AFT is excited to announce that we will be initiating a new project in central Ohio, with generous funding from the Harte Charitable Foundation, that will bring together the agricultural and municipal sectors to find mutually beneficial, long-term solutions to protecting drinking water for communities in the region and that can help water quality in the Gulf of Mexico.
The project’s primary goals will be to:
- Drive awareness and adoption of the best farming practices to achieve both cleaner water and farmer/landowner profitability goals
- Use a market-based approach to facilitate an agricultural-municipal partnership to achieve these landscape-level goals.
AFT will focus on four critical strategies over multiple years in the Upper Scioto River watershed, which is the drinking water source area for the City of Columbus. The four strategies are purposefully designed to be scalable, measurable, and replicable both within and beyond the project time-frame and geography.
- AFT will advance new, more effective outreach and education tools to persuade farmers and landowners that adopting conservation practices that are good for both soil health and water quality also makes economic sense.
- AFT will educate and empower non-operating landowners who own much of the farmland in the project area with this new quantified evidence to convince them to talk with their farmers about adopting these practices and to tailor new lease agreements that will better share the risks and rewards of adopting soil health management practices.
- To target limited resources most effectively, and to bring new sources of funding to incentivize the adoption of additional soil health management practices at sufficient density of implementation, AFT will implement the first two approaches within a new Payments for Ecosystem Services program.
- To monitor effectiveness, AFT will build on existing monitoring capabilities in the watershed to establish proven in-stream monitoring and computer modeling techniques that will track progress and realization of nutrient reduction goals.
We are also pleased and excited to welcome Ashley Brucker to the AFT team here in Ohio! Ashley will be Ohio's agriculture stewardship manager and will spend much of her time working with landowners to address conservation concerns on their land, developing programs to educate others on conservation practices, and learning all she can about agricultural conservation in Ohio.
Ashley joins us from Indiana where she spent the past five years working within the highly respected Indiana Conservation Partnership. Most recently, she served as the state-wide program manager for the Conservation Cropping Systems Initiative, where she developed and organized field days and trainings focused on the promotion of soil health. Ashley also partnered with her father to work on their family farm located in northwestern Indiana. As the third generation to work on the farm, she implemented a full conservation management system across the 600+ acre farm; integrating no-till, cover crops, and other best management practices.
To find out more information about American Farmland Trust’s Midwest work please visit: American Farmland Trust - Midwest