Boost yields? Protect water? How to do both

Can farmers raise their yields while meeting water quality goals—and if so, how? CFAES expert Greg LaBarge will answer that question in a talk during this year’s Farm Science Review.

Make more money, avoid regulation

LaBarge, who is agronomic systems field specialist with CFAES’ Ohio State University Extension outreach arm, will present “Water Quality and Nutrient Management: Can We Make More Money and Avoid Regulation?” as part of the Review’s “Ask the Expert” series.

In a 20-minute session, LaBarge will look at whether boosting yields and meeting water quality goals are compatible; this year’s harmful algal bloom situation in Lake Erie; the state of the low-oxygen “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico; and the “4Rs” of nutrient management, which he said can help with all those matters.

The 4Rs stand for right source, right rate, right time, and right place when it comes to applying fertilizer and manure.

4Rs ‘a great foundation’

The 4R principles offer farmers a way to get the most bang for their nutrient buck, and in doing so help maximize their crop yields, while also reducing their nutrient runoff, LaBarge said.

Nutrient runoff from farm fields—specifically, nitrogen and phosphorus—is linked to both Lake Erie’s algal blooms and the Gulf of Mexico dead zone. All of Ohio eventually drains into one of those bodies of water.

Increasing yields “has to be a goal” to ensure economically viable crop production in Ohio, LaBarge said.

And since most water quality issues today are related to nutrients, the 4Rs offer a “great foundation” for achieving that goal while protecting water, he said.

Virtual event

The annual Farm Science Review trade show, sponsored by CFAES and set for Sept. 22–24, is being held 100% online this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Viewing all the sessions is free, but signing up in advance is required starting Sept. 8 at

LaBarge’s talk, viewable at the Review’s link, runs from 11:20–11:40 a.m. Sept. 23.

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