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Section 2: Technical Information and Outreach

Contents

About This Document

Introduction

Water Quality Issues

Management Practices for Agricultural Nonpoint Sources

Section 1: Agricultural Industry Networks

Section 2: Technical Information/Outreach

Section 3: Education and Public Relations

Section 4: Regulatory Coordination/Streamlining

Section 5: Funding Mechanisms/Incentives

Section 6: Public Lands and Rural Roads

Bibliography

Appendix A. Water Quality Protection Program Committee Members

Appendix B. TMDL Schedule for Impaired Waters in Sanctuary Watersheds.

Appendix C. Existing Laws and Programs Related to Agricultural Nonpoint Sources

Appendix D. Definitions of Acronyms

Although extensive technical information exists on agricultural techniques and tools to improve water quality, this information is not always readily available/easily usable for growers and ranchers who have many other facets of their business to attend to. The general intent of the strategies in this section is to make this information more accessible and useful through increased support for existing technical outreach services, development of networks, cross-training of outreach staff, packaging of easily understood information, and conducting on-site follow-up with workshop participants.

Strategy 2-1: Compile and distribute technical information on conservation practices from different agencies.

What

Collect and organize technical information available from a variety of agencies on agricultural conservation practices. Link existing and newly developed technical documents on self-assessment of problems, experience with sediment control, nutrient and pesticide management, selection of management practices that have proven successful as applied to local conditions and crop types, potential cost-sharing options, etc. Make compiled information readily accessible to growers and ranchers in both written and electronic forms.

Why

Technical information on agricultural conservation practices is currently scattered among a wide variety of government agencies, academic, and nonprofit groups. Published information should be linked into a comprehensive network which is readily accessible to growers and ranchers. Access to comprehensive written or electronic information is an important complement to one-on-one outreach by technical experts, due to severe limitations of outreach staffing levels, and the desire of some growers to investigate options themselves.

How

Step 1: Conduct background assessment of information needs and existing resources.

  • Survey/interview growers and ranchers to assess what type of information would be most useful to them.
  • Develop a list of site- and crop-specific management practices for which information should be made available to growers and ranchers.
  • Identify and evaluate existing informal networks and technical information collections used in the region.
  • Identify and evaluate successful comprehensive technical outreach networks/interagency collections developed elsewhere, including shared interagency databases, 800-numbers, joint publications listings and collections.

Step 2: Compile/develop user-friendly materials.

  • Compile existing technical materials relevant to local conditions, and identify topics where modification or development of new materials is needed.
  • Hire educational consultants to work with growers to find the most effective way to package information.
  • Compile a simplified and readable list with illustrated specifications of effective management practices for the crops, soils, slopes, and rainfall regimes of this region.
  • Include information on effectiveness of management practices under various conditions, design, installation and maintenance, and where to get technical assistance for choosing and installing them. Provide examples of adaptations developed for use within the region, and information regarding problems experienced in applying the practices. Develop local examples of success stories with the permission of landowners.
  • Provide information on local demonstration sites which can be observed directly, including commercial-scale operations in addition to research facilities.
  • Develop multiple approaches with different levels of detail (e.g., newsletter articles, management practice guidebooks, simple fact sheets, how-to videos, "morphing" tools for allowing visualization of measures on a site-specific basis, multilingual).
  • Combine best technical publications appropriate for the Central Coast region/individual watersheds into single binders, including chapters on problem assessments, development of site plans, alternative management practices, funding.

Step 3 : Distribute technical information for regional/watershed-specific use.

  • Develop means to publicize availability of information and distribute it via media, workshops, agencies, newsletters.
  • Develop a central location to call for compiled technical information, possibly an 800-number.
  • Distribute information to hard-to-reach individuals via sources/sites which they already must use&emdash;e.g., during visits to the Agricultural Commissioner for pesticide permits.

Step 4: Develop an Internet-accessible version of technical guidance.

  • Develop an electronic version of the best technical information, or if possible, modify an electronic system developed elsewhere for local conditions.
  • Develop an Internet site for the database, or add to an existing home page already used by local growers and ranchers. Establish links to a variety of other home pages to increase access.

Step 5: Develop framework for coordinating and sustaining the program.

