Cotton field pivot irrigation
Farmers in the Mississippi Delta have an in-depth knowledge of the connections between water, wildlife and their way of life. Now they have a way to measure the effects of land improvements that positively impact both agricultural productivity and natural resources.
Led by Mississippi State University and Delta F.A.R.M. (Farmers Advocating Resource Management), the Conservancy recognizes the importance of monitoring conservation practices implemented on private land. This data is being shared not only with the owner of the land, but with other agricultural producers so that positive changes can be made throughout the state and the region—and even elsewhere on the globe where similar conditions exist. Additionally, this data will showcase how good a job these farmers are doing in terms of land stewardship. Until now, no centralized database for such information existed.
The initial focus of REACH is the efficient and sustainable use of water. As demand increases for agricultural products, the availability of water (and at the critical times during a crop’s growing season) can significantly impact agricultural operations. By increasing operational efficiency, limited groundwater resources are not depleted, and surface water sources are improved through decreased erosion and nutrient run-off.
Farmers enrolled in REACH work with research staff to measure specific conservation activities on their property that are implemented based on the topography, crops, water cycles and other issues on their acreage. As with other Conservancy projects, the goal is to improve both economic sustainability and habitats.
The effects of such a program are far-reaching, not only in terms of similar agricultural operations worldwide, but in improving water quality downstream and, eventually, in the Gulf of Mexico.