The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is proud to announce a new program that will provide reimbursement to farmers near the Western Lake Erie Basin (WLEB) who conduct soil testing. Soil Testing to Reduce Agriculture Nutrient Delivery (STRAND) will help farmers make informed decisions about nutrient applications to cropland based on soil testing, which will ultimately help improve the water quality of Lake Erie.
Farmers in the WLEB can receive reimbursement from STRAND if they implement one of the following nutrient management practices:
- Grid/zone sampling
- Variable rate application or subsurface placement
- Yield monitor calibration and evaluation of nutrient management with Michigan State University Extension
- Equipment/upgrades that will assist with nutrient placement (nitrogen and/or phosphorus), subsurface placement, or yield monitoring
STRAND is a collaboration between MDARD and local agriculture and conservation partners to help farmers in the WLEB reduce the amount of phosphorus entering Lake Erie. Agricultural runoff, such as phosphorus from fertilizer, is one of the known causes of algal blooms in Lake Erie. To reduce phosphorus runoff, STRAND will work with farmers to increase adoption of grid/zone soil testing and other nutrient management practices.
“We are really excited about this program,” said MDARD Director Gary McDowell. “Farmers will be able to test and incorporate new technologies into their farming practices. These will help to address the issues of phosphorus loading in Lake Erie. It can help farmers conduct precise soil analysis, which can result in more efficient fertilizer use.”
“This program aligns with our values to promote stewardship, improve water quality, and encourage public participation to protect and preserve our water,” said Stephen May, executive director of the River Raisin Watershed Council.
“We are glad to see this project reach directly to producers in the Western Lake Erie Basin,” said Jim Zook, executive director of Michigan Corn Growers Association. “STRAND will encourage and support corn growers as they implement best management practices for better water quality.”
The funds for this program are made possible through an EPA Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant. All farmers in the WLEB are eligible. Funding will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis until funds are expended.
For more information contact the Washtenaw Conservation District, 7203 Jackson Road, Ann Arbor, 48103, Phone: (734) 205-1219.