Growing opportunities for Kentucky's corn farmers in a changing industry. 

NCGA recently released a video and learning module about Water Quality and Use. The video, titled “Driving Change,” showcases NCGA members describing the practices they are implementing to enhance water quality on their farms and in their area. 

The 30-minute NCGA Water Issues Learning Module was developed to help farmers better understand water quality issues and best practices.

“We’re not finished, but, we are a lot closer to realistic numbers to be included in the model,” Knoth said. “There are still other agriculture issues to be addressed such as livestock and sod farming. What is not clear is the final results of developing the TMDL. Agriculture is not a permitted point source, we are a nonpoint source of possible nutrient contributions to the water that could cause impacts. It is not clear how the ag community will be asked to address the nutrient levels in the Floyd’s Fork Watershed.”

The TAC meetings are just a first step in engaging in the process as a model for TMDL is developed by Tetra Tech for EPA. We are very thankful for our grower inputs in this, as well the invaluable assistance of Chad Lee and other University extension professionals. 

At this time, the greatest issue relating to this process is the decision of what data is imputed into a model that is designed to predict each source of pollution (or “nutrient load”). The data has improved greatly, but still is not
totally accurate. Also of great concern are the assumptions that are made by the modelers to simplify their upload of data (for example: incorrect distribution of land use by farmers and the omission of de-nitrification as a form of nutrient loss).

It is vital that we get it right for agriculture as the Floyd’s Fork TMDL is developed. Once completed, KY Division of Water intends to replicate this model as they draft more than 20 TMDL’s across Kentucky over the next few years.

KyCGA is an active player on the water quality front. Staff and farmer leaders are regularly involved with the Kentucky Ag Water Quality Authority, Mississippi River Basin Hypoxia Task Force, and the process to develop TMDLs (Total Maximum Daily Load) for the Floyd's Fork watershed.

In October 2012, KyCorn Executive Director Laura Knoth spoke before the Kentucky Interim Joint Ag Committee in Frankfort regarding TMDL standards being developed on the Floyd Fork water shed in five counties around Louisville. This issue has greatly evolved over the past few months. Staff and farm leadership have participated in a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) for the development of this regulatory mechanism. Kentucky Corn has also been working closely with Chad Lee from the University of Kentucky, SMG – Smith Management Group (an environmental consultant), and Tetra Tech on the fertilizer and grain production impacts on the watershed. It has been a long and complicated process developing the appropriate model calculations for potential nutrient contributions from grain production. 

Water Quality