Three educators are helping farmers in the Western Lake Erie Basin (WLEB) develop Nutrient Management Plans (NMPs) that can improve water quality, potentially reduce costs and increase yields on their farms.
Ohio State University Extension has hired Tony Campbell, Linda Lauber and Jessie Schulze to develop the plans at no charge to farmers in the 22 county WLEB. Ohio Farm Bureau helped provide funding for their hiring as part of its $1 million Water Quality Action Plan.
Nutrient Management Plans provide fertility recommendations and help identify ways to reduce nutrient and sediment loss. The plans can be used in applications for the federal Environmental Quality Incentive Program, which provides funding for conservation practices.
In order to participate, farmers need to provide a soil test done within the last two years and spend about an hour or so with the NMP writer to go over details such as property boundaries, crop rotation, water location and drainage practices. After that, it’s just answering the occasional question and then meeting with the Nutrient Management Plan writer and a certified crop adviser to go over the plan, which can range from 50 to more than 100 pages.
“It’s pretty extensive on our end,” Schulze said. “We have to draw maps and boundaries and the farmers only have to provide basic information and have no more involvement other than going over the plan at the end.”
The data collected stays with the Extension office and is not shared unless a farmer asks to have it used for an EQIP application, Campbell said.
“This is completely voluntary,” Lauber said. “I’ve had farmers who are trying to be proactive and want to see how they are doing and if they should make changes.”
Visit the Nutrient Management Plan Development Program website to learn more about the program and to fill out a one-page request for a NMP.
Tony Campbell of Van Wert grew up on a small farm in Hocking County. He has both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agricultural education from Ohio State University. In 2014 he retired as an ag education teacher after teaching 35 years, spending the last 24 at Lincolnview Local Schools in Van Wert County. Contact: 419-399-8225
Linda Lauber, Fulton County Extension
Linda Lauber of Archbold grew up in Richville and is co-owner of Lauber Tree Farm. She has a bachelor’s degree in biology from Bowling Green State University and worked as a research technician for the Campbell Institute for Research and Technology in the compost biochemistry department. She also was a zoning officer and substitute teacher.
Jessie Schulze, Defiance County Extension
Jessie Schulze of Archbold grew up on a small livestock farm in Fulton County. She has a bachelor’s degree in agricultural education from Ohio State University and master’s in curriculum and instruction from Concordia University in Portland, Ore. She taught for seven years in Ashland and Wayne counties. Contact: 419-782-4771