In this month’s edition of The Dirt – we’re sifting through the H2Ohio initiative and digging to the root of what farmers need to know moving forward.
As many of you may know, Governor Mike DeWine announced his water quality plan in November, in Toledo at the heart of where much of this work will begin. The comprehensive initiative aims to reduce harmful algae blooms, improve wastewater infrastructure and prevent lead contamination across the state of Ohio.
In other words, it’s time all Ohio communities had clean, safe water.
There are three major departments in the state that will help cultivate this plan; the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
Each agency is responsible for its own part.
Here’s what we can tell you about our role.
ODA will first concentrate on the Maumee River Watershed with a goal of reducing phosphorous runoff by 40 percent.
Yes, 40 percent.
The H2Ohio team (which includes ODA’s Soil & Water Conservation staff) came up with 10 best practices for farmers to help reach that goal:
- Soil testing and nutrient management planning.
- Variable-rate fertilization.
- Subsurface nutrient application.
- Manure incorporation.
- Conservation crop rotation.
- Cover crops.
- Drainage water management.
- Two-stage ditch construction.
- Edge-of-field buffers.
MANY Ohio farmers are already using some of these best conservation practices, but by participating in the H2Ohio program, there’s incentive.
Soil and water experts with the Ohio Department of Agriculture say this plan is a big step in the right direction, but suggest it’s going to take some time to see the results.
Once the details are finalized (not just yet) farmers who enroll, will get money to implement some of these best practices. Remember, this is a process, returned cash flow may not be immediate, but not every farmer will need to follow all 10 practices.
The Ohio Agriculture Conservation Initiative (OACI) has a big part in this. The group supports H2Ohio and is helping to develop the certification process. The details of the process and the steps to take for enrolling into H2Ohio programs will be available through your local Soil and Water Conservation District in the weeks to come. The trained staff at these offices will be your go-to experts for H2Ohio programs.
If any of this is going to work, Ohio needs its hard-working farmers behind it.
Will you get some dirt on your clothes? Yeah.
Are you used to that working in agriculture? Yeah, probably.
Why not help be a part of something bigger, make the earth a little cleaner and give future generations an opportunity to do the same.