Poor land management practices can have significant negative impacts on water quality, especially in regards to excess nitrogen and phosphorus runoff into water systems. Excess nutrients can stimulate algal growth, which can consume the oxygen in a littoral or aquatic ecosystem and degrade natural habitats. Additionally, excess nutrients can contaminate ground water and lakes/reservoirs. Therefore, proper land and nutrient management practices are important topics to address when promoting water quality. The GPNM has compiled a database of best management practices around the globe that can help mitigate nutrient pollution. The database includes BMPs related to the agricultural and urban sectors. Each sector has a number of associated BMP categories. Urban and Agricultural BMPs are also categorized by climactic zones. Agricultural sector BMPs are further categorized by landuse/agriculture type as well as applicability to small farms with limited resources. Read below to learn more details.
Agriculture BMP Categories:
- > Ammonia Control
Ammonia control BMPs reduce ammonia (NH4) emissions from manure.
- > Conservation Buffers
Conservation buffers can help trap sediment, reduce erosion and runoff, and improve infiltration, minimizing nutrient losses at the edge of field.
- > Conservation Cover
BMPs that fall under this category assist in utilizing residual soil nutrients and reducing runoff pollution potential. Additionally, they reduce soil erosion, improve soil quality, create wildlife habitat, conserve soil moisture, and increase water use efficiency.
- > Drainage Control
Drainage control best practices help farmers manage water in their fields in a way that maximizes denitrification of the water before it is released to surface waters.
- > Erosion Control
Erosion control best practices improve water infiltration, provide nutrient absorption to soil matrix, and stabilize the soil surface to impede wind and water erosion detachment that might otherwise transport nutrient enriched sediment and particulates to local waterbodies. Erosion control BMPs can also provide temporary nutrient sequestration in soil organic matter.
- > Grazing Management
Grazing management best practices promote healthy stands of grass, control weeds, prevent overgrazing, exclude animals from riparian areas, and reduce runoff and erosion from pastures.
- > Irrigation Management
Irrigation management best practices optimize the timing and rate of irrigation to reduce leaching and runoff and increase nutrient absorption by plants.
- > Manure Management
Manure management best practices include proper storage and handling of manure, proper application (rate and timing) of manure, and adherence to animal diets that can help reduce phosphors content in manure.
- > Nutrient Management
Nutrient management best practices ensure that nutrients are applied according to crop needs and in a way that they can be utilized most effectively by the crop and reduce losses from the field. Proper nutrient management can result in the reduced need for fertilizers, higher yields, and reduced environmental impacts.
- > Rotation Management
Rotation management refers to the use of crop rotations to help maintain the balance of nutrients, organic matter, and microorganism’s necessary for healthy soil. Some crop rotations can provide several benefits including improved soil fertility, pest management, weed reduction and disease control, reducing the need for fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides.
- > Land Use Conversion
Permanent land use conversion refers to taking intensively used agricultural land out of production and establishing and maintaining perennial grass or forest cover. In addition to switching to a less intense landuse that requires little to no nutrient inputs, landuse conversion also reduces erosion and nutrient losses by establishing perennial cover.
- > Nutrient Recycling
Nutrient recycling by reusing agricultural waste products can reduce the demand for commercial fertilizers and provide an alternative use for waste.
- > Shoreline Erosion Control
Shoreline erosion control includes structural and nonstructural erosion control practices that protect shorelines from erosion, thus keeping nutrients in place. In addition, nonstructural shoreline erosion practices such as wetlands can also serve as nutrient sinks.
- > Wetland Creation/Restoration
Wetlands improve water quality by trapping and cycling nutrients and allow for settling of sediments. This category also includes stream restoration.
Urban BMP Categories:
- > Detention
Detention practices are used to remove sediments, nutrients, and other pollutants from stormwater runoff by storing water for a limited period of time
- > Filtration
Filtration practices remove sediments, nutrients, and other pollutants through physical or mechanical filtration mechanisms before discharging water to surface waters, groundwater, or for treatment and reuse.
- > Infiltration
Infiltration practices allow stormwater to penetrate the soil, reducing runoff from the site.
- > Septic Management
Proper management of septic systems and drainfields can reduce risk of leaks and oversaturation which can lead to nutrient losses.
- > Shoreline Erosion Control
Structural and nonstructural erosion control practices protect shorelines from erosion, thus keeping nutrients in place. In addition, nonstructural shoreline erosion practices such as wetlands can also serve as nutrient sinks.
- > Urban Erosion Control
Urban erosion control practices protect water resources from nutrient and sediment pollution associated with erosion and increased runoff from land development activities that disturb the soil.
- > Urban Stream Restoration
Urban stream restoration practices reduce erosion and runoff (through stabilization of the streambank and restoration of riparian zones) in addition to restoring stream nutrient attenuation functions through remeandering of streams.
- > Urban Wetland Creation/Restoration
Wetlands improve water quality by trapping and cycling nutrients and allow for settling of sediments.
Urban and agricultural BMPs are categorized by climactic zones. The four categories that are used in this database are:
- > Arid
- > Semiarid
- > Tropical
- > Temperate
- > Arid
This field describes the types of agricultural landuses to which the BMP is most applicable. Options in this field include:
- > Animal Confinement
- > Fodder
- > Palm Oil
- > Pasture
- > Rice
- > Row Crop
- > Small Grains
Scalable to small/limited resource farms
Agricultural BMPs are categorized into those that are scalable to small/limited resource farms and those that are not. This categorization was based on best professional judgment. Factors considered for this category included whether the practice is economic at a small scale, whether there is a need for highly specialized and/or expensive equipment/inputs, and whether the practice requires significant training or technical assistance that may not be available to limited resource farmers.