In February 2020, Wood Soil and Water Conservation District was one of 13 counties who worked with the Ohio Department of Agriculture to launch the H2Ohio program.
H2Ohio provides cost share incentives to farmers who adopt conservation practices that reduce the amount of fertilizer applied to cropland and minimize the risk of those nutrients being washed into rivers and Lake Erie.
Approximately 125 Wood County farmers signed up for the H2Ohio program, and have developed nutrient management plans for over 78,000 acres of farmland.
These plans require the producer to have a current soil test and to plan their nutrient applications based on that information, and the needs of the crops. Many local farmers and agronomists who are 4R certified, have been doing this for years, but for others it is a new approach to nutrient planning.
Two of the practices that producers enrolled in require that the nutrients be placed into the soil, rather than left on top of the soil. This helps prevent phosphorous from being carried off of a field by a heavy rain even, and places it in the root zone of the plant, where it is most useful. Over 28,000 acres in Wood County are enrolled in one of these practices.
Subsurface fertilizer placement can be done with either liquid or solid phosphorous products, depending on what equipment is available. It can be part of a strip-till program, or can be placed in the furrow with the crop seed in a no-till rotation. To receive cost-share, all of the fertilizer products for the field need to be placed 2 inches below the surface.
Manure incorporation is also an important part of the picture for H2Ohio. In addition to requiring incorporation or injection, participating producers are also limited to only applying enough manure for two crop years.
A cost share payment can help offset the costs of trucking manure to fields that are farther away from a livestock operation, and for the additional time and expense of incorporating the manure into the soil. If producers apply manure in the summer, they are also required to plant a cover crop to help trap the more soluble forms of nitrogen and phosphorous in the field.
H2Ohio is a voluntary program; none of the participating farmers are required to take any of the actions they’ve taken.
The enthusiastic response to H2Ohio in Wood County and throughout the Western Lake Erie Basin is a reflection of the willingness of the agriculture community to invest in the on-farm equipment and practices that will reduce their impacts off the farm.
For more information on H2Ohio and other Wood SWCD programs, follow Wood
Soil and Water Conservation District and Farm 4 Clean Water on social media, or sign up for Eye on Conservation, the Wood SWCD digital newsletter, on the website, woodswcd.com, under Resources &Links. Back issues of Eye on Conservation are also on the website.
(This article was submitted by Wood Soil and Water Conservation District.)