Feedback from Healthy Soils for Healthy Waters workshop

In Columbus, Ohio, last week, 100 invited participants from 11 states and Canada attended the Healthy Soils for Healthy Waters workshop. The workshop was organized by CFAES and Greenleaf Advisors with sponsorship from Gypsoil. The focus of the workshop was on reducing and preventing excess nutrient exports, associated with crop production systems, that are causing hypoxia and harmful algal blooms. CFAES Dean Bruce McPheron gave the opening welcome; Steve Slack, director of CFAES’s research arm, OARDC, was among the participants.

A common voice was that:

• The problem needs to be solved, as food, water, energy and the environment are all important.

• Solutions should be site-specific.

• These are complex systems that require a systems approach to formulate solutions.

• Farmers must be involved in developing the solutions.

• Approaches need to sustain agricultural productivity and economic viability.

• The performance of different agricultural and conservation practices is very variable, so improved knowledge and outreach education is needed on where practices do or do not work.

• More soil testing and edge-of-field monitoring is needed to identify fields that have excess nutrient loads or are not a problem.

The participants will reconvene at a symposium in May 2015 to present results from more than a dozen case studies where stakeholder teams that include scientists and farmers have determined what it will take, at field to watershed scales, to meet water quality targets. The May symposium will be open to the public.

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