From trends in soil tests that show marked improvement in water quality over the last 20 years, to the ongoing on-farm best practices research being done in northwest Ohio to help farmers find the best nutrient management solutions for them, water quality is always a literal work in progress for the Ohio Farm Bureau.
The 2022 Water Quality Status Report highlights how signature water quality initiatives and partnerships such as the Blanchard River Demonstration Farms Network along with H2Ohio, and its farmer certification piece the Ohio Agriculture Conservation Initiative, have had major roles improving and protecting clean water, one of the state’s most valuable resources.
However, further work is done quietly behind the scenes by Ohio Farm Bureau staff and volunteers to help guide the state and region to a healthier future. Ohio Farm Bureau members are represented on multiple advisory boards and committees by staff that ensure the voices of farmers, landowners and agriculturalists are heard.
“Our policies are developed via a locally driven, grassroots process and support the development of programs, policies and regulations that are scientifically sound, based on credible data, practical, realistic, economically feasible and whenever possible, delivered in a flexible and voluntary manner,” said Larry Antosch, Ohio Farm Bureau senior director of policy development and environmental policy. “By being actively engaged in these discussions, we have the opportunity to ensure that the realities of farming in today’s economic and environmental conditions are understood and considered and that the decisions being made are consistent with our policies.”
The latest report’s highlights include:
- The continued growth of the H2Ohio water quality initiative, now available to farmers throughout the Lake Erie Watershed to improve and enhance best nutrient management practices.
- Recent soil test data from The Fertilizer Institute, which found that the number of soil samples tested for Ohio increased from about 69,000 in 2001 to nearly 274,000 in 2020. Over the same period, the median soil test phosphorus levels dropped 32% from 38 to 26 parts per million (Mehlich 3).
- How weather and climate have the biggest roles in reducing the phosphorus load into Lake Erie, as rains of over 1 inch or more have increased by 50% increase in the last 30 years compared to the prior 30.
- Ohio Farm Bureau’s ongoing involvement in the Ohio Agriculture Conservation Initiative. The mission of OACI is to recognize farmers for their dedication to advancing methods that improve water quality in Ohio and increase the number of best management practices being implemented on farms.
- The importance of Ohio Farm Bureau’s Public Policy water quality staff members representing the interests of the organization’s members on several advisory boards, work groups and committees across the state and region.