By Ed Lentz

Ohio State University has agriculture research farms throughout Ohio.

Farmers in northwestern Ohio are fortunate that one of these farms is located near Hoytville. This 247-acre research station has land that is similar to many of the farms in our area: medium- to fine-textured soils, flat topography, and drainage concerns.

Each summer, the research station has a field day/open house for farmers and the public to see research in action and be able to interact with professors from Ohio State University about current and future research.

This year, the Northwest Agriculture Research Station field day/open house will be from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. June 20. The theme of the field day is “Lake Friendly Farming Research.”

The government claims that about 30% of the phosphorus reaching Lake Erie via the Maumee River watershed is due to point sources, such as industry waste and municipal sewage systems. The remaining 70% is from an unknown non-point source.

Environmental groups assume it is agriculture since farming accounts for most of the land mass in the Western Lake Erie Basin and phosphorus is applied on certain fields for crop production.

However, the amount of phosphorus being applied to fields has continued to drop each year for the past 10 years.

It has been forecasted that Lake Erie is at high risk for an algae bloom in 2019 because of all the rain that has fallen this spring. However, very little fertilizer has been applied, or manure, because of the wet fields. If a bloom occurs, it will not be from this year’s nutrient application.

University of Michigan has recently completed a three-year study examining the contribution of nutrients to Lake Erie from the Detroit River. The Detroit River receives water from the Detroit metropolitan area, western Ontario, Canada and Lake Huron.

The Detroit River contributes 25% of the phosphorus reaching the Western Basin of Lake Erie. Of this portion, 63% of the phosphorus came from point sources such as municipal wastewater treatment plants and industrial facilities. Agriculture accounted for 20% of the phosphorus.

However, when examining the “agriculture” area alone from western Ontario farm country, non-point sources accounted for 83% of the phosphorus. The Michigan researchers identified non-point sources as runoff from cropland, pastures, urban land surfaces, forests and wetlands.

Urban land surfaces would include water entering the system via municipal drainage systems such as ditches and storm sewers. Rural septic systems would also contribute to non-point sources in this “agriculture” designated area.

Thus, at this time, research has not identified the primary phosphorus contributor for non-point sources, making it difficult to put in place corrective measures. Hypotheses are being tested on potential sources from cropland.

Ohio State University has been a part of this research investigating cropland as a potential source for phosphorus runoff. Some of this research will be discussed at the field day/open house. Details of the tours and speakers at the field day are given below:

• “Effect of Conservation Practices on Ag Phosphorus Loss in Tile Drained Landscapes” — Dr. Kevin King, U.S. Department of Agriculture research scientist in soil drainage.

• “Demonstration of Precision Fertilizer Placement Equipment” — Dr. John Fulton, Ohio State University Extension precision agriculture specialist.

• “eFields Research Reports to Improve Nutrient Management” — Dr. Elizabeth Hawkins, Ohio State University Extension field and on-farm specialist.

• “Nutrient Balancing with Manure” — Glen Arnold, Ohio State University field manure specialist.

• “Soil Health Measurements: Tracking No-Till and Cover Crop Benefits to Water Quality” — Ron Snyder, Wood County Soil & Water Conservation District and Alan Sundermeier, Wood County Ohio State University Extension educator.

• “Ultra Early Corn: Does It Have a Fit in Ohio” — Dr. Peter Thomison, Ohio State University Extension corn specialist.

The field day is free and open to the public. Lunch will be provided to individuals that RSVP to Matt Davis, 419-257-2060 or davis.1095@osu.edu by June 14.

The field day would be great time to learn about the latest water quality research, interact with leading scientists, and network with the agricultural community.

The Northwest Research Station is located about one-half mile northeast of Hoytville at the corner of Range Line and Oil Center roads. The address is 4240 Range Line Road, Custar 43511.

Lentz is extension educator for agriculture and natural resources for the Ohio State University Extension Service in Hancock County. He can be reached at 419-422-3851 or via email at lentz.38@osu.edu.

Lentz can be heard with Vaun Wickerham on weekdays at 6:35 a.m. on WFIN, at 5:43 a.m. on WKXA-FM, and at 5:28 a.m. at 106.3 The Fox.

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