Friday, March 5, 2021

Ohio farmers get paid for performance on climate change

Ohio is paying farmers who change management in ways that reduce erosion and carbon emissions.

Frank Hill is featured in an on-line article about how he spent $14,000 to make changes that brought him $22,000 from the Pay for Performance program.

The program motivates farmers to find the most cost-effective ways to reduce nutrient losses from specific fields. 

Winrock International and its partners have been pilot-testing this concept in various parts of the United States including the the Old Woman Creek watershed that drains directly into Lake Erie in northern Ohio and where Hill has his farm.

It seems like this Is a program Canadian politicians should study.

Hill grows corn and soybeans on 1,300 acres, 900 he owns and 400 he rents. It’s mostly sandy loam soils and just a few miles south of the shores of Lake Erie.

During 2018 and 2019, Hill participated in the Winrock pilot project which was implemented in partnership with the Erie County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) and Heidelberg University and funded through EPA’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

 He was offered $35 per pound of phosphorus loss reduction and $5 per pound of nitrogen. 

The changes he adopted included cover cropping and changes in tillage timing and intensity. Hill chose the changes on fields for which cost-to-payment ratio would be the lowest to maximize his profits.

Hill decided to start by flying on winter rye in August on almost 500 acres of corn and beans. He also shifted some fall tillage to spring and a few fields shifted from chisel plow to vertical tillage. 

These changes resulted in an estimated annual reduction of almost 70 pounds of phosphorous lost and almost 4,000 pounds of nitrogen lost.

The changes cost him $14,000 and he earned more than $22,000 from the Pay for Performance program.

The project helped him with field-specific advice and analyses.

“My crops looked better and my yields were up on the fields that had cover crop on them,” Hill says. In 2020, although the PFP program had ended, Hill put cover crops on more than 1,000 acres and he no-tilled crops into the spray-killed cover on 900 of those acres.