Landowner Meeting Focuses on Reducing Nutrient Loads in Streams

A meeting hosted by ERWIA and University of Extension February 28, 2011, provided an overview of where local streams stand regarding Mo. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) limits for nitrogen and phosphorus loadings and ways to lower those levels using voluntary best-management practices. The DNR has been collecting data from streams in the Elk River Watershed since 2004. These data indicate, among other things, that Phosphorus levels increase during rain events, but then drop as stream levels fall. These same data suggest that Nitrogen is high when stream levels rise, but are still too high even after stream levels drop after rain events. "We do not see the amounts of algae in the Elk River and other creeks now compared to in the late-1990s," according to Drew Holt, ERWIA Executive Director, "but we still have a ways to go to meet the DNR's standards for nutrients." John Hobbs, McDonald County Extension, discussed pasture management and the importance of using soil samples to base the amount of fertilizer to apply. He also suggested over-seeding pastures with some type of legume, like clover, which may create enough nitrogen for the entire pasture. Health Cobine, Soil and Water Conservation District, discussed landowner cost-share programs available agricultural producers to protect streams. He said there are practices for fencing livestock from streams which reduce nutrients and also allow for the natural regeneration of vegetation along stream corridors.