Farmers within the Everglades Agricultural Area in South Florida continue to improve their farming practices, exceeding phosphorus reduction levels for the 18th consecutive year.
Best management practices, or BMPs, are responsible in large part for the 41-percent reduction in phosphorus across the 470,000-acre farming region south of Lake Okeechobee, according to the news release.
The latest measurements were taken during the 2013 water monitoring year, which ran from May 1, 2012, through April 30.
The most commonly used BMP was more precise fertilizer application methods, improved stormwater management practices and erosion controls to reduce the amount of phosphorus carried in stormwater runoff.
The reductions came in spite of heavy rainfall in the region from Tropical Storm Isaac.
To meet the requirements of Florida's Everglades Forever Act, the amount of phosphorus leaving the Everglades area must be 25 percent less than baseline levels established before the phosphorus reduction efforts started.
The overall actual annual reduction since BMPs were implemented 18 years ago was 55 percent, more than twice that required by law.
In actual tonnage, this water year's reductions amounted to 109 metric tons of phosphorus that were prevented from entering regional canal systems.
During the 18-year-old program, 2,673 metric tons of phosphorus have been prevented from leaving the Everglades area.