Grace Professor Reports on the Impact of Agriculture on Lakes

Grace College professor and Kosciusko Lakes and Streams director Nate Bosch authored a new publication in the September issue of the Journal of Great Lakes Research reporting the impacts of agriculture on lakes. The study focused on agricultural lands in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio that surround Lake Erie.

The implications of the research extend to Kosciusko County.

Nutrients, such as phosphorus and nitrogen, can cause harmful algae and low dissolved oxygen levels in lakes where the nutrient levels are too high. Agriculture can be a source of these nutrients to lakes.

Knowing this, Bosch used a computer model to test ways to reduce nutrients entering Lake Erie.

The study looked at three different agricultural practices: cover crops which keep plants growing on land year-round; no-till agriculture which removes all tillage efforts to mix up soil; and filter strips which are planted along streams and ditches to filter water as it runs off fields.

When these beneficial practices were targeted at specific locations around the lake, rather than at random, a greater reduction in nutrients entering Lake Erie was observed.

“Our results indicate that an ‘all-of-the-above’ strategy is needed to substantially reduce nutrients and that these beneficial agricultural practices should be much more widely implemented,” said Bosch. “These practices can help protect local lakes and ensure that agriculture continues to be a vibrant economic driver in Kosciusko County.”

Locally, groups such as the Kosciusko County Soil and Water Conservation District and the Natural Resources Conservation Service partner with local famers to increase the use of these practices.

For more information about this study contact Grace College’s lakes and streams center at KLASinfo@grace.edu or (574) 372-5100, Ext. 6445.

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