Crop *A* Syst for Nursery Crop and Christmas Tree Producers (FAS114)
Producers may use this bulletin to assist in becoming MAEAP verified.
Crop◆A◆Syst for Nursery Crop and Christmas Tree Producers will assist growers in developing and implementing a management plan that prevents contamination of groundwater and surface water resources and maintains economic crop production. Plans will be consistent with applicable Michigan Right to Farm Generally Accepted Agricultural and Management Practices (GAAMPs) and state and federal environmental regulations.
Nutrients used in nursery production come from chemical fertilizers and natural sources such as manure, compost, legumes and biosolids (sewage sludge). All nutrients, whether synthetic or naturally occurring, can become mixed with surface water or groundwater by natural processes such as runoff and leaching. Nitrate contamination of groundwater and phosphorus contamination of surface water are problems in Michigan. Crop◆A◆Syst for Nursery Crop and Christmas Tree Producers will assess current nutrient management practices and identify alternative management practices that, when implemented, will reduce nutrient losses to the environment.
Virtually all crops produced in Michigan may be threatened by serious pest problems – weeds, insects, mites and disease-producing organisms. Producers are encouraged to adopt pest management practices that achieve the desired quality while minimizing any adverse effects on non-target organisms, humans, and soil and water resources. Crop◆A◆Syst for Nursery Crop and Christmas Tree Producers will assess current pest management practices and identify alternative management practices that, when implemented, will reduce negative impacts to the environment.
The Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) is a comprehensive, proactive and voluntary agricultural pollution prevention program. It takes a systems approach to assist producers in evaluating their farms for environmental risks. The on-farm risk evaluation uses specific tools for each system. Environmentally assured farms are eligible for various incentives and recognitions.
The Michigan Right to Farm Act authorizes the Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development to develop and adopt GAAMPs for farms and farm operations in Michigan. These voluntary practices are based on available technology and scientific research to promote sound environmental stewardship. The current Right to Farm GAAMPs are posted on the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) Web site: www.michigan.gov/mdard.
Producers who complete the Crop◆A◆Syst for Nursery Crop and Christmas Tree Production will be able to determine what management and record-keeping changes (if any) will be needed for their Cropping System to be environmentally assured through MAEAP. Once a producer develops and implements a Nursery Crop and Christmas Tree System Improvement Action Plan to address the risks indicated by the Crop◆A◆Syst assessment, he or she can contact the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) at (517) 284-5609 to request a MAEAP Cropping System verification inspection.
An MDARD inspector will schedule a site visit to complete the verification process.
P.A. 451, Part 82, ensures the confidentiality of the producer information provided to MDARD for verification. Any information connected with the development, implementation or verification of a conservation plan or conservation practice is confidential.
The owner of a MAEAP verified Cropping System will be eligible for various incentives and can enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing that Cropping System practices are consistent with the identified current Right to Farm GAAMPs. Verified Cropping Systems are positioned to achieve regulatory compliance with state and federal environmental laws.
Similar incentives are available for producers who have environmentally assured their Livestock and Farmstead Systems. Contact a local conservation district, MSU Extension or Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) representative for a list of currently available incentives and information on how to get started.
What is the Crop Assessment System for Nursery Crop and Christmas Tree Producers?
The Crop◆ A◆ Syst for Nursery Crop and Christmas Tree Producers (Crop◆A◆Syst) is a series of risk questions that will help assess how effectively crop management practices protect groundwater and surface water resources. The risk questions are grouped in the following sections:
- Nursery Crop and Christmas Tree System Improvement Action Plan
- Nutrient Management Practices
- Soil and Water Conservation Practices
- Pest Management Practices
- Irrigation Management Practices
- Water Use
- Nursery Container Management
- Other Environmental Risks in the Cropping System
Each risk question assesses the impact of production practices on groundwater and surface water resources. The risk question answers indicate whether management practices have a low, medium or high risk of contamination. Producers are generally recommended to adopt the low-risk management practices.
Risk questions that address management practices that are regulated by state or federal law indicate illegal practices with black bold print. Risk questions that address management practices covered by the GAAMPs indicate a management practice consistent with a specific GAAMPs with blue bold italic print.
Finally, a blue box indicates the management level(s) required for MAEAP verification.
MAEAP management requirements are aligned with state and federal environmental regulations. The GAAMPs and environmentally based agronomic management practices are supported by research. The records or evidence that indicate the approved management practices have been implemented on the farm are listed in the far right column. This evidence will provide the basis for awarding environmental assurance through MAEAP. Agricultural representatives (both public and private) can assist growers to make the appropriate management changes to become environmentally assured through MAEAP.
How Does s Crop◆A◆Syst Work?
- Select all relevant risk question sections for the farm or nursery.
- Answer the risk questions by selecting the answer that best describes management practices used on the farm. Indicate the risk level in the column to the right. Skip any questions that don’t apply. Note: for MAEAP verification, complete the risk questions with a Crop◆A◆Syst trained individual. A MAEAP technician is located in the conservation district office.
- After completing each section of risk questions, list the practices that present a high risk of contaminating groundwater and surface water resources in the Nursery Crop and Christmas Tree System Improvement Action Plan (printed inside the front cover of the bulletin). Also include any medium-risk practices that do not meet MAEAP verification requirements.
- In the Cropping System Improvement Plan, list:
- Management practice(s) that are planned for implementation that will reduce the identified risk.
- Sources of technical assistance.
- Target dates for accomplishing the changes.
- Target date for MAEAP Cropping System verification
A Few Final Words
The key to Crop◆A◆Syst is that once environmental risks are identified, the plan is implemented to reduce the risk(s). Some of the stewardship practices that will reduce risks may cost very little and take very little time to implement. Other practices may involve additional cost and may not be implemented for a few years. It is important, however, to have a plan to follow.
After a plan is developed and changes are implemented to address the risks, the farm is ready for MAEAP Cropping System verification.