Friday, January 14th, 2011
Nutrient management plans started
By Nancy Allen
Thirty-two percent of the roughly 270 farms in the Grand Lake Watershed in Mercer and Auglaize counties now have nutrient management plans, Mercer County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) board members learned Thursday.
Two nutrient management technicians hired recently to implement new manure rules for the Grand Lake Watershed have been reviewing the plans, district administrator/education specialist Nikki Hawk said.
Another 18 percent are either pending, in progress or already in place because they are for large, state-permitted livestock farms that were already required to have them.
The new manure rules were spurred by the poor condition of Grand Lake. The lake was nearly shut down by the state this summer because of blue-green algae blooms, which are fed by phosphorous, found in manure.
Of the 20 new manure rules, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) will not be able to require two of those - one that requires watershed farmers to have nutrient management plans and another banning manure application between Dec. 15 and March 1 - until the Ohio Soil and Water Conservation Commission places a "distressed" designation on the Grand Lake Watershed. The commission is expected to meet Tuesday to take that action, Hawk said.
"The reason they (nutrient management technicians) were brought on is to implement the rules related to watersheds in distress," Hawk said. "Though it has not been designated yet, we went ahead and started the process by documenting all the (nutrient management) plans because we expect the distressed designation to come."
The manure spreading ban would be phased in over the next two years, during which time farmers would be required to follow what are currently voluntary best management practices. The complete ban between those dates would become affective Jan. 18, 2013.
Also on Thursday the SWCD board:
• Reviewed the district's annual plan of work for 2011, adding wording that states the district will implement new watershed manure rules, update the SWCD's website at least once a month and omit printing newsletters to save money.
• Reorganized the board for 2011, appointing Kevin Bettinger, chairman; Nick Renner, vice chairman; Rick Muhlenkamp, secretary; Bob Pohlman, treasurer; and Bob Guggenbiller, public relations officer.
• Appointed Pohlman as the Mercer SWCD board's representative to the Loramie Valley Alliance board, Muhlenkamp as the representative to the Grand Lake/Wabash Watershed Alliance joint board and Guggenbiller to the Resource Conservation and Development Council board.
• Kept its regular monthly meetings the second Thursday of each month at 8 a.m. at the SWCD office in Celina.