The new metric from the non-profit relies on a tool from the Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). The NRCS Water Quality Index for Agricultural runoff, or WQIag, enables farmers to input variables about their field, such as slope, soil characteristics, nutrient and pest management, and conservation practices to calculate impact on water quality.
Experts have usually focused on one aspect of water quality – such as temperature, nutrients or pesticide content, according to Field to Market.
On the WQIag website, producers input information about their land, and the tool outputs a single rating on a 10-point scale with zero being very poor and 10 being excellent. The Field to Market Fieldprint Calculator enables farmers to assess corn, cotton, wheat, soybean, rice and potato operations in terms of land use, soil conservation, soil carbon, water use, energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, and now, water quality.