Applying the Green Industries Best Management Practices Training to Secondary Agricultural Education

By Lenhardt, Matt; Rainey, Don | The Agricultural Education Magazine, March/April 2012 | Go to article overview

Applying the Green Industries Best Management Practices Training to Secondary Agricultural Education


Lenhardt, Matt, Rainey, Don, The Agricultural Education Magazine


Protecting our waterways and drinking water is an important challenge facing the state of Florida. For the many industry professionals that are in the golf course, agricultural, nursery, landscape, and grounds maintenance industries, fertilization and pest control applications are a routine and essential service to their farm or clientele. Unfortunately, improper fertilization and maintenance techniques on turf and ornamentals can cause leaching of nitrates, phosphorous, and other pollutants into Florida's unique waterways and aquifers. As a result, specific Ag and Non-Ag Best Management Practices have been put in place to reduce the level of nutrients and pesticides leached.

The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences (IFAS) Extension, Florida-Friendly Landscaping(TM) program addresses the educational needs for the 'Green Industry' professional via the Florida Friendly Best Management Practices for Protection of Water Resources by the Green Industries (GI-BMP). The GI-BMP program incorporates the Florida Friendly-Landscaping(TM) Principles. Florida-Friendly Landscaping(TM) ( FFL ) means using lowmaintenance plants and environmentally sustainable practices based on proper design and landscape maintenance, while at the same time saving time, energy and money. For example, 'Right Plant, Right Place is one of the guiding principles taught in the GI-BMP program.

Several industry specific best management practices exist with different educational material. For example, the golf course and agricultural industries have their own specific best management guidelines. The Green Industries Best Management Practices (GI-BMP) were developed in cooperation with the Florida Departaient of Environmental Protection, the University of Florida, and other industry leaders, and are targeted specifically for landscape professionals, or anyone who applies fertilizer on a "for hire" basis, emphasizing a comprehensive approach to lawn care.

According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the GI-BMPs are a science-based program and "provide information and guidance on turfgrass and landscape management practices to minimize nonpoint source pollution in order to conserve and protect Florida's water resources." It is also "intended to enhance the professional knowledge and judgment of turfgrass and landscape workers." While this certification is currently voluntary in Florida unless mandated by specific counties, beginning in 2014, a GIBMP certification and license will be required of all green industry professionals that apply fertilizer on a commercial basis. This is an individual license, meaning that anyone on the job that applies fertilizer must have this license, not just the owner of the company or crew leader.

The purpose of the trainings, which are administered primarily by Extension agents and certified industry instructors, is to emphasize why proper landscape fertilization and management practices are an important component of preserving water quality for humans and wildlife. Details of the overview include understanding how ground and surface water move from residential lawns, percolate through the soil, and eventually make it to our rivers and aquifers.

The GI-BMPs give landscape professionals information on proper irrigation, design and installation, fertilizer application, pesticide application and storage, proper cultural maintenance practices, as well as an overview emphasizing the important role that Florida's unique waterways play in our daily lives and why it is so important to protect them. Attendees will also learn about the advantages of using slow release nitrogen versus quick release nitrogen, as well as figuring the correct amount of fertilizer to apply and proper spreader calibration. Once a participant has attended the training, they are then required to pass a post-test to receive the GIBMP certification.

There are five modules, plus introductions, testing, etc. …

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