Maumee Adapt Network
Number of Farms: 100
Number of Acres: ~8,000
Contact Information: Joe Nester of Nester Ag at firstname.lastname@example.org (419) 658-8866, or Karen Chapman of EDF at email@example.com (740) 363-8269.
Launched in 2008, the Maumee Adapt Network started with 25 farmers in northwest Ohio managing about 5,000 acres, and has grown to 86 farmers in Ohio and Indiana who collectively manage some 140,000 acres within the Maumee River watershed.
The Maumee watershed is the focus of efforts by the Chicago-based Joyce Foundation to address farmland runoff and soil nutrient leaching. The Maumee River is also part of the Western Basin of Lake Erie, which altogether encompasses almost 5 million acres. Lake Erie is the warmest, shallowest and most biologically productive of all the Great Lakes. Tourism, fishing and seaports associated with Lake Erie provide about $9 billion dollars annually to the region.
The Maumee River is the single largest contributor of sediments to Lake Erie. About 85% of the Maumee watershed is dedicated to producing corn, wheat, soybeans and other crops worth more than $1 billion annually. Most of the watershed (75%) is in Ohio, with smaller portions extending into Michigan and Indiana. Heavy, tight clay soils are predominate in this region, and getting nutrient management right here is key to farm profitability and water quality improvements.
Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), with grant money from the Joyce Foundation, is coordinating the Maumee Adapt Network, which involves producers from four Indiana counties and five Ohio counties. The Maumee River’s headwaters start in Fort Wayne Indiana, and the river runs from there through Napoleon and Defiance Ohio before discharging into Lake Erie at the port of Toledo. In 2008, the Joyce Foundation asked EDF to assess its work in the Western Lake Erie and Maumee River basin with an eye toward integrating additional, duplicable components. Since EDF had already successfully implemented the Bay Farms Adapt Network in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, the Maumee was a good fit to further expand the program.
Within the Maumee Adapt Network, EDF also leveraged an NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG), obtained in 2007, which provides funding for additional field-based nitrogen strip trials and CSNT sampling. The CIG has provided a beneficial direct link to NRCS and EQIP, as the goal of the CIG program is to try out and then incorporate into the broader EQIP program effective new conservation tools and approaches.
The Maumee Adapt Network also provides a venue to discuss phosphorus use and how to address the growing dissolved phosphorus problem in Ohio and other states – particularly a concern for Lake Erie. For example, farmers participating in the program conduct more extensive soil testing in order to gage nitrogen levels. Soil tests also reveal available phosphorus levels, and in some cases can show that very little or no additional phosphorus fertilizer is needed. The Adapt Network can demonstrate that no yield losses will occur if farmers do not apply phosphorus where soil P levels are sufficient to meet crop growth.