Cooperatove Conservation Project

Missouri Watershed Research Assessment-Stewardship Project

Location: Midwest/Northern High Plains Region: Missouri

Project Summary: MGCA and Missouri Corn Merchandising Council initiated WRASP to help corn farmers be better environmental stewards of the land, water and natural resources.
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ERC agronomist explains edge-field-water sampling and discusses alternative farming practices with local farmers.
Resource Challenge
Northern Missouri is a fertile agricultural region dotted with crop and livestock farms. Surface waters provide drinking water for many of the region’s citizens. In the mid-1990s, several drinking water operators received a Notice of Violation under the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act because levels of atrazine, a weed killer, exceeded acceptable levels. The waters were also placed on the Section 303d list of impaired water under the Federal Clean Water Act. Nutrients and
sediment runoff were causing additional problems.

The MCGA approached the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with a bold concept: farmers would do the right thing voluntarily—if they knew how. Soon, federal and state agencies, corn growers, product manufacturers, and others had joined the effort, forming the WRASP in 1999. Senator Kit Bond secured more than $1 million in federal funds.
Examples of Key Partners
MCGA, EPA, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Syngenta Crop Protection, Bayer Crop Science, more than 100 private landowners; administered by Environmental Resources Coalition (ERC).
Results and Accomplishments
Atrazine levels in Smithville Lake have dropped due in large part to WRASP’s work. Both Smithville Lake and Mark Twain Lake were removed from EPA’s 303d listing in late 2003. Some of the activities leading to this success were:

• Set up more than 50 field and stream monitoring stations, collecting 1,000 samples per year for chemical, nutrient, and solids analyses.

• Drafted Best Management Practices based on monitoring data.

• Changed field application practices, cutting the amount of atrazine applied in half while maintaining its effectiveness.

• Farmers planted buffer strips to intercept runoff and help curtail soil erosion.  Mike Leavitt, then EPA Administrator, noted: “We (EPA) are charged with enforcing the environmental laws enacted by Congress. But compliance, not enforcement, is our goal, and I see a greater spirit of cooperation, especially in agriculture.”  Now that WRASP has met its original goals, it is supporting similar programs. The ERC is working with the USDA Agricultural Research Service in the Mark Twain Watershed to evaluate whether Farm Bill conservation programs protect natural resources while balancing conservation practice costs.


Environmental compliance through voluntary action.

Project Contact
Steven K. Taylor
Chief Executive Officer
Environmental Resources Coalition



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