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Title: Transforming Agricultural Water Management in Support of Ecosystem Restoration

Abstract

Threats to ecosystems are not local; they have to be handled with the global view in mind. Eliminating Florida farms, in order to meet its environmental goals, would simply move the needed agricultural production overseas, where environmentally less sensitive approaches are often used, thus yielding no net ecological benefit. South Florida is uniquely positioned to lead in the creation of sustainable agricultural systems, given its population, technology, and environmental restoration imperative. Florida should therefore aggressively focus on developing sustainable systems that deliver both agricultural production and environmental services. This presentation introduces a new farming concept of dealing with Florida’s agricultural land issues. The state purchases large land areas in order to manage the land easily and with ecosystem services in mind. The proposed new farming concept is an alternative to the current “two sides of the ditch” model, in which on one side are yield-maximizing, input-intensive, commodity price-dependent farms, while on the other side are publicly-financed, nutrient-removing treatment areas and water reservoirs trying to mitigate the externalized costs of food production systems and other human-induced problems. The proposed approach is rental of the land back to agriculture during the restoration transition period in order to increase water storage (allowing formore » greater water flow-through and/or water storage on farms), preventing issues such as nutrients removal, using flood-tolerant crops and reducing soil subsidence. Since the proposed approach is still being developed, there exist various unknown variables and considerations. However, working towards a long-term sustainable scenario needs to be the way ahead, as the threats are global and balancing the environment and agriculture is a serious global challenge.« less

Authors:
;
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Hendry County, Florida
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Bioenergy Technologies Office (EE-3B)
Contributing Org.:
Hendry County, Florida
OSTI Identifier:
1337956
Report Number(s):
DOE-HENDRYFLA-00303-405
DOE Contract Number:
EE0000303
Resource Type:
Conference
Resource Relation:
Conference: Time: 11/20/2009 Author: E. A. Hanlon, J. C. Capece Title: Transforming Agricultural Water Management in Support of Ecosystem Restoration Location: 19th Annual Southwest Florida Water Resources Conference, Ft Myers FL Other: 97 participants; Related Information: http://www.intelligentsia-international.org/DOE2012
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
09 BIOMASS FUELS; 29 ENERGY PLANNING, POLICY, AND ECONOMY; ecosystem services; agricultural land; southwest Florida; sustainable farm system; biofuels center

Citation Formats

Hanlon, Edward, and Capece, John. Transforming Agricultural Water Management in Support of Ecosystem Restoration. United States: N. p., 2009. Web.
Hanlon, Edward, & Capece, John. Transforming Agricultural Water Management in Support of Ecosystem Restoration. United States.
Hanlon, Edward, and Capece, John. Fri . "Transforming Agricultural Water Management in Support of Ecosystem Restoration". United States. doi:. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1337956.
@article{osti_1337956,
title = {Transforming Agricultural Water Management in Support of Ecosystem Restoration},
author = {Hanlon, Edward and Capece, John},
abstractNote = {Threats to ecosystems are not local; they have to be handled with the global view in mind. Eliminating Florida farms, in order to meet its environmental goals, would simply move the needed agricultural production overseas, where environmentally less sensitive approaches are often used, thus yielding no net ecological benefit. South Florida is uniquely positioned to lead in the creation of sustainable agricultural systems, given its population, technology, and environmental restoration imperative. Florida should therefore aggressively focus on developing sustainable systems that deliver both agricultural production and environmental services. This presentation introduces a new farming concept of dealing with Florida’s agricultural land issues. The state purchases large land areas in order to manage the land easily and with ecosystem services in mind. The proposed new farming concept is an alternative to the current “two sides of the ditch” model, in which on one side are yield-maximizing, input-intensive, commodity price-dependent farms, while on the other side are publicly-financed, nutrient-removing treatment areas and water reservoirs trying to mitigate the externalized costs of food production systems and other human-induced problems. The proposed approach is rental of the land back to agriculture during the restoration transition period in order to increase water storage (allowing for greater water flow-through and/or water storage on farms), preventing issues such as nutrients removal, using flood-tolerant crops and reducing soil subsidence. Since the proposed approach is still being developed, there exist various unknown variables and considerations. However, working towards a long-term sustainable scenario needs to be the way ahead, as the threats are global and balancing the environment and agriculture is a serious global challenge.},
doi = {},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {Fri Nov 20 00:00:00 EST 2009},
month = {Fri Nov 20 00:00:00 EST 2009}
}

