Funding available to farmers to improve water quality

SIDNEY — The Ohio Department of Agriculture, in partnership with Shelby Soil and Water Conservation District continues to provide funding for assistance programs for farmers to help protect water quality in the western basin of Lake Erie. The sign-up period for these programs began June 17.

The Ohio Working Lands Hay Buffer Program encourages producers in the WLEB to establish year-round vegetative cover on eligible cropland. The program promotes the conversion, establishment, and maintenance of forage/hay land on certain cropland acres. These buffers act as another line of defense to filter surface water while allowing participants to harvest forage from the established areas.

The Ohio Working Lands Small Grains Program encourages producers in the WLEB to plant small grains such as wheat, barley, oats or cereal rye on eligible cropland. Participants must plant and harvest small grains, land apply manure, and plant a cover crop to receive a cost-share payment to help offset operating costs. The program supports the planting of small grains and cover crops for the conservation benefits and provides livestock producers with a longer season to land apply manure and nutrients.

The goal of these programs is to reduce nutrients entering Ohio waterways to lessen harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie. Funding is available to farmers installing conservation practices that benefit water quality in the Western Lake Erie Basin.

Farmers will be able to sign up for the program at their local soil and water conservation district. Local soil and water conservation districts (SWCDs) will manage the program sign-up and verification of eligibility and crop establishment.

For more information contact Shelby Soil and Water Conservation District at 937-492-6520 ext 3