Due to the drastic decline in monarch butterfly populations, the Ohio Pollinator Habitat Initiative (OPHI) and Van Wert SWCD are again seeking public involvement to collect common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) seed pods from established plants September 1 -October 30. This is an annual event and hope you can participate!
The seeds will be used to establish new plantings and additional habitat for the monarch butterfly throughout the buckeye state. These future plantings will increase the food source for the caterpillar stage. Seed pods from common milkweed should be collected ONLY WHEN THE PODS ARE DRY AND BROWN-GREY in color. If the center seam pops with gentle pressure, they can be picked. The seeds in green pods will not be viable and won't be able to be used. Be patient and don't collect too soon!
Enrollment begins June 15. ODA in partnership with the SWCD is providing funding for new assistance programs for farmers to help protect water quality in the western basin of Lake Erie. The Ohio Working Lands Program will encourage producers to establish year-round vegetative cover on eligible crop land. The program will promote conversion, establishment and maintenance of forage/hay land on certain cropland acres.
Van Wert SWCD staff will assist landowners on putting together a plan for installing buffers. Landowners will be eligible to receive up to $120 per acrefor a 5-year contract. The goal of the program is to reduce nutrients entering Ohio waterways to lessen harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie.
A voluntary program that encourages producers in the Western Lake Erie Basin to plant small grains such as wheat, barley, oats, or cereal rye on eligible crop land. As the "working lands" implies, participants must plant and harvest small grains, land apply manure, and plant a cover crop to receive a cost-share payment to help offset operating costs. The program benefits the planting of small grains not only for the conservation benefits, but to provide livestock producers with a longer application window to land apply manure and nutrients.
Since 1989, water samples have been collected from Town Creek, area municipalities and rural wells on a regular basis. They are tested for nitrates, phosphates, and pesticides.
The results show that Van Wert County is fortunate to have quality water available. Funding for this program has been provided by the Van Wert County Foundation and will ensure continued monitoring and protection of our water in the future.