Animal WasteManagement 
The Neuse Education Team is working to ensure that properly designed and operated animal waste management systems are used to protect the quality of North Carolina's water resources. To become a certified operator as required by North Carolina law individuals must complete an approved training course and pass an examination. The Neuse Education Team, along with other agents and specialist in the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, is leading efforts to enable farmers to meet this criteria. Since the law was passed, over 5,000 animal waste system operators have been trained and certified. 
 As part of the recertification process education programs have been approved for continuing education credits including a record keeping workshop and record book developed by a Neuse Education Team member. The team is using the swine waste application record book as the primary tool in conducting the record keeping workshops. The workshops have been approved by the Water Pollution Control System Operators Certification Commission for 2 hours of continuing education credits. In 1997, the Neuse Education Team conducted workshops for 265 certified operators. 
Inspectors from the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (Division of Water Quality) noticed that farmers who attended the workshops maintained better records. Better accounting sets the stage for solutions, allowing for more precise nutrient management planning and enabling farmers to be better handle and even prevent emergencies. 
 People from Iowa, Illinois, Missouri and Maryland have requested the record book and are using it as a valuable nutrient management tool. The Neuse Education Team is training other extension agents to conduct the workshop. 
 
 
 
 
Nitrogen Management 
Nutrient management has been identified as a cornerstone in the foundation of best management practices that farmers will use to control nitrogen. In the proposed Neuse rules, farmers have been charged with decreasing nitrogen loading from agriculture by 30%. 
 The Neuse Education Team, in cooperation with the Division of Soil and Water, Division of Water Quality, N.C. Farm Bureau, North Carolina Department Agricultural and Consumer Services, and the N.C. Agribusiness Council, held meetings throughout the basin to increase farmers' awareness of the important role nutrient management holds in reducing nitrogen to the river. Growers learned the relationship between water quality and maintaining crop yields through nutrient management. Demonstration sites were placed in the Neuse River Basin focusing on corn and cotton production at varying nitrogen rates. Such on-farm demonstrations allowed growers to better understand how to manage nitrogen relative to a given soil's production capacity. Yields were accurately measured in the fields of working farms to validate nutrient management practices. These on-farm demonstrations proved to be an excellent teaching tool. The Neuse Education Team was very active in nutrient management in 1997: 
  •  Identified model farms throughout the basin that will be used to teach farmers and fertilizer dealers about nutrient management.
  • Trained Cooperative Extension Service agents and Division of Soil and Water Conservation employees on nutrient management.
  • Developed Neuse Basin Best Management Practice manual.
  • Initiated statewide partnership to produce nutrient management decision support tool and an accounting system to document nitrogen reduction.
  • Lead training on nutrient uptake and realistic yield expectations in Wayne County.
A Personal Glimpse 
Neuse Education Team helps farmers control runoff and erosion 
 When John Vollmer plants his spring cabbage and broccoli crop in 1998 he will be doing things a little bit differently. John plants early, the first week in March, to free up his greenhouses for his crop of tobacco transplants. That means his fields must be ready for planting while winter is still with us. Plowing land in the winter is risky. The soil is usually too wet, and if you get lucky and are able to plow, the soil is exposed to winter rains and snow and can easily wash away. This year, however, John's fields are ready to plant,the soil hasn't washed, and John hasn't worked the fields since September. He is using special no-till technology that has been adapted to vegetables and tobacco in the piedmont region of North Carolina. 
 The Neuse Education Team has worked with John to implement no-till vegetable production on his Franklin County farm to protect water quality while producing a superior crop. The foundation of no-till technology is a cover crop. In John Vollmer's case, he plowed his field and formed beds or ridges in early September. As soon as his tractor left the field, John spread rye grass seed over the entire field, soon covering the ridges with thick green grass. The grass cover crop holds the soil in place and converts soil nutrients like nitrogen into grass roots and blades, thereby preventing the nutrients from running off or leaching into groundwater with heavy winter rains. 
 About a week before the planting date this spring John will spray the grass cover crop to kill it so it will not compete with the cabbage and broccoli transplants. The grass will die down and form an organic mulch that will prevent weeds from emerging, conserve soil moisture, and keep soil temperatures cooler than conventional plowing. John likes the no-till system for other reasons too: "With no-till my cabbage stays clean, no sand splashes onto the lower leaves. John likes what the mulch does for his customers too: "I run a pick-your-own operation and if the rows are muddy nobody wants to pick. The straw mulch keeps my customer's feet clean, and keeps them happy. 
 No-till provides the best of both worlds for farmers. It helps them virtually eliminate erosion and runoff from their fields. No-till can also lead to a more profitable crop. 
  Can we have productive agriculture and a clean environment? Just ask John, or the Neuse Education Team.
 
