Lessons from Ohio

What can we learn from the recent changes in the Buckeye state?

Lake Erie Basin

Recently, I attended the Conservation Tillage Conference in Ada, Ohio. One of the hot topics on everyone’s mind in Ohio is the release of the new H2Ohio program. This is an initiative of the Governor of Ohio to, “reduce phosphorus, create wetlands, address failing septic systems, and prevent lead contamination”. For agriculture the plan will invest substantially in helping farms reduce phosphorus loss from fields. 

The plan identified 10 best management practices that Ohio will incentivize with payments for verified implementation in the counties of the Western Lake Erie Basin(WLEB).  These practices are:

  1. Soil testing
  2. Variable-rate fertilizer
  3. Subsurface nutrient application
  4. Manure incorporation
  5. Conservation crop rotation
  6. Cover crops
  7. Drainage water management
  8. Two-stage ditch construction
  9. Edge-of-field buffers
  10. Wetlands

Legislation intended to reduce the occurrence of harmful algal blooms in Ohio was passed in 2015. These laws set into motion a series of changes in the Buckeye state that included many new restrictions for farmers, including: a state required certification to apply nutrients to farm fields and restriction of manure spreading in the Western Lake Erie Basin. They have also started a Michigan Agricultural Environmental Assurance Program(MAEAP) like certification program called the Ohio Agriculture Conservation Initiative (OACI) supported by Farm Bureau and other industry partners.

Many farmers on the Michigan side of the Ohio-Michigan border are watching the changes in Ohio with destress, wondering, “When will these restrictions come to Michigan?”. With that in mind I interviewed Sarah Noggle, an Ohio State Extension Educator, with Monica Jean on In the Weeds podcast. 

Series 2 Episode 5: Lessons Learned from Lake Erie

Sarah highlighted voluntary Nutrient Management Planning (NMP) as one of the tools that can be used by Michigan farmers to help with phosphorus loading and lower nutrient loss from farms. NMP can help farmers save money by retaining fertilizers in the root zone and using fertilizers when the crop needs them. If you are interested in NMP you can contact me, Sarah Fronczak or take a look at the Michigan State University Extension resources.

 

If you are interested in MAEAP you can find your local contact here or visit your local conservation district office.

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