Grant Funds Water Control Structures

Hoytville farmer Brendyn George is continuing to invest in water control structures on 2,500 acres that he farms in southern Wood County. He wants to use less fertilizer and keep that fertilizer on his fields. Like most farmers, George is very aware that agricultural practices are responsible for the majority of phosphorus that is entering Lake Erie and contributing to harmful algal blooms. He is doing what he can to protect the lake while still growing soybeans, wheat, and corn profitably.

George is contributing to research into best management practices by inviting researchers from Bowling Green State University and The Ohio State University to collect water samples on his property. He recently mapped all his structures and noted that nearly all drain to the same waterway, Nettle Creek. By taking samples upstream and downstream of his fields that use the structures, researchers will be able to determine how effective they are in retaining phosphorus for plant uptake and keeping it out of the waterway.

How Structures Work
George has nearly 50 water control structures in use. About 20 were installed in November. For a field of 120 acres he uses five of the structures. In early spring, 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 that vehicles won’t cause ruts, they get in to plant. 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 the fall, they’ll go and pull the boards to dry the fields for harvest and then drop them for the winter.

Funding is Available
While George puts up his own money to buy materials and hire skilled labor for installation, he will be reimbursed for most of the cost through a grant program of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. TMACOG is administering the GLRI grant. Soil and Water Conservancy Districts of Wood and Ottawa counties are identifying qualified farmers and helping them implement best practices. Applications will be accepted through 2018. Interested farmers are encouraged to apply. See contact information below.

Workers from Cohrs Drainage are installing a new outfall. They connect the rigid corrugated pipe to the field’s existing drainage tiles. The water control tower will be installed between the pipe and the outfall to Nettle Creek. Installing each structure takes a couple hours and they will last 15 years or more.

The tower that houses the stopper boards is inserted.

Visible at the top of the tower, tracks hold the stopper boards in place.
The boards are raised or lowered to regulate the amount of water that the
farmer wants to hold in the field. Moving the boards takes 10-15 minutes per

Wood County Soil and Water Conservation District
Contact: Beth Landers
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
Phone: 419-898-1595
Website: www.
Address: 240 West Lake Street
Oak Harbor, OH 43449



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