Evaluating the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Concept and Certification Program in the Western Lake Erie Basin


09 Oct 2018

4R Nutrient Stewardship in the Western Lake Erie Basin Part II: A Panel Study

A descriptive report of beliefs, attitudes and Best Management Practices in the Maumee Watershed of the Western Lake Erie Basin.

To better understand how farmers viewed 4R Nutrient Stewardship and related practices, the Ohio State University conducted a survey of farmers living in the Maumee Watershed, the largest of Lake Erie’s watersheds, and Sandusky River watershed. They were interested in identifying the motivations and constraints that differentiate farmers who adopt and implement the recommendations from those who do not. Of the 689 farmers who were contacted to participate, 381 returned usable surveys accounting for an adjusted response rate of 59.7%.

Highlighting a few of the survey results, respondents were asked to what extent they believed recommended 4R practices would reduce phosphorus runoff. Farmers had the most confidence in avoiding application on frozen ground and determining rates based on regular soil testing, with over 80% indicating these practices would reduce nutrient loss a good deal or to a great extent. A minority of farmers expressed skepticism as to whether the farm-level changes could improve water quality in Lake Erie, with anywhere from 7 to 19% of farmers indicating that the practices are either not at all or only a little effective. These results indicate that the majority of farmers accept the idea that changing agricultural practices are a potential solution to solve the issues in Lake Erie.

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