by Roger Wise, President
Ronald Reagan said we must trust but verify. He was talking about the former Soviet Union and nuclear disarmament. He believed we had to trust them to do the right thing, but he was also realistic and experienced enough to know that verification was paramount to successful disarmament. That was in the 1980s.
Today the same analogy can be made regarding the “4Rs” and responsible manure and nutrient management and application. Most agree farmers want to (and usually do) embrace conscientious stewardship practices to help mitigate the effects of harmful Lake Erie algal blooms resulting from dissolved phosphorus runoff.
My perceived observation is that row crop farmers bear too much blame for the runoff problem in the Western Lake Erie basin watershed. They embrace variable rate technology, regularly soil test, and apply the right fertilizer at the right time. Cover crops are embraced more than ever, further reducing runoff and keeping nutrients incorporated where they belong. They do these practices not only because they are environmentally correct, but just as importantly because they are business people and know not doing them jeopardizes their bottom line.