Thursday, January 31, 2013

Forestry Invasive Species Control

NEW PHILADELPHIA, OHIO –  At the Feb. 6 meeting of the East Central Ohio Forestry Association (ECOFA) Alan Walter will discuss two difficult to control invasive species:  multiflora rose and ailanthus (tree of heaven).  The meeting begins at 7:30 PM and will include recommendations based on his successes in his woodland.
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 McDonald-Marlite Lewis Conference Center, 143 McDonald Drive NW in New Philadelphia.
Visit their website for more information.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Healthy, Productive Soils Checklist

Managing for soil health is one of the easiest and most effective ways for farmers to increase crop productivity and profitability while improving the environment. Read our healthy, productive soil health checklist for growers (PDF, 935 KB) and learn what might be a part of your soil health management system.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Osage Orange (Maclura pomifera)

The Osage Orange is one of 6 tree seedlings which will be offered in the 2013 Tree Sale held by the Guernsey Soil & Water Conservation District.  Other seedlings include white pine, American chestnut, English oak, Shellbark hickory, and Allegheny Chinquapin. New this year are fruit trees; both peach and apple. The district will also offer 2 varieties of blueberry, and an America cranberry.  For more information and to receive an order blank, please call 740-432-5624.

Osage Orange, a tree introduced into Ohio during the 1800's, is commonly seen in rural areas where it frequents fields and fencerows. Its usage as a large hedge tree in a row planting and the softball-sized fruits of female trees give it the alternative common name of Hedge Apple.
Commercially, its very strong wood is used to make the best bows for archery. When its wood is used as fenceposts or laid-down timbers, it takes decades to completely rot. Most parts of the tree exude a sticky white sap containing latex when wounded or cut.

A native of portions of Arkansas, Texas, and Oklahoma, Osage Orange loves the prolonged hot and dry conditions of summer, and thrives in poor soils. Specimens found in the open are upright and rapidly growing in youth, becoming arching and spreading with age, reaching 40 feet in height and 40 feet in width with a dense crown of interlacing, thorny branches. A distinctive growth habit is the repeatedly arching branches that hang down at the ends, but periodically send up vertical shoots. As a member of the Mulberry Family, it is related to the Mulberries and Figs.

Planting Requirements - The adaptability of Osage Orange to a wide range of soils (organic, clay, sandy, or rocky, with acidic or alkaline pH) and moisture levels (wet, moist, or very dry) accounts for its widespread distribution throughout the eastern, midwestern, and Great Plains areas of the United States, far beyond its native range. It is most noteworthy during prolonged hot and dry summers, when its dark green, shiny foliage never fades or wilts. Osage Orange grows in full sun to partial sun, and is found in zones 4 to 9.

Potential Problems - Osage Orange is virtually disease and pest free.Heavy fruit litter beneath female trees in autumn, and extreme thorniness (especially in youth and on its lower branches) are its landscape liabilities. Its rapid and vigorous establishment in the first few years after planting are among its greatest attributes, however.

Friday, January 25, 2013

White Pine (Pinus strobus)

The White Pine is one of 6 tree seedlings which will be offered in the 2013 Tree Sale held by the Guernsey Soil & Water Conservation District.  Other seedlings include English oak, American chestnut, Osage Orange(hedge), Shellbark hickory, and Allegheny Chinquapin. New this year are fruit trees; both peach and apple. The district will also offer 2 varieties of blueberry, and an America cranberry.  For more information and to receive an order blank, please call 740-432-5624.

An evergreen tree from the Pine Family (Pinaceae)
White Pine, an evergreen conifer, is today widely distributed throughout eastern North America, including all of Ohio. It was originally confined to Appalachia, New England, and southern Canada at the time of European settlement, and occurred primarily in northeastern Ohio. Today, it is logged for the production of lumber, creosote-soaked telephone poles, and as pulp for the production of paper. White Pine is commonly transplanted today as a landscape evergreen tree, and is also sold as a cut Christmas tree.

Also known as Eastern White Pine, this towering evergreen easily grows to 80 feet tall by 40 feet wide (or larger) under optimum conditions, with a rapid growth rate. Its shape is upright pyramidal when young, but becomes irregular with maturity. The very straight trunk of White Pine is punctuated by a whorl of lateral branches every one to two feet, and from this sequential arrangement, a close approximation of the age of the tree can be determined (simply count the number of whorls from bottom to top). As a member of the Pine Family, it is related to other Pines as well as the Firs, Larches, Spruces, and Hemlocks.

