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Mississippi Delta MSEA Volume 3, Issue 2, Page 2, First Semester 1997
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Volume 3, Issue 2, Page 1, Second Semester 1997

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MSEA Reporter Archive

Australian MSEA?

Treat the earth well. It was not given to you by your parents. It was lent to you by your children? (Kenyan Proverb). Such was the tone of the 2nd International Conference on Integrated Catchment Management (ICM), Processes and Policies which was held in Canberra, Australia, September 29 - October 1, 1997. The principle aim of this conference was to present a forum for the sharing of experiences, knowledge, and ideas to increase our ability to maintain ecologically a sustainable environmental management of land, water, and natural resources on a catchment (watershed) basis. As this sounded much like our Mississippi Delta MSEA Project, I began email correspondence last February with my Australian counterparts, and was invited in June to give two manuscripts at this international conference that was attended by over 300 scientists from Australia, UK, South Africa, and New Zealand.

During my visit, briefings were given to me on an exciting/innovative Australian conservation program called Landcare. Landcare is a citizen-based program whereby the local community takes the initiative and lead role in determining the environmental problems within a watershed, and the direction to take in natural resource management. Landcare is first, and foremost, an approach to natural resource management of caring for the land (including soil, water, flora, and fauna), and recognizing that the natural interconnections of the natural resources means that any one cannot be managed in isolation from the others. Landcare is a focus for government investments in natural resource management, in providing assistance to enable natural resource managers, particularly farmers, to move towards more sustainable land uses and practices. Most importantly, landcare is a meeting of production and conservation objectives; of recognizing that the primary production base needs to be sustained and nurtured to meet the future needs of society.

On a pre-conference water quality tour many landcare units were visited, and I was most impressed by the long-term commitment of the watershed citizenry and farmers to the landcare program. It will last. Obviously, landcare is a very good example of Integrated Catchment Management in action.

In Australia, Oxbow Lakes are called ?Billy Bongs?, so naturally I had to sing Waltzing Matilda. I do no think I will be invited back, at least not back to sing.

Dr. J .D. Schreiber,
National Sedimentation Laboratory
Oxford, MS 38655-1157
Phone: 601-232-2936
Fax: 601-232-2915

Crop Year 1997

Crop year 1997 is nearly complete. Crop year 1996 was a shakedown year. The current year finds MDMSEA in full swing with all 49 scientists and their helpers busy at their individual tasks. Rotenoning and restocking of the 3 lakes has been completed. The bream, catfish, and bass are growing. The lakes have remained clearer than in the past, with the expected results that the lake (Deep Hollow) with the most comprehensive BMPs in its watershed being the clearest. Surprisingly, the lake watershed (Beasley) with conventional tillage and structural BMPs cleared again when the crops were laid by and cultivation ceased. Farming practices have changed on the lake that had no added BMPs: much less farming activities around the lake and therefore less soil washing in the lake. In 1997, several new projects were begun. A production committee was formed and they determined that because of the forming of a hardpan on the sandy soils of the cotton land of Deep Hollow Lake watershed, conservation tillage (subsoiling) instead of no-till should be the farming practice followed. However, a 7-acre section of the field has been set aside to study the effect of no-till and the application of 2 tons of gypsum on the formation of this hardpan.

A graduate student from Oxford is completing a study of the effect of a riparian zone on pyrethroid surface transport. Another graduate student (from Starkville) is studying filter strips in conjunction with the herbicide Cotoran. Still another graduate student (from Oxford) is installing wells around Deep Hollow Lake and the Yazoo River to see if the rise and fall of the River corresponds to the rise and fall of the Lake. At Deep Hollow, continued use of the hooded sprayer with chlorophyll sensors has kept the fields practically weed and grass free with much less herbicide having to be applied.

Harvest has been completed and yields were excellent (soybeans, cotton, rice, and corn) on all three lake watersheds. Slotted boards were placed in the front of the overfall pipes on two of the lakes to keep the winter rains from depositing soil from the fields. They were removed in the spring to allow the fields to dry out for planting. Since harvest has been completed, boards have been reinstalled again for the 1997-98 winter. Wheat has been planted on the fields around Deep Hollow is up to a stand. Gold Kist fertilizer company loaned us a seeder to plant the wheat and Thompson Tractor Company loaned us a track tractor to do the subsoiling. We are cutting cost wherever possible. Businesses and farmers in the area have realized the value of the project and are helping in every way possible.

Another project that will be started in 1998 is a cooperative effort with some of the science teachers. Some of their 7th grade students will work with the scientists in a hands-on study of work being done in gathering data.

Field days and tours were conducted for the Mississippi State Department of Environmental Quality, the Mississippi Chapter of the American Society of Agronomy, the Pyrethroid Working Group representing several pyrethroid insecticide manufacturing companies, and USGS personnel from other areas.

The Delta Council?s Water Resources Committee adopted a resolution commending the MDMSEA. The Mississippi Farm Bureau featured MDMSEA in their annual meeting and is in the process of helping us make a new video of the project. The COE helped MDMSEA by taking aerial video of the lakes when they made their fall flyover of the Delta rivers. An all day meeting of the scientists from the 14 agencies was held in September to correlate all the facets of information being gathered. All in all, 1997 has been a good year for MDMSEA.

Thank you for your cooperation. I am looking forward to 1998.

Frank Gwin,
Jr., Project Coordinator
Phone: 601-455-4552
Fax: 601-453-1278

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MSEA Reporter Archive