Ohio Limits Fertilizer, Manure Spreading to Curb ‘P’ Runoff

No-tillers in watersheds along Lake Erie’s western basin face limits on surface applications of manure and fertilizer, but the key change may simply be keeping good records.


“I would take some photos of your equipment doing an application and put it right with your records…”


AFTER A TOXIC algae bloom in Lake Erie prevented a half-million Toledo residents from using public water last summer, Ohio lawmakers have passed Senate Bill 1, designed to curb phosphorus (P) runoff, the main culprit of the algae blooms.

This law, which goes into effect June 21, regulates manure and fertilizer applications in 11 watersheds that make up Lake Erie’s western basin. It also limits Lake Erie dredging and requires wastewater treatment plants to monitor P levels monthly.

Experts in the region don’t think the law will have a major effect on fertility practices for no-tillers and strip-tillers, although some may want to be a little more meticulous with their record keeping.

Application Limits.

The law’s main impact on farmers is the timing for spreading manure, nitrogen (N) and P fertilizers.

Growers can’t surface-apply manure or fertilizers if the ground is snow covered or frozen, or if the top 2 inches of the soil are saturated from precipitation.

The law doesn’t provide a definition for saturation, but Frank Gibbs, former NRCS soil scientist and consultant in Rawson, Ohio, says in soil science terms it means that all of the soil pores are full of water.

“The water that would normally drain out by drain tile, those pores would still be full of water,” he explains.

Granular forms of fertilizers can’t be broadcasted if the local weather forecast predicts more than a 50%…

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Laura Barrera

Laura Barrera is the former managing editor of No-Till Farmer and Conservation Tillage Guide magazines. Prior to joining No-Till Farmer, she served as an assistant editor for a greenhouse publication. Barrera holds a B.A. in magazine journalism from Ball State University.

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