  • Identify and develop staff time/funding for sustaining the effort to compile technical information over time, updating and adding to materials as needed.
  • Institute a means of obtaining feedback from users on the utility of the documents, whether growers will use practices, and a compilation of practices underway.
  • Link to development of other priority strategies such as technical training, public education, etc. to assist with sustained effort.

Who

Counties, NRCS, UCCE, county Agricultural Commissioners, RCDs, CAFF, local water resource agencies, county Farm Bureaus, WQPP, RWQCB.

Performance Measures

Success will be measured by the production/compilation of materials which summarize technical information, such as newsletter articles, guidebooks, fact sheets, how-to videos, and Internet sites; by the degree to which these materials can be made readily available all together at single locations, and by the number of growers and ranchers which receive the materials and tools. Spot surveys will also be developed to assess the utility of the distributed information and recommend modifications if necessary.

Strategy 2-2: Strengthen referral network and cross-training for technical field staff.

What

Develop the ability of appropriate federal, state, and local agencies and private representatives to provide "one-stop shopping" technical assistance through coordination of field staff technical training. Provide direct technical follow-up assistance to participants at existing educational workshops, tours, etc., to encourage on-the-ground implementation. Streng-then and streamline the field outreach process by offering key referrals to other experts, and help to integrate on-farm management efforts. Form a consistent network of cross-referrals among agencies and private representatives to provide growers/ranchers with comprehensive evaluations and information on a range of water quality and conservation issues, including soil and irrigation management, fertilizer and pesticide management, wetland and riparian preservation, without increasing any "watchdog" measures. Cross-train agency field staff and private representatives such as Pest Control Advisors (PCAs), consultants, and vendors to develop their understanding of watershed management, and their ability to advise growers/ranchers about a variety of related issues.

Why

The current system of outreach conducted by various agencies and private representatives generally focuses on providing information on a single conservation issue, e.g., soil management, irrigation, fertilizer use, or pesticide use/Integrated Pest Management (IPM), with limited coordination among field agents. They may also not place the information they provide in the context of larger watershed management issues. This fragmented approach makes it difficult to simultaneously consider the impacts of many related issues and develop an integrated management plan.

Agencies providing technical assistance are also greatly limited by the amount of staff time available to conduct outreach to identify and serve growers and ranchers needing assistance. These agencies could effectively supplement their outreach capabilities by obtaining key referrals from other agencies, and by sharing outreach materials and training with other agencies' field staff and various private representatives who are in regular contact with growers/ranchers. They could also more effectively pool their resources by linking their technical outreach staff to the many existing educational workshops and tours in the area. Although workshops can serve to raise awareness and interest in management practices, additional on-site visits are often necessary to provide enough detailed knowledge and incentives to implement the practices learned. In addition to making government operations more efficient, "one-stop-shopping" for technical assistance would also benefit the landowners by simplifying their efforts to obtain comprehensive information on a range of issues.

How

Step 1: Identify and recruit key field staff.

  • Identify key technical outreach participants in agencies and private businesses, and evaluate scope of current training and technical assistance abilities.
  • Recruit potential participants and determine ability/interest in participating in a coordinated outreach effort. Develop incentives (such as PCA credit, continuing education credit, certification, and free advertising) for participation of private parties who have regular contact with growers/ranchers.

Step 2: Develop training programs for outreach staff.

  • Identify/modify existing materials that could be used to cross-train outreach staff and private representatives in other disciplines, including information on general watershed concepts.
  • Enhance distribution of the University of California Cooperative Extension's (UCCE) existing directory of interagency programs and contacts that field staff can use to direct growers/ranchers to additional technical assistance on related issues.
  • Develop and conduct ongoing interagency and public-private staff workshops for cross-training in various disciplines, and effective communication techniques.

Step 3: Train agency staff to provide information/education programs for growers.

  • Emphasize projects that growers and ranchers can install and maintain themselves.
  • Increase field workshops, field tours or demonstrations where growers and ranchers learn how to install and maintain management practices.
  • Accompany outreach with technical bulletins which include simple descriptions of management practices, their design and installation.
  • Increase multidisciplinary staff training to present materials in training workshops such as the Rangeland Water Quality Management Plan Short Courses, and to assist in development of similar short courses for irrigated agriculture.

Step 4: Link training workshops with on-the-ground implementation.