Communities throughout the Neuse River Basin have been targeted by the proposed Neuse rules to meet more stringent stormwater requirements. The following projects, begun in 1997, are helping communities in the basin to meet that goal: 
  •  A Durham County school was experiencing streambank erosion. The Neuse Eduction Team in conjunction with Durham Public Schools and a material supply firm, investigated alternative sediment-control methods. A new, more effective BMP will be used as a result.
  • The Neuse Education Team, with the cooperation of Johnston County Community College and the Johnston County Cooperative Extension Service, constructed a wetland to treat nutrients and chemicals before they enter a Neuse tributary. The site serves as an educational tool by demonstrating solutions in action.
  • The Neuse Education Team worked with citizens in the community of River Bend in Craven County to reduce excessive levels of nitrogen in lakes. By adopting the new concept of increasing water flow through vegetative areas, this project demonstrates effective urban stormwater management
  • By concentrating our efforts on the areas that hold the most potential for improvement, we use resources more efficiently to improve water quality. The Neuse Education Team provided leadership among the newly-created Neuse Non-point Source Teams, facilitated identification of problem areas and selected site-specific best management practices.
 
 
 
NeuseMobile Drives Message Home 
The trailer, covered with highly visible, brightly-colored images, is part of a new awareness campaign aimed at targeting rural and urban homeowners in the Neuse River Basin. The message "Everyone Contributes to Clean Water." Septic tanks and fertilizing practices are the main focus of the education. Agents advise homeowners on septic tank maintenance such as when to pump their septic tank so as to avoid clogging and failure. They also teach homeowners how to interpret the results of soil tests. 
 

 

 
To maximize educational opportunities the Neuse Education Team values establishing and maintaining partnerships with other state agencies. The special-edition NeuseLetter and our Nutrients in the Neuse Conference: Working Toward Solutions, held last December are examples. 
  • Nearly 5,000 copes were distributed to decision makers, community leaders, public policy people, state agencies commodity groups and producers. Collaboration was essential in creating that educational piece.

  •  
Neuse Conference Highlights 
  • 360 people representing various state agencies, state government, agriculture, and business attended including people from 12 different states.
  • 30 invited speakers presented a broad range of water quality information

  •  
    The conference provided a forum for scientists, educators, government officials, business people, water users, and concerned citizens to discuss Neuse River water quality issues and work toward solutions. 
     
     
A personal glimpse:
Neuse Education Team helps farmers control runoff and erosion
 When John Vollmer plants his spring cabbage and broccoli crop in 1998 he will be doing things a little bit differently. John plants early, the first week in March, to free up his greenhouses for his crop of tobacco transplants. That means his fields must be ready for planting while winter is still with us. Plowing land in the winter is risky. The soil is usually too wet, and if you get lucky and are able to plow, the soil is exposed to winter rains and snow and can easily wash away. This year, however, John's fields are ready to plant,the soil hasn't washed, and John hasn't worked the fields since September. He is using special no-till technology that has been adapted to vegetables and tobacco in the piedmont region of North Carolina. 
 The Neuse Education Team has worked with John to implement no-till vegetable production on his Franklin County farm to protect water quality while producing a superior crop. The foundation of no-till technology is a cover crop. In John Vollmer's case, he plowed his field and formed beds or ridges in early September. As soon as his tractor left the field, John spread rye grass seed over the entire field, soon covering the ridges with thick green grass. The grass cover crop holds the soil in place and converts soil nutrients like nitrogen into grass roots and blades, thereby preventing the nutrients from running off or leaching into groundwater with heavy winter rains. 
 About a week before the planting date this spring John will spray the grass cover crop to kill it so it will not compete with the cabbage and broccoli transplants. The grass will die down and form an organic mulch that will prevent weeds from emerging, conserve soil moisture, and keep soil temperatures cooler than conventional plowing. John likes the no-till system for other reasons too: "With no-till my cabbage stays clean, no sand splashes onto the lower leaves." John likes what the mulch does for his customers too: "I run a pick-your-own operation and if the rows are muddy nobody wants to pick. The straw mulch keeps my customer's feet clean, and keeps them happy."
 No-till provides the best of both worlds for farmers. It helps them virtually eliminate erosion and runoff from their fields. No-till can also lead to a more profitable crop. 
  Can we have productive agriculture and a clean environment? Just ask John, or the Neuse Education Team.
 

In 1997, The Neuse Educational Team focused on improving the efficiency and effectiveness of agriculture and natural resource policy by delivering information to policy makers. For example, presentations and field tours were provided to members of the Environmental Management Commission and Division of Water Quality to explain and demonstrate not only best management practices but appropriate policy options. The following groups represent some of the people who the team worked with on public policy issues:
  •  Farmers in Upper, Middle, Lower basin - 410 people
  • Plant Food Association of North Carolina - 125 people 
  • Upper, Middle, Lower Non-Point Source Teams - 100 people
  • North Carolina Turfgrass Council and North Carolina Nurserymen's Association - 100
 
 


Distributed in furtherance of the Acts of Congress of May 8 and June 30, 1914. Employment and program opportunities are offered to all people regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. North Carolina State University, North Carolina A&T State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments cooperating.

Editors:

Contributing Writers: