By Matt Reese
Farmers do not enjoy spending money on nutrients to have them float down the creek. They also do not enjoy being the subject of the blame for water quality issues in Lake Erie. For years, Ohio agriculture has seen trends of decreasing phosphorus (P) application and increased conservation tillage, yet the water quality problems persist and in some cases seem to be getting worse. Why?
There are hundreds of potential factors from the watershed scale down to the specific zones of a single field that influence the answer to this question. One of those factors is the high P levels in portions of some fields from years of over application of nutrients. These elevated P zones are the subject of an ongoing study led by Jay Martin, an ecological engineering professor with The Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.
Martin said the study has four main parts: recruit the partner farmers; measure phosphorus runoff on the farmers’ fields; use and evaluate best management practices on the fields to reduce the fields’ phosphorus runoff while maintaining yields; and then form further public-private partnerships to expand the adoption of the practices throughout the watershed.… Continue reading