Ag Retailers Driving Stewardship and Sustainability
Partnership for Ag Resource Management provides free 4R wallet card, links to upcoming conferences, edge of field research and more!

Order our Free 4R Wallet Cards to Distribute to Colleagues and Clients!
  • Not all fields have same risk of losing phosphorus (P), sediment.
  • Important to target products, services and beneficial practices to fields with higher risks.
  • Helps identify fields at high risk of P loss by providing quick tips.
  • Convenient and easily distributed to clients.
  • Order form here.
Preliminary Findings from Edge-of-Field Research in Ohio
By Kevin King, Research Agricultural Engineer, USDA

In 2011, the USDA-ARS began instrumenting edge-of-field sites in an effort to quantify the impacts of different agricultural management practices. To date, 20 paired sites (40 fields) across the northwest portion of the state have been instrumented with automated samplers and discharge recorders. Both surface and subsurface (tile) pathways are monitored.  

In general, the dissolved P concentrations from tile drainage are significantly less than those from surface runoff. However, the tile pathway accounts for the majority of P loading leaving the field. Based on the trends across all monitored sites, several recommendations can be made to reduce the loading of dissolved P.


1. Soil test: When soil test P is at or below the Tri-State maintenance level (46 ppm Mehlich III or 30 ppm Bray I) those fields meet or are below current Annex 4 loading recommendations of 0.3 kg/ha (0.27 lbs/acre).  Based on recent surveys, roughly 75% of all producers regularly soil test. Regular soil testing (once every 3 years and less than 25 acres per sample) and adherence to the Tri-State Recommendation based on the soil sample analysis will reduce the potential for P loss in both surface and tile pathways.


2. Application timing: Application timing has two aspects, time between application and rainfall, and time of year. The longer the time between application and rainfall, the less the loss of P. With respect to time of year, the largest losses of dissolved P were measured during the fall and winter. Ohio Senate Bill 1 now eliminates the application of fertilizer (commercial or manure) on frozen and snow covered ground, addressing the potential for these large losses. Moderate losses were measured when application was made at or near planting. The least losses were measured when fertilizer was applied after wheat harvest. This is the period when large runoff and erosive rainfalls are least expected.  Based on the preliminary findings, we are recommending introducing small grains back into the rotation and applying fertilizer following harvest of small grains. While not popular from an economic standpoint, small grains do offer significant soil health benefits and provide a window of opportunity for applying P and minimizing loss.


3. Subsurface placement:  Incorporating fertilizer with the soil through banding or injection but also light tillage significantly reduces the potential of loss through both surface and subsurface pathways. Based on the edge-of-field studies, the recommendation is to apply P into the soil through banding or injection or incorporate through light tillage.


4.  Disconnection of hydrologic pathways:  P moves with the water. Disconnecting the hydrologic pathways minimizes the amount of P going downstream. Three recommended practices for disconnecting the hydrologic pathways are: drainage water management (DWM), replacing surface inlets with blind inlets, and increasing soil organic matter.  DWM artificially raises the tile outlet elevation during periods (fall/winter) of the year when drainage is not as critical. Blind inlets refer to replacing surface inlets with a reverse leach field reducing surface flow into the tile system. Increasing soil organic matter promotes water storage in the soil profile. For every percent of organic matter in the soil, roughly one inch of water can be stored. Holding water back and storing water in the soil profile results in less water and associated P moving offsite and into surface ditches. 


Upcoming soil health and water quality conferences:
Lake Erie 2015 Update

According to the EPA, an average of about 10,000 metric tons of P reaches Lake Erie each year, with more during heavy rain events.

In August 2014, algal blooms in Lake Erie caused a public water crisis and left 400,000 people without drinking water for three days.  The 2015 Lake Erie algal bloom began to form in late July, but did not become extensive enough to threaten public water supplies.  Scientists tracking the algae said the heaviest concentration was in the western third of the lake. There were no blooms in the areas near Cleveland, Ohio or Buffalo, New York.  

Like last year, 2015 algal blooms had a large impact on water quality, fishing and recreation.  Many beaches across western Ohio were shut down or unsafe to swim in.  The blooms contribute to oxygen-deprived dead zones that fish cannot survive in. The algal blooms in Lake Erie are largely due to P contributions from agricultural sources.  Heavy rains in June and July contributed to runoff this year. 

According to , new data have shown that P loading from the River Raisin, a Lake Erie tributary in Michigan, has been reduced by almost 50 percent over the past seven years.  State officials are attributing this drop to better drain management through the voluntary Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program.  Additionally, in April, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed legislation banning farmers from applying fertilizer to frozen fields, which should reduce runoff.   

P Loss Reduction Handbook with Fillable 'Sell Sheets' Available
Interested in broadening your network?  Consider visiting these websites:
  • Meet Mike Shuter, who has had success using cover crops.
  • Learn more about the growing trend of cover crops here! 
  • Read this article to learn about cover cropping for next spring.
Explore the Runoff Risk Advisory Forecast for Wisconsin here.
View PARM webinars and earn CCA CEU credit!

About our webinars:
  • Provides opportunity to learn from ag retailers that implement beneficial products and services.
  • View past webinars here.
Join us for our next free webinar "Building Profitability and Protecting Water Quality through Gypsum"

The Partnership for Ag Resource Management announces free webinar "Building Profitability and Protecting Water Quality through Gypsum" for  Tuesday, December 15, 2015, 11am-12pm ET, 10-11am CT.

Join us  to learn about the state of the science on using gypsum as a soil amendment to reduce P runoff, improve soil structure and become a profit point for ag retailers and growers.  

CCA Continuing Education Units are available.
Building Profitability and Protecting Water Quality through Gypsum
Tuesday, December 15, 2015, 11am-Noon ET, 10-11 am CT

Gypsum has been used for centuries as an agricultural soil amendment, but lately it has gained a lot of attention for its potential to improve soil structure, reduce P runoff and improve water quality.  What is the current state of the science of gypsum?  When should ag retailers advise and sell gypsum to their grower clients?  
Warren Dick, professor of soil and environmental science at The Ohio State University, will present current state of the science on the effectiveness and applicability of gypsum as a soil amendment.
Cory Schurman, National Sales Manager from Gypsoil, will discuss the ag retailer opportunity to offer gypsum to grower clients.   

About our presenters:
Cory Schurman  is the national sales manager for the GYPSOIL Division of Beneficial Reuse Management, Chicago, IL. Cory and his team of 13 territory sales managers and associates work with agricultural retailers, custom applicators, agronomists and other agricultural distributors in the Midwest, Plains, Delta and Southeast to supply GYPSOIL brand gypsum and provide technical information to support crop growers using gypsum as a fertilizer and soil amendment. 

Cory has 25 plus years of experience in the agricultural industry and is a sought-after presenter for grower field days and meetings. Prior to joining GYPSOIL in 2014, Cory worked in the fertilizer industry as a senior agronomy manager at Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers.  Cory was raised on a farm in northeast Kansas and resides in Steamboat Rock, IA.  
Warren Dick  grew up on a diversified farm in North Dakota. He graduated from Wheaton College (BS) and Iowa State University (MS and PhD). Warren is a professor of soil and environmental science at The Ohio State University. He studies enzymatic and biological nutrient cycling in soil under various management systems. Recent research has focused on the use of gypsum for improving soil and water quality. Warren has mentored more than 35 graduate students, 12 undergraduate interns, 8 postdocs and 27 visiting scholars. He has published 31 papers that have been cited more than 100 times. He is active professionally and has served as Editor-in-Chief of both the Soil Science Society of America and the American Society of Agronomy.
View the PARM website and meet the team!

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