Funds Available for Agricultural Best Management Practices
A simple box and stopper boards at the edge of wheat, bean and corn fields is saving farmer Brendyn George money through reduced use of fertilizer, increasing the yield on his corn and bean fields, and protecting the water of Lake Erie from excess sediment and phosphorus pollution. George is a third generation farmer in Wood County and has been a Jackson Township trustee for more than 20 years.
Hoytville farmer Brendyn George shows TMACOG President Tim Brown and Water Quality Planner Kari Gerwin how this water control structure works. Drainage tiles in a 60-acre field of soybeans direct water to a point intercepted by a vertical box. The stopper board he holds is dropped into the box where it blocks the outflow of water from the field. George holds water in his field during dry months. The rain and fertilizer from spring feed his crops all season long.
George can see the value of the water control structures when he compares his fields where he has installed water control structures with the fields that don’t yet have them. “When we had a dry spell, my beans were still drinking from the water we held back. I should have taken a picture to show the difference between fields,” he said. He now has 33 water control structures in place and 16 on order for the 2,500 acres that he farms in southwest Wood County. The structures and installation is almost free for George, paid by a grant from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI).
When fertilizer was less expensive and farmers didn’t know how excess phosphorus affected algae growth in nearby lakes, George said that farmers used hundreds of pounds of fertilizer at a time. Now he uses less than half of what he used to use. “When the water stays in the fields, it gives the fertilizer time to get into the soil. And we’re saving the lake,” he said.
In April, George and partner Jared Rader drive around and pull up stopper boards for about three weeks to let winter melt drain away. When fields are dry enough for tractors, they get in to plant corn and beans. As soon as crops are up they’ll drop the boards again to hold water in the tiles and keep fertilizer accessible to the roots. In September, they’ll go and pull the boards to dry the fields for tillage and then drop them for the winter. “Adjusting each one takes a minimal amount of time, four times a year,” he said. After eight seasons of using more and more water control structures, George is completely sold. “We will never not use them,” he said.
TMACOG’s grant project will conclude in spring of 2019 but applications are still being accepted through 2018. Interested farmers can apply for funds at the Wood and Ottawa County Soil and Water Conservation Districts. (See contact information below.)
||Another type of water control and stopper board is round, corrugated plastic.
Wood County Soil and Water Conservation District
Contact: Beth Landers (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Phone: (419) 354-5517
Address: Greenwood Centre, 1616 E. Wooster St., Ste. 30
Bowling Green, OH 43402
Ottawa County Soil and Water Conservation District
Contact: Mike Libben (email@example.com)
Website: www. ottawaswcd.com
Address: 240 West Lake Street
Oak Harbor, OH 43449
| In another best management practice, farmer Brendyn George maintains 20-foot filter strips on either side of his drainage ditches.