Building Tools and Technical Capacity to Improv...

Building Tools and Technical Capacity to Improve Irrigation and Nutrient Management on California's Central Coast

Building Tools and Technical Capacity to Improve Irrigation and Nutrient Management on California's Central Coast

toolkit

The Challenge

Growers on the Central Coast of California face rising costs and increasing regulatory scrutiny due to implementation of Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL - a regulatory term describing a value of the maximum amount of a pollutant that a body of water can receive while still meeting water quality standards). Thus, many growers are seeking more sustainable and cost-effective irrigation and nutrient management strategies.  The Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board determined that "more than any other management practice, the wide-scale adoption of proper irrigation and nutrient management practices stands the greatest chance of ameliorating high nutrient concentrations, reducing toxicity, and reducing overdraft and subsequent seawater intrusion." Pamela Krone-Davis, Agricultural Water Quality Coordinator for the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Foundation, noted that this had led to demand for technical assistance for implementation of irrigation and nutrient best management practices in Central Coast watersheds. With project partners, it was determined that a cross training program was needed to address the critical need for agricultural and resource conservation professionals across California’s Central Coast to coordinate and build technical capacity to ensure delivery of the most up-to-date, comprehensive, and consistent information in a timely and relevant manner.

Searching for a Solution

To meet this need, Krone-Davis developed the Professional Development Program project “Building Tools and Technical Capacity to Improve Irrigation and Nutrient Management on California's Central Coast” with the objectives:

  1. Improve access to Irrigation and Nutrient Management (INM) tools by developing an online clearinghouse of INM tools and resources.
  2. Improve consistency of INM services available to growers across the region by developing a standardized set of metrics, measurement tools, and operating procedures.
  3. Increase INM Professional technical capacity to serve growers through in-field cross-trainings and distribution of materials.

According to Krone-Davis, the project team brought together an expert advisory panel to provide guidance and to compile tools on INM from numerous sources. Tools and procedures were posted online and organized in a common sense structure to make navigating the extensive material easier.  Technical personnel were trained on the basic INM tools and suite of standard procedures through hands-on workshops.

Outcomes

All materials were uploaded to a website and Central Coast INM professionals have access to all of the tools and standard operating procedures posted. Krone-Davis states, “Three months subsequent to the training, all respondents reported they could personally provide technical services in irrigation distribution uniformity evaluations, irrigation scheduling and nutrient management, or could provide a competent local technical referral for these services.

Want more information? See the related SARE grant(s) EW13-025, Building Tools and Technical Capacity to Improve Irrigation and Nutrient Management on California's Central Coast .

Product specs
Location: West
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2016 Annual Report

For the first time, we are sharing a yearly snapshot of our work. The stories provided here typify the creative, participatory and integrated research Western SARE annually funds – led by land grant institution researchers and graduate students, Extension and other ag professionals, and nonprofit leaders in full partnership with producers.