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Environment


Ohio farmers team with researchers to reduce runoff
Nutrient runoff from Ohio farms is a major contributor to blue-green algae outbreaks - a new law could help reduce the flow of phosphorus
by WKSU's JEFF ST. CLAIR


Reporter / Host
Jeff St. Clair
 
Soybeans ripen on an Ohio farm. A new law requires Ohio farmers to be certified to apply commercial fertilizers under a volunteer program beginning in 2017. Environmentalists say it's a first step in controlling nutrient runoff that feeds toxic algae blooms.
Courtesy of Delta Whiskey, Flickr CC
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A new law requires farmers to develop plans to reduce fertilizer runoff that feeds toxic algae in Lake Erie and other Ohio waterways.

WKSU’s Jeff St.Clair reports, the voluntary program asks farmers to understand the causes and cures of nutrient pollution.

 

St.Clair - farm runoff research

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The bill gives Ohio farmers and agriculture experts three years to come up with a certification program to prove farmers are following best practices in applying fertilizer to their fields.

Phosphorus from fertilizer runoff is a major cause of toxic algae blooms, which have tainted Ohio lakes and half of Lake Erie in recent years.

Terry McClure is a 5th generation corn, wheat, and soybean farmer in Western Ohio’s Paulding County. 

“We need this phosphate to grow crops. You can’t grow crops without the nutrient that we have.”

His farm is part of a three-year, $2 million study of fertilizer runoff that will help farmers develop pollution reduction plans. 

“We can make a lot of small adjustments. We’ve already done that on our farm.”

McClure says famers are working closely with state officials to solve the runoff problem.

“This is our lake too. These are our streams.”

The new law only addresses chemical fertilizers, not manure used on fields, but some environmentalists say it’s a good first step.

The measure passed by legislators last week and is still waiting for the governor’s signature.  

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