18,000 ways Ohio farmers are helping water

Here’s another reason to celebrate Ohio Agriculture Week, March 10–16:

At last count, nearly 18,000 farmers and others have successfully completed Ohio’s Fertilizer Applicator Certification Training. Provided by CFAES’ OSU Extension outreach arm, the state-required training shares science-based ways to keep nutrients in a field, where they work to feed cropsand out of water, such as Lake Erie and the Gulf of Mexico. Phosphorus and nitrogen are two of those nutrients.

Good for farms and water

For farmers, the training’s benefits include getting the most bang for their fertilizer buck—runoff losses, for example, can be cut—and spending only as much money on nutrients as they need to—no more, no less—which can minimize costs and maximize efficiency and profit. Following the “4R” application practices—right source, right rate, right time, right place—is one of the keys.

For water quality, the training can mean less risk of harmful algal blooms—in Lake Erie, Grand Lake St. Marys, and other bodies of water—because phosphorus runoff from farm fields can drive the blooms—and a reduction in the hypoxic, or “dead,” zone in the Gulf of Mexico, because nitrogen runoff from farm fields (in Ohio’s case, by entering the Ohio River and Mississippi River watersheds and then the gulf) is a cause of them.

Farmers who complete the training are “getting a really good understanding of the water quality impacts of nutrients,” says Greg LaBarge, agronomic field systems specialist with OSU Extension, in a video from 2016, when about 10,000 farmers had completed the training. The farmers are likewise learning how to better manage their nutrients, he said, and to “look at their economic inputs into the crop production enterprise.”

You can watch the video above. To learn more about the training, visit OSU Extension’s Nutrient Education & Management website. (Photo: Getty Images.)

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