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 both the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Basins, 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:
McKnight Foundation: One of the Foundation’s goals is to restore the water quality and resilience of the Mississippi River.
Clean Lakes Alliance: Clean Lakes Alliance is a 501(c)(3), not-for-profit organization dedicated to the improvement and protection of the lakes, streams, and wetlands in the Yahara River Watershed.
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.
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.
Ohio Natural Resources Conservation Service: Helping Ohioans protect their land and our environment.
Our Origin Story
From 2010 through 2014, PARM targeted communications to and resource and tool development for three overlooked groups in the Western Lake Erie Basin 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, the PARM team developed an Excel-based calculator to estimate phosphorus and nitrogen losses at the hydrologic response unit level for the Sandusky River Watershed’s agricultural retail agronomists and farmers. Currently, we are scaling up this successful tool through funding from the University of Georgia to develop a web-based version of the Excel phosphorus loss calculator. 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.
In 2015, we received funding from the Great Lakes Protection Fund to expand our efforts to activate ag retailers as change agents for targeted water quality improvements. Through our communications and outreach, ag retailers across the GLB have become more aware of how they can play a role in solutions for nutrient, pesticide and sediment issues.
Funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation in 2015 and currently, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, has allowed PARM to offer ag retailer participants in four priority watersheds in Ohio an incentive to get customers to try variable rate technology (VRT) – or applying fertilizers according to soil test needs. Ag retailers can offer up to 100 free VRT acres per customer, and to date, we have distributed over 26,500 acres and counting! We are working to expand the incentive to other Midwest regions.
In 2018, through funding from the McKnight Foundation and Clean Lakes Alliance, we broadened our reach to ag retailers within the Upper Mississippi River Basin. The team is currently gathering baseline beneficial product and service sales data in the area through annual surveys. We are also developing educational resources and tools specific to the Blue Earth River (MN) and Yahara River Watersheds (WI) to help ag retailers and their customers understand how different products and services can address water quality concerns. PARM is also piloting a Cover Crop Incentive Program in both watersheds with hopes to expand the program to our retail participants in the Great Lakes in the near future.
In 2018, PARM’s 90 ag retailer participants representing over 5.3 million acres in the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Basins contributed to reducing more than 6.4 million pounds of total phosphorus losses, 1.2 million pounds dissolved reactive phosphorus and 59 million pounds of total nitrogen losses from entering waterways. PARM continues to identify profitable ag retail products and services that help reduce phosphorus and nitrogen loading. These products and services include cover crops, precision agriculture like VRT, applying nutrients within the root zone of the plant and light incorporation of broadcast fertilizer.