Phosphorous Key To Controlling Harmful Algae

Learn more about how tillage affects phosphorous losses at a Nutrient Application Field Day July 18 near Bowling Green.

Published on: Jul 3, 2013

Major water quality problems have occurred in Lake Erie, Grand Lake St. Marys and other Ohio water resources in recent years.  Within these aquatic ecosystems, harmful organisms in the form of algal blooms have also been present.

“To protect Ohio water resources, phosphorus fertilizer must be put in the right place," says Steve Prochaska, an Ohio State University Extension field specialist and member of the university's Agronomic Crops Team. “When looking at the 4Rs of nutrient stewardship – using the right source, at the right rate, during right time and in the right place -- placing phosphorus in the right place likely holds the greatest opportunity in keeping phosphorus on farm ground and for improvement in water quality as it is related to farm field phosphorus loss."           

Phosphorous Key To Controlling Harmful Algae
Phosphorous Key To Controlling Harmful Algae

Growers interested in learning more about the impact of tillage on phosphorus loss and other crop production factors that influence crop yields can attend a Nutrient Application Field Day July 18, offered by experts with Ohio State University's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. 

The field day is designed to offer information on three common tillage systems used in Ohio and discuss where the tillage implement incorporates phosphorus into the soil profile, said. OSU Extension agronomists and industry equipment personnel will lead the discussions.

 “This is a nutrient application and placement field day where we're going to apply nutrients then run common tillage implements and observe in the soil profile where those nutrients end up," says Prochaska. “We're going to talk in-depth about what the crop needs in terms of the amount phosphorus to grow high yield crops and answer questions on the water quality impact of farm field phosphorus loss.

“Our Tri-State Crop Fertility phosphorus and potassium recommendations appear to be solid."

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Phosphorus fertilizer is essential to Ohio crop production when applied at correct rates, timing and placement, Prochaska said. But, if nutrient applications are not managed, farm field phosphorus can be lost into water resources and promote hazardous algal blooms.

The cropping systems that will be demonstrated include:
•Phosphorus movement in full-width till systems and related equipment solutions.
•Phosphorus movement in no-till systems and related equipment solutions.
•Phosphorus movement in strip-till systems and related equipment solutions.

The demonstrations will cover the ability of various tillage tools to effectively incorporate phosphorus into the soil profile, which would reduce the possibility of it getting washed away into the area's watershed and increase the likelihood it will stay on farmland to fertilize the crop.

Topics covered with each tillage demonstration will include:
•Particulate phosphorus movement via erosion associated with that tillage system.
•The relationship of phosphorus soil test levels to phosphorus loss.
•The impacts of tillage on phosphorus stratification, relationship of phosphorus stratification to soil test phosphorus and soluble phosphorus loss.

The event is from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in a harvested wheat field a quarter mile west of the intersection of Interstate 75 and Highway 582 in Wood County near Bowling Green. The program, which includes lunch, is free but pre-registration by July 15 is required. To register, send an email with your name, phone number and address to nopat@live.com.  

Four and a half hours of certified crop adviser credits have been applied for, Prochaska said, including 1 hour of soil and water and 3.5 hours in nutrient management.  

For more information, contact Prochaska at 740-223-4041 or prochaska.1@osu.edu.