Enrollment of farmers in filter strip program grows

Larry Limpf

    Enrollment among area farmers in a voluntary filter strip program designed to reduce run-off from fields continues to grow.
     The Ohio Farm Service Agency office in Columbus says that acreage and the number of farms enrolled in the program increased in six counties in Northwest Ohio since 2014:
•In Fulton County, there are 1,121 acres on 246 farms enrolled, compared to 559 acres on 158 farms five years ago.
•In Lucas County, west of the Maumee River, there are 211 acres on 42 farms enrolled, compared to 59 acres on 24 farms five years ago.
•In Wood County, 4,348 acres on 1,024 farms, compared to 3,000 acres on 679 farms five years ago.
•In Sandusky County, 1,473 acres on 328 farms, compared to 750 acres on 191 farms five years ago.
•In Ottawa County, 834 acres on 190 farms, compared to 551 acres on 119 farms five years ago.
•In Erie County, 284 acres on 42 farms, compared to 115 acres on 30 farms five years ago.
    The program pays growers to convert cropland into filter strips along ditches and streams. The acreage figures don’t include land enrolled in other Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program practices such as riparian buffers, wetland restoration, field windbreaks or establishment of native grasses.
    The FSA says the filter strips help trap sediment, nutrients and other pollutants before they reach surrounding water bodies. They also protect soil from erosion by stabilizing cropland that otherwise might be susceptible to damaging water and wind.
    Conservation programs in Ohio received a financial boost a year ago when the state legislature approved the Clean Lake 2020 bill, which provided $20 million for a program designed to address the phosphorus problem.
    Another $3.5 million was allocated for soil and water conservation districts in the Western Lake Erie Basin for staffing costs and for soil testing and nutrient management plan assistance to farmers, including manure transformation and manure conversion technologies, enhanced filter strips, water management and other conservation support.



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