Ag retailers offer many products and services, in addition to variable rate P application, that can reduce ag input and soil losses from cropland. These include soil sampling, cover crops, custom application to band and incorporate P into the root zone, gypsum application and more. One of our goals is to promote sales of those products and services, to voluntarily contribute to water quality improvement. Each year, ag retailers in the Sandusky region have been completing a survey to report acres sold, allowing us to roughly project sales trends and also impacts on water quality.
This winter, the PARM team expanded its annual product and service survey from 12 ag retail locations in northwest Ohio to the entire Great Lakes Basin. The survey was distributed to over 350 ag retailer locations in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Pennsylvania, New York, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota. Over 40 retailer locations across six states in the Basin submitted data. Due to their participation, these facilities will receive a customized, private report of how their business practices – like offering soil testing, cover crop seed, and custom application – are benefiting water quality in their region.
For next year’s survey, the PARM team is working to streamline and facilitate data collection by collaborating with precision ag software companies, ag retailers and data analytics specialists. Water quality problems due to excessive nutrient runoff are not abating. We all want healthy and clean waterways. PARM is working with ag retailers to increase sales of beneficial products and services and document them for ag retailers – it makes good business sense.