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News Release

Applications for Western Lake Erie Basin Water Quality Projects Due April 27

DUNDEE, Mich. March 16, 2012 -- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced $2 million in financial assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program to help farmers in designated parts of Michigan, Ohio and Indiana prevent phosphorus from entering Western Lake Erie Basin waterways. Applications for funding are due at local Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) offices by April 27.

Excess amounts of phosphorus cause blue-green algae to grow intensively in rivers and streams where it limits oxygen concentrations in water. The announcement is part of an effort to improve water quality and support jobs in the region that are generated through the hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation industry.

To support this effort, a team of top scientists from USDA and Purdue University has developed recommended measures that farmers can take to help limit phosphorus losses from agricultural operations. Recommendations include:

• Reducing runoff of phosphorus by placing fertilizer and manure below the soil surface;
• Not applying phosphorus when levels in the soil are already high; planting buffers and filter strips along ditches and streams; and
• Establishing diverse varieties of cover crops that reduce the volume of runoff, improve soil health and provide other conservation benefits.

In addition to a combination of core conservation practices, new supporting practices show promise as tools to address phosphorus runoff, such as biofilters and controlled drainage.

This effort builds on the larger Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (http://greatlakesrestoration.us/) established by federal agencies in 2010 to address critical resource concerns.

Apply at the NRCS service center near you (http://go.usa.gov/U7S), and learn more about NRCS programs and initiatives (http://go.usa.gov/UAq).

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