FOREST — In an effort to educate farmers about reduction of nutrients and sediment loss in the Ohio waterways, the Ohio Agribusiness Association and various other agriculture organizations held the 4R Technology Review Field Day Tuesday.
One of the various conservation efforts is the Blanchard River Demonstration Farms, a five-year, $1 million project between the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation and United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service.
The project selects farmers and requires them to conduct public demonstrations on their farms for a duration of five years. The hope is to help producers find the right combination of practices to help reduce nutrient and sediment loss into Ohio waterways.
“When we started the project, we wanted to find farms that fit the parameters that we were looking for,” said Aaron Heilers, Bland River Demonstration Farms Project Manager. “They have to do [demonstrations] like this for the next five years and open up their operations to have groups come in and ask questions about why the farm is managed the way that it is.”
The Stateler Family Farm in McComb is one of the three Blandchard River Demonstration Farms in Ohio. Duane and Anthony Stateler operate approximately 600 acres of land, which encompasses corn, soybean and wheat and a 7,200-head wean-to-finish swine operation. The Statelers have dedicated 243 acres to the Demonstration Farms project and have incorporated a new composite facility, a new wetland, and three new water gates to help reduce the amount of phosphorous that enters waterways.
“I’m a firm believer that water gates [are] the best way to control the phosphorus that leaves the farm,” said Duane Stateler.”
A second demonstration farm is Kurt Farms in Dunkirk. Chris Kurt operates 470 acres of corn and soybeans and has dedicated 168 acres to the Demonstration Farms. At his farm he has phosphorus removal beds, filter strips, edge-of-field monitoring, variable-rate fertilizer application, drainage water management and a new two-stage ditch.
“The neatest thing has been the partnership with RCS and doing the dual testing on both sides of the ditch, where we are monitoring surface and subsurface run off and doing different practices,” said Kurt. “There is the no-till side and no-till beans and vegetables and corns on the other in order to test the water and evaluate the phosphorus removal and the effect that has.”
The third demonstration farm is the Kellogg Farms in Forest. Bill and Shane Kellogg operate 5,000 acres of corn and soybeans and have dedicated 305 acres to the project. The farm has cover crops, reduced tillage, abandoned water well removal, grassed waterway and a pollinator habitat to reduce sediment and nutrients into waterways.
“The demonstration is eye opening to our city neighbors,” said Bill Kellogg. “They have no idea of the technology involved, what we are trying to do and how we do it. The more eyes we can open and let them see we are trying to do, the better. We want them to know that we are are trying to right thing and be stewards of the soil.”
Reach Camri Nelson at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @CamriNews.