A new iteration of the H2Ohio Phosphorus Reduction Program is now underway in the Maumee River Watershed. This updated version of the program has been reworked to be more efficient and easy to use for area agricultural producers, all while maintaining the original goal of reducing the risk of nutrient runoff into the lake.
The H2Ohio program began as a plan put forth by Governor Mike DeWine to improve
water quality across Ohio. The Ohio Department of Agriculture’s portion of the program was to
lead efforts to reduce phosphorus runoff. This effort has largely focused on the Maumee River
Watershed and Western Lake Erie basin, due to the effects of phosphorus runoff contributing
towards the harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie. ODA’s H2Ohio program incentivizes farmers to
implement proven, science-based, and cost-effective best management practices (BMPs) by
providing financial and technical assistance. Agricultural producers work with their local Soil &
Water Conservation District to determine which BMPs work best for their operation and provide the information to verify the practice’s establishment.
Over 1 million acres were enrolled into the program for the original version of the program in the 14 counties that make up Ohio’s portion of the Maumee River Watershed. With the expansion of the program to include the 10 counties in the Western Lake Erie Basin, the enrolled acres rose to 1.5 million. While each producer can add or subtract additional practices based on what fits their operation, all 1.5 million acres enrolled in the program are required to have a Voluntary Nutrient Management Plan (VNMP). The VNMP is a producer’s ‘ticket’ into the H2Ohio program and helps show the farmer the amount of nutrients in their soil and determines how much (if any) fertilizer needs to be applied. This allows for the producer to maintain their yields while eliminating the over-application of phosphorus and thus reducing their risk of phosphorus runoff from their fields.
Now that the original program contracts for those enrolled in the Maumee Watershed are
coming to an end, ODA has prepared a new iteration of the H2Ohio program for producers to
enroll in. This updated version of the program keeps many of the key details that were
successful in the original version, while re-working those that weren’t, all in the hopes of making the program more stream-lined and easy to use. A major change in this new version is the use of an online portal called ‘MyFarms’. ‘MyFarms’ will be used to manage all the enrollment, VNMP development, contracting, and verification of practices for the H2Ohio program. This is expected to make things easier for everyone involved and should allow us to verify practices quicker and with more precision.
Working with their SWCDs, area producers are working hard to reduce the phosphorus load in
our watersheds by implementing these conservation practices. The Lucas SWCD and the other 13 counties in the Maumee River Watershed are now accepting applications for the H2Ohio program for Crop Years 2024 and 2025. We greatly appreciate all the farmers that have participated in the H2Ohio program and we encourage them and anyone else who is interested to enroll into this next iteration of the program.
Please contact me to learn more and to get started on your enrollment for the program.
Learn more about the H2Ohio program.
Visit our website page.
By: Matthew Browne, H2Ohio Technician
Office: (419) 893-1966 ext. 3#