Farmers talk algal blooms

OTTAWA — Working to spread educational material about runoff from agriculture, Jeffrey Reutter says there’s a lot of work to do.

Reutter is director of the Ohio Sea Grant College Program, Stone Laboratory, Center for Lake Erie Area Research, and Great Lakes Aquatic Ecosystem Research Consortium with The Ohio State University.

Reutter spoke to farmers and other residents Thursday at the Putnam County Educational Center about the current science regarding the algal blooms in Lake Erie and what farmers are doing, or need to do, to mitigate runoff from their lands.

The purpose of his presentation was to help farmers and other residents understand what is causing the algal blooms in Lake Erie, Reutter said.

Fertilizers that are phosphorous based are largely a part of the problem, Reutter said. Though nitrogen found in these fertilizers can also be problematic, Reutter said the main chemical component that derives the blooms is phosphorous.

Fellow speaker Greg LaBarge of the Ohio State University-Extension gave those in attendance tips to avoid runoff such as avoiding overloading the soil and to paying close attention to soil tests, avoiding application of fertilizers in the winter when the land cannot be tilled, knowing your field’s risk factors and other tips.

“No one wants to admit it’s them” that’s causing the problem with algal blooms, Reutter said. Many farmers are beginning to realize that the agricultural component to the algal blooms is as significant as science says it is, he said.

Ohio Farmers Union president Joe Logan said there is a “huge learning curve” when it comes to properly fertilizing farms in a way that will avoid runoff. “We need to make sure these farmers are aware of these systems, and how to apply these systems to their farm,” Logan said.

“As a farmer myself, I know how important it is to use nutrients that promote crop growth than losing them to an adverse situation,” Logan said.

Other speakers at the event were Jocelyn Henderson of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, John Wilson of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Christopher Gibbs of the Mercer County Farm Service Agency and Marla Koerner of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

 

View original article at: Farmers talk algal blooms

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