Farmers attend event aimed to reduce phosphorous runoff into Lake Erie

Farmers watching a demonstration.
Farmers watching a demonstration.
A satellite image shows the algal bloom in the western part of Lake Erie.
A satellite image shows the algal bloom in the western part of Lake Erie.

LUCAS COUNTY, OH (Toledo News Now) - Northwest Ohio farmers attended a field day Thursday to learn how to prevent phosphorous runoff, which can contribute to the harmful algal bloom in Lake Erie.

Most farmers are considered good stewards of the land. The recent water crisis due to conditions in Lake Erie bothers them, so they attended an event in Whitehouse to learn how to be even better stewards.

The field day was sponsored by the Lucas Soil and Water Conservation District. There were farmers and other members of the agriculture industry present to learn how to prevent phosphorous from reaching Lake Erie.

"This is a situation where we're taking lemons and making lemonade, and we're here not to grumble about it but improve it," said Darrell Means from the Lucas Soil and Water Conservation District.

There are conservation efforts farmers can make to prevent runoff, such as planting cover crops like clover. They're not cash crops, but they can improve Lake Erie's health.

"The cover crops will actually soak up the phosphorous and nutrients and hold them in the soil and keep it from leeching into the tile, then into the lake," said Wood County farmer Lewis Stearns.

There's also high-tech equipment available that applies chemicals under the land's surface, instead of above.

"We can actually put the fertilizer down below the surface so that it reduces greatly the chance of runoff into the water supply," said equipment salesman Jim Boak.

District officials say 97 percent of the nutrients never reach the lake. They feel conservation efforts would boost that figure to 99 percent.

"We're saying if we can reduce it by one pound of phosphorous per acre, we have the chance to re-vitalize the lake," Means said.

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