Working on water quality: touring a demonstration farm

The environment matters to everyone, but especially to farmers—they make their living from the land! So when water quality in Lake Erie is compromised, farmers want to do their part to help. Teachers at the recent Ohio Soybean Council-sponsored Blanchard Watershed Demo Farm Tour learned about efforts to promote cleaner water flowing off farms and into the Blanchard River Watershed, part of the Western Lake Erie Basin.

Aaron Heilers, project manager of the Blanchard River Demonstration Farms Network, explained the project and how it is being carried out. Teachers were able to see the area of Stateler Family Farms where a phosphorus removal bed is filtering field run-off before it enters the river. Phosphorus is found in animal manure and in soil, and it can drain from fields and feed the growth of harmful algal blooms. Jordan Hoewischer from Ohio Farm Bureau talked with the group about edge-of-field water monitoring, comparing water quality from two different fields to assess the effects of different methods of manure application.

While visiting Stateler Family Farms, the teachers also walked through the nursery at the hog barn, where 21-day-old hogs are kept for 49 days, then moved to the finishing barns. The Statelers raise 7000 hogs every two months in their wean-to-finish operation.