Clock ticking for Ohio farmers to take mandated training on fertilizer use

The training is expected to help reduce the amount of runoff that feeds algae in lakes and rivers

Farmers in Ohio are required to take fertilizer training.

SPRINGFIELD TWP., Ohio (WKBN) – Keeping groundwater clean is the goal of a 2014 law signed by Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

The legislation requires farmers to go through training before they can apply fertilizer to their fields.

The bill was signed into law in May of 2014 and requires compliance by Sept. 30, 2017.

The law only applies to farmers who apply commercial fertilizer to 50 or more acres.

An estimated 12,000 farmers in Ohio have already been through the required training, but the Ohio Department of Agriculture says there are still thousands of farmers who have not.

The training is expected to help reduce the amount of runoff that feeds algae in lakes and rivers by educating farmers on how to properly apply the chemicals, allowing them to feed the plants with minimal waste and runoff.

George Houk owns a farm in Springfield Township. He said using the right amount of fertilizer for the job is part of the training.

He also said in the past, farmers would look at their field and use their best judgment as to how much fertilizer to use.

“Now, we are in to what we call grid sampling – dividing the field into anywhere from 2- to 5-acre parcels. Then, we are sampling each of those so that when we do apply our fertilizer, we only apply what’s needed, where it’s needed,” Houk said.

Too much fertilizer creates runoff, causing algae blooms such as those seen last year on Lake Erie.

Ohio State University’s extension offices are holding training courses across the state. Applications are available online.

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