Back to school before spring planting


By Dan Wilson - Contributing columnist



As farmers start to organize for spring planting season, the issue of water quality will find its way into the mainstream (excuse the pun) of preparations.

With the passage of Senate Bill 150 and Senate Bill 1, farmers in the Western Lake Erie Basin have to comply with two laws. Senate Bill 150 requires certain farmers to obtain certification to apply commercial fertilizer. Senate Bill 1 requires certain farmers to follow new nutrient application guidelines but provides for small- and medium-sized livestock farms to have extra time to comply with the law.

Education is the key and for many farmers the constant barrage of compliances from local, state and federal agencies is enough to make your head spin. And it’s not so much the cost as it is the time. Understanding the fact that time is crucial this time of year the Ohio State University and other organizations are working diligently to provide as many time options as possible to make sure our farmers stay compliant. Consequently, Ohio State University Extension is now offering dozens of fertilizer certification classes.

Under Senate Bill 150, anyone who applies fertilizer on more than 50 acres must be certified by Sept. 30, 2017. That gives farmers plenty of time.

The number of farmers already certified in the Western Lake Erie Basin is growing weekly. I suspect we may even be close to 100 percent compliant by the end of this year.

Ohio State University is now offering dozens of fertilizer certification classes across the state, including these:

• Williams County: March 7, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., at Williams County East Annex, 1425 E. High St., Bryan.

• Defiance County: March 9, 9 a.m. to noon, at OSU Extension-Defiance, 6879 Evansport Road, Suite B, Defiance.

• Fulton County, April 5, 6 to 9 p.m., at OSU Extension-Fulton County, 8770 State Route 108, Wauseon.

• Paulding County: April 11, 6 to 9 p.m., at OSU Extension-Paulding County, 503 Fairgrounds Drive, Paulding.

Some of the classes combine training for fertilizer certification and pesticide applicator licenses. The cost is $30 for a three-year certification. If you already have a valid pesticide license, that fee is waived as long as you had the pesticide applicator license prior to attending the fertilizer certification meeting.

With the passage of Senate Bill 1, certain farmers are required to follow new nutrient application guidelines. Ohio Revised Code prohibits the surface application of manure in the Western Lake Erie Basin under any of the following circumstances:

• On snow-covered or frozen soil;

• When the top two inches of soil are saturated from precipitation;

• When the local weather forecast for the application area contains a greater than 50 percent chance of precipitation exceeding one-half inch in a 24-hour period.

Small- and medium sized agricultural operations can apply for an exemption to the above stated prohibitions by submitting this form to the Ohio Department of Agriculture-Division of Soil and Water Conservation. I would hope all or most will comply sooner then later. However, if granted, the exemption for small agricultural operations will be through July 3, 2017. For medium agricultural operations, an exemption will be through July 3, 2016.

We are on the right track to improving our water quality. But we must also turn to homeowners and other commercial and non-ag-related industrial businesses to also make every effort to follow the flow of waste and treated chemicals being dumped into our waterways.

Here’s seeing you, in Ohio Country!

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By Dan Wilson

Contributing columnist

The writer is the owner of Wilson 1 Communications and an award-winning veteran broadcaster for over 30 years and the co-host and producer of “In Ohio Country Today,” a nationally recognized television show, and offers radio commentary and ag reports, including locally for 92.1 the Frog WFGF Lima.

The writer is the owner of Wilson 1 Communications and an award-winning veteran broadcaster for over 30 years and the co-host and producer of “In Ohio Country Today,” a nationally recognized television show, and offers radio commentary and ag reports, including locally for 92.1 the Frog WFGF Lima.