This could be the No. 1 way to keep phosphorus out of Lake Erie

The cheapest, most cost-effective way to reduce the phosphorus getting into Lake Erie is by taxing farmers on their purchase of the nutrient or by paying them not to use it on their fields. That’s according to a study by Shaohui Tang and Brent Sohngen, both of CFAES’s Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics.

‘Not many people want to talk about it’

A phosphorus tax would be an added expense for farmers, and “not many people want to talk about it,” Sohngen said. But “from an economics standpoint, it is the cheapest option.”

Phosphorus runoff from farm fertilizer and manure is a cause of the harmful algal blooms plaguing Lake Erie and other water bodies. State and federal agencies have set a goal of reducing the total phosphorus entering western Lake Erie by 40 percent.

Read the full story. (Photo: Aerial image of Lake Erie algal bloom north of Kelleys Island, Ohio, 2009, by Tom Archer, Michigan Sea Grant.)

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