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H2Ohio expansions to be released by summer

The manager of H2Ohio says farmers will be able to receive incentives for nutrient management plans on an additional 500,000 acres across the state in the coming months.

Terry Mescher tells Brownfield voluntary nutrient management plans are the cornerstone of the state’s efforts to reduce fertilizer runoff.

“We’re developing the plans for those efforts across the last 64 counties of the state, and we hope to release those either in late spring or very early summer with some enrollments starting at that time,” he says.

Farmers currently enrolled in H2Ohio can receive up to $15 per acre for implementing plans.

Mescher says phosphorus use has been declining in the northeast region of the state where the program is active.

“We look at our producers that are enrolled in the program and continue to challenge them and ask them the question, do you need the phosphorus that you’re applying to your fields for that crop production?” he says.  “If not, let’s try to figure out how we can maintain crop yields.”

Voluntary nutrient management plans are required to participate in H2Ohio incentives.

Erie County was recently named an H2Ohio Lifetime Conservation Advocate Award winner which Mescher says has been critical in creating the spatial mapping technology used today by the initiative.

“When we rolled the program out, we didn’t have any contract management software,” he shares. “Quite honestly, we were delivering the program on paper.”

Mercer County Soil and Water Conservation District also received the H2Ohio Lifetime Conservation Advocate Award.  Mescher says staff additions have accelerated their program delivery over the past year.

“Mercer County was really behind in getting the practices documented, getting them certified and verified,” he says.  “In the last 12 months, they’ve gone from having one of the lowest practice implementation rates across our soil water districts to quite honestly, one of the highest.”

Both districts were recognized during the recent Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts Annual Partnership Meeting.

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