Agricultural Nonpoint Source Special Area Land Treatment History
The program allowed county soil and water conservation districts to direct technical and financial assistance to landowners with land identified and prioritized as having water quality impairments caused by agricultural nonpoint source pollution. Success of these projects was dependent on the cooperation of numerous partners using a variety of tools to accomplish project goals.
Nonpoint source pollution is caused by rainfall or snowmelt moving over and through the ground. As the runoff moves, it picks up and carries away natural and human-made pollutants, finally depositing them into lakes, rivers, wetlands, coastal waters and ground waters. .
Examples of agricultural nonpoint source pollutants include:
- Sediment, which results in soil erosion to a waterbody
- Excessive nutrients loading from manure and fertilizer runoff
- Excessive pesticides from drift, leaching or runoff
- Bacteria from animal manure and mortalities
The Special Area Land Treatment (SALT) program was established as a pilot program in 1986. The local soil and water conservation districts used the SALT program to work with landowners to reduce soil erosion on crop, pasture and woodland and to target special assistance in a priority watershed. A priority watershed is one where the district has identified a priority issue or problem needing to be addressed on a watershed basis. SALT identified problems might include soil erosion, contaminated drinking water, stream degradation, or contaminated lakes or streams.
The goal of the SALT program was to treat a minimum of 80 percent of the land needing treatment within a five-year period. Land was treated with a variety of conservation practices, depending on what would work best to solve the specific problems in the watershed. Since 1986, over 170 locally led SALT projects were completed throughout Missouri.
In 1992, the Soil and Water Conservation Districts Commission recognized the need to address soil erosion control in larger watersheds. At this time, EARTH projects began, which targeted financial and technical assistance to landowners in larger watersheds for erosion control and prevention. Twenty-seven EARTH projects were completed since 1992. The total area covered by SALT and EARTH watersheds was 3.3 million acres. Of the 910,000 acres identified as needing treatment, 642,000 were treated. As a result, an estimated 9.2 million tons of soil was kept from entering Missouri's streams and lakes.
From their onset, the traditional SALT/EARTH projects were scheduled to be funded through the end of fiscal year 1999. As these successful projects drew to a close, districts were looking for further financial opportunities that could assist them in addressing resource concerns in their watersheds. One option they could have pursued was through a new type of SALT project called an Agricultural Nonpoint Source (AgNPS) SALT project, offered through a new program called the AgNPS SALT Program.
The mission of the AgNPS SALT program was to "improve, protect and maintain the water quality of the state of Missouri through the prevention and reduction of agricultural nonpoint source pollution using a watershed-based approach." Practices
Goals of the AgNPS SALT projects included:
- Reducing pesticide and nutrient runoff from cropland
- Improving pasture management
- Reducing soil erosion off agricultural land
- Improving animal waste management
- Protecting and enhancing riparian corridors
- Raising awareness of agricultural nonpoint source water pollution issues
Project Details - Projects listed by call
- Projects targeted watersheds between 20,000 to 60,000 acres.
- $750,000 was the maximum amount of funding available per project.
- Projects were 5, 6, or 7 years in length.
- Watershed was a complete topographic watershed, subwatershed, or 14-digit HUC.
- Priority was given to projects that address waters on the 303(d) list or Unified Watershed Assessment (UWA).
- Any practice or incentive used in the AgNPS SALT projects must have provided demonstrated water quality benefits.
Partners greatly contributed to the success of an AgNPS SALT project and were an essential element in success of these projects. Participation could have been in the form of financial contributions, technical assistance, publicity, sponsorship or other types of support.
Examples of partners may include but are not limited to:
- Missouri Natural Resources Conservation Service
- Missouri Department of Conservation
- University of Missouri Extension
- Farm Service Agency
- Missouri Department of Natural Resources
- United States Fish and Wildlife Service
- Wildlife organizations
- County Commissions
- Local soil and water conservation districts
- Local agri-businesses
- Local newspapers
- Local schools