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.

About OACI

H2Ohio: Ohio Farmers and ODA Work Together to Improve Water Quality


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.

Producers should contact their local SWCD with questions and submit program applications.

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.”

Kris Swartz

H2Ohio Producer, OACI Chairman

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.

What’s Happening

Latest Developments

Contact Your Soil and Water Conservation District

Auglaize County
Auglaize SWCD

110 Industrial Drive #G

Wapokoneta, OH 45895


Allen County
Allen SWCD

1601 E. 4th Street, Suite B

Lima, OH 45804

419.223.0040 ext.3

Crawford County

Crawford SWCD

3111 OH-98

Bucyrus, OH 44820


Defiance County
Defiance SWCD

06879 Evansport Road, Suite C

Defiance, OH 43523


Erie County


2900 Columbus Avenue, Room 131

Sandusky, OH 44870



Fulton County
Fulton SWCD

8770 State Route 108, Suite B

Wauseon, OH 43567


Hancock County
Hancock SWCD

7868 County Road 140, Suite E

Findlay, OH 45840


Hardin County
Hardin SWCD

12751 State Route 309 W.

Kenton, OH 43326

419.673.0456 ext. 3

Henry County

Henry SWCD

2250 N. Scott street

Napoleon, OH 43545


Huron County

Huron SWCD

8 Fair Road

Norwalk, OH 44857


Lucas County

Lucas SWCD

3350 Hill Ave

Toledo, OH 43607


Marion County

1100 East Center Street

Marion, OH 43302



Mercer County
Mercer SWCD

220 W. Livingston Street, Suite 1

Celina, OH 45822


Ottawa County

Ottawa SWCD

240 West Lake Street # B

Oak Harbor, OH 43449


Paulding County

Paulding SWCD

451 C McDonald Pike

Paulding, OH 45879


Putnam County
Putnam SWCD

1206 E. 2nd Street

Ottawa, OH 45875


Richland County

Richland SWCD

1495 West Longview Ave #205

Mansfield, OH 44906


Sandusky County

Sandusky SWCD

2000 Countryside Drive Suite A

Fremont, OH 43420


Seneca County

Seneca SWCD

3140 OH-100

Tiffin, OH 44883


Shelby County

Shelby SWCD

822 Fair Road

Sidney, OH 45365


Van Wert County

Van Wert SWCD

1185 Professional Drive

Van Wert, OH 45891


Williams County
Williams SWCD

1120 West High Street

Bryan, OH 43506

419.636.9395 ext. 3

Wood County

1616 E. Wooster Street, Suite 32

Bowling Green, OH 43402


Wyandot County

Wyandot SWCD

97 Houpt Drive

Upper Sandusky, OH 43351


Frequently Asked Questions

More information about the application process, eligibility and goals.

More About the ODA/OACI Partnership

ODA is working in close collaboration with the Ohio Agriculture Conservation Initiative (OACI) – a group of commodities, environmental agencies, and farming organizations.  OACI is an instrumental partner in the development and execution of the H2Ohio plan, which includes the Ohio Agriculture Certification Program for farmers in conjunction with the application process.