By Becky Leader
|Bishop Loenard Blair (left), from the Diocese of Toledo, was thrilled to shell eight rows of corn at Bob and Cathy Duling's farm. (Putnam Sentinel/Becky Leader)|
OTTAWA - As Bishop Leonard Blair climbed down from the combine at the Duling family's farm in rural Ottawa on Friday, his grin was as wide as the eight rows of corn he had just shelled.
"I learn something every year!" the Bishop exclaimed. "It sure beats sitting at a desk!"
Jeff Duling, who had given Bishop Blair a quick lesson on driving the combine, joked, "He kept it on the row real good. I can hire him now!"
The Bishop was the honored guest at the Catholic Charities Rural Life Board meeting, which was held at Bob and Cathy Duling's farm and home on Road M. Kate Wischmeyer, a member of the board, had arranged the meeting and activities. She had asked the Dulings to host the meeting, as they utilize no-till farming methods.
Wischmeyer explained, "Bishop Blair was born in the city, so he doesn't know a lot about farming.
We take him out (to a farm) every year. He's very willing to learn."
The Rural Life Board is a pastoral outreach to the diocesan rural community and works to empower the wider church and community to promote and advocate for justice in agriculture, land, environment, food and other rural concerns.
Jeff Giesige, a technician from the Putnam County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), who is also on the Rural Life Board, spoke to the group about efforts to curb phosphorus runoff with Best Management Practice (BMP). Water quality in Lake Erie is becoming a paramount issue, according to Giesige. Phosphorus runoff, which comes primarily from farm drainage, flows into the Maumee River and eventually into Lake Erie. Phosphorus causes algae blooms to grow uncontrolled in the lake, where fish cannot survive and water recreation is severely curbed. Although Lake Erie has two percent of the Great Lakes' water, it has 50 percent of the fish.
"We (the Rural Life Board) are looked to as a leading participant to clean up water," Giesige related. He encouraged the farmers to be proactive in their approach, and explained one method they could utilize to help clean up the water. Giesige demonstrated a tile structure that can be installed between the field and the drainage outlet, which increases the elevation of the outlet. The box helps to hold nutrients in the field. By blocking some of the runoff, the amount of phosphorous can be decreased by 50 percent. Giesige said there are grants available to install the units, dependent upon the area's watershed location. Grants can cover about 95 percent of the cost of the unit. Farmers who want more information about this BMP should contact their local SWCD.
Jim Hoorman, Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator for the Putnam County OSU Extension Office, spoke on adding cover crops to convert to a true no-till farming system.
"Cover crops are God's way of keeping nutrients in the soil. We are looking for a balance between nutrients and cover crops," he explained.
Hoorman said many farmers do not use a true no-till system, so phosphorus is still released into area water sources. Studies have shown that the Maumee River accounts for three percent of the water that empties into Lake Erie, but 60 percent of the phosphorus deposited there. By planting cover crops such as red clover, sweet clover, radishes, cereal rye, or sorghum-sudangrass, organic matter will be preserved in the soil, and farmers will eventually be able to decrease the amount of fertilizer they need.
The Board recognized Brother Nick Renner, who will receive the 2013 Archbishop O'Hara Advocacy Award for Rural Ministry from the National Catholic Rural Life Conference (NCRLC) on Oct. 13. Brother Nick is a longtime advocate of soil and water conservation and is a pioneer in farming methods that nurture and protect the earth and its waterways, especially Grand Lake St. Mary's. He is in ministry at Immaculate Conception Parish in Celina.
story created on Monday 9/30/2013 at 12:14:42 pm by Anne Coburn-Griffis
story modified on Tuesday 10/1/2013 at 5:30:09 pm by Kirk Dougal