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News Release

Edge-of-Field Water Quality Monitoring Funds Available - Apply by June 14

Christina Coulon

Columbus, May 14, 2013 - Farmers in three Ohio watersheds have an opportunity to conduct edge-of-field water quality monitoring with assistance from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).  Using the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), NRCS helps farmers purchase monitoring equipment, conduct sample collection and analysis, and implement conservation practices on approved monitoring sites. 

Water quality monitoring involves collecting and testing water samples to identify and measure substances in the water.  Edge-of-field water quality monitoring samples water from the drainage point of a farm field.  Scientists then analyze the water sample to determine the presence and quantity of substances in the water running off the fields. 

Using information from monitoring allows a farmer to make science-based decisions about which conservation practices to use to minimize nutrient and sediment loss from their fields.  Conservationists call this data-driven decision-making approach “adaptive management.”

Several Ohio farmers already monitor their water run-off.   One Mercer County farmer installed water quality monitoring stations in 2010 and received his first report in 2012 from the Agricultural Research Service.  He found that more phosphorus ran off from surface drainage than from tile drainage.  This year he’s working with conservationists on ways to modify his tillage to place manure, which contains phosphorus, deeper in the soil without causing soil erosion. 

Researchers and contractors providing monitoring services to farmers with approved EQIP contracts agree to protect the confidentiality of contract holders as mandated in Farm Bill law.  Contract holders have the option to authorize the release of the data collected on their fields. 

Farmers in the watersheds approved for edge-of-field water quality monitoring must apply at their local NRCS office by June 14, 2013 (see the list and location of watersheds below).  NRCS will evaluate applications for selection and funding nationally.  Visit for more information.

Eligible watersheds –

  • Upper Eagle Creek Watershed – Portions of Hancock and Hardin Counties

  • Headwaters Big Walnut Creek Watershed – Portions of Delaware, Knox, Morrow, and Licking Counties

  • Upper Wabash River – Portions of Darke, Mercer, Auglaize Counties