We are incredibly blessed to live in an area with active agriculture, vibrant communities, and plentiful natural resources. I see these three areas as vital to the overall health and prosperity of our county.
However, as the increased numbers of Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) seen in our lakes have shown us, sometimes we need to step back and evaluate our practices to make sure we are balancing our economic and societal needs with the needs of our environment.
Without a healthy natural ecosystem, all of us suffer. There is not just one root cause of HABs. One area that both communities and farms can look at to improve are reducing inputs reaching the lake. Nutrient loss can be an issue on farms; they are expensive in both money and the time required to apply them. In addition, if inputs move off your land they then become pollutants potentially causing unintended downstream effects. Excess nutrients move off farm by leaching through the soil profile, soil erosion or in runoff, ending up in streams ponds and lakes. Extreme weather events can increase the potential of runoff and is especially an issue in soils with poor water infiltration rates. Many farmers already employ strategies to prevent nutrient losses from their farms but it is important to regularly evaluate what practices can be modified or implemented to further reduce runoff. The five strategies below are a good starting off point to consider where your farming methods could be modified to reduce runoff while maintaining or increasing your farm’s viability.