Fruit-A-Syst for Michigan Producers (FAS104)

Fruit-A-Syst for Michigan Producers (FAS104)

The Crop Assessment System for Orchards and Fruit Producers will provide you with accurate information about how your management practices might be affecting water resources.

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Introduction

Fruit ◆ A ◆Syst will assist growers in developing and implementing a management plan and site improvements that prevent contamination of groundwater and surface water and maintain economic crop production. Plans will be consistent with the Michigan Right to Farm identified current Generally Accepted Agricultural and Management Practices (GAAMPs) as well as applicable state and federal environmental regulations.

Nutrients used in fruit production come from chemical fertilizers and naturally occurring sources such as manure, legumes and biosolids (sewage sludge). Synthetic or naturally occurring nutrients 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 some areas of Michigan. Fruit ◆ A ◆Syst will assess current nutrient management practices and identify alternative management practices to reduce nutrient losses to the environment.

Virtually all crops produced in Michigan may be threatened by serious pest problems – disease-producing organisms, insects and weeds. Producers are encouraged to adopt pest management practices that achieve the desired crop quality and yield while minimizing any adverse effects on nontarget organisms, humans, and soil and water resources. Fruit ◆ A ◆Syst will assess current pest management practices and identify alternative management strategies to reduce negative impacts to the environment.

The Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) is a comprehensive, proactive and voluntary agricultural pollution prevention program.

Producers who complete Fruit ◆ A ◆Syst will be able to determine what structural, management practices or record-keeping changes (if any) that will be needed for their businesses to be environmentally assured through MAEAP. After addressing the risks indicated by the Cropping System Improvement Action Plan, the producer can contact the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) to request Cropping System verification at (517) 284-5609. An MDARD verifier will schedule a site inspection.

P.A. 451, Part 82, ensures the confidentiality of the producer information provided to the 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 with 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.

For a list of currently available incentives and information on how to get started, contact a local conservation district, MSU Extension or Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) representative.

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 Web site: www.michigan.gov/mdard.

What is the Crop Assessment System for Fruit Producers?

The Crop ◆ A ◆Syst for Fruit Producers (Fruit ◆ A ◆Syst) is a series of risk questions that will help assess how effectively a producer’s crop management practices protect groundwater and surface water resources. The risk questions are grouped in the following sections:

  • Cropping System Improvement Action Plan
    1. Nutrient Management Practices
    2. Soil and Water Conservation Practices
    3. Pest Management Practices
    4. Water Use
    5. Irrigation Management Practices
    6. Other Environmental Risks in the Cropping System

The answers to the risk questions indicate whether current management practices have a low, medium, or high risk of contamination. Growers are generally recommended to adopt the low-risk management practice. MAEAP local conservation district technicians or horticultural advisors can assist to make the appropriate management changes.

Responses to risk questions that address management practices that are regulated by state or federal law indicate illegal practices with black bold print. The numbered footnotes will indicate which regulation is violated (refer to Table 2, back cover).

Responses to risk questions that address management practices covered by the GAAMPs indicate a management practice consistent with a specific GAAMPs with blue bold italic print.

MAEAP management requirements are aligned with state and federal environmental regulations. The GAAMPs and environmentally based horticultural management practices are supported by research. The records and/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.

How Does Crop ◆ A ◆Syst Work?

1) Select all relevant risk question sections for the fruit operation.

2) Answer the risk questions by selecting the answer that best describes management practices used on the operation. Indicate the risk level in the column to the right. Skip any questions that don’t apply to the Cropping System.

Note: for MAEAP verification, complete the risk questions with a Fruit ◆ A ◆Syst trained individual. Locate a local MAEAP conservation district technician through the county conservation district, MSU Extension, or NRCS office, or at www.maeap.org.

3) After completing each section of risk questions, list the practices that present a high risk of contaminating groundwater and surface water resources in the Cropping 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.

4) In the Cropping System Improvement Action Plan, list:

  • Management practices or site improvements to be implemented that will reduce the identified risk.
  • Sources of technical and financial assistance.
  • Target dates for accomplishing the changes.
  • Target date for MAEAP Cropping System verification.

A Few Final Words

The key to Fruit ◆ A ◆Syst is that, once environmental risks to groundwater and surface water resources are identified, the plan is implemented to reduce the risks. 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. Once the plan is developed and changes are implemented to address the risks, the farm is ready for MAEAP Cropping System verification.

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