USDA’s Ohio Natural Resources Conservation Service is inviting input during a 30-day comment period on its draft revisions to the Nutrient Management Practice Standard (Code 590). The deadline is Aug. 31. If approved, this Nutrient Management Standard would revise the current Ohio Field Office Technical Guide (FOTG), and provide the criteria and considerations required for all USDA farm bill financial and technical assistance related to the application of plant nutrients and manures.
“NRCS, with our partners, is committed to increasing the knowledge of nutrient loss risk, and we will continue to implement a comprehensive approach to protect and enhance water quality,” says Terry Cosby, state conservationist for Ohio. “The task force is to be commended for achieving consensus, given the complicated issues involved, on the need to both protect Ohio’s water resources and agricultural industry, and the need to develop something that was responsible — yet practical, simple and economical for Ohio’s farmers to adopt.”
A broad, diverse 19-member subcommittee of the NRCS Ohio State Technical Committee worked diligently over a six-month period to develop a science-based and implementable farm scale standard that uses the 4R nutrient approach (the right source, right rate, right time and right place) as the basis to draw down high-phosphorus soils over time. The revised standard will protect Ohio’s water quality and is practical and realistic for Ohio farmers to implement.
“I appreciate the committee’s work to develop science-based guidelines to keep nutrients on the land,” says Greg LaBarge, Ohio State University Extension field specialist, agronomic systems. “I look forward to continued work on-site specific tools that help farmers identify better conservation practice placement.”
Nutrient Management Standard specifics
The items listed below are summarized from the Ohio Nutrient Management Standard:
• The draft standard is designed to better protect Ohio’s water quality by reducing losses of nutrients from crop fields.
• Language has been simplified to make the standard more practical and usable at the field and farm level.
• The recommendations align with the newly revised Tri-State Fertility Guide and have been converted to the now-standard Melich III soil test extraction method.
• A more defined path has been developed to draw down high-soil-test phosphorus fields.
• Numerical criteria were updated, including establishment of an upper soil-test-phosphorus limit on manure applications.
• Wider use of in-field and edge-of-field trapping practices was incorporated into the recommendations.
• Updated nutrient assessment procedures and tools were identified to help farmers reduce risk of phosphorus loss at all soil test levels.
• The standards include a commitment to continue the work of the task force to improve and refine assessment tools and procedures to evaluate nutrient loss risk.
“These new guidelines include revisions that incorporate updated scientific research while emphasizing that conservation on all farm fields is needed to achieve both agronomic crop needs and protection of Ohio’s valuable waters,” says Jessica D’Ambrosio, Ohio agriculture director for The Nature Conservancy and a task force member.
NRCS will continue to involve the task force and its expertise as the process moves forward through the public comment period to the adoption and implementation phase.
“We are appreciative of the process used by NRCS to review the Nutrient Management Standard here in Ohio,” says Larry Antosch, senior director of policy development and environmental policy for Ohio Farm Bureau. “It provided the opportunity for all stakeholders to have a voice, and to have their questions answered. The final draft document reflects the viewpoints of the diverse work group, as all sides were able to come to agreement on the final draft document.”
To submit a comment, email email@example.com.