Improving Ohio’s water quality, particularly ways to keep phosphorus and nitrogen from impacting water resources, will be the focus of a day-long discussion by industry and university experts during the Conservation Tillage Conference, March 3-4.

Starting with a session on the “Magnitude of the Phosphorus Problem for Lake Erie and Other Water Bodies,” the goal of the March 4 discussions is to gather some of the best scientists, researchers and engineers who have experience with the issue to come up with concrete solutions to keep more nutrients on the land and out of Ohio waters, said Randall Reeder, a retired Ohio State University Extension agricultural engineer and a conference organizer.

“The goal is to come up with a consensus on what are some of the best doable and affordable solutions that can be done that will have a high probability of success,” Reeder said. “Not only will we identity what the magnitude of the problem is, but we will also look at what farmers are willing to do and come up with a list of prioritized solutions to the issue of improving water quality in Ohio.”

Experts say phosphorus runoff from farmland is a cause of the harmful algal blooms plaguing Lake Erie and other lakes. In August, toxins from a bloom in western Lake Erie led to a two-day drinking water ban in Toledo.

Water quality is just one of the topics to be discussed during the annual conference, offered by Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. More than 900 participants are expected to attend the event, which is organized by OSU Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center.

OSU Extension and OARDC are the outreach and research arms of the college.

In addition to a “Corn University” and a “Soybean School,” the conference will offer the latest research, insight, tips and techniques on conservation tillage including cover crops, no-till, soil quality, soil health, seeding technology, water quality and nutrient management, Reeder said.

The program on water quality is from 8:30 a.m. to 4:50 p.m. and will include multiple presentations and panel discussions featuring college researchers, scientists and agricultural engineers in addition to representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Ohio Department of Agriculture, Ohio Farm Bureau, Battelle Memorial Institute, Heidelberg University and Nester Ag Solutions.

Topics and presentations to be examined during water quality sessions include:

  • Magnitude of the Phosphorus Problem for Lake Erie and Other Water Bodies
  • Using Survey Data in the Maumee Watershed to Improve Water Quality
  • Legislative Issues: Phosphorus and Nitrogen Management to Improve Water Quality
  • Possible Solutions for Phosphorus Pollution from Farms
  • Estimating Nutrient and Sediment Exports and Farm Yield of BMP Scenarios Using a User-friendly Web-based Tool
  • Using Paired Watershed Data to Improve Water Quality
  • Panel Discussion: Possible Solutions to Reducing Phosphorus in Surface Water
  • Solutions to Reducing Phosphorus in Lake Erie
  • Gypsum to Reduce Phosphorus Concentrations in Surface and Tile Flow Water
  • Best Management Practices to Reduce Nutrient Movement
  • Using No-till and Cover Crops to Reduce Phosphorus in Surface Water
  • Prioritizing Solutions to Reducing Phosphorus in Surface Water

The conference will also feature some 60 presenters, including 20 CFAES researchers and Extension educators, as well as farmers and industry representatives.

Certified Crop Adviser continuing education credits are available, with an emphasis on soil and water and nutrient management hours.

Other conference topics include:

  • Agronomics for High Yield Corn and Soybeans
  • Soil Health Benefits of Continuous No-till and Cover Crops
  • Variable Rate Seeding
  • Comparing Economics of No-till, Strip-till and Conventional Tillage Systems 
  • Policy Issues with Big Data

The CTC conference will be held at the McIntosh Center of Ohio Northern University in Ada. The full schedule and registration information can be found at Participants may register online or by mail. Registration is $85 (or $65 for one day) if received by Feb. 21.

Information is also available from county offices of OSU Extension.

The conference is sponsored by OSU Extension, OARDC, Gypsoil, the Ohio Corn Marketing Program, Ohio Soybean Council, John Deere, Ag Credit, Pioneer, Seed Consultants, Northwest Ohio Soil and Water Conservation Districts, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Ohio No-Till Council.