and evaluate the Florida PI of the site. Soils are examined by using soil survey data, soils map and by conducting a deep soil boring at several locations. The phosphorus retention of the soil is considered using both the soil profile and soil textural characteristics. The underlying clay layer in the Suwannee Basin is discontinuous and can vary from a few inches to a few feet in depth. Therefore the site specific analysis of soil characteristics with regard to P retention capacities is emphasized and demonstrated during the field trip. Sensitive areas are discussed and identified. Students have the opportunity to complete a Nutrient Management Plan during the class and discuss the methods of determining nutrient loading.

Participants successfully completing this course with an 80% or higher on the post-test must submit two Nutrient Management Plans to NRCS for approval. At this time they will be certified for Nutrient Management Planning.

To be certified as a Technical Service Provider (formerly third-party vendor), one nutrient management plan must be submitted to NRCS. This program will have a great impact on the dairy industry in Suwannee County. There are over 50 dairies and 90 poultry units in the Suwannee Area. Training Technical Service Providers to identify and help owners use best management practices through Nutrient Management Plans will impact this area greatly.

We have applied for Continuing Education Credits through the CCA Board, Florida for our training sessions. The application has been approved for 11-13 Nutrient Management CEUs, 2.5-3 Soil and Water Management CEUs and 2 Pest Management CEUs for this training session.

The next course will take place December, 2005 in Gainesville, Florida. In the coming year continuing Education courses will be offered as planned in Nutrient Management, Land Treatment Practices, and Manure and Wastewater Handling and Storage.