The Everglades of Florida are not just swamp-filled alligator territory! Part of the Everglades is managed as a region that is a highly productive agriculture area. Called the Everglades Agricultural Area, it is located south of Lake Okeechobee. The land mass area is about one fourth the size of the original everglades. The November 15th Soils Matter blog details practices that have reduced phosphorus loss from this area since the 1994 Everglades Forever Act was passed.
According to blogger Andres Rodriguez, soils in the Everglades Agricultural Area are fertile. They formed from plant material that slowly decomposed and accumulated for thousands of years. This makes the soils in the area high in organic matter, an essential soil component that influences soil fertility.
In 1994, The Everglades Forever Act was passed to ensure the sensitive ecosystem would be more protected from nutrient runoff and other environmental issues. The Act created a set of best management practices based on three categories:
- sediment control best management practices.
- nutrient management control best management practices.
- water management control best management practices.
The Everglades Agricultural Area best management practices program for phosphorus reduction achieved and exceeded the goal of 25% phosphorus load reduction! The area is evaluated as a whole in terms of reaching the phosphorus load goal and for the majority of the years since 1996 reduction has been higher than 40%.
Current research focuses on how soil chemistry and properties impact the performance of farms implementing best management practices. This research project is done with the cooperation of farmers, which is crucial to ensure the success of this program in the years to come.