Farmer Led Water Quality Monitoring-Initial Results and Request for Participants

Ohio State University Extension is seeking additional 60 fields in the Western Lake Erie Basin to help with a water monitoring research project looking at Dissolved Reactive Phosphorus (DRP) losses from fields.  Farmers already participating do not need to signup field already being monitored are encourage to add additional fields by visiting the signup link at http://go.osu.edu/watersurvey.  Increases in DRP in the watershed have been tied to increased occurrences of Harmful Algal Blooms in Lake Erie. The data collect will help better quantify actual losses from an economic and environmental standpoint, lead to tools that can target high risk fields so cost effective Best Management practices can be designed that maintain crop productivity while reducing phosphorus losses.

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 plus summary data for all sites in the project. The data will be used to understand what conditions lead to DRP loss and what recommend Best Management Practices (BMP’s) can be used to reduce nutrient loss.

A plastic water sampling disk is placed at the end of field tile or within drainage water management structures by the farmer during two upcoming periodsr, October to December-2016 and March to June-2017. The sample devices are changed out every 4 weeks during each sample period. A standard soil test analysis will be provided as well. There is no cost to the farmer for the water or soil sampling.

The primary field selection recommendation is that drainage water 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 the field area drained is under the control of the cooperating farmer. The end of the field main tile or a drainage control structure on the main tile should be accessible for deploying samplers.

Field Management information by date for tillage, fertilizer applications and crop cover planting that occur in the 3 months prior to sampling through when the last sampler is pulled out will be collected. This data is extremely valuable to understand how practices influence the water quality results.

Preliminary data from Fall of 2015 sampling with 35 farmers participating on 45 fields representing 1600 acres the following results were attained for the period:

 

Concentration Range

Sample Period

Days Deployed

Total Mass DRP (ug)

Concentration (ppm)

Low

(ppm)

High

(ppm)

1

31

5

0.011

None detected (ND)

0.047

2

28

2

0.006

ND

0.026

3

25

2

0.007

ND

0.050

The spring 2016 sampling was just completed with an estimated 93 farmers participating who sampled 135 fields representing 4725 acres.

More details on the sampling project as well as a signup link can be found at http://go.osu.edu/farmerwaterproject or contact Lee Richter, Program Coordinator, Water Monitoring Project, richter.71@osu.edu or Greg LaBarge labarge.1@osu.edu. Please signup by September 20th.

 

Crop Observation and Recommendation Network

C.O.R.N. Newsletter is a summary of crop observations, related information, and appropriate recommendations for Ohio crop producers and industry. C.O.R.N. Newsletter is produced by the Ohio State University Extension Agronomy Team, state specialists at The Ohio State University and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC). C.O.R.N. Newsletter questions are directed to Extension and OARDC state specialists and associates at Ohio State.