COLUMBUS, Ohio — Farmers throughout Ohio are working to reduce algal blooms.
Phosphorus runoff from farms is one contributor of algal blooms.
"There are several others other than just agriculture. And agriculture sometimes, I think, gets scapegoated, but it is a significant source of phosphorus because this is our state's number one industry," agriculture expert Andy Vance said. "Phosphorus also is a nutrient that is vital for plant life and one that farmers use as a fertilizer to increase soil fertility, to increase the fertility of the plants and increase overall yield and the health of that crop. So, it's vital for life. It's a vital nutrient for life. The challenge is when you get too much of it in the wrong places."
Within the H2Ohio program, farmers aim to implement at least 10 different practices in an attempt to reduce pollution.
The practices include soil testing, variable-rate fertilizer, subsurface nutrient application, manure incorporation, conservation crop rotation, cover crops, drainage water management, two-ditch construction, edge-of-field buffers and wetlands.
"Farmers can now put a precise amount of phosphorus in a precise location," Vance said. "In some cases, we're talking sub-inch accuracy on farm fields. It's also things like improving our wetlands and conservation structures, buffer zones around fields to keep the nutrients from running off the field. And it's also about making sure that farmers are being good stewards in terms of nutrient timing, putting it on the field at the right time."
Vance said this will take time and consistency to solve the problem of water pollution.
Other contributing factors to water pollution include failing septic systems and lead contamination, both of which H2Ohio lists as priorities to prevent and address.