9711 East Pike
Cambridge, OH 43725

Our Mission

Promote through education and technical assistance, the sustainable use of natural resources for the benefit of present and future generations.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Is Dirt the New Prozac?

Some researchers have proposed that the sharp rise in asthma and allergy cases over the past century stems, unexpectedly, from living too clean. The idea is that routine exposure to harmless microorganisms in the environment—soil bacteria, for instance—trains our immune systems to ignore benign molecules like pollen or the dandruff on a neighbor’s dog.

Read rest of article  HERE

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Farmers: Take the survey and give your input

Sustainable Agriculture  
Research and Education 
Advancing innovations in sustainable agriculture since 1988

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National Survey on Cover Crops Seeks Farmer Participation

Farmers are invited to share their thoughts on cover crops - whether or not they use cover crops themselves - in a national survey, now in its third year of collecting valuable data on the increasingly popular management practice. The results, which will be released this summer, will help growers, researchers, agricultural advisors, ag retailers and policymakers more effectively address questions about cover crops and learn about best practices.

Farmers, take the online survey now.

Farmers who complete the questionnaire are eligible for a drawing for one of two $100 Visa gift cards. All answers are anonymous; respondents will be directed to another website at the end of the survey to enter the $100 Visa gift card drawing.

The survey is being conducted by the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) and is sponsored by USDA's Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) and Corn+Soybean Digest.

All farmers are invited to complete the survey, says Chad Watts, project manager for CTIC.

"It doesn't matter if you've planted cover crops for 40 years or if you've never worked with them before," he notes. "We want to hear from farmers with all levels of interest and experience. It's just as important to understand what might be preventing a farmer from planting cover crops as it is to understand why another grower is so excited."

Read more.... (Takes you to site, or read below.)

Data from this year’s survey will be compared to information from the two previous years in an effort to identify trends in cover crop practices or attitudes toward cover crops. Other questions will help conservation leaders zero in on details of cover crop practices. SARE, ASTA and scientists from Purdue University helped develop the questionnaire and will also help analyze the results. The editors ofCorn+Soybean Digest are distributing the release to their subscribers, inviting a broad base of farmers to participate.
Watts points out that the past two surveys have been extremely influential in helping shape research priorities, educational materials and even public policy related to cover crops. Last year, Jason Weller, chief of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), cited findings from the 2013 SARE/CTIC Cover Crop Survey in testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives Agriculture Committee.
“Taking a few minutes to share your opinions about cover crops is a major contribution to the world of conservation agriculture, and it has a real impact on the future of cover crops,” Watts says.
All answers are anonymous; respondents will be directed to another website at the end of the survey to enter the $100 Visa gift card drawing.

USDA extends farm bill crop deadlines

USDA extends farm bill crop deadlines

Friday, February 27, 2015 in 

WASHINGTON — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that a one-time extension will be provided to producers for the new safety-net programs established by the 2014 farm bill, known as Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC).
The final day to update yield history or reallocate base acres has been extended one additional month, from Feb. 27, until March 31. The final day for farm owners and producers to choose ARC or PLC coverage also remains March 31.
“This is an important decision for producers, because these programs provide financial protection against unexpected changes in the marketplace,” Vilsack said.

Providing time

He added that producers are working to make the best decision they can. And, USDA is working to ensure they have the time, information, and opportunity to review their data, and to visit the Farm Service Agency.
If no changes are made to yield history or base acres by March 31, the farm’s current yield and base will be used.
A program choice of ARC or PLC coverage also must be made by March 31, or there will be no 2014 payments for the farm and the farm will default to PLC coverage through the 2018 crop year.
“These are complex decisions, which is why we launched a strong education and outreach campaign back in September,” Vilsack said.

Educating producers

Nationwide, more than 2.9 million educational postcards, in English and Spanish, have been sent to producers, and more than 4,100 training sessions have been conducted on the new safety-net programs.
The online tools, available at www.fsa.usda.gov/arc-plc, allow producers to explore projections on how ARC or PLC coverage will affect their operation under possible future scenarios.
Covered commodities include barley, canola, large and small chickpeas, corn, crambe, flaxseed, grain sorghum, lentils, mustard seed, oats, peanuts, dry peas, rapeseed, long grain rice, medium grain rice (which includes short grain rice), safflower seed, sesame, soybeans, sunflower seed and wheat. Upland cotton is no longer a covered commodity.
To learn more, farmers can contact their local Farm Service Agency county office. To find your local office visit http://offices.usda.gov.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Melting out of the “The Frozen Tundra”

Tips for avoiding property damage due to thaw related flooding:

