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Figure 2. • The 2017 “Dead Zone” measured 22,720 square kilometers (8,776 square miles) • Above the five-year average 15,032 sq km (5,800 square miles) • Four times larger than goal of 5,000 square kilometers (1,930 square miles)

2017 Ohio water quality concerns

I wanted to share a couple of items on water quality. Generally I think we are headed in the right direction, now to move forward.

  1. We now have 17,000 folks certified to apply fertilizer in Ohio. That’s a good thing. It means you are thinking about crop production improvements but also about how you nutrient losses affect the environment outside your farm boundaries.
  2. Lake Erie responded to the weather this year, and so did the Gulf of Mexico. Any water with excess nutrients in the Lake Erie watershed goes north to that water body, and the rest of Ohio ships their excess to the Gulf of Mexico. The HAB for Lake Erie this year was the third or fourth largest in recent memory (Figure 1), but had less toxins. For the hypoxia area in the Gulf of Mexico, it was the largest ever (Figure 2).



We still have work to do. One good thing that came out of the state fertilizer certification program is that you all get to continue your education. The “recertification” for fertilizer application starts this fall and winter. Plan to attend your local county Extension recertification programs to get that continuing education. We do have suggestions on reducing nutrient loss for the future.


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