Soil testing offers insight to nutrient runoff

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I’m sure by now most of you have heard about the H2Ohio water quality legislation. The $172 million proposed last July will be split between the Ohio Department of Agriculture, Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to reduce nutrient runoff into Lake Erie and Ohio Watersheds.

H2Ohio

These three agencies have already started implementing programs and projects under the H2Ohio Program. Each will play a significant role of their own in the H2Ohio plans. Diving further into the details, for the first-year projects are being funded in the Maumee River Watershed.

The second-year funding will open up to the Western Lake Erie Basin. We will hopefully expect to see the funds open up to the rest of Ohio in 2022. The phosphorus is the major concern in the WLEB, and nitrogen is in our area. However, most of the same conservation practices can be effective.

Soil testing

The most important thing we need to be doing is soil testing. This gives us the baseline needed for action. Simple and popular practices will be buffer strips or filter areas for crop fields and livestock feedlots to capture and properly filter any runoff of nutrients.

The 10 conservation practices targeted for nutrient reduction are as follows: Soil testing, variable-rate fertilization, subsurface nutrient application, manure incorporation, conservation crop rotation, cover crops, drainage water management, two-stage ditch construction, edge-of-field buffers and wetlands.

Conservation

You can learn more about these conservation practices and how each one reduces nutrient runoff on the H2Ohio website at http://h2.ohio.gov/. More details will emerge as we get closer to that point.

Right now, all we can do is continue to use our knowledge to apply best management practices and decisions on the farm and in the fields. Agencies and organizations can gather and form groups to hold meetings and informational workshops to stay on top of this and prepare for what’s ahead.

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Dylan Stine is a district technician with the Tuscarawas Soil & Water Conservation District. You can reach him at 330-339-7976.

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