1) Move valuable equipment out of areas that are prone to flood (i.e. backhoes, excavators, dozers, vehicles)
2) Place valuables and valuable equipment up off the floor in buildings that have basements or have been prone to flood in the past
3) Check all tile outlets to make sure they are free from obstruction
4) Move valuable equipment or contents out of areas that are in a floodplain if possible. If impossible to relocate place valuables on shelves upper floors etc.
5) Have back up pumps and power supplies readily available with an action plan in place
6) Should power be lost, know the buildings that have sump pumps and have them monitored until power is restored
7) After power is restored, have maintenance staff or building superintendent check pumps to make sure they are functioning properly
8) Check downspouts and gutters for debris that could potentially block or obstruct flow. Blocked gutters and downspouts can overburden building perimeter drains.
9) Periodically check all buildings that have a basement for groundwater intrusion.
10) Piles of snow and ice are often placed in low areas after plowing or scraping. Make sure that piled snow is not covering or obstructing a storm water or underground outlet.
11) If battery back-ups are on existing sump pumps, make sure that batteries are still charged. Replace or charge as necessary.

OSU Guide to Weed Identification Available

COLUMBUS, Ohio – With spring planting soon to get underway, a new guide developed by an agronomist from the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University is available to help growers identify weeds in order to manage them before they take over.

The 2015 Ohio State University Guide to Weed Identification is now available for free as an iBook and can be downloaded through Ohio State’s Digital Bookstore at digitalbookstore.osu.edu/book/ohio-state-university-guide-weed-identification.

The guide is an excellent tool for growers presented in a digital format that offers pictures of various weed species at different stages of maturity and 360-degree movies for most species, said Bruce Ackley, an OSU Extension program specialist in weed science. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of the college.

The guide can be used by growers as they get into their fields for planting, he said.

“The guide is great for anyone who wants to know how to identify a weed,” Ackley said. “It offers full-page, high definition pictures for a number of the most common Midwestern U.S. weeds and basic intellectual tools that are necessary to successfully identify plants.”

People who find a weed in their field or their yard will typically pull it out and flip through a book or Google to try to identify it, he said.

“But typically only one close picture or sketch of what you have will show up, leaving you not feeling comfortable in identifying it,” Ackley said. “This guide, however, gives you the full plant feel, with more photos to flip through for each species. Plus it looks really cool and beautiful.”

The 205-page guide provides information on the basic principles of weed identification, he said.

It describes 29 families and 85 species of monocotyledonous and dicotyledonous plants. Plant descriptions include key identification characteristics, Ackley said.

“The guide helps growers get to know their enemy — to better understand what weeds you are trying to control,” Ackley said. “In order to manage them, you have to be able to identify the weeds in order to make sure you know what you are spraying.

“You can get more effective control if you can identify the weeds when they are little and know how to manage them. All the weeds in the guide are found in Ohio.”

Friday, February 27, 2015

Passport to Fishing Instructor

Our Wildlife/Forestry Specialist, Levi Arnold, has become certified as a Passport to Fishing instructor by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.  Through the Guernsey Soil & Water Conservation District, Levi is available to teach this class interested groups of adults or children.  The district does not charge for this service.
The Passport to Fishing program provides skills, techniques and information that allows any beginning angler to start fishing in their own community. The program consists of four stations focusing on hands-on participation and a strong conservation message.
The Passport to Fishing program is designed to be:
---Appealing to various age and interest groups
---Adjustable to highlight activities and species unique to a particular region
---Appropriate to any skill and education level
---Adaptable to any setting whether inside or at the water's edge
---Can be taught throughout the year
Please call  740-435-0408 to talk with Levi about scheduling a program with your group.  Levi is also available to speak on a variety of natural resource conservation topics; whether on wildlife, forestry or water quality.

Triple Crown Blackberry - 8th in a series

Triple Crown is named for its three attributes; flavor, productivity and vigor. This very hardy variety offers two other attributes; disease resistance and very large berries. The thornless blackberry ripens for about one month from end of July thru August. Semi-erect, the canes can be trellised or pruned in summer to an easy picking height of 42". Space plants 5 feet apart in prepared garden beds 5 feet' wide. The large size, dark coloring and rich taste of triple crown blackberries make them as desirable to grow as their thornless stems, resistance to disease and five weeks of fruiting each year. As your plants become established you can expect to see lush fruiting year after year.
Triple Crown is offered in our tree sale, going on now.  You will receive 3 sturdy plants, ready to produce fruit later this year.   For more information and to receive an order blank, please call 740-435-0408.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Blue-green algae invades inland lakes

Josh Britton is the watershed specialist for Harrison and Carroll Soil & Water Conservation Districts. He has a bachelor of science in biology from Mount Vernon Nazarene University and a master of environmental science from Taylor University. He can be reached by calling either 740-942-8837 or 330-627-9852, or by email at josh.britton@hswcd.org

Talk of the quality of the water in our lakes and streams has been growing over the past several years, especially with regard to Harmful Algal Blooms.

