Ohio heading toward fertilizing permits
Ohio commodity groups are supporting changes to legislation that will require one farmer per farm operation to be certified to apply chemical fertilizer--but not manure.
The bill (SB 150) has passed the Ohio Senate and was expected to be considered in the House.
"The Ohio Soybean Association (OSA) and Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association (OCWGA) take the issue of water quality in our state very seriously and began actively working with legislators on SB 150 since it was introduced in 2013," says farmer and OSA president Jerry Bambauer.
"Due to the work of OSA, the OCWGA, and others, the final version of the bill is far different than the original that contained unnecessary and overly burdensome requirements for Ohio family farmers. Moving forward, both organizations will continue to emphasize to legislators and agency officials the importance of practical, science-based solutions," Bambauer says.
Fertilizer certification would piggyback onto the pesticide certification that farmers already go through and will not include added fees, Bambauer tells Agriculture.com
"Hopefully, we will be able to avoid more stringent regulations in the future if we learn the best way of doing things to maximize the effectiveness of our fertilizer," he says. The goal, he says, is "to get the most value for each dollar spent in our fertilizer program."
In spite of reduction in soil and fertilizer moving off farms, summer algae growth in Lake Erie and some other Ohio lakes remains a problem, driven, in part, by excess phosphorous.
The source isn’t just farm fertilizer. It is also urban sewage and lawn fertilizer. "We’re finding the algae problem in areas of the state where we don’t have agriculture around it," Bambauer says.
Last year, farmers and other agricultural organizations announced that they are investing over $1 million to support a study to investigate phosphorus use in farming.
This three-year project – led by Ohio State University (OSU), OSU Extension, and USDA’s Agricultural Research Service – will study how phosphorus is used in agriculture, how it leaves farm fields, and how much is actually entering Ohio waterways.
USDA is adding another $1 million to support the research financed by the Ohio Soybean Council, Ohio Corn Marketing Program, Ohio Small Grains Marketing Program, and others.
"We need to know how the product is moving and why it’s moving, so we solve our problems," Bambauer says.
Ohio farmers are already applying less P than the crop removes, he says. "We, as farmers, don’t want to put any more phosphorous on our soils than we absolutely need."