HIGHER YIELDS, LESS FERTILIZER, IMPROVED WATER QUALITY
Ohio State University Extension has trained farmers and applicators about water pollution and the connections between production practices and environmental stewardship. The Fertilizer Applicator Certification Training program (FACT) allows fertilizer applicators to meet Ohio’s agricultural fertilization law, which requires certification by September 30, 2017. With the average Ohio farm being 188 acres, the 12,600 farmers trained so far by FACT would represent more than 2.3 million acres of farmland.
PHOSPHORUS LEVELS DECREASING
Agricultural soil phosphorus levels held steady or dropped in 80 percent of Ohio counties from 1993 through 2015. The findings represent good news for protecting surface water quality while maintaining agricultural production. Ohio State researchers are working to revise the Ohio Phosphorus Risk Index to accurately reflect runoff. The revisions include adding more management options to reduce runoff with a goal to have more specific phosphorus recommendations to improve Ohio water quality.
PARTNERSHIPS TO RID OHIO WATERS OF HARMFUL ALGAL BLOOMS
The Field to Faucet water quality program, supporting 23 research projects, was created in September 2014 after algal blooms shut down drinking water for two days in Toledo. Ongoing projects include a one-stop shop for farmland data, field sensors to scan for algal toxins in water and food, an app to help farmers manage farm nutrients, research to rid livestock manure of phosphorus and nitrogen, and the use of drones to provide real-time concentrations of microcystin in Lake Erie’s waters. Additional Information can be found at field2faucet.osu.edu.
ARE FISH SAFE TO EAT DURING ALGAL BLOOMS?
Algal blooms in Lake Erie have caused worries that sport fish might be contaminated with toxic microcystin. Researchers tested concentrations in three types of fish, and though none posed a risk to healthy adults, children and the immune-compromised could be susceptible to lower doses. Due to evidence that microcystin accumulates in white perch and walleye, and that levels in white perch vary with bloom conditions, scientists strongly recommend that microcystin in fish be monitored. Benefits would include protection for Ohio’s $2 billion-a-year sport fishing industry and the 1.3 million Ohioans who fish and eat what they catch.
A NEW, FAST, CHEAPER TEST FOR ALGAL BLOOM TOXIN
Algal blooms are a concern worldwide due to toxic microcystin which caused the two-day shutdown of Toledo’s drinking water in 2014. A new test developed by OARDC-funded scientists detects microcystin in water samples quickly and at a low cost. Based on technology called enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, the test takes less than three hours and costs less than $1. Scientists say the test can be used on a wide variety of samples resulting in better protection of people’s health, including the 3 million Ohioans (and 11 million Ohioans total) who rely on Lake Erie for their drinking water.