  • Provide direct follow-up calls, technical assistance, tools and site visits to agricultural participants in various training workshops regarding runoff, sediment and nitrate issues. Build their confidence in knowledge gained at workshops to reach mastery of concepts and encourage direct implementation.
  • Track implementation success of projects, provide additional assistance as needed, determine utility of tools offered, identify gaps in training, and provide feedback to original workshop presenters.
  •  

Step 5: Develop "one-stop-shopping" system.

  • Develop framework and MOUs (if necessary) for a network of cross-referrals and sharing of outreach information among field staff, defining roles for each agency and private participants.
  • Where feasible, establish interagency teams which can jointly visit sites to develop coordinated evaluations and recommendations on a range of issues.

Who

UCCE, NRCS, local water management agencies, county Agricultural Commissioners, CAFF, equipment and chemical vendors, PCAs, consultants, county Farm Bureaus.

Performance Measures

Success will be measured by the following criteria:

  1. by the amount of participation on the part of agency and private technical outreach staff in cross-training workshops, and by the extent to which that training is incorporated into existing outreach efforts;
  2. by increased distribution of UCCE's existing directory of interagency programs and contacts;
  3. by the development of an MOU or other method for creating a network of cross-referrals and the sharing of outreach information among field staff;
  4. by the development of interagency teams which jointly visit growers' and ranchers' sites, and the number of site visits made; and
  5. by the number of direct follow-up calls, technical assistance, and site visits to agricultural participants in various training workshops by outreach staff.

Strategy 2-3: Increase agency staff time to provide technical field support and prevention efforts.

What

Increase the staffing levels of agencies that provide technical support and outreach to growers. Strengthen the network of outreach agents that could visit farms and ranches, providing ongoing technical assessments of soil and water conditions, and work with growers and ranchers to determine most appropriate conservation management practices. Reallocate some of the time and energy currently spent on regulatory enforcement and pollution clean-up activities toward assisting the landowner with prevention-based approaches, where appropriate. Provide local support of agencies for long-term maintenance of these positions.

Why

Growers and ranchers are sometimes in need of technical, on-site assistance in evaluating how to best address conservation issues on their land, yet the number of staff people at the various agencies that provide these services is generally inadequate. Conditions vary considerably from place to place, requiring different erosion or runoff control measures, and different amounts/types of irrigation, nutrient and pesticide applications. Information on the cost-effectiveness of practices aimed at reducing erosion or polluted runoff also needs to be determined with growers based on their individual needs. Once management practices are put in place, they may need to be modified to achieve the desired results. Increased staffing levels at these agencies would help provide the one-on-one, on-site outreach that is often the most effective way to meet the needs of growers and ranchers. Furthermore, allocating more agency staff time toward prevention rather than ongoing cleanup/regulatory approaches to nonpoint pollution control may prove a more cost-effective and beneficial use of public funds over the long-term.

How

Step 1: Expand availability of technical outreach field agents.

  • ? Ensure that existing staff of outreach agencies are retained, and find ways of expanding staff through development of grant funding, interagency partnerships.
  • ? Identify state and federal programs that could provide funding for staff enhancement.
  • ? Investigate various special status designations for watersheds in the Sanctuary region requiring specialized technical support at the agency level (e.g., designation of watersheds as priority status through the Natural Resources Conservation Service's (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) or PL566 programs can lead to increased outreach staff for the area).
  • ? Coordinate and streamline review and permit requirements of regulatory agencies for approving conservation management practices in order to conserve outreach staff for planning and on-site technical assistance to growers and ranchers. (See Section 4.)

Step 2: Provide the necessary support to agencies to help justify the continued allocation of staff positions to the region.

  • Establish a coordinated network of supporters/letter-writers who can provide information to county/state/federal managers on needs for outreach staff in area.

Step 3: Implement pilot project to shift some of public costs from cleanup/regulatory efforts to prevention.

  • Identify and recruit appropriate agencies/groups who could collaborate on preventive approaches.
  • Identify training or hiring needs to re-focus existing staff time and efforts, and train appropriate staff to provide technical or other necessary assistance.
  • Establish clear allocation of staff time to preventative approaches in annual work plans.
  • Support allocations of agency staff time to existing voluntary conservation management training programs for growers and ranchers, such as the Rangeland Water Quality Management Plan, UCCE and NRCS farm planning services.
  • Carry out revised approach for one or more years. Evaluate success of project in terms of environmental benefits, staff time and money allocated, and landowner-agency relations.
  • Modify approach where necessary, and expand to additional watersheds and issues.

