PLUS-UP News | Nov 15 Stakeholder Meeting, Online Training and More

From the Project Director
All the data are in and all the checks have been sent—the 2022 PLUS-UP Pilot Project was a big success.
That success is thanks to the support of U.S. EPA, the generous purchase of dissolved reactive phosphorus (DRP) credits by the Bayer Carbon Program, three years of dedicated work by Dr. Laura Johnson and Judy Smith of the National Water Quality Research Center at Heidelberg University, and invaluable guidance from Dr. Cintia Ribeiro of the Bayer Carbon Program.
Through the PLUS-UP Pilot Project, we developed a pay-for-performance phosphorus credit program grounded in the latest modeling, ironed out systems for enrollment and verification, and even prevented nearly 500 pounds of DRP from entering the waters of the Western Lake Erie Basin (WLEB).
Just as important, we developed a system that invites the participation of dedicated, long-time no-tillers as well as farmers new to no-till and cover crops. PLUS-UP payments were also designed to be available in addition to federal, state and regional incentives.
All the design, all the data gathering and modeling work, and all the patience in building scalable systems that could turn this year's 500 pounds into thousands of pounds of DRP kept on farmers' fields in the future is a tribute to the dedication and patience of the 10 farmers who worked with us to make PLUS-UP happen.
We all owe them our gratitude and our admiration. Here's to them and the rest of the growers in the WLEB who are protecting the watershed and working to improve water quality season after season.
Hans Kok, PhD, CCA
Senior Project Director
Conservation Technology Information Center
Coming Soon: Online 4R Nutrient Training Workshop
Under the auspices of the PLUS-UP program, we will be conducting 4 hours of online training on phosphorus management in the Western Lake Erie Basin and the 4Rs of Nutrient Stewardship.
Stay tuned for details. If you'd like to join our mailing list to be notified about the workshop, click here.
Stakeholder Meeting: November 15, Maumee Bay State Park and Lodge
Heidelberg University and CTIC are calling for insight and guidance on future stages of the PLUS-UP phosphorus credit program.
We will be holding a Stakeholder Workshop on Tuesday, November 15, 11:00 am to 4:00 pm, at the Maumee Bay State Park and Lodge near Toledo, Ohio. The program will bring together farmers, conservationists, watershed experts and prospective credit buyers for a productive conversation on scaling up PLUS-UP.
Watch for details on Click here to join the mailing list for the workshop.
Final Payouts to Growers
PLUS-UP stimulus payments were awarded to 10 farmers in the Western Lake Erie Basin who graciously participated in the PLUS-UP Pilot Program and prevented nearly 500 pounds of dissolved reactive phosphorus from flowing into the Lake Erie watershed. Payments covered 5,300 acres of cropland.
Our initial estimates of payments of $3 per enrolled acre for no-till, $5 for cover crops and $10 per acre for both practices turned out to be very accurate. Using the Nutrient Tracking Tool (NTT) Model, Judy Smith of Heidelberg University's National Water Quality Research Center estimated the DRP reductions from farmers' best management practices and illustrated the impact no-till and cover crops have on varying soil types and topographies. The insight she and Dr. Laura Johnson gathered during the PLUS-UP program will be invaluable in targeting future credit purchases and estimating the impact of farmers' efforts.
See PLUS-UP on our Unique Story Map
Roger Meyer and Kevin Stark of the Geospatial Services team at St. Mary's University of Minnesota created an outstanding online story map describing the PLUS-UP program and illustrating how it works on the Western Lake Erie Basin landscape.
Click here to explore the map on the CTIC website.
Next Steps...
The PLUS-UP Pilot Program is coming to an end, but we are taking what we've learned and preparing to scale it up in the Western Lake Erie Basin and beyond.
Here are some highlights to watch for:
  • PLUS-UP Final Report on the CTIC website.
  • A very similar pilot project in Michigan's Saginaw Bay Watershed sponsored by The Mosaic Company, bringing PLUS-UP stimulus and modeling strategies to a different landscape and cropping system in 2024.
  • Efforts to secure future funding to scale up PLUS-UP in the Western Lake Erie Basin.
If you have ideas, contacts, or the drive to help us scale up these nutrient management efforts, contact CTIC project director Hans Kok.
Program Partners
National Water Quality Research Center, Heidelberg University
Geospatial Services, St. Mary's University of Minnesota
Bayer Carbon Program