Water: the next generation’s oil?

As you tell the story of the science behind agriculture’s impact on water quality, here are a few initiatives underway at Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

Greg LaBarge, an Agronomic Field Specialist for the college’s Ohio State University Extension, is our lead contact regarding phosphorus, from a number of angles. Contact LaBarge at 419-460-0600 or labarge.1@osu.edu.

  • LaBarge has been working closely with the Ohio Agriculture Business Association to establish a 4R Certification program for Ohio Ag Retailers. This program certifies that plans adopted by farms apply the 4 “R’s” as recommended by Ohio, Michigan and Indiana universities regarding fertilizer application. The four Rs refer to the right fertilizer source at the right rate at the right time and at the right place.
  • LaBarge is also in the planning stages for implementing educational components for the recently passed SB 151 that will require fertilizer applicators to complete training and be certified in how to apply fertilizer correctly. Trainings are anticipated to begin in January 2015.
  • He has been conducting training in Northwestern Ohio for Certified Crop Advisors using software to develop Nutrient Management Plans that combine crop fertility and environmental site assessments.
  • He is also the contact for Ohio State’s participation in the Ohio Phosphorus Task Force, a group of university, agency and industry professionals working on recommendations to reduce phosphorus loading and associated harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie and surrounding watersheds.

Elizabeth Dayton, a soil scientist with the college’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, is in the midst of a three-year effort to refine the phosphorous risk index and help farmers apply nutrients in a more precise fashion. She is measuring runoff in 30 farm fields in critical watersheds across Ohio. Contact Dayton at  614-688-5917 or Dayton.15@osu.edu.

The university’s aquatic gateway is a wetland, full of fish, geese, and learning opportunities for students. To learn about research conducted at the Wilma H. Schiermeier Olentangy River Wetlands Research Park, contact Mazeika Sullivan at 614-292-7314 or Sullivan.191@osu.edu.

C.O.R.N. Newsletter -- Our Agronomic Crops Team distributes this weekly electronic newsletter during the growing season that keeps growers and the agricultural industry informed of upcoming issues, including pending diseases, insect outbreaks, weather issues and best management practices, including those that can curb algal blooms. Go to http://corn.osu.edu.

Andy Ward, one of our college’s agricultural engineers, has developed a better way to dig a ditch. His two-stage ditch design carries excess water from farm fields, but also reduces erosion, helps take excess nitrogen and phosphorus out of the water, and needs little maintenance.  The design has been recognized as a best management practice by USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service and is eligible for cost-share funding through USDA’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program. Contact Ward at 614-292-9354 or ward.2@osu.edu.

Robyn Wilson, a professor in our School of Environment and Natural Resources, studies how people make decisions and with colleagues looked at farmers’ attitudes in the Maumee Bay regarding conservation practices. A copy of the report can be found here: http://ohioseagrant.osu.edu/maumeebay/docs/farmers-phosphorus-and-water-quality.pdf. Contact Wilson at 614-247-6169 or Wilson.1376@osu.edu.

Agricultural Engineer Larry Brown is an expert in controlled drainage, which can help reduce nutrient loads. Contact Brown at 614-292-3826 or brown.59@osu.edu.

CFAES News Team
Tracy Turner