Mike Daniels is a water research specialist with the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service and co-founder of Arkansas Discovery Farms. He has spent the past 20 years working in the area of water reserves, primarily concerning water quality and quantity.

The main focus of the Arkansas Discovery Farms project is Gulf of Mexico hypoxia, which is low water-oxygen levels negatively affecting the fishing industry that may be caused by excessive nutrient runoff from agriculture along the Mississippi River. In order to discover if farm runoff is truly a contributor to this growing problem, Mike Daniels has developed a program by which farmers willingly test and monitor their water reserves in order to collect hard data on sediment and nutrient losses.

“The motto of Discovery Farms is to make farming decisions based on science, not emotion.”

To this end, the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture collects water using state-of-the-art automated samplers which can be monitored via computer or mobile device.  The water is then sent to the lab to be analyzed for sediment and nutrient levels. This program creates a sense of ownership by enabling participants to become aware of any problems encountered on their farms and help come up with solutions.

Preliminary results show that, despite widespread concerns, farm runoff water contains lower nutrient levels than suspected, indicating that farmers are making efficient use of their fertilizer and water reserves.

The Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board is pleased to be able to support Discovery Farms by helping fund the technicians who collect water samples from the participant farms.