The growers association and Ohio Soybean Council have teamed with The Ohio State University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to test farm fields and find the best way to keep the phosphorous and other nutrients on the fields.
Equipment at the edge of at least 25 farm fields monitors the surface and subsurface water for nutrients, Nicholson said. Researchers will pass on what they learn to farmers, so they can modify their practices and keep fertilizer on the land, which saves farmers money and makes their practices more efficient, he said.
“We really want to help the farmer tailor what’s best for his or her land,” said Kirk Merritt, executive director of the Ohio Soybean Council.
Harmful algal blooms contain a toxin called microcystin that can make people sick with gastrointestinal illness and headaches.
Phosphorous feeds these blooms, and scientists have identified agriculture as the main source for the nutrient in Lake Erie, although sewer plants and other sources contribute.
Agricultural agencies in Ohio have contributed $1 million for the study and obtained a USDA grant for another $1 million, Merritt said.
They hope to have more than 30 farms participate. Those signed up are in the Maumee River, Grand Lake St. Marys and Upper Scioto River watersheds, Merritt said.