COLUMBUS, Ohio - Changes in farming practices have played a major role in improving water quality in Lake Erie, a recent study suggests. Farm-based pollution has dropped by as much as 50 percent in the region.
An Ohio State University researcher compared pollutant emissions in 1985 to those 10 years later for two watersheds that drain into the lake. He then compared those results to how farming practices changed in the area during the same time.
Water quality improved with the adoption of farming practices that reduced the amount of fertilizers and chemicals draining from farmers' fields into the lake.
"Farmers in this area began using more conservation practices during the last two decades, which resulted in an overall decrease in agricultural chemicals washing into Lake Erie," said D. Lynn Forster, study author and a professor of agricultural, environmental and development economics at Ohio State.
Farm-related pollution levels in Lake Erie decreased anywhere from 5 percent to more than 50 percent in a 10-year period.
The most striking change in farming practices was the rapid
adoption of conservation tillage in both watersheds.
Conservation tillage is any tilling practice that leaves 30 percent
of the field covered with residue from the previous crop. In
Contact: D. Lynn Forster
Ohio State University