The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is raising standards for your waterways. The goal is to provide pristine water for future generations. Jackson County is home to Blue Springs where the department is looking to reduce nitrogen and phosphate levels.
For the spring to reach such high standards, farmers and citizens in Jackson County will have to change theirs. Farmers promote growth by adding nitrogen and phosphorous to crops.
Nitrogen binds to the soil and phosphorous moves with water. So, when a large amount of rainfall moves in, the spring can receive too much of both. Innovative equipment uses GPS tracking to reduce water usage and soil sampling which allows farmers to use only the amounts needed for crops.
Jackson County Extension Director, Doug Mayo, says framers live for their land and do everything in their power to take care of it but are the new standards too strict? "Is it realistic to have a pristine spring when we live around it, farm around it, septic tanks around it? The charge that we have been givin in Jackson County to have a 90% reduction in nitrate levels is going to be very challenging to me."
In the last three months farmers have had the opportunity to use cost share programs. Mayo is hopeful the county will receive more grants to aid farmers through this transition.