Farmers in northwest Ohio are continuing to find innovative ways to protect the water quality of Lake Erie and improve the lives of the communities around them.

With the help of individuals like Megan Burgess, district conservationist for the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) in Canton, Ohio, farmers are focusing on improving water quality and the role they play in the Blanchard Watershed.

“A variety of conservation practices can be applied on many farms in the western Lake Erie basin and knowing what farmers are doing on their ground is important for their entire community,” said Burgess.

Farmers like Bill Kellogg, who farms close to 5,000 acres in Hardin and Wyandot counties, know the economic and environmental benefits good conservation practices can have.

“Conservation is a state of mind,” Kellogg said. “You have to want to do it. It takes a lot of resources and management skills.”

Kellogg uses a radish cover crop to return nutrients to the soil in the spring and a filter strip in his field to filter nutrients and sediment from run-off water before it reaches the waterway. With close to 25 years of conservation work behind him, he hopes one of his grandchildren will take over the farm to become the eighth generation to work and conserve the land.

Other farmers, like Chris Kurt, are looking for ways to improve upon current conservation practices for the future. Kurt is participating in USDA tests to measure nutrients found in surface water. Testing stations placed around his farm will tell him how effective his conservation efforts are at keeping nutrients in his field and out of the water.

“From an economic standpoint, I want to know what is going to keep nutrients in my field,” Kurt said. “The more nutrients that stay in the field, the less I have to apply in the future and the more money I can put back in my pocket.”

“More and more farmers are coming to realize the economic benefits water conservation has for them. Farmers have implemented conservation practices for years, and NRCS is providing additional help and encouragement so more farmers participate,” Burgess said.

“Conservation practices help improve water quality and soil health, which, in the end, means farms stay sustainable for generations to come,” Burgess said.

Learn more about the conservation work in the Blanchard River Watershed, the farmers who are leading through conservation and gain insights from other Ohio farmers about their use of sustainable best practices.

Watch this video for more information about how local farmers are improving water quality.

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