Jackson Blue Spring Grant Funding Programs
The Northwest Florida Water Management District has cost-share funding available for projects to improve water quality and reduce water use demands in and around Jackson Blue Spring.
Eligible projects will provide increased efficiency in both irrigation and fertilizer use in Jackson County — the largest agricultural area in northwest Florida.
The District currently has an Agricultural Best Management Practices program for consideration by producers within the Jackson Blue Spring/Merritts Mill Pond groundwater contribution area.
Requirements for eligible projects include:
- The project site must be located within the Jackson Blue Spring/Merritts Mill Pond Groundwater Contribution Area;
- The project site must be in regulatory compliance;
- The producer must enroll in an applicable Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services-adopted BMP program.
Jackson Blue Spring/Merritts Mill Pond Groundwater Contribution Area Maps
Interactive Basin Map for Cost Share Eligibility
Agricultural Best Management Practice Program
The District currently has $2.5 million in its budget for the sixth cycle of funding for eligible agricultural best management practices (BMPs) as part of the Jackson Blue Spring Agricultural Best Management Practice Program. By providing enhancements to irrigation systems, the program will assist producers in the basin achieve water savings up to an estimated 3.75 million gallons per day.
In addition, improved fertilizer application technologies could reduce the total nitrogen use for corn, cotton, and peanut crops by 20 percent without a loss in productivity.
Under the Jackson Blue Spring Agricultural BMP Program, the District will fund 75 percent of qualifying BMPs. For example, to obtain a $75,000 upgrade, an agricultural producer would only be required to provide a match of 25 percent ($18,750), with the District funding the remaining 75 percent. Eligible BMPs include irrigation system improvements, pump upgrades (high to low pressure), remote controlling systems for irrigation, control panel upgrades, endgun controls, fertigation systems, and other precision agriculture tools and services as they relate to irrigation systems.
Sod-Based Rotation Program
The District’s 2016-2017 budget included $316,000 to help four agricultural producers implement a conservation crop rotation program that includes planting grass such as bahia or bermuda as part of the rotation.
This grass rotation, or sod-based rotation, has been implemented and studied by University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at its research stations in Greenwood and Quincy for more than a decade. Research shows that land under the grass rotation produces higher yields while using less fertilizer and irrigation. Benefits of grass rotation are highest when cattle grazing is included as part of the program.
Under the program, the District reimbursed each producer to convert up to 160 acres to grass. The conversion can be done in up to four phases but the grass must be maintained in place for two years to obtain the benefits of the practice. The District also reimbursed for fencing and 75 percent of the cost of other qualifying equipment and tools.
Contracts are expected to last for approximately four years so that grass is established for two years on each portion of the enrolled property. While including cattle is encouraged, it is not required and producers can chose among numerous options to implement grass rotation on their farm. Awarded grant amounts varied depending on the measures selected by each producer.
Grass Rotation Program Brochure
For additional information or to apply for cost-share funding, contact David Cambron at the Northwest Florida Water Management District at (850) 951-4672 or David.Cambron@nwfwater.com.