If the recent events in Toledo and the Lake Erie region are any indication, it is a discussion that is going to continue to grow. Harmful Algal Blooms are massive growths of microscopic organism. These organisms are not technically algae, but a type of photosynthetic bacteria known as blue-green algae or cyanobacteria.

What sets HAB species apart from other types of blue-green algae is that they have the ability to produce toxins. The toxins produced from HAB are more toxic than cyanide and can affect neurological functions and cause liver damage or skin reactions. For reasons unknown, a severe HAB does not always produce high concentrations of the toxins. While these species of cyanobacteria are normal in our lakes and streams, the issue arises when their populations explode.

Things such as warm weather and lots of rain can increase the likelihood of a severe bloom occurring. While we can’t control weather related factors there is one factor we can control. Like any living thing, blue-green algae need nutrients in order to grow and to thrive. Therefore, by reducing the nutrient input into our waterways — especially phosphorus — we can reduce or prevent HAB from occurring.

By now we have all probably heard about the major problems HABs have caused at Grand Lake-St Mary’s, Buckeye Lake, and most recently, Lake Erie, where the water supply to the city of Toledo was shut down for two days in early August. However, HAB aren’t limited to other parts of the state and could easily become a major issue in our own inland lakes.

Over the past several years, monitoring done by the Ohio Lake Management Society has found these cyanobacteria in many lakes throughout the eastern Ohio. The good news is that levels of toxins in the water have remained low throughout this time, never reaching a level warranting the closing of any beaches or lakes, or shutting down water use in the region.

Accompanying this discussion of HAB is finger pointing: who is to blame for the situation we find ourselves in? Oftentimes that finger ends up pointing at the agricultural community. In reality, it is a complex system.
Nutrients, especially phosphorus, are coming from wastewater treatment plants, broken septic systems, lawn fertilizers, and urban runoff. They are coming from farms, in the form of fertilizer runoff and livestock waste. Instead of trying to pass the blame or argue about how much our farms are contributing, we need to take this opportunity to make the changes to reduce agricultures input of nutrients into our waterways.

The good news is that the changes that are good for water quality are also good for our farms. Every pound of phosphorous that ends up in the stream is a pound not available for your crop. Livestock drinking from clean water sources will be larger and healthier, bringing more money when sold.

If you are ready to begin looking at the changes that can be made on your farm, stop by your county’s Soil and Water Conservation District or Natural Resource Conservation Service offices. We can provide technical or financial assistance to implement many practices to improve water quality.

Let’s work together and ensure that agriculture does its part to reduce the nutrients heading to our lakes and streams. Together, we can ensure the quality of our lakes and streams and better our farms at the same time.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Many Conservation Options Now Available for Ohio Farmers

COLUMBUS, OH, Feb. 20, 2015 – Ohio farmers have until March 20, 2015, to apply for financial assistance to improve natural resources on their land.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service in Ohio designated several focus areas for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) funds that will go to successful applicants.

Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) funding is available for farmers in Ohio’s portion of the Great Lakes watershed to apply conservation practices that improve water and soil quality or provide wildlife habitat.  Farmers in the Western Lake Erie Basin also have the option of focusing on creating honey bee habitat with conservation practices such as planting certain types of cover crops or planting bee-friendly field borders.

All Ohio farmers can apply for assistance to fund energy conserving practices on the farm.  Using more energy-efficient fixtures and equipment for animal housing or reducing fuel consumption through precision agriculture not only saves natural resources, but can also result in significant cost savings for the farmer.

Seasonal high tunnels are another conservation practice available to farmers state-wide.  Increasingly popular with specialty crop growers, these structures and the management practices used to grow crops in them can improve soil health, improve irrigation efficiency, and help control pests.  From a production standpoint, seasonal high tunnels allow for planting earlier in the spring and harvesting later in the fall.

Organic farmers or farmers interested in transitioning into organic production can also apply for EQIP regardless of the farm location.  While organic farmers can also apply for other EQIP funding, the probability of receiving funding increases because only organic farmers compete for these funds.  All applications for EQIP are ranked for their environmental benefit; those providing the most benefit receive the highest priority for funding.

