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Environment


Ohio farmers hope to fix pollution problem without regulations
Government agencies want to stop nutrients from reaching Lake Erie, and farmers want to prevent government agencies from regulating fertilizers
by WKSU's JEFF ST. CLAIR


Reporter / Host
Jeff St. Clair
 
This satellite image from 2011 shows toxic algae spreading from western Lake Erie east past Cleveland. The extent of the algae bloom depends on the amount of rainfall washing nutrients from farmers' fields into waterways. Ohio farmers must voluntarily reduce runoff, or face government regulations.
Courtesy of NASA
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Spring planting is underway in Ohio.  And while farmers are watching the weather, government agencies are watching the farmers, as WKSU’s Jeff St.Clair reports.

 

Farmers efforts to fight runoff

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Farm runoff has been causing outbreaks of toxic algae in Lake Erie and federal and state agencies are pressuring farmers to reduce the amount of fertilizer nutrients that reach waterways.

Earlier this year the Ohio Farm Bureau warned farmers that government agencies may impose regulations on farming practices if its members don’t voluntarily decrease the runoff.

Kirk Merritt, head of the Ohio Soybean Council, says Ohio farmers want to be part of the solution, but without regulations.

“We really believe there doesn’t need to be a choice between water quality and food production.  But we also believe that it’s not a one-size-fits-all situation and that every farmer needs the opportunity to put the practices in place on his or her farm that are best for keeping the nutrients on that land.”

Ohio State University is leading a three-year study of farming methods in Ohio to determine best practices to reduce runoff.  Early results show some improvement.  Grand Lake St.Marys in Western Ohio, hard hit by toxic algae blooms in recent years, is showing signs of recovery.

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