BY AMY BETH GRAVES
For years Lonnie Perry has used a certified crop consultant, closely examined soil tests to make necessary adjustments and kept a close eye on the health of his land. It’s all about being a good steward of the land, which is why the Lucas County Farm Bureau member took the state’s first fertilizer applicator certification class.
“It’s about doing the right thing. I’m doing my part to support clean water and a clean environment. It was great to see so many guys taking action to fix the problem,” Perry said of the class held in Archbold with 368 in attendance. Two other classes also held last month in northwestern Ohio had 404 participants.
The fertilizer certification classes were created to comply with Senate Bill 150, which requires anyone who applies fertilizer on more than 50 acres to be certified by 2017. Ohio Farm Bureau has set an aggressive goal of having all qualifying farmers in the Western Lake Erie Basin obtain the certification by Earth Day 2015. That April 22 date is more than two years before the state required deadline.
The early certification goal is part of OFBF’s $1 million comprehensive water quality action plan, which addresses agriculture’s role in Ohio’s water quality challenges.
“I think it’s a good goal and achievable especially if we continue to get that enthusiastic response,” said Lucas County Farm Bureau President Bill Myers who also attended the first class. Ohio State University Extension plans to add more classes statewide sometime after harvest season.
Myers said it was impressive Extension was able to get the first classes up and running just a month after Senate Bill 150 went into effect. He noted that some who attended a special Lake Erie Legislative Caucus believed it was not possible to start the classes before spring planting.
“For somebody to say it was impossible and a month later have three classes, I think that’s pretty awesome,” he said.
To help keep his soil healthy, Perry is planting winter peas as a cover crop, using grant money he got through his Soil and Water Conservation District. Cover crops help keep nutrients on the land and out of waterways.
Perry also plans to develop a nutrient management plan even though he only has four head of cattle. This meets another OFBF goal to have farmers in the Western Lake Erie Watershed create nutrient management plans by Earth Day 2016.
“I think it’s great Farm Bureau is putting money towards solving the problem,” Perry said. “It shows we’re willing to do what needs to be done and Farm Bureau is ready to take the lead, whether politically or financially. We’re in it for the long run.”
OSU’s Field to Faucet program
Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences has committed $1 million toward a wide-ranging water quality initiative.
Called Field to Faucet, the initiative will seek end-to-end solutions to hazardous algal blooms and water quality issues in Ohio. Joining the initiative are the University of Toledo, Bowling Green State University, Heidelberg University, Central State University, Kent State University and Case Western Reserve University within Ohio, as well as Michigan State University, Purdue University, the University of Michigan and Pennsylvania State Univer
Photo by Larry Antosch