H2Ohio Conservation Practices to be Assessed Through New Partnership with ODA, OFBF, and Blanchard River Demonstration Farms

The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) is excited to announce a new agreement with the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF) and Blanchard River Demonstration Farms to assess the agronomic and economic impacts of H2Ohio Best Management Practices (BMPs), the program’s agricultural measures implemented to reduce nutrient runoff into Ohio’s waterways.

BMPs are the core of ODA’s portion of Governor Mike DeWine’s H2Ohio Initiative to improve water quality in Ohio. They are being implemented on farmland across the Western Lake Erie Basin (WLEB). The goal of the agreement is to evaluate the practices to allow for more informed farmer and policy-making decisions.

“Collaborating with the Ohio Farm Bureau and the Blanchard River Demonstration Farms will provide essential research and data that allows H2Ohio to continue to grow and evolve,” said Ohio Department of Agriculture Director Dorothy Pelanda. “These efforts are imperative for the long-term health of our program.”

“Since its inception five years ago, the Blanchard River Demonstration Farms Network has been at the forefront of testing new ideas and practices to help farmers find the best water quality solutions for their operation,” said Adam Sharp, executive vice president of Ohio Farm Bureau. “We appreciate this opportunity to team up with ODA to give even more farmers a better understanding of which H2Ohio practices will benefit their nutrient management goals while maintaining strong crop production.”

Five of the seven H2Ohio BMPs will be assessed: Manure Incorporation, Subsurface Placement, 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. Fact sheets will be developed to better inform producers on the long-term incorporation of BMPs. Economic evaluation tools will also be created to determine the profitability of each BMP for policymakers, conservation planners, and producers.

The Blanchard River Demonstration Farms were developed in 2015 to create opportunities for industry partners to test their research, provide technical assistance, and develop program implementation. They are part of a joint partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and the OFBF and are a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative project. Diverse in size and scope, the farms were chosen to showcase the many different methods of conservation practices that improve agriculture’s impact on water quality in Ohio.

H2Ohio is Governor DeWine’s initiative to ensure safe and clean water in Ohio. It is a comprehensive, data-driven approach to improving water quality over the long term. H2Ohio focuses on encouraging agricultural best management practices, restoring wetlands, and replacing home septic systems to reduce nutrients that contribute to harmful algal blooms. For more information on the H2Ohio initiative, please visit h2.ohio.gov.