Our fertilized world has caused some problems. "Public attention on P fertilizer management reached a new high in 2011 when record rainfall in Ohio washed phosphorus from farmers’ fields into Lake Erie, feeding a toxic algal bloom that covered 1,930 square miles—the largest in the lake’s recorded history and more than twice the size as the previous largest bloom in 2008.
But by the mid-1990s, a strange new phenomenon occurred. The algal blooms that were once thought of as a thing of the past began reappearing. And, they were becoming more frequent and toxic.
The blue-green algae blooms made of potentially toxic cyanobacteria began returning in the western basin of Lake Erie at an increased frequency through the 1990s and into the 2000s. But all the while, farmers were becoming more efficient with fertilizer use and were applying at significantly lower rates than they were in the 1970s.
“We don’t see this as an over application problem just based upon the phosphorus being supplied and what’s being removed,” explains CCA Robert Mullen, director of agronomy at Potash Corp. in Wooster, OH. “I would guess that the issue is the general rule of 80–20—that 80% of the problem comes from 20% of the production system. There are times when applications are made in less-than-ideal conditions that can result in a fairly large amount of phosphorus being transported. But, it doesn’t look as if all farmers are the bad players, according to the data.”
It has been proved that wheat in rotation and cover crops alone greatly reduce the amount of Phosphorous in a watershed. It doesn't only help, it really works. Phosphorous is so expensive, we can't afford to let it get away but we don't want to see Deficiency on a tissue test, either.
I wish there was a way to correct the 20% and not penalize the 80% who are doing a good job of Phosphorous management. The new Ohio Fertilizer Law doesn't do that and that alone is not the answer. It just causes more distrust of government by good farmers. There is no easy way out.
If every farmer in the watershed just read my daily blog about notill practices, lime and fertilizer management and cover cropping, I don't think there would be much of a problem at all.
Is the answer found in law and enforcement or education?
What do you think?