Who

NRCS, UCCE, county Farm Bureaus, county Agricultural Commissioners, RCDs, California Department of Fish and Game, RWQCBs, WQPP.

Performance Measures

Success will be measured by tracking the number of technical outreach field agents available in the area; and by the increased time spent by technical staff on preventative solutions.

Strategy 2-4: Strengthen information transfer from industry to agencies.

What

Increase the flow of technical information and expertise from growers to government technical advisors, who can then pass the information on to other growers. Include an ongoing training program for outreach and extension agents to make them familiar with the latest in advanced industrial techniques, within the confines of proprietary information.

Why

Technical and outreach information from agencies and agricultural extension services sometimes lags behind advances made by innovative growers in the agricultural industry. There is not currently a direct link between the agencies and agricultural technology laboratories operated by industry. While some information may be proprietary, and not be available for distribution, other information on innovative approaches to conservation of water, soil, nutrients and pesticides may be very valuable to growers as a whole and to protection of shared natural resources.

How

Step 1: Assess information sources and needs.

  • Investigate whether industry-to-agency information networks have been established elsewhere which could serve as models for this region.
  • Identify operations on the Central Coast and elsewhere which conduct focused research and development on new technologies and methods for conserving water, soil, nutrients, and pesticides.
  • Determine which operations would be willing to share updated information with technical advisors, what types of research and development results they are willing to share, and what types they consider proprietary.
  • Determine whether other growers are interested in receiving this information.
  • Develop a prioritized list of issues for information transfer, based on availability and needs.

Step 2: Develop ongoing information transfer network.

  • Establish an agency lead to coordinate the network.
  • Develop annual workshops to update outreach staff from federal, state and local agencies on the latest industry advances.
  • Fund inter-regional seminars to bring in relevant industry information from outside the Central Coast.
  • Produce bulletins to broadcast industry-developed non-proprietary information.

Who

Major corporations and individual innovators involved in agricultural research and development, UCCE, NRCS, county Agricultural Commissioners, local water resources agencies, county Farm Bureaus, Cattlemen's Associations, Grower-Shipper Vegetable Association of Central California and other commodity associations, RCDs, CAFF.

Performance Measures

Success will be measured by: 1) the establishment of an information transfer communication network between industry and government; 2) the degree to which government advisors seek out up-to-date information from the network; and 3) an evaluation of the types and numbers of instances in which this information is passed on to and utilized by other growers and ranchers. Long-term success will be measured by improvements in water quality due to the increased implementation of effective conservation measures.

Strategy 2-5: Strengthen grower/rancher peer advisory networks.

What

Work with existing private and public agricultural organizations such as Farm Bureaus, Cattlemen's Associations, Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF), and others to provide a grower-to-grower, rancher-to-rancher information and mentoring system for up-to-date information on local conservation practices. Promote and expand locally tested, cost-effective conservation practices, provide information on implementation problems and successes, and specialized advice for local conditions. Improve outreach to "hard-to-reach" individuals who may not typically attend workshops, meetings, and events. Include outreach to tenants with relatively short-term leases, and to landowners who may live outside the Central Coast region or are otherwise difficult to reach. Where possible, work with private and public agricultural organizations to approach growers and ranchers as an initial point of contact before initiating enforcement actions, in order to encourage voluntary implementation of conservation practices and to avoid unproductive confrontations between landowners and agency staff over regulatory/enforcement issues.

Why

Landowners and operators are not always aware of successful conservation practices adopted by others in the region. Government agencies are often limited in their ability to provide conservation advice due to staffing constraints, and due to unease landowners may have in granting regulatory agencies access to their land. There is also a perception that agency staff are not always familiar enough with the agricultural industry and the needs of growers to offer acceptable solutions to resource management problems. Landowners are often most accepting of information that comes from another local grower or rancher, but there are relatively few existing networks and opportunities for providing that advice.

How

Step 1: Develop a grower-to-grower, rancher-to-rancher nonpoint source outreach program.

