Farming techniques to protect water quality showcased

Spring and summer are prime times for tours at the Blanchard River Demonstration Farms. The three farms in the Western Lake Erie Basin are testing various conservation methods to help reduce nutrient runoff and better protect water quality. The results of these new and traditional methods are being shared with farmers to help them determine what conservation practices might work best on their farms. Ohio Farm Bureau and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service are partners on the five-year project.

New at Stateler Family Farms in McComb are drainage water management structures to improve the system’s efficiency and reduce nutrient flow. To improve water quality and biosecurity measures, the farm is constructing a composting facility for dead livestock. Additional plans include a wetland restoration project and pollinator habitat installation. The Statelers are replacing a home septic system, and researchers will evaluate the septic system’s discharge.

Kellogg Family Farms in Forest will be planting four 80-acre research tracts and will measure yields and soil health differences among various crop rotations, tillage techniques and cover crop varieties/rotations. The Kellogg farm also is putting in a grassed waterway and pollinator habitat.

At Kurt Farms in Dunkirk, researchers are continuing to gather data on how two-stage ditches, phosphorous removal beds, blind inlets and cover crops help reduce nutrient runoff.

“We know that conservation practices are effective at reducing nutrient and sediment loss,” said Aaron Heilers, Ohio Farm Bureau’s project manager for the Blanchard River Demonstration Farms.

Demonstration farm tours are being planned for the County Commissioners Association, OFBF state board, Young Ag Professionals, media and others. A Precision Ag Day will be held in August at Kellogg Farms where farmers can obtain fertilizer certification, which is required by law if they apply fertilizer on more than 50 acres. Sept. 30 is the deadline to be certified.

The demo farms project is part of OFBF’s multimillion dollar investment of member funds to address agriculture’s impact on water quality. Your membership helps make it happen. For more information on scheduling a tour, email Aaron Heilers.

Caption: The Hardin County Field Day was an opportunity for university researchers to share their work with farmers. Pictured here is Ohio State’s Jesse Blanton.