REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio — The Ohio Department of Agriculture recently introduced two new nutrient management tools intended to help farmers track planting conditions, and conserve nutrients.
The Ohio Applicator Forecast is a new online tool designed to help nutrient applicators identify times when the potential nutrient loss from a fertilizer or manure application is low.
Secondly, the Ohio Agricultural Stewardship Verification Program is a pilot certification for farmers who protect farmland and natural resources by implementing best management practices on their farms.
Both programs are voluntary and were announced by Ohio Agriculture Director David Daniels, at an event at Drewes Farms in Custar, May 17.
Daniels said the new tools amount to “impactful steps that will merge the ideas of precision farming and precision conservation.”
He said the agricultural community continues to take the necessary steps to maintain productivity, while protecting natural resources and reducing nutrient runoff across the state.
The Ohio Applicator Forecast takes data from the National Weather Service, predicting potential for runoff to occur in a given area. The forecast takes snow accumulation and melt, soil moisture content and forecast precipitation and temperatures into account, giving farmers timely information when they are making nutrient application decisions.
“There’s a whole mix of things a farmer can look at to help guide him through and make the best decisions, about nutrients and even when to plant,” Daniels said.
Brian Astifan, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service Ohio River Forecast Center in Wilmington, Ohio, said the weather service looks forward to working with Ohio farmers to reduce nutrient runoff.
The Ohio Agricultural Stewardship Verification Program will certify farmers in targeted watersheds in Henry and Wood counties who apply and meet criteria developed by ODA’s Division of Soil and Water Conservation.
Criteria for the certification include developed nutrient management plans, accurate soil tests and documented best management practices, among others. The program will begin as a pilot with an intention to expand the program to all of Ohio.
The stewardship program will handled by ODA, and provides a verifiable way to measure what a farm is doing.
“This isn’t just what they claim to do, it what’s they’re verified to be doing,” Daniels said.
ODA plans to continue reaching out to farmers and applicators in the coming months to make them aware of these new and beneficial tools.
Those interested in applying for the Agricultural Stewardship Verification Program in Henry and Wood counties can visit their local Soil and Water Conservation District office. For the Ohio Applicator Forecast, visit http://agri.ohio.gov/divs/plant/OhioApplicatorForecast/oaf.aspx.