All the research in the world won’t be able to solve the harmful algal bloom problem if results and recommendations aren’t passed on to the people who need them. Researchers in this focus area are developing ways to disseminate information more effectively, by establishing how information moves through existing networks of people and using those networks – such as Extension and farmer partnerships – to distribute new information about harmful algal blooms.
Maumee Basin Lake Erie HABS Nutrient Management Options Comparative Analysis
Timothy Haab, The Ohio State University
There is more than one way to reduce the amount of nutrients that get into Lake Erie from agricultural lands. To help decision makers and stakeholders address the issue, an Ohio State researcher is developing a comparative analysis for the Maumee Basin.
Timothy Haab, professor and department chair for Ohio State’s Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics, will create a grid of management options and metrics. “We need to understand what we know and what we don’t know about current nutrient reduction efforts and possible solutions,” Haab said.
His analysis will include the relative strengths, weaknesses, pros, cons, costs and benefits of possible solutions. Each proposed solution will be measured against a specified target such as a given reduction in a nutrient overage. The management options will likely include the status quo, incentive-based solutions, voluntary and engineering solutions and direct controls on nutrient use. Haab will look at traditional cost and benefit measures as well as indicators of social acceptability and/or political feasibility. He will use existing data to fill in cells and identify critical gaps in data.
The Bottom Line
Farmer/Farm Advisor Water Quality Sampling Network
Greg Labarge, The Ohio State University – Extension
This project gives a farmer the chance to find out how much Dissolved Reactive Phosphorus (DRP) in pounds per acre is leaving their field site, based on their crop production system. Farmers will be provided their individual data from the study plus summary data for all sites in the project. The data will be used to better understand what conditions lead to DRP loss and be able to better recommend Best Management Practices (BMPs) to reduce nutrient loss.
Experts say soluble phosphorus runoff from farms is an important source of harmful algal blooms plaguing Lake Erie and other lakes in recent years. In August 2014, a toxic bloom in western Lake Erie led to a two-day drinking water ban in Toledo.
A research team led by Greg LaBarge, an Ohio State University Extension field specialist and a leader of Ohio State’s Agronomic Crops Team, is creating a system that would collect the water and soil samples, along with farm level data on management practices that can be used by researchers on projects to lessen the chance of nutrient runoff into Lake Erie.
The data will be used to compare predicted water quality impacts with actual water quality results to better identify high-risk fields to help famers apply the best management practices for their specific field situation that improve the water quality of Lake Erie.
The Bottom Line
Maumee Basin Lake Erie HABS Stakeholder-Informed Decision-Making Support System
Patrick Lawrence, University of Toledo
A research project at the University of Toledo will collect information on Lake Erie harmful algal blooms into an easily accessible web-based portal for access by interested stakeholders.
Applying accurate information when creating potential solutions for the harmful algal bloom problem is critical, but many stakeholders can be overwhelmed by the wide range of information sources available to them. A webbased support system, featuring timely science-based information, will help decision makers obtain that accurate information in less time and with less effort required.
Resources will include key studies, videos, reports and resources that land managers can use to inform their decision making. Lead researcher Patrick Lawrence will also work with current researchers in the region to ensure information from other projects is integrated into the website.
The team will also work with key people within the Maumee River watershed through a series of workshops and meetings to identify their information needs and how those needs can be addressed through the web portal.
The Bottom Line
Social Network Analysis of Lake Erie HABs Stakeholder Groups
V. Kelly Turner, Kent State University
Improving water quality requires sharing knowledge and experiences across community and county boundaries. But without knowing who the key stakeholders are and how they are connected with each other, central agencies may be lacking valuable input or missing the mark when trying to send public safety messages.
A research team led by Kelly Turner, assistant professor of geography at Kent State University, aims to develop a map of the social connections between important players in the Lake Erie watershed. Those connections will be examined to determine how strong each link is — for example, between a watershed management group and a crop advising company — and whether the groups share information back and forth or just listen without talking back.
The final network map will inform decision making and education efforts, and will show communities how they can more effectively collaborate to improve water quality.