New mobile app helps farmers comply with record keeping laws

Buckeye Farm News

Farmers around Ohio will soon have help in complying with two new state laws, thanks to an innovative idea from Knox County Farm Bureau members and the local Soil and Water Conservation District

A free mobile app will be available in late October 2015 to help farmers easily keep records of where and when they apply fertilizer or manure and what the weather conditions and forecast were at the time of application. The Ohio Nutrient Management Record Keeper was designed to help farmers comply with Senate Bill 1, which restricts the application of manure and fertilizer on frozen, snow-covered or saturated ground in the Western Lake Erie Basin, and Senate Bill 150, which requires anyone who applies fertilizer on more than 50 acres to obtain a fertilizer application certification. 

Knox County Farm Bureau received a grant for the $30,000 project through OFBF’s County Water Quality Initiative Program, which required a financial match from another group. Partners on the project were the county Farm Bureau, Knox County SWCD, Ohio State University and Muskingum Watershed Conservation District. An early version of the app made its debut at Farm Science Review. 

The idea for the app came during a Knox County Farm Bureau board meeting where members were trying to think of ways to grow membership and provide a meaningful benefit for Farm Bureau members. They started talking about the growth of the livestock industry in their area and water quality and the idea took off from there. Rob Clendening, administrator for Knox County SWCD, was describing the three-ring notebook binder SWCD published more than 25 years ago to help farmers keep track of pesticide applications when he noticed county Farm Bureau President Trish Levering working on her phone. 

“Trish was multitasking, trying to answer work emails and it hit us that instead of a paper book that we need an app for that,” said Clendening, also a county Farm Bureau board member. The app features drop-down menus that make it easy and quick for farmers to record their fertilizer or manure application as well as the current weather conditions and forecast for the next 24 hours. Those records can then be printed through an Internet portal. 

“We wanted to make it simple and not have farmers be at the edge of the field and entering a lot of data,” Levering said. “It was very important for us to team up with the local Soil and Water Conservation District on a project like this that has an impact locally and statewide. It’s going to take a lot of people working together to improve our water quality situation here in Ohio.”