Conference:
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  • The survival of Florida’s biodiversity and economy is dependent on finding ways to balance farm economics with proper management of water and other natural resources. The state purchase of U.S. Sugar lands in critical areas of south Florida, replacing them with water storage and treatment areas, creates both an opportunity and imperative for new farming systems. These transformed farming system could provide a viable economic and ecological alternative to the reservoirs, STA’s, and flow-way. An agricultural model built around flood-tolerant sugarcane varieties could be compatible with the new visions for EAA lands. Reducing the agricultural intensity of these farms createsmore » the risk or reality of yield reduction and lower farm income, but would allow for water storage, reduced nutrient loads, and muck soil carbon conservation on the farms. Payments for these ecosystem services could offset the loss in crop revenues. Cultivation of flood-tolerant sugarcane allows for temporary storage of water on a field followed by water transfer to an adjacent field. Using this relay approach, a water pulse could be passed down a corridor of fields. The volume of water transported to the south via a pulse way depends largely on the nutrient dynamics of the soil-water system. If the nutrient flux becomes the limiting factor then water volumes sent into the corridors would be limited to the net increase in soil-water storage and ET losses. Including ecosystem services as revenue streams in agricultural business models to compensate for lower yield income requires: (1) quantifying the services delivered, (2) assigning values to the services, and (3) compensating farmers for the quantities delivered. The direct ecosystem services provided by a flood-tolerant sugarcane farming system are (1) water storage, (2) nutrient removal and (3) carbon sequestration. A farming system that significantly reduces soil subsidence and its resulting carbon loss to the atmosphere may be eligible for credit sales on already-existing carbon markets. Farmers and local governments traditionally have been hesitant to consider radically new approaches to agriculture. But facing a significant loss of farms, jobs and tax base creates a receptiveness to change.« less
  • The success of Everglades restoration is threatened by both regional and global scale pressures. The overarching global threat to the Everglades is long-term sea level rise due to climate change driven by greenhouse gas emissions. The State of Florida is purchasing EAA lands with the plan of replacing them with water storage and treatment areas. But displaced farms simply reappear elsewhere in the world, given that removing farms does not reduce the demand for food products. Substitute farms typically reappear in developing nations on lands cleared from native habitat. And since land clearing for agriculture and other development is amore » major source of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, it can be argued that agriculture displaced from Florida contributes to greater greenhouse gas emissions and thus simply fuels global-scale threats to the Everglades. To achieve meaningful and lasting benefits, Everglades restoration programs must address the global need to produce food in a manner compatible with ecosystem protection. EAA farms on public lands can be redesigned to balance food production with environmental needs such as water storage, nutrient management, soil subsidence reduction, energy efficiency, and habitat protection in ways that are potentially more profitable to farmers and less costly to tax payers.« less
  • The public purchase of farmlands in the EAA provides an opportunity for transforming farming systems into truly sustainable systems and these can support the Everglades restoration efforts. The concept proposed in this presentation is that by reducing the yield intensity of farms and adding ecosystem services, public farm lands can serve both restoration and the economy more effectively and more efficiently. This working hypothesis will be evaluated by applying systems analysis approaches including life cycle analysis and embodied energy analysis. The rationale for pursuing new approaches ranges from the fact that climate change threats are global, not local, to themore » fact that eliminating Florida farms and moving production elsewhere yields no net ecological benefit. Historic water flow from Lake Okeechobee to Everglades is shown and the current concept of moving water explained. Southern Flow Way Plan 6 is explained and sustainable farming system in this newly acquired land presented. To determine if an EAA pulse-way strategy would work and meet the sustainability criteria requires integrated analysis of several systems - water budget, soil & water nutrient dynamics, prospects for new sugarcane varieties, soil subsidence and overall energy and carbon budget.« less
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