• • • Farmers Rethink Practices to Solve Algae Blooms
Ohio farmers are being challenged to rethink some of their farming practices and hold each other accountable in order to reduce phosphorus levels in fields, which have been found to be a leading cause of toxic algae blooms in Lake Erie and across northwest Ohio.
The issue has been at the forefront since 2014, when the algae blooms were so toxic that the city of Toledo had to shut off its water supply. In February, Toledo voters passed the Lake Erie “Bill of Rights,” which gives citizens the right to file a lawsuit on the lake’s behalf against any business – including farmers – in the Lake Erie watershed.
Pinpointing where the high levels of phosphorus are takes collaboration. Researchers have identified the subwatersheds that are at three times the recommended phosphorus levels. For example, there could be a 300-acre field that decades ago was a small livestock farm and manure was applied in the field not far from the barn. So, only 2 acres are above the Tri State Fertilizer recommendation level. If water runs right through those 2 acres, it could be a source of the problem.