  • Working with existing organizations, identify and evaluate successful grower-to-grower and rancher-to-rancher conservation information programs operating elsewhere, and identify components that are appropriate for the Central Coast.
  • Evaluate availability of informational materials, and assist organizations in obtaining and/or producing such materials. Where appropriate, develop bilingual materials to reach target groups.
  • Identify other existing regional and local networks and communication media that could serve as a forum for grower-grower information transmission, for example: newsletter articles; neighbor-to-neighbor; presentations at workshops and meetings; local groups such as the Resource Conservation Districts (RCDs) and CAFF; technical outreach agents such as NRCS or Agricultural Extension; vendor fairs; on-line bulletin boards, 800-number networks.

Step 2: Identify subject areas and recruit grower and rancher participants.

  • Determine which conservation ideas growers and ranchers are willing to share directly (and are therefore appropriate for a mentoring system), and which things, like experiments with genetically resistant species, they may be unwilling to share.
  • Identify growers and ranchers who are using successful conservation practices and are willing to provide information on their experiences to others, and develop a network for each agricultural watershed on the Central Coast.
  • Research and document local examples of stewardship and positive impacts on long-term profits, and develop grower-grower demonstration sites/tours to highlight local success stories on commercial-scale operations.
  • Identify best type of networking options for various participant "advisors", tailored to the existing contacts and capabilities of participating growers/ranchers.
  • Actively promote cooperative efforts among growers and ranchers who share a common sub-basin, drainageway, or runoff/erosion problem. Develop watershed/subwatershed plans if necessary to help prioritize efforts and identify ways to pool resources.

Step 3: Develop framework for coordinating and sustaining outreach and networking program.

  • Identify and develop staff time/funding for lead in ongoing coordination of the outreach program.
  • Identify and develop central clearinghouse mechanism for growers/ranchers voluntarily seeking local information, outlining how they can be linked with various components of the network offering help in their own watershed.
  • Establish a system for using these peer advisors as an initial step in avoiding potential confrontations with regulatory agencies. Encourage regulatory agencies to use the network where possible before initiating enforcement activities, and redirect their efforts towards those cases which do not respond to the advisory system.
  • Link development of the peer network to the development of other priority strategies such as technical training and public education to assist with a sustained effort.

Step 4: Promote recognition of importance of conservation on leased lands.

  • Document and promote importance of conservation measures on leased lands through documentation of economic and environmental benefits, labor saved over time, etc.
  • Focus initial outreach to tenants on conservation practices that are relatively inexpensive to adopt, and show short-term conservation gains such as cover cropping, grassing of field roads, reduced tillage, filter strips, critical area plantings.
  • Conduct outreach to landowners who lease their lands on conservation needs and opportunities for assistance from technical outreach agencies, cost-share dollars, etc.
  • Develop partnerships between landowners and lessees to initiate and maintain long-term conservation practices over time.

Who

Local growers and ranchers, NRCS, Agricultural Extension, county Agricultural Commissioners, RCDs, CAFF, California Latino Agriculture Association (CLAA), local water management agencies, county Farm Bureaus, Cattlemen's Association, Grower-Shipper Vegetable Association of Central California, and other commodity associations.

Performance Measures

Success will be measured in the short-term by the increase in growers/ranchers participating in peer networks; by the number of tours conducted which demonstrate local successes and the extent of participation in those tours; and by the number of "hard to reach" individuals receiving conservation information. Success in the long-term will be measured by the increase in conservation management practices being implemented, or improvements to existing management practices based on the experience of other local growers/ranchers; and ultimately, success will be measured by improvements in water quality.

Strategy 2-6: Evaluate and distribute information on cost-effectiveness of management practices.

What

Provide tools to evaluate cost-effectiveness of current and new alternative management practices appropriate for agricultural nonpoint sources within this region. This information should be included along with detailed descriptions of the practices, and would give growers and ranchers the information needed to choose among effective methods of improving water quality. Develop lender support for conservation improvements by using financial analyses to demonstrate that installing management practices will maintain the profitability of the farm.

Why

Growers and ranchers are often uncertain as to which methods will give the greatest return of water quality enhancement for the amount of time and money spent. This uncertainty may be a disincentive that keeps them from acting, as well as making the description of potential benefits more difficult. Also, although there may be significant long-term cost savings associated with some management practices, this information is not readily available. Increased distribution of information on these topics will help landowners put limited funds to best use, and can serve as an effective incentive for the adoption of conservation practices. In addition, distribution of financial analyses of management practices to lenders can help gain their support, by demonstrating that such management practices will help maintain profitability of the farm and will not impede the grower or rancher's continuing ability to repay loans.

