Identifying The Best Strategy To Reduce Phosphorus Loads To Lake Erie From Agricultural Watersheds

What Really Works? Reducing Dissolved Reactive Phosphorus

Principal Investigator

Laura Johnson, Heidelberg University


Ohio researchers are working to identify the best strategies to reduce phosphorus from farm fields to improve the overall health of Lake Erie.

This project gives a farmer the chance to find out how much Dissolved Reactive Phosphorus (DRP) in pounds per acre is leaving their field site, based on their crop production system. Farmers will be provided their individual data from the study plus summary data for all sites in the project. The data will be used to better understand what conditions lead to DRP loss and be able to better recommend Best Management Practices (BMP’s) to reduce nutrient loss.

Experts say soluble phosphorus runoff from farms is an important source of harmful algal blooms plaguing Lake Erie and other lakes in recent years. In August 2014, a toxic bloom in western Lake Erie led to a two-day drinking water ban in Toledo.

A research team led by Greg LaBarge, an Ohio State University Extension field specialist and a leader of Ohio State’s Agronomic Crops Team, is creating a system that would collect the water and soil samples, along with farm level data on management practices that can be used by researchers on projects to lessen the chance of nutrient runoff into Lake Erie.

The data will be used to compare predicted water quality impacts with actual water quality results to better identify high-risk fields to help famers apply the best management practices for their specific field situation that improve the water quality of Lake Erie.

The End Result

Cleaner water and fewer harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie.

Full Project Information

Read about the project at the Ohio Sea Grant website.