COLUMBUS – Ohio Farm Bureau Federation is providing $200,000 for county Farm Bureau-led projects that help improve water quality in local communities. With additional matching funds from partnering organizations, these projects will provide more than $460,000 in total resources.
The county water quality grants are part of Ohio Farm Bureau’s comprehensive Water Quality Action Plan launched in September 2014. OFBF has dedicated more than $2 million in member funds for projects and measures that help protect the environment and preserve farmers’ ability to produce food. This is the second year Ohio Farm Bureau has provided funding for county water quality projects.
“Last year’s water quality projects were such a success that Ohio Farm Bureau decided to provide funding again and increased the amount by $50,000,” said Jordan Hoewischer, OFBF director of water quality and research. “These projects are spread out across the state with participation from dozens of partnering organizations that include conservation, government, university, health and private entities.”
County Farm Bureaus receiving funding and their projects:
Butler County: A new 8-acre Agricultural Conservation Education & Demonstration area will showcase best management practices in agricultural conservation, including cover crops, field buffers and grassed waterways.
Clermont County: The “Cover Crops for Southwest Ohio” booklet will be updated for a second printing of 1,000 copies. The educational booklet shows how farmers can introduce cover crops into their row crop fields to improve soil permeability and reduce soil erosion.
Cuyahoga County: A demonstration heavy-use site and riparian area will be installed as part of educational workshops for horse and small livestock farm owners as well as the public. The site will protect the headwaters of Big Creek.
Darke County: Grant money will be used toward the design and building of a commercial 12-row dragline toolbar that will allow livestock producers to apply liquid manure to a crop instead of purchasing sidedress nitrogen.
Delaware County: Devices will be placed on county farms to determine the amount of phosphorus lost through subsurface drainage to illustrate how land management affects runoff from farmers’ cropland. Billboards also are being placed throughout the county showcasing the conservation efforts of local Farm Bureau farmers.
Erie and Huron counties: Plans are for conducting several educational and hands-on conservation activities, including workshops at Old Woman Creek, equipment upgrades to monitor streams in the Firelands area and manure and soil health field days.
Fayette County: A canoe float down the Paint Creek Watershed will allow county residents to explore local rivers while learning about water quality through educational stops along the way.
Gallia County: Farm Bureau members will be able to rent a no-till drill at a discounted rate for the next three years to put in cover crops, which help keep nutrients in the ground and reduce runoff.
Jackson-Vinton counties: A multi-county pesticide application class will allow participants to be certified or recertified on the proper use and application of pesticides and how they impact water quality.
Jefferson County: The Upper Ohio River Watershed Community Outreach Campaign is a multi-faceted approach to educating the public and leaders about water quality challenges. It includes a legislative reception, media campaign, student essay contest, community survey on general water quality knowledge and an educational Ohio River cruise featuring speaker Chad Pregracke, founder of Living Lands & Waters and winner of the 2013 CNN Hero of the Year Award.
Knox County: Improvements will be made to the Ohio Nutrient Management Record Keeper (ONMRK) app, which helps farmers comply with state laws by recording their fertilizer or manure application as well as the current weather conditions and forecast for the next 24 hours.
Licking County: Funding will go toward a pilot program to help identify and replace faulty aerator motors in home septic systems in areas with potential water quality issues.
Lorain County: Data will be collected of runoff water at dozens of sites throughout the county, with an emphasis on agricultural areas. The data will be compared with different farming practices and help educate farmers and landowners based on findings.
Lucas County: The second phase of the Collaborative Look at Evaluating Available Nutrients (C.L.E.A.N) project will complete a detailed analysis of how nitrogen moves through the soil following varying agronomic practices and grower preferences in an effort to reduce nitrogen runoff.
Mahoning County: Workshops and a brochure will show how soil sampling is one of the simplest cost-effective measures landowners and farmers can perform to ensure they are protecting water quality and saving money before they begin applying fertilizer.
Putnam County: On an agricultural bus tour of the county, residents will see the different ways the agricultural community works together on water quality issues, including seeing how a two-stage ditch works, what a working hog farm does to manage its manure and how water quality affects a hops farm.
Scioto County: Area Farm Bureau members will be able to rent a lime spreader at a significantly discounted rate. In the past, the equipment was unavailable to rent anywhere in the county. All equipment renters will receive written information about the 4R Nutrient Program — applying nutrients at the right source, right rate, right time and right place.
Seneca County: Water quality stakeholders and others will have a better understanding of where nutrients are entering the Western Lake Erie Basin through a series of events, including an educational bus tour, manure nutrient sampling and consultation, on-farm visits and quarterly scientific nutrient management mailers.
Tuscarawas, Carroll and Harrison counties: Funding will help support riparian landowner workshops, water quality signs for use at local conservation events and the Lake and Land Festival, a one-day conservation and environmental stewardship event at Atwood Lake Park.