When two new state laws on water quality and nutrient management were passed last year, Knox County Farm Bureau sprang into action with a 21st century solution to help keep farmers throughout the state in compliance.
The county Farm Bureau and local Soil and Water Conservation District worked together to create the Ohio Nutrient Management Record Keeper (ONMRK), a free mobile app that helps farmers comply with new requirements that further regulate manure application and create a fertilizer applicator certification program.
“We wanted to make it simple and not have farmers be at the edge of the field and entering a lot of data,” said Knox County Farm Bureau President Trish Levering. “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.”
The project received more than $30,000 in grant money through Ohio Farm Bureau’s County Water Quality Initiative Program, the Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Ohio State University Extension and the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District.
“We started (creating the app) on May 1, 2014 and we had a working demo by September,” said Tim Norris, board chairman of the Knox County Soil and Water Conservation District at the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation’s annual meeting in December.
The ONMRK app features drop-down menus that make it easy and quick for farmers to record their fertilizer or manure application as well as record the current weather conditions and forecast for the next 24 hours. Those records can then be printed through an Internet portal.
Editor’s Note March 16, 2017: The ONMRK application has officially launched its version 2.0 in both Google Play and the Apple Store. Improvements to the app allow people to sign up right in the app and allow users to email their application reports out of the app. ONMRK is still the only standardized record keeping option for farmers holding a fertilizer certification.
After setting up the ONMRK app on their mobile device, farmers can easily record what nutrients they apply on their farms and fields. It uses a GPS system to pinpoint exactly where farmers are on their acreage and give an accurate report instantly, Norris said.
“It will warn you if conditions aren’t favorable to apply a nutrient,” Norris said. “This is our field solution. This is not a ‘big brother’ tool. This is strictly for farmers.”
The app, which instantly links farmers’ data and updates whether they are recorded through a mobile device or from a computer, is available to farmers at onmrk.com.