With new regulations — and the goal of improving water quality in Ohio — in mind, here is how some of Ohio’s livestock producers in different watersheds are addressing the situation on their farms.
As far as Senate Bill 1, I believe it is a very good start, but now we have to get every single farmer on board and use common sense with winter applications. I believe it is not just manure application, there is application of commercial fertilizer on frozen ground as well that is contributing to the problem.
On our farm in the Lake Erie watershed we grid sample every acre, even rented ground, and apply manure and commercial fertilizer accordingly. We try to have all of our ground covered with some kind of crop. Our rotation includes corn, soybeans, wheat, cereal rye, crimson clover, oil seed radishes, kale, rape and red clover. We also try to be all no-till.
All of our hog manure is injected. This year we sidedressed swine manure in standing corn and for the first time planted beans in 30-inch rows and sidedressed manure in beans. We did some test plots to see how this will work and will be assessing the yield performance at the end of the season.
The cattle manure is pen packed so we have to truck this to fields and stockpile it, then spread and try to work in after it dries. We either plant cover crops following manure application or we apply manure to fields that have cover crops already growing. We also use water control structures on our tile lines and we have been experimenting and using gypsum as well in an effort to improve water quality.
I recently spent two days at an educational meeting put on by the The Nature Conservancy and John Deere at Maumee Bay pertaining to the Lake Erie Watershed. It was very informative and I also did get to see the algae bloom and talk to the charter boat captains. I have also been going to the Manure Science Review to learn the latest on manure application technology.
Beyond just our farm, I am a Certified Crop Adviser, chairman of the Putnam County Soil and Water Conservation District and serve as a Director of Ohio Federation Soil and Water Conservation Districts.