U.S. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler recently visited the Blanchard River Demonstration Farms Network in northwest Ohio to learn about the testing being done to improve water quality for the Western Lake Erie Basin and all of Ohio.
“It’s impressive to see how farmers are taking a proactive approach to try to reduce nutrient runoff,” Wheeler said. “Our agency is working cooperatively with farmers instead of hitting them with a hammer, and I think that farmers have proven that they know their land, and they know what it takes to reduce phosphorus loading. These demonstration farms have shown me how they can save money on nutrients with new technologies, while at the same time producing greater yields.”
INSIGHT: Frank Burkett (left), Ohio Farm Bureau president, and Andrew Wheeler, EPA administrator, talk during a visit to Kellogg Farms in Forest, Ohio.
The first stop for Wheeler was Kurt Farms in Dunkirk. There, he learned about how edge-of-field testing units sample the water coming from farm fields to determine the volume of nutrients coming off the farm, and how different nutrient management practices affect the data.
Then, Wheeler traveled to Forest, to find out how larger-scale farmers Bill and Shane Kellogg are investing in new technologies and implements that allow them to apply only the nutrients needed with variable-rate equipment after they review analysis from soil samples taken on the farm.
GROUP MEETING: EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler (second from left) heard from many involved with the efforts to improve water quality, including Shane Kellogg (left), demonstration farmer; Adam Sharp, Ohio Farm Bureau executive vice president; Aaron Heilers, Blanchard River Demonstration Farms Network project manager; Jordan Hoewischer, OFB director of water quality and research; and Bill Kellogg, demonstration farmer.
Examples of best water management practices
“The Blanchard River Demonstration Farms are a great example of just how committed Ohio agriculture is to finding the best management practices for clean water,” said Adam Sharp, Ohio Farm Bureau executive vice president. “The EPA is an important partner for continual water quality research, so we appreciate Administrator Wheeler coming to learn about the many different nutrient management approaches our demonstration farmers are taking, and to discuss how efforts should move forward to protect natural resources across the state.”
The Blanchard River Demonstration Farms Network is a joint partnership between the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation. The project is part of a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative designed to showcase and demonstrate leading-edge conservation practices to improve Great Lakes water quality. Learn more at blancharddemofarms.org.
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