Farmers in Ohio counties in the Western Lake Erie Basin have $1.2 million available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program to reduce agricultural phosphorus from entering Lake Erie. Ohio land covers about 4 of the 6 million acres in the western basin watershed, including all or a portion of 19 Ohio counties. Most of these acres are productive farmland.
The EQIP was created to help farmers improve agricultural productivity while conserving their soil and protecting water quality at the same time. The additional $1.2 million will be available through this program for farmers in the Western Lake Erie Basin Watershed to address the water quality issues affecting the lake.
Conservation scientists recommend a core group of conservation practices that will improve water quality in Lake Erie while improving soil quality and the producer's bottom line. These practices will keep costly agricultural inputs from running off of the field, therefore, improving the water quality of the lake. Using nutrient management, conservation tillage, cover crops, controlled traffic, conservation crop rotations, drainage water management, and filter strips will reduce phosphorus entering the Western Lake Erie Basin. Funds will also be available to address livestock waste storage issues.
Nutrient management will focus on the 4Rs – using the Right fertilizer source, at the Right rate, at the Right time, with the Right placement – this is critical to keep phosphorus out of Lake Erie. Practicing the 4Rs will also save money; phosphorus that stays on the field will be used by the crop to grow, not used by the algae. Better crop growth increases the chance of higher yields.
To learn more about the financial and technical assistance available to save soil, keep phosphorus on the field and out of Lake Erie, and ultimately improve agricultural productivity, visit the Natural Resources Conservation Service office in your county. Submit an application for the Western Lake Erie Basin Environmental Quality Incentives Program. NRCS is accepting applications until Friday, March 15, 2013.