In mid-October, the Ohio Department of Agriculture requested funding to continue the H2Ohio water quality initiative through 2021. The $28 million ask was granted by the State of Ohio Controlling Board.
“This shows a real commitment to improve water quality, even during these tumultuous times,” said Kris Swartz, Wood County farmer and chair of the Ohio Agriculture Conservation Initiative. “There was a lot of time that, from a farmer, retailer and Soil and Water perspective, where we thought we were doing a lot of work for a one-year program. Now, we have certainty for a year two of the program, and I have to believe that this makes year three a foregone conclusion.”
This means the hard work already being done by farmers, crop consultants and Soil and Water technicians in the 14 counties of the Maumee River Watershed will be beneficial for a longer period of time.
When H2Ohio was introduced earlier this year, meeting rooms were full of farmers wanting to learn more about how to get involved, and the current funding will support that enthusiasm.
“Many of the farmers that showed interest in H2Ohio early on may not have had an established relationship with their county Soil and Water office, and they wanted to learn what they could do to improve water quality,” said Janelle Mead, CEO of the Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts. “They followed through after the initial meetings and sat down with Soil and Water staff to find out what practices might be best suited for their farms, filled out applications and started working on nutrient management plans.”
Nutrient Management Plans
Those nutrient management plans are a major part of qualifying for H2Ohio funding and they can involve a lot of detail and time. Swartz said soil tests alone, part of creating an NMP, are helping farmers learn new things about their farms.
“Farmers are taking it upon themselves to look at the information from their soil tests and learning about fertility recommendations,” Swartz said. “They are taking ownership of the results and not just turning them over to their ag retailer. That educational part is a huge aspect of the whole H2Ohio effort.”
All 88 counties in Ohio have a Soil and Water Conservation District. Find a local office.