Sustainable Aquatic Habitat Management on Agricultural Lands

Project Overview

PDP21-06
Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2021: $60,000.00
Projected End Date: 06/30/2022
Grant Recipient: Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service
Region: Southern
State: Texas
Principal Investigator:
Brittany Chesser
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service
Co-Investigators:
Dr. Aaron Sumrall
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

Commodities

  • Animals: fish, water fowl

Practices

  • Education and Training: extension, mentoring, technical assistance
  • Natural Resources/Environment: habitat enhancement, wildlife, water quality

    Proposal abstract:

    A major component driving the success of agricultural lands is water and more specifically private water resources, such as livestock tanks. These resources are threatened daily by environmental conditions and human actions. Currently there is no curricula developed addressing sustainable aquatic habitat management on working lands. This project addresses this lack of information by providing training to Texas A&M AgriLife County Extension Agents, Natural Resource Conservation Service staff, mentor farmers, NGO personnel, and other agency personnel. The proposed program is designed to train participants to confidently 1) evaluate aquatic habitat for producers, 2) identify sustainable management solutions to improve aquatic habitats, and 3) teach producers solutions for further integrating aquatic habitat within existing agricultural lands. Once completed, participants should be readily prepared to offer  tailored advice to producers and host similar workshops or programs to producers within their jurisdictions; which will assist in meeting our long term goal of producers adopting sustainable practices Objectives will be met through a hybrid approach in training consisting of 1) One hour weekly trainings through a self-paced online delivery, 2) Live panel discussion once monthly, and 3) two non-concurrent field days for each participant. Participants will be evaluated through 1) in-training surveys, 2) training assessments and plan of work, 3) six month and one year review. Additionally, a subgroup of past-trainees who use this program as a model to conduct workshops to their clientele, will help direct future efforts of the program.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    This proposed program has an overall objective of providing AgriLife County Extension Agents, Natural Resources Conservation Service personnel,  NGO personnel, mentor producers, and other interested qualified individuals (including PVAM personnel), a ‘toolkit’ when interacting with clientele regarding aquatic habitat management on agricultural lands. The project committee is confident that this opportunity will lead to improved water quality and quantity, restored native aquatic habitats, increased economic performance, and reduced environmental impacts for Texans. This overall objective will be achieved through providing skills and knowledge necessary for participants to:

    1.   Evaluate Aquatic Habitats for Producers.

    Participants will receive training on how to evaluate aquatic habitats on agricultural lands related to potential water quality. Typically when these professionals are called to provide aquatic management advice to clientele, an initial evaluation has not been done, which should be the first step in management. After training, participants should be able to identify water quality and security issues through the assessment of soil, slope, water quality parameters, aquatic vegetation presence, and land use patterns. From these evaluations participants will also be able to identify potential economic losses and feasibility 

    1.     Identify Sustainable Management Solutions to Improve Aquatic Habitats

    Based on detailed evaluation, law limitations, and overall management goals of the producer, participants should be able to direct their clientele to best management practices for an aquatic habitat. This includes suggesting water quality amendments, integrated pest management solutions, and bank stabilization/restoration. 

    1.     Promote Integration of aquatic habitats within existing agricultural lands.

    Participants will learn how a sustainable aquatic habitat can coexist with operating agricultural lands. With this information, participants can promote methods and modifications to meet multiple goals including terrestrial goals including livestock watering and crop irrigation, and still meet aquatic goals such as managing for fisheries and waterfowl.  

    Meeting these objectives will ensure behavior-based outcomes in participants and they will be readily prepared in: 1) offering tailored advice to producers and 2) hosting their own workshops or programs to producers within their jurisdictions, to distribute knowledge learned. Through this dissemination of knowledge from those trained, we hope our long term goal of producers adopting sustainable practices related to aquatic habitat management on working lands is met.  

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.