Reducing fertilizer runoff into waterways

By Alayna DeMartini, CFAES Marketing and Communications

A new report details laws across the United States intended to decrease the amount of key nutrients in fertilizer from entering rivers, lakes, and streams. The report was written by Peggy Hall, agricultural and resource law field specialist with CFAES, and Ellen Essman, a CFAES research associate.

In addition to examining laws, the report also describes measures that various states have taken to encourage farmers to voluntarily participate in practices that reduce the amount of nitrogen or phosphorus, both critical ingredients in fertilizer, from leaving the farm fields on which they were applied.

Excessive nitrogen and phosphorus in water can encourage the growth of harmful algal blooms that can contaminate surface and drinking water supplies.

Find out more and download the report.

Lake Erie algae ‘not just a western-basin issue’

A study on harmful algal blooms in central Lake Erie, featured in earlier posts here and here, was recently covered by the Columbus Dispatch.

“The main takeaway,” study leader Justin Chaffin is quoted as saying in the story, “is that cyanobacteria blooms are not just a western-basin issue.”

Chaffin is research coordinator at CFAES’ Stone Laboratory.

Read the full story.

Study: Harmful algae in central Lake Erie too

A new study of harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie’s central basin, mentioned in an April 23 post, gets deeper coverage in a story today by Ohio State science writer Misti Crane.

Not only do blooms routinely occur in the lake’s central basin, the story says, they can also produce types of cyanobacterial toxins—toxins produced by cyanobacteria, the organisms responsible for harmful algal blooms—that typically aren’t detected through routine water-safety monitoring.

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Stone Lab to ramp up its work for Lake Erie

CFAES’ Stone Laboratory, already the home of extensive long-term Lake Erie water quality efforts, is adding a new research building at Put-in-Bay and new monitoring equipment on the Maumee River, Lake Erie’s largest tributary, thanks to funding provided by Senate Bill 299, the bipartisan Clean Lake 2020 Plan.

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Study: Keep tabs on algae in central Lake Erie

Harmful algal blooms aren’t just a thing in western Lake Erie. They happen in the lake’s central basin too, and when they do, they sometimes produce toxins.

So says a new study led by Justin Chaffin of CFAES’ Stone Laboratory, which set out to learn more about the central basin’s less-studied blooms, including what drives them and whether they produce toxins called cyanobacterial toxins. The toxins, which can threaten human health, must be removed by facilities that treat drinking water.

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Filter removes up to 75 percent of phosphorus

CFAES scientists are testing a filter that could take out up to 75 percent of the phosphorus in farm field runoff.

Why it’s important: Phosphorus in farm field runoff is a driver of harmful algal blooms, such as those plaguing western Lake Erie. Reducing that phosphorus could limit the blooms and by doing so help improve water quality.

Read the story.

Better ways to prevent algal blooms

From a press release today by Ohio State science writer Misti Crane: “Predicting and pinpointing which farming practices are most likely to protect against environmental harm is a complex proposition, and researchers at The Ohio State University are working to fine-tune the tools that could help farmers and others prevent harmful algal blooms.” The researchers are with CFAES, and you can read the full story here.

A deeper look at elevated phosphorus

Some farm fields have more phosphorus than their crops need. Called elevated phosphorus fields, such fields may be at higher risk of contributing to Lake Erie’s harmful algal blooms.

That’s the premise of a new five-year study, based in northwest Ohio’s Maumee River watershed, that hopes to better understand those fields. How much phosphorus, an algal bloom-fueling nutrient, runs off of them? What are the best ways to limit that runoff while also maintaining yields?

CFAES scientist Jay Martin is leading the study, which is partnering with some of the watershed’s nutrient service providers and farmers.

Read the full story. (Photo: Getty Images.)

Are harmful algal blooms making people sick?

The 2018 Environmental Film Series sponsored by CFAES’s School of Environment and Natural Resources continues tonight, Monday, Nov. 5, with “Toxic Puzzle,” a look at how harmful algal blooms may be affecting human health, specifically as possible triggers for Lou Gehrig’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Watch the trailer above.

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