As if the scores of outdated and at-risk private wells in WI, contaminated from excessive farm fertilizer that carries with it a host of harmful bacteria and overabundance of nutrients like nitrogen, the connection to between unhealthy groundwater and surface water is very real.
In short, the only two sources of freshwater on the planet are inextricably tied.
In a condensed review of Marios Sophocleous‘ scholarly article describing the interaction between surface water (SW) and groundwater (GW), it is clear that how one is affected — so is the other.
According to the abstract, “Surface-water and groundwater ecosystems are viewed as linked components of a hydrologic continuum leading to related sustainability issues.”
For those inclined to read further, the empirical evidence is supported through numerous sources. For the rest of us, it is enough to know that cleaning up and protecting all freshwater must become priority #1.
If there was ever a doubt, the Wisconsin Public Service Farm Show, held in Oshkosh, WI, at the EAA grounds, clearly illustrates the myriad considerations farmers in WI and beyond must make in their operations.
Heavy capital investments.
Appropriate fertilizer applications.
Efficient energy use.
Best practices for maximum crop yield.
Although clearly not at the top of the list, concerns about land stewardship and careful treatment of both ground water and surface water resources are rising. Several companies exhibiting at the show have developed products to directly and indirectly address these issues. One of them, USEMCO, offers a digester that is portable. It is a solid solution for reducing manure odor, energy costs, costs for bedding animals, manure application costs, and the potential for manure runoff. All while increasing the quality of fertilizer, according to Organic Valley’s Wayne Peters. “The most valuable byproduct of anaerobic digestion (for our farm business) is the enhanced fertilizer we apply on our cropland that we use to grow hay, corn and small grains to feed our cattle,” Peters has said.
Stay tuned for more on digesters, and other products and services that assist with a farm’s stewardship capabilities while also enhancing its profitability potential ….
Armed with the support of the community, ReFreshMKE is leading the way in making Milwaukee a world-class fresh water coastal city. The target? Milwaukee’s inner harbor, a once robust manufacturing zone that today is riddled with empty, aging buildings as well as some viable businesses.
By reintroducing wetlands, better overall land management, and other ecology-friendly solutions, a ten-year strategic plan will transform this area into an asset that will significantly boost neighboring communities and current inner harbor businesses.
There is no question that farm runoff, and the nitrogen and phosphorus that go with it into rivers and streams, is a primary contributor to the toxic algae that is destroying precious surface water resources.
The fixes to this problem are known, but implementation is slow and often viewed as expensive. The latter position a highly debatable one.
Our opinion is that, once the clean-up strategies are put into place, runoff will be reduced at an even swifter pace — all while profits for farmers increase. Truly a win-win scenario for all involved.