Applications for EQIP submitted by entities, such as farmers applying as a corporation, must have a DUNS (Data Universal Numbering System) number and an active SAM (System for Award Management) registration status when applying, a process that may take several weeks.  Applications cannot be processed without this information. Information on obtaining a DUNS number and registering with SAM is posted at www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/farmbill

For more information about EQIP or other technical or financial assistance programs offered by NRCS, please contact your local service center here in Cambridge at 740-432-5621.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Sierra Blueberry - 7th in a Series

Sierra sets fruit in early mid-season, producing very large, sweet berries with outstanding lighter colored berries with extremely good flavor.  The berries are very firm and will keep in a refrigerator for up to 10 days with no flavor lost. They also freeze well in just a plastic container.  The plant has an upright open growth, 4 to 6 feet tall, with red and orange fall colors. The vigorous, fast growing bush is adaptable to many soil types and makes an excellent selection for hedgerows. Sierra's distinctively flat, quarter-sized berries are borne on loose clusters over the outer periphery of the bush.

Sierra is offered in our tree sale.  You will receive 3 sturdy plants with several branches in a 4" peat pot for $15.00

Fungi in the woodlands (Ten Tales of the Kingdom Fungi)

DOVER, OHIO - James Chatfield,Associate Professor with OSU Extension in the Dept. of Horticulture & Crip Science and the Dept of Plant Pathology, President of the International Ornamental Crab Apple Society will be the featured speaker at the March 4, 7 PM meeting of the East Central Ohio Forestry Association (ECOFA). His program will be on woodland fungi.

ECOFA is an organization of persons interested in improving their woodlands and in forestry-related topics.  The public is cordially invited to attend the free meetings which are held monthly at the Dover Library, 525 North Walnut St. Dover, Ohio

Friday, February 20, 2015

6th in a Series - Black Walnut (Juglans nigra)

A deciduous tree from the Walnut Family (Juglandaceae)
Black Walnut, a rapidly growing tree common in all of Ohio, is most common in moist bottomlands and open fields, but is found everywhere due to squirrels burying its nuts. Its beautiful, fine-grained, chocolate-brown, relatively lightweight heartwood is the ultimate choice for making solid wood furniture, interior trim, gunstocks, and high-quality veneer. The large nut contained beneath the husks of Black Walnut is round and can be cracked open to expose the bittersweet, oily, and highly nutritious kernel.

A native of the Eastern, Midwestern, and Great Plains regions of the United States, Black Walnut is a pioneer invader tree in open fields or cut-over woodlots, and grows rapidly in youth. It displays an irregular and open growth habit when young, dividing into several spreading branches that give it an upright rounded shape as it matures. Its bold winter texture makes it an outstanding tree to observe during the dormant season. This tree may easily grow to 70 feet tall by 70 feet wide when it is found in the open. As a member of the Walnut Family, it is related to other Walnuts and to the Hickories.
Planting Requirements - Black Walnut prefers deep, moist, rich, well-drained soils under sunny conditions, especially the bottomlands of rivers and streams. It also tolerates relatively dry, poor soils, but with a significantly reduced growth rate. Seedlings and saplings are notorious for having a single, very deep taproot that makes transplanting difficult. Black Walnut grows in full sun to partial sun, and is found in zones 4 to 9.

Potential Problems - Aside from leaf spot, Black Walnut is virtually disease and pest free. However, it is famous for the production by its roots of juglone, a chemical that is toxic to some nearby competitor plants. In a woodland setting, very few plants grow under the canopy of this species. When summer drought occurs, the response of this tree is to begin dropping leaves, in spite of its deep taproot system. In an urban setting, a constant rain of leaflets, rachises, dead twigs, stain-laden whole fruits, and debris from squirrel feeding occurs from mid-summer until late autumn, presenting a constant clean-up chore and mowing hazard.

 The Black Walnut  is one of 6 tree seedlings which will be offered in the 2015 Tree Sale held by the Guernsey Soil & Water Conservation District.  Other seedlings include White Pine, Chinquapin Oak, Hazelnut, Red Bud, and Flowering Dogwood. Also available this year are 2 varieties of standard pear trees; Potomac and Crispie. The sale will include Sierra Blueberries and Triple Crown thornless Blackberries.  We will offer two cover crop seed mixes for gardeners; a Fall Cover mix, and new this year, a mix that can be interseeded into a producing vegetable garden in late summer.  And as usual, the district has high quality all cedar birdfeeders and houses for sale.  For more information and to receive an order blank, please call 740-435-0408.