How

Step 1: Review existing cost-effectiveness information on conservation management practices.

  • Determine which management practices have information regarding their cost-effectiveness available already, and whether this information is in a form that can be easily evaluated and distributed. Build on the existing cost list for NRCS' Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) practices.
  • Where necessary, conduct/promote focused studies on alternative practices to determine short and long-term cost-effectiveness.
  • Provide local examples wherever possible, preferably on commercial-scale operations.
  • Update the database with cost-effectiveness information from application of practices in the region. (Link with Strategy 2-1.)

Step 2: Develop readily understood explanations of cost-effectiveness data.

  • Consider initial costs of new practice, maintenance costs, and any long-term economic cost savings or production benefits that may accrue through adoption of practices that result in reduced runoff, conservation of soil and water, reduced fertilizer and pesticides use.
  • Consider indirect cost savings which may result from averting potential future regulatory requirements, which might otherwise become necessary were it not for the management practices.
  • Determine if there are agency/assessment benefits (e.g., cost-share dollars, streamlined permits, lower water rates) to applying practices.
  • Include a rating system for relative costs or cost savings and expectation for environmental effectiveness.
  • Discuss variation in success/costs expected under different growing, soil, or climatic conditions.
  • Package information into a regional guidebook/pamphlet and short flyers.

Step 3: Widely distribute the cost-effectiveness information to growers and ranchers.

  • Distribute information via technical outreach staff from various agencies, Farm Bureaus, agricultural newsletters, media, local Internet sites.
  • Provide training to outreach staff in the economic and environmental analyses of conservation practices so they can more effectively communicate the best options.
  • Highlight and promote practices that provide benefits to both the landowner and the environment.
  • Conduct tours of "case history" sites where economic and environmental goals have been compatible, and distribute guidebook to participants. Emphasize tours of commercial scale operations, not just research sites.

Step 4: Present information to lenders and landlords.

  • Interview lenders to assess the barriers to making loans.
  • Document conservation practices cost and benefits that identify the capital pay-back time and quantify accrued benefits.
  • Compare profitability and land value over a long period of time of farms with and without conservation practices.
  • Present collected information on economics of conservation practices to lenders to strengthen support for funding such practices, and to landlords to gain their support in installing and maintaining conservation management practices.

Who

UCCE, CAFF, NRCS, WQPP, county Farm Bureaus, Cattlemen's Associations, Grower-Shipper Vegetable Association of Central California and other commodity associations, lenders.

Performance Measures

Success will be measured initially by the number and quality of cost-effectiveness analyses that are developed/compiled from existing data, and by the breadth of alternative management practices which these analyses cover. Success will also be measured by the development of a regional guidebook and flyer summarizing the cost-effectiveness information, and the number of growers and ranchers who receive the information, via the guidebooks and flyers, or through newsletters, Internet sites, other media. Efforts will also be considered successful if lenders show an increased likelihood in funding conservation management practices as a result of the financial analyses. Long-term success will be measured by the number of management practices installed by growers and ranchers, in part as a result of the cost-effectiveness information being made available to them.

Strategy 2-7: Develop and promote self-monitoring tools for conservation management practices.

What

Provide economically feasible and scientifically sound monitoring protocols, techniques, surveys, test kits and training for growers and ranchers to conduct self-monitoring/evaluations needed to carry out and test the effectiveness of management practices. Include monitoring of features, including periodic testing of waterways downstream of the farm or ranch, that would allow the grower or rancher to determine appropriate actions that would improve the efficiency of operations and reduce impacts on water quality. Assure growers and ranchers that data produced through approved self-monitoring techniques will be accepted by the agencies participating in the Sanctuary Water Quality Protection Program (WQPP).

Why

Growers and ranchers need simple and economical self-monitoring techniques to help carry out conservation management practices and test their effectiveness. More widespread knowledge of self-monitoring techniques and access to equipment could help improve management decisions such as timing and frequency of irrigation, installation of erosion control facilities, fertilizer and pesticide applications. Self-monitoring will be an important component in implementing the industry-led watershed protection plans and individual, confidential farm or ranch water quality plans, as outlined in Strategy 1-3. It will also be an important link to the broader regional monitoring efforts outlined on pages 11-12, which will assess water quality trends over large geographic scales.

