The story of the National Center for Water Quality Research began over 40 years ago.
Conservation tillage has reduced soil loss to waterways
No-till and low-till practices have reduced sediment pollution from agriculture in Lake Erie, but have not solved the nutrient pollution problem.
Long-term monitoring of water quality is incredibly valuable
Nowhere else in the country is there similarly detailed and longitudinal data on nutrient pollution.
A buildup of phosphorus at the soil surface in agricultural fields is a major problem
Surface levels of phosphorus determine the level of dissolved phosphorus in runoff.
Agricultural soil phosphorus needs to be measured at the surface
Phosphorus at the surface and in the upper inch of soil interacts with rain and runs off the field or into tile drains.
Sources of nutrients to Lake Erie
Since the founding of the NCWQR in the 1970’s, researchers have recognized the role that agriculture plays in contributing nutrient pollution to Lake Erie.
The difference between point and nonpoint sources of pollution
Point sources of pollution are generally associated with industrial, business and residential water use. Non-point sources are associated with runoff from fields and roads.
The value of monitoring dissolved phosphorus
The NCWQR at Heidelberg University was one of the first institutions to recognize the problem of dissolved phosphorus pollution and study it.
Algal blooms have been worsening in Lake Erie
The algal bloom problems in Lake Erie are now nearly as bad as they were at their worst in the 1970s.
Video courtesy of Ravenswood Media.
If it weren’t for the data from Heidelberg University, we would not be able to have any algal bloom forecasts or sophisticated models. We need Heidelberg quality data for all tributaries into Lake Erie.
Forty years of water monitoring data has made a huge difference to our understanding of what’s happening in Lake Erie, and can help us make smart decisions about the steps we need to take.
Changing the way we apply nutrients to our croplands might be part of how we help take care of Lake Erie.