About the Partnership for Ag Resource Management

Our goal at the Partnership for Ag Resource Management (PARM) is to improve management of our key soil, nutrient and crop-protection resources by keeping them on our cropland and out of our streams, rivers and lakes. Our objectives are to identify and promote market-based solutions that improve farm economics and our natural resources.

In the Great Lakes Basin, we are working with ag retailers, farmers, watershed organizations, Extension, state agencies, non-operator landowners and scientists.

Funding for this project has been provided by:

Great Lakes Protection Fund The Fund’s mission is to identify, demonstrate and promote regional action to enhance the health of the Great Lakes ecosystem.

National Fish and Wildlife Foundation The Foundation is one of the world’s largest conservation grant-makers and works with both the public and private sectors to protect and restore our nation’s fish, wildlife, plants and habitats. 

Environmental Protection Agency Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) Federal agencies use GLRI resources to strategically target the biggest threats to the Great Lakes ecosystem and to accelerate progress toward long term goals, working to implement protection and restoration projects.

Ohio Natural Resources Conservation Service Helping Ohioans protect their land and our environment.

From 2010 through 2014, PARM targeted communications to and resource and tool development for three overlooked groups in the Western Lake Erie Basin (WLEB) that play a critical role in the on-farm decisions impacting water quality: non-operator landowners, ag retailers and watershed organizations.

In collaboration with the Sandusky River Watershed Coalition, we identified and communicated with non-operator landowners in the watershed via mailings about critical water quality issues and how landowners can contribute to progress by supporting improvements on their land.

Through an Ohio Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG), the PARM team developed an excel-based calculator to estimate phosphorus losses at the hydrologic response unit (HRU) level for the Sandusky River Watershed’s agricultural retail agronomists and farmers.

Through funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), PARM also targeted communications to farmers in the WLEB region by hosting Technical Service Provider (TSP) training that certified 43 TSPs to write Nutrient Management plans in the WLEB.

To date, PARM has contributed to more than 18,000 lbs. in annual dissolved reactive phosphorus (DRP) loss reductions in the Sandusky River Watershed via an innovative partnership with ag retailers. PARM identified profitable ag retail products and services that help to reduce phosphorus (P) loading. These products and services include cover crops, precision agriculture for soil sampling and input applications based on geospatially identified needs across a field, applying nutrients within the root zone of the plant and limiting cultivation to the planting row.

Currently, we are scaling up the successful ag retailer pilot in the WLEB to the entire Great Lakes Basin (GLB). Equipped with further funding from the Great Lakes Protection Fund in 2015, we are expanding efforts to activate ag retailers as change agents for targeted water quality improvements. Through our communications and outreach, ag retailers across the GLB will become more aware of how they can play a role in solutions for nutrient, pesticide and sediment issues.

We are also working with the University of Georgia to develop a web-based version of the Excel phosphorus loss calculator initially developed under the Ohio CIG. Ag retailers can use this online calculator to test out location-specific scenarios of different products and services that reduce P losses from their grower client fields.

We worked with a graphic designer to develop an infographic that displays the key concepts behind a new ag retailer data collection initiative. This infographic will play a key role in quickly generating buy-in from ag retailers and retailer software companies as it will demonstrate the environmental and economic implications of such an innovative data collection and reporting effort.

With ag retailer software companies and ag retailers, we will develop a web application to receive product and service data from agricultural retailer software and convert it into environmentally relevant reporting information for benchmarking water quality efforts and demonstrating compliance with nutrient management or conservation standards. We will be able to aggregate in real-time product and service delivery for the GLB that has implications for mitigating nutrient, pesticide and sediment losses. This interface can then fuel credible product and service target-setting for ag retailers.

We will also establish a working group of agricultural retailers, USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) officials and Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) to improve NRCS planning process by optimizing the division of labor between NRCS and ag retailers to make most efficient use of skills, data, tools and time. The working group will also identify and promote opportunities to enhance the success of the new NRCS Resource Stewardship Standard Framework.

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