How

Step 1: Work jointly with regulatory agencies, farm service organizations, and growers/ranchers to evaluate existing self-monitoring programs, and to establish acceptable protocols for this region.

  • Identify and review existing self-monitoring techniques, surveys or kits available through Agricultural Extension, Farm-Assist, CAFF, and other sources.
  • Evaluate training required for effective use of techniques, surveys or kits.
  • Determine which approaches are most appropriate for this region, building on existing programs.
  • Develop new monitoring programs, if necessary.
  • Develop process to ensure confidentiality of self-monitoring data for individual growers and ranchers by using existing agricultural groups such as Farm Bureaus to compile data at the subwatershed level, before passage to outside agencies. (See Section 1.)
  • Obtain agreement of all participating agencies that data provided to those agencies as a result of the recommended monitoring protocols, tools and techniques will be accepted as reliable.

Step 2: Provide training on self-monitoring.

  • Conduct a standardized "train-the-trainers" workshop for local technical outreach staff to train them in how to promote and explain self-monitoring techniques, surveys and kits and answer questions for growers/ranchers. (This can be accomplished as part of Strategy 2-2.)
  • Expand monitoring in existing training seminars, such as the Rangeland Water Quality Control Plan short courses (and upcoming irrigation short courses) conducted by UCCE and NRCS, the Pesticide Application courses conducted by the Agricultural Commissioner offices, and Monterey County Water Resources Agency's water and nutrient management courses.
  • Expand training seminars on nutrient assessment that are developed for growers, including simple ways to measure nutrient concentration in soils and plant tissues, and relate nutrient management plans to overall water use.
  • Expand demonstration and training on pest monitoring and pest ecology for growers, their managers and employees, and Pest Control Advisors (PCAs). Include training of staff who are in the fields for other purposes to increase the number of "eyes in the field."
  • For growers/ranchers who wish additional help or labor, provide links to volunteer monitoring groups who could conduct sampling. (See Strategy 5-2.)

Step 3: Promote and improve access to the training, self-evaluations and/or kits and recruit growers.

  • Advertise availability of training, kits and self-evaluation surveys in newsletters, flyers at workshops, media.
  • Make information, surveys, and kits available for distribution at various agencies and through trained technical outreach agents, building or expanding programs already underway.
  • Provide self-monitoring surveys and kits to groups of growers in critical areas of the watersheds.
  • Broaden availability of fast turn-around tissue testing facilities.

Step 4: Facilitate use of monitoring and mapping information.

  • Increase grower/ranchers' access to and use of information technologies such as GPS (Global Positioning System) and GIS (Geographic Information System) to compile data on a single location/parcel, in order to increase their knowledge about site-specific conditions. Include yield data, fertility, soil type, soil testing, seed variety placement, herbicide and tile drainage mapping.
  • Facilitate interpretation of data from monitoring to modify and improve drainage and catchment basins, tillage practices, distribution of chemicals and irrigation water.
  • Establish framework to link grower self-monitoring data to Regional Monitoring Program of agency water quality data and to Citizen Watershed Monitoring Network (described on pages 11-12).
  • Integrate data collected over different geographic scales and locations by these three types of monitoring programs to assess water quality trends (link to WQPP Action Plan 2).

Who

UCCE, CAFF, county Farm Bureaus, Cattlemen's Associations, Grower-Shipper Vegetable Association of Central California and other commodity associations, local water management agencies, EPA, NRCS, RCDs, SWRCB, RWQCBs, WQPP.

Performance Measures

Success will be measured by the extent of participation of growers and ranchers in self-monitoring training workshops, the development of practical, scientifically acceptable monitoring protocols, the number of test kits distributed, and ultimately, by the number of growers and ranchers conducting self-monitoring. Long-term success will be measured by the amount of usable data generated by growers and ranchers, the successful use of the data to evaluate management practices, and the integration of the data compiled by the Farm Bureaus into the overall Regional Monitoring Program to assess regional water quality problems and trends.

URL: http://montereybay.noaa.gov/resourcepro/reports/agactioniv_99/ag99_sect2.html    Reviewed: March 05, 2014
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