Ohio Department of Agriculture
Reducing Agricultural Phosphorus Runoff
ODA is committed to helping farmers reduce phosphorus runoff from commercial fertilizer and manure to prevent harmful algal blooms.
H2Ohio: Ohio Farmers and ODA Work Together to Improve Water Quality
MAKING CHANGES TODAY TO ENSURE A SAFER TOMORROW
Governor Mike DeWine’s H2Ohio plan will span all areas of water quality, with the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) leading efforts to reduce phosphorus runoff, which is critical to improving water quality. ODA’s H2Ohio program incentivizes farmers to implement proven, science-based, cost-effective, best management practices (BMP). Producers work with their Soil and Water Conservation District to determine which practices will have the most effectiveness on their farm while still producing a high yield of crop. A Voluntary Nutrient Management Plan (VNMP) is required for all cropland enrolled in H2Ohio. The VNMP shows the amount of nutrients in the soil and helps determine which BMPs will be most effective.
Best Management Practices
ODA Announces H2Ohio Open Enrollment in Maumee River Watershed
Producers are eligible to earn incentives for implementing practices to improve water quality
ODA announced a new round of H2Ohio open enrollment for producers in the 14 counties of the Maumee River Watershed project area.
“It is as important as ever that Ohio’s agricultural community steps up to the plate to do the right thing,” said ODA Director Brian Baldridge. “We know 2,400 farmers are engaged in H2Ohio, but it takes all of us working together to improve Ohio’s water for generations to come.”
Producers in the following counties are eligible to enroll or re-enroll acreage into proven, science-based, best management practices (BMPs) that contribute toward improving water quality in Lake Erie and other bodies of water:
- Allen, Auglaize, Defiance, Fulton, Hancock, Hardin, Henry, Lucas, Mercer, Paulding, Putnam, Van Wert, Williams, Wood
Governor DeWine launched the H2Ohio initiative in 2019 to help offset some of the financial risk producers incur when trying new conservation practices. This year, ODA has streamlined BMPs and updated incentives to better suit producers’ needs to implement conservation practices on their farm operation.
Producers must develop an approved Voluntary Nutrient Management Plan (VNMP) to enroll into other BMPs being offered in 2024 & 2025. Available BMPs include Overwintering Cover, Subsurface Phosphorus Placement, and Manure Incorporation and Utilization.
Local Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) work directly with each producer to review and approve VNMPs, assess the compatibility of implementing additional BMPs, and provide conservation education.
H2Ohio Farmer Incentive Program: Farmers Answering the Call
The Ohio Department of Agriculture’s (ODA) portion of H2Ohio was initially made available in the 14 counites that make up the Maumee River Watershed. Producers showed remarkable interest, enrolling over 1 million acres into science-based, and cost-effective Best Management Practices (BMP) proven to improve water quality. With additional funding through the Ohio Legislature, H2Ohio expanded into 10 additional counties to encompass the entire Western Lake Erie Basin (WLEB). In January 2022, enrollment in the original 14 counties was reopened giving producers an opportunity to sign up more acres into conservation practices. Producers continue to show enormous interest and commitment to H2Ohio. Producers work with their local Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) who administer the program at the county level. If you have questions about applying for H2Ohio, contact your local SWCD.
“Water quality is an important thing, especially within the Western Lake Erie Basin. H2Ohio is the best vehicle we’ve had to accomplish that so far.”
By the Numbers
To date, 2,400 agreements have been signed by producers to implement these BMPs. These agreements total 1.4 million acres enrolled into VNMPs, and 2.2 million acres enrolled in BMPs, accounting for nearly 35 percent of the total cropland in the WLEB.
Research and Partnerships
ODA is working with the Ohio Farm Bureau (OFBF) and Blanchard River Demonstration Farms to assess the economic and agronomic impacts of H2Ohio BMPs. The goal of this work is to evaluate conservation practices that are being implemented across the WLEB and across Ohio to continually improve the data that informs farmer and policy decision making.
Practices that will be evaluated are Manure Incorporation and Timing, Subsurface Placement and Rate, Nutrient Management Planning, Cover Crops, and Variable Rate Technology.
As part of this evaluation, important agronomic information will be collected and analyzed including crop yield, crop health, soil health, soil test trends, practice profitability, and nutrient budgeting. Through this data collection, annual fact sheets will be developed to better inform producers’ decision making to incorporate BMPs on the field long term. Additionally, economic evaluation tools will be developed to assist policymakers, conservation planners and producers to determine the profitability of each BMP.
This collaboration will also provide support for ODA’s education and outreach efforts to promote conservation practices across the WLEB.
ODA is also collaborating with partners to better understand the environmental impacts of H2Ohio practices, as well as economic and agronomic impacts on producers.
ODA with Dr. Kevin King of USDA Agricultural Research Service will evaluate the impact of several H2Ohio BMPs through side-by-side comparisons and edge-of-field water quality monitoring stations that are already in place. The goal of this research is to improve and expand data on nutrient load reductions due to adoption of conservation practices in Ohio. ODA used an extensive process to evaluate BMPs in developing the H2Ohio program, drawing from research across the Midwest. This partnership will supplement research data used to select the H2Ohio BMPs with research conducted in Ohio soils and under Ohio’s climate.
The work will also include the development of a model to better estimate the impact of H2Ohio practices across a regional area. Once developed, this model will provide valuable information to guide ODA decisions for future H2Ohio programming.
Conservation Ditch Program
A two-stage ditch is a conservation practice that modifies the shape of a drainage ditch to create vegetation benches on each side. Two-stage ditches provide benefits such as slowing water flow, reducing maintenance costs, and improving water quality. In March 2023, ODA awarded $4.2 million in grants for 11 two-stage ditch projects. Six county engineers and six Soil and Water Conservation Districts will receive funds to construct or improve two-stage ditches. Recipients will receive up to 100 percent of requested funding for these projects. More than 18,000 acres of watershed will benefit from the 8.4 miles of two-stage ditch projects. Construction of these projects will begin this summer, and all projects must be completed by Fall 2024.
The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) today recognized two Soil and Water Conservation Districts for their leadership and commitment to the H2Ohio program. The awards for Erie and Mercer counties were presented by ODA Director Brian Baldridge at the 2024 Ohio...
Producers have until February 2, 2024, to sign up for incentives The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) announced today it will extend the enrollment deadline for H2Ohio producers in the 14 counties of the Maumee River Watershed. Due to a considerable amount of...
New H2Ohio Rivers program will focus on PFAS, dam removal, land conservation, and more. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine today announced the expansion of H2Ohio, the state's comprehensive, data-driven strategy to improve water quality throughout Ohio. Since launching in...
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