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Pacific Southwest, Region 9

Serving: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Pacific Islands, Tribal Nations

Agriculture Success Stories

Success stories on this page:

Health Risks Reduced in American Samoa

Matu'u watershed, contaminated by pig farm waste
Matu'u watershed, contaminated by pig farm waste
Pigs are an important cultural resource in American Samoa. Approximately 2,700 pig farms house 35,000 pigs on the main island, Tutuila. Small-scale pig farms are commonly makeshift, with open-sided buildings on concrete slabs or packed earth floors. Wastes are typically flushed from the floor with pressurized water, and then discharged into unlined cesspools or directly into streams or wetlands. Pig urine and feces contaminate drinking water, streams, and coastal water in 31 of the 41 watersheds in American Samoa, including Matu'u watershed, which was placed on the EPA's official list of impaired waters in 2004.

An elevated risk of leptospirosis prompted American Samoa to implement water monitoring, outreach, inspections, and enforcement on activities in Afuelo Stream. This project included moving 100 pigs away from the stream and installing waste treatment systems.

Results

By implementing best-management practices, American Samoa reduced E. coli levels in Samoa’s Afuelo Stream by 90% and total nitrogen and total phosphorus by 58% and 43%, or 2649 and 2088 pounds annually, respectively. Outreach and education have increased public awareness of water quality problems and health risks, and resulted in implementation of similar practices in 21 additional watersheds.

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Transition to Sustainable Agriculture: Winegrapes

These bunches of sustainably grown wine grapes ripen heavy on the vine

Winegrapes, the third leading agricultural crop in California, are grown on 529,000 acres of land. This crop alone generates annual revenues of over $2 billion.

From 2001 to 2004, EPA invested $234,000 in grant funding to support the transition to more sustainable practices in the winegrape industry.

Results

  • Central Valley From 2002 to 2005, the Lodi-Woodbridge Winegrape Commission growers reduced total acres treated with the high-risk pesticides propargite and simizine by 55% and 72% respectively through a new self-assessment workbook that promotes sustainable practices.
  • Central Coast: From 2003 to 2005, the Central Coast Vineyard Team decreased use of contact and pre-emergent herbicides and nearly eliminated diazinon and chlorpyrophos use in their project vineyards. They did this through a new Positive Points System™ to encourage integrated pest management.
  • Sonoma County: Data made available in 2005 showed that between 1999 and 2003, the Sonoma County Grape Growers Association cut use of nine high-risk pesticides by 32% and cut acres treated by 31% through a grower-to-grower integrated pest management (IPM) education program.

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Transition to Sustainable Agriculture: Almonds

Rows of sustainably tended trees produce bumper crops of flavorful almonds like these

California produces three-quarters of the world's almonds on 575,000 acres in the Central Valley from Chico to Bakersfield. In 2003, almonds were California 's top agricultural export with a value of $1.5 billion. The EPA has invested $518,918 in grant funding to help the almond industry use sustainable practices.

The EPA works with the Almond Board of California (to develop integrated pest management techniques and to select environmental projects. The EPA also supports the Community Alliance with Family Farmers to promote sustainable practices and California Almond Pest Management Alliance, which completed a resource guide for growers emphasizing environmentally sound pest management practices that PMA research has shown to be effective.

Results

From 1991 to 2000, California almond growers used 77 percent less organophosphate pesticides, compared to a 35 percent reduction for all crops.

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Dairy Manure Collaborative

The EPA started the Dairy Manure Collaborative in 2003 to address the harmful environmental effects of dairy manure in the San Joaquin Valley. The goals of the Collaborative include:

Industrial dairies like this feed scores of cows in grain lots
Dairy feeding operation
  • use manure as a resource,
  • improve soil quality, provide nutrients for crops,
  • generate renewable energy,
  • create jobs, and
  • reduce contamination of air and water.

Participating agencies and organizations include:

  • Federal agencies - EPA, Department of Energy, USDA Rural Development Agency and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
  • California state agencies -- Energy Commission, Department of Food and Agriculture, Cal/EPA, Air Resources Control Board, State Water Resources Control Board, Integrated Waste Management Board
  • Dairy Industry - Western United Dairymen, Milk Producers Council, California Dairy Campaign
  • Public Interest - Sustainable Conservation, Great Valley Center
Industrial dairies can produce mounds of manure for fertizer use Dry manure stockpile

In April 2004, the four federal agencies signed a statement agreeing to collaborate and are working to identify and evaluate technologies, project specifics and funding options. Projects must meet the following criteria:

Flush-dairy manure channel

  • Reduce air emissions of volatile organic compounds, ammonia, and methane
  • Manage nutrients (especially nitrogen) and salts to improve water and soil quality
  • Create clean renewable energy sources
  • Improve economic viability of dairies and create jobs

Dairy Manure Technology Feasibility Assessment

Some of the greatest agricultural problems in the San Joaquin Valley of California stem from increasing amounts and concentrations of dairy manure.

Currently manure is liquified for spraying on fields as fertilizer
Spreading liquid manure on pasture

Nutrients, salts, bacteria, and organic matter in manure can pollute surface and groundwater. Decomposing manure causes pollution by putting volatile organic compounds, ammonia, methane, and unpleasant odors into the air. In order to address this growing concern, more information is needed on viable technologies that could be used to treat manure.

In FY2005, the EPA led a diverse group of stakeholders, the Dairy Manure Collaborative, to review technologies for treating dairy manure. A subcommittee of the group, the Dairy Manure Technology Feasibility Assessment Panel, has reviewed more than 70 technologies to determine their feasibility.

The group identified a few treatment options that could be feasible, including anaerobic digestion. This technology could be used to produce methane for energy and could be the base to which other treatment technologies would be added. Other treatment processes could include liquefying the methane for use in autos, composting solids for use as animal bedding and soil amendments, concentrating nitrogen for fertilizer and salts for disposal, trapping mineral nitrogen in aquatic plants for animal feed or soil amendments, and treating dairy manure in combination with human sewage.

This effort is the first step towards implementing projects that demonstrate comprehensive manure treatment technology with positive environmental effects in the San Joaquin Valley.

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