H2Ohio streamlines approval process for VNMPs

The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) and the Ohio Agribusiness Association (OABA) are joining forces to streamline the approval process of Voluntary Nutrient Management Plans (VNMP) for farmers participating in the H2Ohio water quality initiative to reduce phosphorus runoff into Lake Erie.

On Sept. 3, 2020, ODA Director, Dorothy Pelanda, appointed two ODA staff members, Kip Studer and Peter McDonough, to work in partnership with OABA and Ohio’s Soil and Water Conservation Districts to approve VNMPs that have been developed as part of the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program.

First launched in the Spring of 2014, the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program is a proactive, responsible commitment aimed at the long-term improvement of water quality. This voluntary, annual third-party auditor verified program provides a consistent, recognized standard for agricultural retailers, nutrient service providers and other certified professionals in the state of Ohio. This approach provides a science-based framework for plant nutrition management and sustained crop production, while considering specific individual farms’ needs. The Certification Program requires participants to adopt proven best practices through the 4Rs, which refers to using the Right Source of Nutrients at the Right Rate and Right Time in the Right Place.

“With the overwhelming response we have received from farmers who have applied for Governor DeWine’s H2Ohio Program, we are pleased to be able to efficiently and effectively tackle the first step of moving forward with implementing on-field conservation,” said Director Pelanda. “By appointing these employees to assist in a timely approval process, ODA is committed to working with our farmers and partners to invest in water quality in Ohio.”

To take part in the H2Ohio initiative, farmers are required to have an approved VNMP, which provides recommendations for nutrient management and records all nutrient applications. Nearly 2,000 farmers in the Maumee River Watershed have enrolled in the H2Ohio initiative and are in the process of updating or developing VNMPs.

“Farmers rely on their trusted service providers and I’m pleased that 4R Certified participants will have this streamlined process available to assist their customers,” said Chris Henney, president and CEO of the Ohio AgriBusiness Association.

VNMPs, when followed properly, serve as the foundation for meeting crop nutrition needs. VNMPs may be approved by the supervisors of the applicable Soil and Water Conservation District, the director of agriculture, or the director’s designee.

Producers are encouraged to contact their local Soil and Water Conservation District office to learn more about the benefits of developing a VNMP.

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