Great Lakes ag leaders say work continues in Lake Erie
Directors from three state departments of agriculture are highlighting efforts to reduce nutrient runoff and improve water quality in the Western Lake Erie Basin.
Ohio Department of Agriculture Director David Daniels told reporters this is an international effort. “There are hundreds of different kinds of typographies, not only in Ohio, but across Michigan, Indiana, Ontario and all of those things are allowing each one of us to put together a different program that solves, or hopes to solve, the same problem that we’ve all had.”
Michigan Department of Agriculture Director Jamie Clover Adams said water quality improvements are most effective when they are voluntary. “We do not have enough money in government to issue permits or stringent regulation that’s going to get the job done, and it really is about getting the job done.” She says more than 150,000 acres in the state are currently voluntarily enrolled in nutrient management plans because of the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program which has more than 3600 verifications.
Indiana State Department of Agriculture Director Ted McKinney says there have been concerns about nutrient runoff on livestock operations. “Does size make a lot of difference? In our experience it’s not necessarily so. Our approach in Indiana, and I think it’s shared in our other states that are represented on the call, is that we’re taking a holistic approach.” He says there can be good and bad actors on any size farm, which is why all three states implement best management practices that are ideal for each individual farm to reduce environmental impacts.
While the work being done in the basin to reduce nutrient loading has started to show measurable successes, the three directors expressed a need for more research to understand how to reduce dissolved phosphorus which is attributed to harmful algal blooms in the basin.
Michigan, Ohio and Ontario have agreed to reduce phosphorus levels in the lake by 40 percent by 2025.
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