MI Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development Tours Water Quality Monitoring Project Site

For immediate release: July 21, 2021
Media contact: Jennifer Holton, 517-284-5724

Adrian, MI - Today, the Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development along with Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) Director Gary McDowell toured an edge-of-field water quality monitoring project site in Adrian located in Lenawee County. Commissioners met with the project's head researcher, Dr. Ehsan Ghane, to discuss how drainage water management will help reduce the amount of phosphorus loss from farm fields.

"This project is part of one solution aimed at taking more steps to reduce the amount of phosphorus from entering the Western Lake Erie Basin watershed," said McDowell. "MDARD and the Administration is fully dedicated to address and make quantifiable improvements to Michigan's water quality. As MDARD celebrates its 100-year anniversary, we will continue our legacy of commitment with water monitoring studies, conservation implementation, partnership as well as ongoing education and outreach to our farmers."

The five-year edge-of-field project is a partnership between the Michigan departments of Agriculture and Rural Development and Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, Michigan State University, and the Lenawee Conservation District. Monitoring is ongoing and the project is scheduled to conclude in September 2022.

"The project is looking at how well a saturated buffer performs in removing phosphorus and controlled drainage structures act as nutrient reducing strategy and management systems at three on-farm sites in Lenawee County," said Dr. Ghane. "We have been collecting on-farm flow and concentration data. Preliminary results show that controlled drainage has potential for reducing phosphorus loss."

Additionally, the Commission toured Lenawee County's Bakerlads Farm, one of the sites for the edge-of-field research project, learning and gaining deeper understanding about conservation best management practices being implemented as part of their MAEAP verification. 

"As Commissioners, it is our responsibility to review and approve the MAEAP standards," said Dru Montri, Commission Chair. "By visiting MAEAP verified farms like we did today, the Commission is able to see first-hand the ways in which farmers are implementing practices to reduce the risk of soil and water pollution."

Bakerlads Farm is a fifth-generation dairy farm, owned by brothers Blaine and Kim Baker. It is verified in MDARD's Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP). MAEAP is a voluntary program aimed at helping producers protect the environment by implementing conservation practices on their land. The farm has been verified since 2011 in three of MAEAP's systems, Farmstead, Cropping, and Livestock. 

"We wanted to be involved in the water monitoring project so we can help our fellow producers take care of the land for future generations," said Blaine Baker. "Our family has been implementing conservation practices for more than 30 years. We pride ourselves as being stewards of the environment. Being a part of MAEAP helps us continue that stewardship and protect water quality."

For more information on the edge-of-field project contact Ehsan Ghane. To learn more about MAEAP, visit www.MAEAP.org. The Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development has the responsibility to recommend, and in some cases determine, policy on food, agricultural, and rural development issues. The Commission is a bipartisan body of five citizens appointed by the Governor. To learn more about the Commission, including the schedule of meetings, visit their website.

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