States tackle water quality individually and collectively

Of all of the components of agriculture that is overseen by the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA), the topic of water quality and nutrient management has been a key focus for many years.

ODA’s Director David Daniels, along with Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Director Jamie Clover Adams and Indiana State Department of Agriculture Director Ted McKinney held a roundtable Monday, prior to the Midwest Association of the State Departments of Agriculture’s Annual Meeting being held in Cleveland this week.

All three state ag department leaders talked about what their state is doing to address the issue of water quality and nutrient management and also shared how their 3 states are working together to find solutions that work in creating a healthier Lake Erie Watershed.

Director Daniels reeled off the many initiatives being delivered in Ohio to address the situation, including the Fertilizer Applicator Certification Training Program, Ag Stewardship Verification, the Ohio Applicator Forecast Tool and millions of dollars of investments to help agriculture and other industries become a big part of finding a solution to the water quality problem.

“Since 2011, Ohio has invested over $2 Million in the Lake Erie Watershed to improve drinking water, to improve wastewater treatment facilities, to plant cover crops, to install control drainage systems and to fix faulty septic systems within the basin,” Daniels said. “Agriculture is one of many contributors and we are working hard to make sure that we not only address agriculture’s piece in this, but everybody else as well.”

One of the practices that farmers are adopting in Ohio is planting cover crops. Almost 54,000 acres of Ohio farmland was planted to cover crops last winter and their popularity is growing. To date, the state has installed 900 controlled drainage structures and 50 new manure storage structures are in place.

“Almost 34,000 acres of farmland has been converted into filter strips and repaired buffers near creeks and streams and another 6,800 acres have been converted to wetlands,” Daniels said. “As we look at where Ohio is with what we are doing and how we are working within our state and across state lines, we show that agriculture has been quick to react and put its best foot forward.”

AUDIO: Ohio Department of Agriculture Director David Daniels full opening statement from the roundtable conference call earlier this week.

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