Farmer Phosphorus Water Quality Monitoring Project

This project was active from April 2015 through December of 2017. A final report of the project can be found here.

This project gives a farmer the chance to find out how much Dissolved Reactive Phosphorus (DRP) in pounds per acre is leaving their field site, based on their crop production system. Farmers will be provided their individual data from the study plus summary data for all sites in the project. The data will be used to better understand what conditions lead to DRP loss and be able to better recommend Best Management Practices (BMP’s) to reduce nutrient loss.

Background

What is this project?

This project gives a farmer the chance to find out how much Dissolved Reactive Phosphorus (DRP) in pounds per acre is leaving their field site, based on their crop production system. Farmers will be provided their individual data from the study plus summary data for all sites in the project. The data will be used to better understand what conditions lead to DRP loss and be able to better recommend Best Management Practices (BMP’s) to reduce nutrient loss.

What is monitored?

Water sampling devices are placed at the end of field tile or within drainage water management structures during two periods September to December and March to June. The sample devices are changed out every 4-5 weeks or 2-3 times during each sample period. A standard soil test analysis will be provided.

How will the data be used?

Data generated from sample sites will only be shared as summarized data by watershed and general field characteristics. No individual data will be shared by participant name or GPS location. The database size targeted is 150-200 fields.

The data will be used to develop tools that help identify high risk sites, where nutrient loss is greater than average, so farmers can identify cost effective Best Management Practices to keep nutrient in the field for crop production. The data from this project will be added to data collected in current edge of field studies where daily water sample data is collected from 20 paired field sites across the state.

What counties are targeted?

Priority

Code

Counties

Watersheds

1

Williams, Fulton, Lucas, Defiance, Henry, Paulding, Putnam, Hancock, Huron, Van Wert, Allen, Mercer, Auglaize, Hardin, Mercer, Shelby

(1) St. Mary’s watershed, hydrologic unit code 04100004;

(2) Auglaize watershed, hydrologic unit code 04100007;

(3) Blanchard watershed, hydrologic unit code 04100008;

(4) Lower Maumee watershed, hydrologic unit code 04100009;

(5) Upper Maumee watershed, hydrologic unit code 04100005;

(6) Tiffin watershed, hydrologic unit code 04100006;

(7) St. Joseph watershed, hydrologic unit code 04100003;

(8) Ottawa watershed, hydrologic unit code 04100001;

(9) River Raisin watershed, hydrologic unit code 04100002

2

Wood, Ottawa

(10) Cedar-Portage watershed, hydrologic unit code 04100010;

3

Wyandot, Crawford, Richland, Marion, Seneca, Sandusky, Erie

(11) Sandusky watershed, hydrologic unit code 04100011;

 

Instructions

Field Selection Criteria

The primary criterion is that drainage water coming through a main to be sampled should only include water from the farm practices being done by the cooperating farmer. Shared field mains that include multiple farmer managements, road drainage, household water drainage or other areas not under control of the farmer should not be used. The field main should drain 5 or more acres. There is no upper limit to field size as long as the drainage area is known and drains only practices under the control of the farmer. The end of the field main tile or a drainage control structure on the main tile should be accessible for deploying samplers.

 

Field Identification

It is important that the data is tied to a watershed and field location criteria such as distance to streams, soil type and other landscape characteristics can be associated with stream water quality data. For this reason a GPS location for the field and identification of the sample area if it less than the entire field is essential.

Google Earth is a convenient way to forward a field image and location information. The free desktop version of the program can be found at https://earth.google.com/ or mobile versions are available through application stores for the device. Once installed the user can zoom in to the field location and e-mail an image to labarge.1@osu.edu. Other GIS software packages being used on the farm can be used to send an image as well, just make sure the print output includes the GPS location coordinates.

Field location information will only be used by staff at The Ohio State University. Data shared beyond The Ohio State University will be shared by the OSUE assigned number; watershed and other general landscape descriptors.

Current Soil Test Results

Obtaining a current soil test result is important to understand and categorize water quality results. If the farmer has current soil test results (no more than 18 months old) they are willing to provide that is one source. The project will also cover soil testing the field areas no larger than 20 acre per sample based on standard ways to divide up the landscape. Multiple samples can be taken so the entire field area represented by the drainage being sampled has a soil test value. A soil sample package will be supplied that can be mailed back in or sampling can be done through arrangements with local Extension Educator Ag/NR or Greg LaBarge labarge.1@osu.edu.

Field Management information

Information on tillage, fertilizer applications and crop cover will be used to analyze the data obtained. It is important to record any field activities that occur in the 3 months prior to sampling through when the last sampler is pulled out.

Tillage should include any passes that results in soil disturbance; including date, implement and depth of soil disturbance. For example 10/30/2015, disk chisel, 6 inches deep.
Fertilizer application should include date, rate applied, analysis of fertilizer, liquid or dry, and placement in relation to soil surface. For example 10/29/2015, 195 pounds/11-52-0/dry, surface broadcast.
Planting should include crops and cover crops planted. For example 11/5/2015, cereal rye, no-till and 4/30/2016, soybeans, no-till.
Sampling devices

The sampling devices used for this project are a disc that contains a resin media in the device. The Diffuse Gradient Thin Film (DGT) sampler is fairly resilient in the environment with some simple handling precautions. They should be refrigerated when not in the field. Do not touch the media surface. The devices will be in a plastic bag and should be returned to the same plastic bag after collection. A label on the bag needs to be filled out with the date/time placed in the field and date/time collected. More detailed handling/use instructions will be provided to participants.

The samplers can be placed in the end of the tile or suspended in a drainage control structure with materials that will be included with the sample devices. The tile placement uses a strap and self-tapping screw. The drainage structure placement uses fishing line and weights. In either case this will take just a few minutes.

Sampling target periods are:

Target Period

Year

Distributed

Collected

September 1 to November 20

2015

August

December

March 15 to June 15

2016

March

June

September 1 to November 20

2016

August

December

March 15 to June 15

2017

March

June

Farmers may choose to join the project in any of the periods above. The best data will be where two consecutive periods are sampled. Sampling an individual field for all four periods is encouraged. The farmer will want to select the preferred forms of communication text, e-mail or phone call and reminders will be sent when samples need to be put in the field and collected when signing up for the project.

The samples will be distributed and collected as a group. The samples are sent in for analysis where the number of pounds of DRP in the water will be calculated. The farmer will get back his individual number and then a summary of other samples.

If you are interested in participating in this project please complete the short survey found at http://go.osu.edu/watersurvey

If you have questions contact: Greg LaBarge, Ohio State University Extension, Field Specialist, Agronomic Systems 419-460-0600, labarge.1@osu.edu or contact your local Extension Office.