Healthy soil management for healthy crops and healthy water resources

Field selection is underway with farm cooperators in the Maumee basin of Lake Erie and Grand Lake St. Marys watershed in Ohio where research is being led by Dr. Warren Dick of The Ohio State University in cooperation with agronomists from Gypsoil and Nester Ag Consultants, supported by funding from the Electric Power Research Institute.

The research will measure the impact that gypsum use as a soil amendment will have on soil conditions and avoided nutrient loadings from runoff into area waterways that contribute to degradation of two of Ohio’s priority natural freshwater systems.  Crop productivity benefits from gypsum use will also be measured on these fields and additional demonstration sites throughout the state to illustrate economic benefits to the farmers and their associated communities. A related research project is being initiated in Wisconsin with UW Madison under the leadership of Dr. Francisco Arriaga that will evaluate water quality benefits associated with gypsum use and inform the water quality trading program that is under development in Wisconsin. A water quality trading system would reward producers who utilize practices, such as the application of gypsum, to prevent nutrient runoff and improve the health of waterways. Greenleaf Advisors continues to bridge these scientific research, business, and community members toward sustainable land use practices with a project role of leading outreach and education.

Greenleaf Communities, NFP has recently received commitments to lead a similar research project focused on gypsum use and water quality in the upper watershed of Eagle Creek, Indiana, which drains into the City of Indianapolis’ primary water resource – the Eagle Creek Reservoir.  Dr. Pierre Jacinthe from IUPUI (Indiana University Purdue University at Indianapolis) is leading this research in collaboration with Ron Chamberlain of Gypsoil and area farm cooperators.  A second component of this research has been designed to evaluate how various soil amendments effect the uptake of beneficial plant nutrient values as well as the avoided bioaccumulation of toxic elements in the soils, including arsenic and lead.  This work will be undertaken in cooperation with the Institute for Food Safety and Health at IIT and with partners in both the Indianapolis and Chicago regions.  Funding commitments are presently being sought to support such work to strengthen the linkages between improved soil management practices, plant nutritional values, and human health to inform the agricultural and food industries.