Mobile app helps growers protect water quality
Although there are many sources of water pollution, runoff from farms may contain contaminant levels that exceed water quality standards. Runoff from agricultural operations can pick up and carry natural and man-made pollutants, including fertilizers, salts, pesticides and sediments to lakes, rivers, wetlands and beaches, according to Loretta M. Bates, UC Cooperative Extension staff research associate, who leads the Agricultural Water Quality Research and Education Program in San Diego County.
Avocados and citrus are major tree crops in San Diego County, but “the app should be useful for growers of any tree crops,” says Bates.
The self-assessment questions fall into the following categories:
A. Property Management
B. Road Management & Erosion Control
C. Irrigation Practices
D. Leaching & Runoff
E. Nutrient Assessment & Fertilizer Management
F. Integrated Pest Management
“In the near future, we will have apps available for nursery and greenhouse growers and the apps will be available for use with devices other than iPads,” Bates says.
The tree crops app was developed by Ryan Krason, digital media specialist for UC Cooperative Extension in San Diego County, and Valerie Mellano, former UC Cooperative Extension advisor in San Diego County, with a third-party app developer. Krason and Bates are currently working on customizing the app for nursery and greenhouse operations.
The iPad app for tree crops is free and can be downloaded from the iTunes store. Search for "agricultural water quality."
For tree crop growers who don’t have iPads, the self-assessments can be printed off the Web at http://ucanr.org/sites/agwaterquality/files/121819.pdf and completed by hand. The Agricultural Water Quality Research and Education Program also offers printable self-assessments for greenhouse and nursery businesses and animal agriculture operations on the Web. While the iPad app will generate a report of suggestions, the print versions offer statements that address a group of questions.
For more information about the UC Cooperative Extension Agricultural Water Quality Research and Education Program, its iPad water-quality self-assessment app or other online assessment tools, visit http://ucanr.edu/sites/agwaterquality/Grower_Resources.