Early last week, the interim Agriculture Committee spent the morning listening to Karl Rockeman, director of water quality at the state Dept. of Health give a presentation on nutrient management. For this presentation, nutrient meant both nitrogen and phosphorous. Based on 2009 numbers, of our state’s 168 lakes and reservoirs, 47 were judged to be impaired or threatened due to excess nutrients. In the same study, 50 sites from our rivers and streams were randomly sampled and in the case of nitrogen, 6.7% (343 miles) were in good condition, 36% (1,859 miles) were fair, and 57.3% (2,800 miles) were poor. Phosphorous was 23% good, 8% fair and 69% poor.
Hopefully, the widespread use of new technology to help growers apply nutrients will show a lessened impact from what is termed nonpoint-source pollution. Be aware that our Health Department does have a goal for nutrient management that he stressed does not mean a reduction in the use or amount of fertilizers, but that they hope to institute approaches “to reduce the delivery of nutrients via point source effluents and nonpoint source runoff.” The department is continuing to take public input as it works on guidelines for nutrient management. His presentation included a photo of our own executive Nancy Johnson at one of the public meetings held these past few years. Mr. Rockeman mentioned that anyone interested can go to the Health Dept. website to research further.
The Ag committee spent the rest of the day taking testimony from the USDA Federal Grain Inspection Service, the ND Ag Commissioner, the ND Grain Growers, the ND Public Service Commission, ND Grain Dealers and the ND Wheat Commission on the issue of variability in testing of DON (deoxynivalenol) aka,vomitoxin. To study this is one of the committee tasks. They were warned to be careful of changing testing methodology, especially for marketing purposes. Enforcement and education were stressed by many of those testifying. Time will tell what the committee will do on this issue.
This is getting long for a blog entry so I will tell you about Natural Resources committee later.