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water quality, Big Sioux Aquifer, groundwater contamination, aquifers, farm management


Farmers are becoming increasingly aware of the environmental consequences of farming practices that have become "conventional" over the last 30 to 40 years. As agricultural producers, they are expressing concern about erosion, ground water contamination, and personal health considerations from chemical use. At the same time, farmers are concerned about the economic viability of their operations. Farmers cannot afford to sacrifice net farm income in order to meet stricter environmental regulations. A software package named Planetor has been developed that can be used to examine the interrelationships between economic sustainability and environmental safety. Researchers working on the Big Sioux Aquifer (BSA) demonstration project at South Dakota State University were among the first to have used this new software package. The BSA is a shallow glacial outwash aquifer underlying approximately 1000square miles of prime agricultural land in eastern South Dakota. This aquifer is extremely important to the region as it supplies water for domestic as well as agricultural use. The importance and varied use of the water from this aquifer has increased the demand to ensure that this source of water is of high quality. The BSA demonstration project is to implement Best Management Practices (BMPs) on agricultural land and develop other measures at the local level to protect private and public water supplies and shallow ground water aquifers from contamination (Big Sioux Demonstration - Project Summary 1991). Best Management Practices for agricultural land became a focus issue when farmers, pol icy makers, and the general public began to be aware of the environmental impacts of farming practices. Today, the BMPs of farmers are judged by both economic and environmental criteria. Concern is being expressed about erosion, groundwater contamination, and personal health considerations from chemical use and other farming practices. Additionally, concern is being raised about the economic viability of the farming operations. Farmers are continually examining ways to meet environmental standards without sacrificing net farm income considerations.


Department of Economics, South Dakota State University

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