Reducing Algae Blooms in the Great Lakes

Wisconsin Public Radio had two good pieces, one theirs, one NPR’s  to end the week on the Algae blooms in Lake Erie and how Lake Michigan is ripe for one of their own, around the Green Bay area and probably other parts of the lake (Sheboygan River at Sheboygan?)

Here is the National Public Radio story on the local Ohio farmers now under the spotlight for the Lake Erie bloom, according to the story, the farmers try to minimize their phosphorus applications, but the story does not go into detail into how it happens.

The WPR story refers to Wisconsin’s EPA regulations as voluntary and not tracked and regulated.  Farmers of course have good reason to minimize fertilizer application to save money in production so they can make a profit per acre/bushel on each crop.

This is where the UAV revolution I wrote about a couple days ago at Farmfest in Redwood Falls, MN about the low altitude (less than 500ft) drones already in action.  I do not have any data on the Wisconsin or Ohio Farm Bureaus  as to how many farmers in the lake watersheds are deploying this technology as it is so new (most Minnesota farm runoff heads to the Gulf of Mexico, some to Hudson Bay, and some to Lake Superior).  This is a amazing market for this small scale technology through Sept 2015 and beyond (larger drones can probably fly after that date if the FAA approves them).

To maximize compliance it would be a combination of EPA regulations, government grants, and profit motivation by each farmer to get UAV technology, minimize phosphorous application through detailed map field data.  To maximize the watershed reductions, Farm Bureau agreements to share data so large spatial datasets can be created will keep the Great Lakes as blue as possible and the water as clean as possible and drinkable as possible.


About Chuck Schoeneberger

Former forecaster at Meridian Environmental Technologies Inc (now a Interis Company), with a background in GIS and LiDAR, with other stints at GeoSpatial Services of Winona, MN and Aerometric (Now Quantum Spatial) of Sheboygan, WI. He is a weather technologist for public storm safety from a local to international level. LinkedIn Profile: His views are his own and not of his employer.
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