Farmers in Lake Erie basin can get more assistance

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wheat field, Lake Erie, water quality,
(Farm and Dairy file photo)

REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio — Farmers in the Western Lake Erie Basin can get financial assistance to plant small grains such as wheat, barley, oats, or cereal rye on eligible cropland.

The Ohio Working Lands Small Grains Program is a voluntary program through the Ohio Department of Agriculture. Participants must plant and harvest small grains, land apply manure, and plant a cover crop to receive a cost-share payment to help offset operating costs.

The program is funded through Ohio Senate Bill 299, signed in 2018, which provided $23.5 million for soil and water conservation districts located in the Western Lake Erie Basin for nutrient management programs.

ODA has already distributed $3.5 million to 24 SWCDs in northwest Ohio and in February, ODA Director Dorothy Pelanda announced plans for three new assistance programs for the remaining $20 million: the Ohio Working Lands Program, the Voluntary Nutrient Management Plan Development Program, and the Cost Share and Equipment Buy Down Program.

Planting small grains

The Ohio Working Lands Small Grains Program will fall under the umbrella of the Ohio Working Lands Program.

Local soil and water conservation districts (SWCDs) will manage the program sign-up, verification of eligibility, and crop establishment. Soil tests and records of manure analysis and application will be required to be submitted to the SWCD as well. Producers interested in the program should contact their local SWCD to learn how to sign up.

Forage field buffers

Also, as part of the Ohio Working Lands Program, local SWCDs in the Western Lake Erie Basin are still accepting sign-ups for the Ohio Working Lands Hay Buffer program. The program semi-retires environmentally sensitive areas of a field from annual crop acres to permanent harvestable forage acres.

The sign-up deadline for the Working Lands Hay Buffer program is May 1. Contact your local soil and water conservation district office to learn more.

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