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H2Ohio Initiative sees 32% increase in enrolled acres

Northwest Ohio farmers enroll more than 1.8 Million acres of cropland

COLUMBUS__On March 28, Governor DeWine and the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) announced more than 1.8 million acres are now enrolled into H2Ohio, a comprehensive water quality plan designed to address complex issues affecting Lake Erie. The results of the most recent signup period show a 32 percent increase in enrolled acres when compared to previous sign ups.

ODA recently completed an open enrollment period for 14 counties in northwest Ohio within the Maumee River Watershed. Farmers in this area were eligible to re-enroll acres into Best Management Practices (BMPs) that were nearing the end of their original contract term, which began in 2020. Additionally, farmers could use this opportunity to enroll new acres. Of the total number of producers currently enrolled, 90 percent of producers who signed up originally decided to re-enroll. Approximately 25 percent of all producers in the new Maumee enrollment are new to H2Ohio.

“The agricultural community has proven again they are here to do the hard work needed to improve Ohio’s water quality,” said ODA Director Brian Baldridge. “We will continue to build on the progress we have already made and keep the great momentum going to reach our goals.”

Local Soil and Water Conservation Districts report that all counties eligible for re-enrollment saw an increase in enrolled acres.

Icon Area Contracts by County
Allen SWCD - 115 contracts - 96,000 cropland acres
Hancock SWCD - 122 contracts - 75,000 cropland acres
Hardin SWCD - 98 contracts - 78,000 cropland acres
Putnam SWCD - 402 contracts - 161,000 cropland acres

Ten additional counties that make up the Western Lake Erie Basin (WLEB) have also been engaged in H2Ohio, and approximately 800 farmers in this area have enrolled 600,000 acres into BMPs. These counties have H2Ohio contracts that extend through 2025, so ODA focused on re-enrollment in the original 14 counties for this sign-up period. In all, more than 2,600 producers are enrolled in the H2Ohio initiative.

Impact on Algal Blooms on Lake Erie
Phosphorus runoff is a large contributor to harmful algal blooms on Lake Erie. ODA’s part of the H2Ohio Initiative reduces phosphorus runoff by incentivizing farmers to implement proven, scientific best management practices.

Estimates based on implemented H2Ohio BMPs and water quality research indicate ODA’s efforts are reducing phosphorus runoff year after year. ODA estimates the results of this signup have the potential to reduce phosphorus loading into Lake Erie by 420,000 pounds over the next several years.

Voluntary Nutrient Management Plans
Of the available cropland in the Western Lake Erie Basin, H2Ohio participation is approaching coverage of nearly half of the region. Producers in this area are following a Voluntary Nutrient Management Plan (VNMP) and using soil testing to ensure only the needed amount of nutrients are being strategically placed on the land.

VNMPs are required for all H2Ohio participants and lay the groundwork for producers to implement other H2Ohio BMPs on their land to maximize conservation effectiveness.

H2Ohio is Governor DeWine’s statewide water quality initiative designed to address complex issues impacting Ohio’s waters. Launched in 2019, H2Ohio uses a comprehensive approach guided by science and data to reduce algal blooms, stop pollution, and improve access to clean drinking water by supporting best farming practices, road salt runoff reduction, litter cleanup, dam removal, land conservation, and water infrastructure revitalization. For more information visit