March 21, 2001 | By: Laura Skillman

In just a little more than six months, farmers in Kentucky will be required to have an agriculture water quality plan in place and in use.

To help facilitate that effort, Curt Judy, Todd County Extension agent for agriculture and natural resources for the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, has developed a computer program designed to simplify the process.

"This program is an aid to help agents work with clients in developing their Agriculture Water Quality Plans," Judy said. "It will create the framework for a plan based upon how the client answers the agriculture water quality assessment questions."

Once the plan outline is printed, the landowner must spend a few minutes adding details about the practices that are specific to their farm. "With the addition of a farm map (with fields marked) he should have a nice plan," said Judy.

Once the plan is printed, it will include a list of best management practices (BMP's) established for specific enterprises on that farm and the owner's planned dates to have those BMPs implemented.

The Kentucky General Assembly passed the Agriculture Water Quality Act in 1994. The act requires farmers to have a plan in place that addresses how their specific operations will be run to ensure that the state's water sources are not polluted.

A statewide plan was developed first that includes a series of BMPs that farmers should utilize for various enterprises.

Workbooks and other computer programs are also available to assist farmers but Judy said he expanded on those in an effort to make it as simple as possible for farmers to complete their plans. The computer program corresponds with the workbook, he said.

"I started it as something to make the process quicker for myself to help an individual develop a plan," he said.

Developing the program has taken more than a year with several revisions along the way. The revisions resulted from workers' feedback in county conservation districts who have assisted many farmers in completing their plans.

"It's very, very simple. The farmers love it. It takes about 10 minutes to key it into the computer," said Shelia Keeling, administrative secretary for the Todd County Conservation District.

A few more minutes are required to complete the specifics for each farmer once the basic outline has been done and print out the completed plan.

Keeling said the updates to the program have only added to its worth. It works much better than the other methods of completing a plan. Her office also provides farmers with the workbook to go with their completed plan.

About 900 plans have been completed in Todd County using the program, she said. They still have about 300 landowners that need to complete plans.

The program is a big selling point in getting them done, Keeling said. As word of mouth spreads across the county on how quickly a plan can be completed, landowners are stopping by to get theirs done.

"I would highly recommend it," she said.

The program has been made available to all Kentucky county Extension offices and conservation districts. Farmers who still need to design their plans can contact one of these offices for assistance.


Curt Judy, (270) 265-5659