Scientists have determined that agriculture is the source of more than 80 percent of the phosphorus that reaches Lake Erie and contributes to harmful algal blooms. This series shows how area farmers make choices during the year to both grow a profitable crop and protect the environment that is their livelihood.
Les Seiler and his brother Jerry farm 1,500-1,600 acres in Fulton County near the Village of Fayette. They are in the Tiffin River watershed which drains to the Maumee River. The land is lightly rolling and has a high water table. Les Seiler says that more than 30 soil types have been identified in the immediate area including what he calls “water sand,” a mucky gray soil that he compares to quick sand. The Seiler philosophy of agriculture emphasizes development and maintenance of healthy soil; they use several best management practices to keep the soil on the land with as little disturbance as possible and to ensure that the soil holds the right mixture of water and nutrients. They have run a continuous no-till operation since 1986 and over the years have seen healthy changes in their fields including higher water-holding capacity, increased organic matter, and more biological activity including more beneficial insects.
“Planting cover crop takes a lot of management, but it fits with continuous no-till. I think cover crops are the missing link for soil health. It makes the biological system work.”
– Les Seiler