Issues, such as the algal bloom on Lake Erie, can be traced to many sources including aging septic systems, municipal sewer overflows and farm runoff.
To do our part, Ohio Farm Bureau is taking several steps, including helping all qualifying farmers in the Western Lake Erie Basin obtain certification in environmentally sound methods of applying fertilizer by Earth Day 2015. Further, Farm Bureau will help farmers in the watershed create nutrient management plans, which detail responsible fertilizer use, by Earth Day 2016.
What other steps have Ohio Farm Bureau, other agricultural groups and farmers taken to address water quality issues?
• Farmers are investing tens of millions of dollars of their own money in establishing conservation practices on their farms. Hundreds of thousands of acres across Ohio have been voluntarily enrolled in conservation programs.
• Ohio State University is investing $1 million in a Field to Faucet initiative to find solutions to algal blooms and water quality issues.
• Farm Bureau supported passage of Senate Bill 150, which requires fertilizer applicators to be certified.
• In collaboration with the Ohio Soybean Council, Ohio Corn Marketing Program and Ohio Small Grains Marketing Program, farm groups invested more than $1 million for on-farm, edge-of-field research to seek solutions to runoff problems. Ohio State University, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is conducting the three-year project.
• Farm Bureau is backing the Healthy Water Ohio initiative, which brings together a diverse group of stakeholders from conservation, business and industry, universities, water suppliers, agriculture and others to develop a 20- to 30-year comprehensive sustainable water resources management plan.
• Farm organizations are promoting the 4-R Nutrient Stewardship program and other conservation practices such as filter strips and no till or reduced tillage and are encouraging farmers to use soil tests, which help identify the appropriate amount of fertilizer needed for their farms.
• 4,421 farmers attended 163 water quality training sessions held by Ohio State University Extension.
• Farm Bureau supported a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant that led to a reduction of more than 180,000 pounds of phosphorus fertilizer across 8,653 acres.
• Farm Bureau supported the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, a federal program grant that promotes coordination between U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and its partners to deliver conservation assistance to farmers.
• Farm Bureau successfully petitioned to have state funding retained for Heidelberg University’s National Center of Water Quality Research and Ohio State University’s Sea Grant, which are studying the Great Lakes and water quality issues.
Ohio State partnering in water quality solutions
Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences also has announced a wide-ranging water quality initiative, called Field to Faucet, that will seek end-to-end solutions to hazardous algal blooms and water quality issues.
“Ohio State University, with its comprehensive capacity, is well positioned to lead the way in providing answers,” said Bruce McPheron, Ohio State’s vice president for agricultural administration and dean for the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “But we don’t feel tackling this alone is sufficient, and it’s clear there are other pockets of excellence. We’re putting in the $1 million to get the effort off the ground, and we’ll continue to look for partnerships to leverage that.”
Discussions have taken place with 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 University.