Tricky Connection to Climate Change & Farm Runoff

Projections for massive algae blooms in Lake Erie are once again grim for 2016, and a part of the problem is something that cannot be controlled: climate change.

According to this article in Toledo Blade, research from the American Geophysical Union suggests that blooms in Lake Erie may double in intensity over the next 100 years, even if nutrient runoff from farms is reduced by 40%.

Algae Blooms in IA, 2011.

Given the troubling contribution climate change makes to algae blooms in Lake Erie, and across the planet, a question begs answering which secondary research here has not yet produced.

How much does climate change account for the creation of algae blooms?

Clearly, the relationship between nutrient runoff and climate change is profound. Runoff can be controlled. Climate change cannot. If there is a sweet spot that will secure fresh surface water across the planet, despite the changes, it must be found. Apparently, reductions in nutrient runoff by 40% will not be enough.

What, then, will be? Without a deep and longstanding commitment between farmers and entities (like Clean Water Warrior) that can help them implement best-practices, this question will unfortunately go unanswered.

Disturbing Connection Between Polluted Surface Water & Groundwater

As if the scores of outdated and at-risk private wells in WI, contaminated from excessive farm fertilizer that carries with it a host of harmful bacteria and overabundance of nutrients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. clean_water_image

In a condensed review of Marios Sophocleousscholarly 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.

WPS Farm Show presents the business of farming.

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.wps_logo_print

Appropriate fertilizer applications.

Efficient energy use.

Best practices for maximum crop yield.

Land stewardship.

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 ….