An amendment sponsored by State Representative Randy Gardner, (R- Bowling Green), which allocates $3.35 million to address algae problems in Lake Erie, is included in the Mid-Biennium Budget Review set for Gov. John Kasich’s signature.
The fund calls for $3 million for the department of natural resources to implement voluntary guidelines for farmers designed to reduce run-off from their fields.
“We’re very pleased with the support it received in the Senate,” Gardner said last week while the budget review was in conference committee, adding the governor has also indicated he supports the amendment.
A priority of the fund is the production method known as 4R Nutrient Stewardship.
“4R Nutrient Stewardship is a new innovative approach for fertilizer best management practices adopted by the world’s fertilizer industry,” said International Plant Nutrition Institute President, Dr. Terry L. Roberts, who recently announced the release of an IPNI manual in support of the stewardship philosophy. “This approach considers economic, social, and environmental dimensions of nutrient management and is essential to sustainability of agricultural systems. The concept is simple - apply the right source of nutrient, at the right rate, at the right time, and in the right place - but the implementation is knowledge-intensive and site-specific. We hope this manual will be a useful tool for farmers and their advisers, extension workers, researchers, regulators, and anyone with an interest in the management of plant nutrition.”
The fund may also be used for enhanced soil testing in the Western Lake Erie Basin, monitoring the quality of Lake Erie and its tributaries, and conducting research and establishing pilot projects with the goal of reducing algae blooms in Lake Erie.
Up to $350,000 may also be used by the natural resources department to monitor inland lakes and stream water quality.
Joe Logan, of the Ohio Environmental Council, said the fund represents a good start on a problem that will require more resources in the future.
"We all know that much more focus and investment of resources will be needed to avoid further serious degradation of Lake Erie. This initial $3 million down payment is modest, when compared to the major investments made in the Grand Lake St. Mary’s watershed,” he said.
Last year, former Ohio Department of Agriculture Director James Zehringer hosted a meeting of agricultural and environmental leaders to discuss and develop solutions to phosphorous problems in Lake Erie and Ohio's inland waters.
Participants shared the latest research and statistics on how phosphorous moves through Ohio's watersheds as well as information about how agricultural production practices could be amended to improve Ohio's waterways.