Our director, Tom Green (top), spoke with Mark Dorenkamp (bottom) from Brownfield Ag radio network last week on PARM's participating ag retailer efforts in increasing sales of products and services that help keep the Great Lakes clean. Tom details differing products and services our organization promotes like cover crops, variable rate technology, and liquid fertilizers as growing markets in the ag world.
Often, ag retailers and farmers are targeted when harmful algal blooms erupt in the Western Lake Erie Basin because of phosphorus runoff from fields, however, much of the public are unaware of the efforts growers and ag retailers are making to keep valuable nutrients on fields. To learn more about these efforts, listen to the interview here.
Detroit News came out with an article September 28th detailing Toledo Mayor Paula Hick-Hudson's letter to President Trump on her concern about Lake Erie, "There is something very wrong with our country when our rivers and lakes turn green. [We] need real change in agricultural practices, so we can protect and restore our water.” Hicks mentions in the article that fish kills in Beaver Creek totaling 15,000 were attributed to farmland fertilizer applications before a thunderstorm in August. Read the full article here.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration severity index, the 2017 bloom was the fourth largest bloom since 2002, closing in on severity index's that categorized 2011 and 2015's harmful algal blooms. It is important to note, however, algal blooms are not synonymous with harmful algal blooms (HABs). HABs contain high levels of the toxin microcystin which can cause beaches to close and contaminate drinking water, yet, nontoxic blooms can quickly turn into toxic blooms as Ohio saw in 2014.
Currently, toxin levels remain fairly low in Toledo, but the agriculture sector must continue to make efforts in improving water quality as blooms continue to rise on the severity index and federal regulations loom on the horizon. This is not bad news for ag retailers, which we stress at PARM; this is an absolute revenue opportunity. Our participating ag retailers continue to relay their increasing adoption rates and profits in BMP products and services, read more about it by clicking here!
In 2016, PARM received funding from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative for a VRT cost-share program. The program allows ag retailers the ability to offer farmers up to 100 reduced cost VRT acres for those that have not utilized the technology. Since the program, PARM has seen incredible results, with most farmers expanding acres out of their own pockets because they see results. One of our participating ag retailer agronomists, Lee Orians, from Heritage Cooperative in Upper Sandusky, Ohio states, "The VRT program has gotten many people to soil sample and apply according to needs. This is what we have needed for years.”
Phil Bowsher (second from the right), plant manager at The Andersons, Inc. Fostoria branch has also utilized PARM's VRT cost-share program, and has noticed positive responses from his grower customers, "Growers that got started with VRT because of PARM’s cost-share program have paid for additional VRT acres after seeing the benefits."
Gregg Burris (far right), agronomist at Central Ohio Farmers Co-op in Marion, Ohio, a participating ag retailer, states, "90% plus of my growers are already doing VRT and the program has helped me get some of those that I wouldn’t have otherwise.” Gregg has also participated in several of PARM's webinars addressing precision ag, and has given us a lot of positive feedback, "I value the webinar subjects offered by PARM. They relate to current topics and needs.”
Steven Fenton, warehouse operations manager for Monsanto in Central Illinois, has viewed several webinars put on by PARM, and responded positively to a webinar released this past July on the topic of cover crop seeding options, "I have been viewing webinars regarding cover crops for almost a year. This one was one of the better ones. I think as research continues, the data and information presented in cover crop webinars improves."