Ohio Fertilizer Applicators May Face Additional Regulations

The Ohio Senate has approved a bill directing the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) to establish a fertilizer applicator certification program in Ohio, reports Ryan Carpe of The Daily Advocate.

The sponsors of Senate Bill 150, Senator Cliff Hite (R–Findlay) and Senator Bob Peterson (R–Washington Court House), designed the legislation to address agricultural nutrient runoff into Ohio waterways and the algae problems in Grand Lake St. Marys and Lake Erie.

“Algae is a growing issue in all of Ohio’s streams and lakes that needs to be addressed immediately,” said Hite, who also serves as the chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. “This is one step forward in protecting Ohio’s water by creating more mindful standards for the application of agriculture nutrients.”

Senate Bill 150 would require the chief of the Division of Soil and Water Resources to establish standards to abate wind or water erosion of soil, and would authorize the chief to develop an operation and management plan to address agricultural pollution. This legislation would also establish new requirements for applying fertilizer for agriculture production and encourage the use of nutrient management plans to reduce potential runoff.

According to Senator Hite, the bill hinges on a new education and certification program that will give farmers additional information about fertilizer and nutrient use best practices.

In a joint statement, Jerry Bambauer, Ohio Soybean Association president and Auglaize County farmer, emphasized the need to fully understand this challenge before solutions can be implemented.

“There are still many unknowns and no one has a clear understanding of exactly how phosphorus is moving through the soil profile from farm fields into waterways,” said Bambauer. “We also don’t know why problems are being discovered in areas with little to no agricultural activity. For this reason, OSA’s sister organization, the Ohio Soybean Council, the Ohio Corn Marketing Program, the Ohio Small Grains Marketing Program, and many others are supporting edge-of-field monitoring of phosphorus runoff that will show us exactly how this nutrient is moving and how best to keep it on the land where it belongs.”

Brent Hostetler, Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association President and a Union County farmer, stressed the commitment and actions Ohio farmers are already taking to address water quality concerns.

“Research is vital but farmers are not sitting idly by,” he said. “They are implementing best management practices on their farms to mitigate any potential runoff. Farmers are also applying the 4-R principles of nutrient management (right source, right rate, right time and right place). Ohio farmers care about the health of the land and water and are committed to doing their part to find solutions that work for all Ohioans.”

Read the full story at The Daily Advocate.

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