Friday, October 3, 2014

"Climate Change In Ohio: Mostly Bad News"

I opened up my Ohio State Alumni magazine last night and found this:

Scientists, educators and policy makers at a conference at Ohio State in May discussed how climate change is projected to affect Ohio.

Jeffrey Reutter, director of Ohio Sea Grant, predicted a larger than average bloom of blue green algae in Lake Erie this summer(wow, that was easy to predict.)  "Heavier rains will lead to increased runoff of nutrients from agricultural fields and more flow from drainage tiles below agricultural fields" Reutter said.  "Both will put phosphorous and nitrogen into lakes and streams and cause harmful algal blooms."

Whoa, stop right there!  We use tile to LOWER the water table so we don't have as much runoff of nutrients from fields!  I am sure you can find tile that adds nutrients to the water coming from the tile but we've noticed clean water coming out of our tile!  Much of it has been tested and its usually less than the water flowing of non tiled fields!

The concept is to tile, balance nutrients, no-till or very minimally till the soil and plant a cover crop after the cash crop.  We can actually decrease the amount of nutrient flowing into Lake Erie or any stream or watershed.  Here is another example of a non farmer, non agriculturist who does not know what he is talking about!  Yet, he is in charge of the Sea Grant program?

The major problem to me is applying fertilizer on top of the ground, especially manure when the ground is frozen.  This is an accident just waiting to happen and it has, over and over again.  I don't think we needed another license to do this properly but the powers that be disagree and have imposed another license on us farmers in Ohio.

How do we communicate to our non farming neighbors the right way to do things and point this out to our peers?



  1. Ah well, that Reutter guy is not entirely wrong: He was mentioning only the "heavier rains," which will generate nutrient run-off even in the best state-of-the-art no-till farms. That being said, maybe heavy rains are not the main type of rain in Ohio, and by 2050, I doubt there will be much more heavy rains than now. Maybe the effect will be more visible on a longer time scale, like 2100.

    Manure on frozen ground? Does this happen frequently? Sounds like a waste of money, time and nutrients, in addition to the environmental issues. I suppose some farmers in cold climates do it, but there might be better ways to utilize this manure even in intensive farming.

  2. Good points. Heavy rains are typical in Ohio. 25 inches in April May 2011. 15 inches May 2014. That makes gypsum work deep if it is applied. That decreases runoff and increases infiltration.

    Several counties have more livestock and more manure than acres to spread the manure on. Darke, Mercer, Wayne counties come to mind. Sometimes the cart gets ahead of the horse.

    Logistics to spread P, especially manure become a after the fact deal.

    The algae problem has many aspects. Farming in general is being blamed and may be the major culprit. Those of us trying to change that want a chance to do that.