Saturday, June 1, 2013

Tracking Phosphorous

Drain tile have worked overtime in much of the midwest this spring.  "But this pipe is different. It is fitted with a tube that sucks a portion of the drain water into a sampling bottle.

A few yards away is another device that samples stormwater that flows along the top of the field toward the same ditch.

For at least the next three years, rainwater runoff from this field and 29 others across Ohio will be collected and tested. They’ll help a team of scientists from Ohio State University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture measure how much phosphorus it contains.

Phosphorus is a byproduct of manure and fertilizers in farm runoff water. It’s the stuff that is finding its way into Ohio lakes, including Lake Erie, Buckeye Lake and Grand Lake St. Marys, where it helps blue-green algae grow into toxic blooms that threaten wildlife and billions of dollars in tourism.

The study could be key to devising plans to reduce phosphorus runoff from farms.Farm groups, including the Ohio Soybean Council, the Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association and the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, have matched a $1 million USDA grant to fund the effort."

All drain tile do is lower the water table so we can do a better job of farming.  I am glad someone like Terry is helping demonstrate how much phosphorous does come out of drain tile so farmers can learn how to use only what their soil can store.

Most of my soils are phosphorous deficient according to my Midwest soil test results.  To over apply phosphorous, I would have to spend more money than I am willing to spend on my crop.  That may not be true to those in heavy livestock areas where it is a challenge to find enough acres to spread all the manure that is generated.  It's a distribution problem as much as anything.

The algae bloom didn't happen by itself.  Unlike climate change, I think we have had our share of impact on this problem.  What do you think?

I think Terry and farmers like him can help teach others how to reduce nutrient flow into our lakes and streams that do cause algae bloom.

Ed Winkle

5 comments:

  1. ed ,i hope this yields some answers that farmers will have some tools to help the lake and the land by working together.

    ReplyDelete
  2. hit the wrong button ,posted by tom schuffenecker

    ReplyDelete
  3. I hope it does, too, Tom. Most farmers are responsible I there must be enough that aren't that we have this problem.

    I like to solve these problems ourselves without rules or regulations but in this case, it isn't possible.

    Ed

    ReplyDelete
  4. "Ed, Do you think the time will come when most farms will be required to retain all the water that falls on their ground, to prevent phosphate from migrating to the water shed?
    Much like the confinement feeding operations are required to do?

    Possibly retaining the tile out flow and using that later to irrigate?"

    I wouldn't be surprised at anything, would you readers?

    Ed

    ReplyDelete
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