KENTON — The Ohio State University Extension of Hardin County is instructing area farmers to comply with fertilizer and manure restrictions so they do not face civil penalties.
The legislation affects application of manure or granular fertilizers containing nitrogen and phosphorus in watersheds on the Western basin of Lake Eerie. In Hardin County, this mainly includes fields north of state Route 209. Farms in all of Allen, Putnam and Van Wert counties are also affected, along with most of Auglaize County.
A person may not apply fertilizers under these conditions:
• On snow-covered soil
• When the top two inches of soil are saturated from precipitation
• In a granular form when the local weather forecast for the application area contains greater than a 50 percent chance of precipitation exceeding one inch in a 12-hour period, unless the fertilizer is injected into the ground, incorporated within 24 hours of surface application, or applied onto a growing crop
Farmers who are non-compliant face civil penalties that range from minor to major violations. The Ohio Department of Agriculture, which assesses these penalties, defines a minor violation as one that does not pose a significant risk of harm to public health or the environment. The ODA defines a major violation as one that does pose a risk to public health or the environment.
Minor violations come with a penalty of up to $2,000 each day of non-compliance. Those who commit major violations may be assessed a penalty of up to $10,000 each day of non-compliance.
According to OSU Extension Field Specialist Greg LaBarge, the best way to comply with these requirements is to check the local weather forecast. LaBarge recommends weather.gov, which contains a printable local forecast.
Farmers may also download the Ohio Nutrient Management Record Keeper, a computerized system that syncs with smart phones or tablets to allow for convenient record keeping of all fertilizer and manure applications. The free app can be downloaded from the Google Play store for Android devices and the App Store for Apple devices.
Reach John Bush at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @bush_lima