When I was growing up, one of the things my parents kept repeating was “always do the right thing; even when no one is watching.”
Those of us who work for soil and water conservation districts have watched farmers in our communities “do the right thing” for many years. Conservation practices have been installed by landowners and operators that protect their soil resources and the water quality in our communities.
Some of this work has been done through cost-share funds with the landowner also investing money in the project — often thousands of dollars.
Is there still work to be done? Most certainly; but all citizens share in this responsibility. One has to look no further than the daily newspaper or farm magazine to understand that much of this focus is being put on the shoulders of agriculture.
Agriculture is being asked to step up and do its part to address water quality concerns in our state. One of the new regulations for agriculture is Ohio S.B. 150, which requires farmers to obtain a fertilizer certification.
Agricultural Fertilizer Application Certification must be completed by September of 2017, but farmers are being encouraged to get certified at soon as possible.
There are three steps in the certification process. You must fill out an application, pay an application fee and attend a training session.
Training sessions are being offered on a county and regional basis by OSU Extension educators. The certification will be valid for three years.
You can read further details about the steps to get certified by visiting your local Extension office or www.extension.osu.edu. The Ohio Department of Agriculture also has good information and fact sheets about the regulations on their website at www.agri.ohio.gov.
Where does your local soil and water office fit into this process? Your certification, along with up-to-date spray records and an approved Nutrient Management Plan (NMP) will provide you some legal protection against civil suits.
Write your plan
Our SWCD technicians are qualified to write NMPs. As we understand the law, these plans will be approved by the local soil and water conservation district board. It’s important to remember in today’s “instant gratification” society that even our best efforts may not solve the problems overnight.
As many have stated before in this column, agriculture is not the only player and this issue cannot be addressed by a single person or industry.
Pointing fingers will not solve anything — we’re all part of the problem; we all need to be part of the solution.
Everyone can help whether it’s following the 4Rs (applying fertilizer and manure at the right rate, source, time and place), installing grass buffers, planting cover crops, planting trees, or being aware of erosion issues on our properties.
If you have questions about what you can do to protect the soil and water resources on your property, contact your local soil and water conservation district.
“The time is always right to do what is right,” said Martin Luther King, Jr.
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