While current efforts to curtail agricultural runoff will improve the health of Lake Erie, much more work will be needed to protect the streams that feed the lake, new research shows.
A study of the western Lake Erie watershed found that increased conservation efforts will be needed on most of the farms in the watershed in order to protect arterial streams in Ohio, Michigan and Indiana.
The project, led by researchers at The Ohio State University and The Nature Conservancy, used computer modeling to get a handle on the impact of various conservation efforts in the western Lake Erie watershed. The area includes about 5.5 million acres of cropland, making it the most intensely farmed watershed feeding into the Great Lakes.
The study shows that both the streams and the lake will benefit if appropriate conservation efforts are implemented, he said. Conservation efforts include erosion control and nutrient management, including being selective about how much fertilizer is used and when it is applied.
The report includes predictions about the effects of a variety of conservation scenarios to give stakeholders information on which to base plans going forward.