Planting Requirements - White Pine performs best in evenly moist, rich, well-drained, acidic soils in full sun. It is often intolerant of soils that are alkaline in pH and poorly drained; therefore, the heavy clay soils of much of central and western Ohio cause it to struggle in parts of this region, while it often thrives in eastern Ohio. Needle chlorosis (yellowing) and stunted growth are prime symptoms of a soil-related problem. Its rapid growth rate allows for a quick result in terms of a harvestable timber tree, a mature landscape tree, or as a cut Christmas tree. It grows in zones 3 to 8.

Potential Problems - In spite of thriving in many natural settings, White Pine is very susceptible in urban settings to alkaline soil pH (causing chlorosis, resulting in yellowing of the needles and stunting of growth), winter salt spray, air pollution, compacted clay soils, and poor water drainage. Young transplants and saplings are also subject to deer and rabbit browsing in any setting. White Pine suffers from white pine blister rust, a fungus that attacks the inner bark. This primary disease can be controlled by removing all gooseberry and alpine currant shrubs within a quarter mile of the tree, since they serve as alternate hosts. White Pine is also attacked by the white pine weevil, which bores into the terminal shoots and distorts the growth of the upper canopy. This primary pest may severely impact mass plantings, such as those that occur in pure forests stands, nursery plantations, and Christmas tree farms.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

USDA Farm Service Agency Launches New Microloan of up to $35,000

 Columbus, Ohio -- Jan. 18, 2012 -- Steven Maurer, the Ohio Farm Service Agency (FSA) State Executive Director announced today that new and beginning farmers, returning veterans and disadvantaged producers interested in careers in farming now have an agricultural Microloan credit option to consider.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s FSA will offer applicants a Microloan designed to help farmers with credit needs of $35,000 or less. The loan features a streamlined application process built to fit the needs of new and smaller producers.

"This innovative offering will be more customer-friendly than our larger, more traditional loan programs, said Maurer.  "Farms seeking a smaller loan for start-up or operational needs now have a great new tool to think about."

"For those selling at Farmers’ Markets or through community-supported agriculture operations (CSAs), a Microloan might serve their needs perfectly," SED Maurer continued."  "And the reduced paperwork associated with the new Microloan will help expedite the process for everyone.”
The new microloan program is aimed at bolstering the progress of producers through their start-up years by providing needed resources and helping to increase equity so that farmers may eventually graduate to commercial credit and expand their operations.  Producers can apply for a maximum of $35,000 to pay for initial start-up expenses such as hoop houses to extend the growing season, essential tools, irrigation and annual expenses such as seed, fertilizer, utilities, land rents, marketing, and distribution expenses.  As their financing needs increase, applicants can apply for a regular operating loan up to the maximum amount of $300,000 or obtain financing from a commercial lender under FSA's Guaranteed Loan Program.

USDA farm loans can be used to purchase land, livestock, equipment, feed, seed, and supplies, or be to construct buildings or make farm improvements.  Small farmers often rely on credit cards or personal loans, which carry high interest rates and have less flexible payment schedules, to finance their operations.  The microloan program will expand access to credit and provide a simple and flexible loan process for small operators.

Producers interested in applying for a microloan should contact their local FSA office or visit the Ohio FSA website at: to locate the nearest FSA office to you.  The Guernsey/Noble FSA office is  740-432-5621

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

10 Ways to Avoid Mucking up a Stream during Logging

1)  Plan what you're going to do before you do it.  And plan for both the best weather and operating conditions and the worst.  By planning for the worst, you will be able to make quicker adjustments during your logging job.
2)  Always avoid crossing a stream unless it is absolutely necessary.  This is the best way to prevent stream pollution.
3)  Use a portable logging bridge when possible. It is always better to cross over a stream instead of through it.  Not only does a bridge reduce pollution, it is easier on your equipment.
4)  If you have to cross a stream, always look for the best location.  Look at all the possible crossings, then choose the best one.  "Best" means the crossing you have selected has the fewest obstacles and will minimize pollution.
5)  Cross the stream at a right angle.  The shortest distance between the two stream banks is to cross at a right angle to the stream. This gets you in, across, and out of the stream in the shortest distance.
6)  use a temporary in-stream crossing if a bridge is not available.  This crossing can be created by placing small (6-8") diameter logs side by side in the stream channel and parallel to the stream bank.  Drive your skidder over the logs and when you're finished, pull the logs out of the stream.
7)  Don't cover the temporary log crossing with soil.  This makes for a smoother skidder ride, but the soil will eventually work its way down between the logs and cause pollution.  If you need to cushion your ride, use tree tops instead.  When finished, be sure to remove the tops and the logs from the stream.
8)  Don't harvest threes all the way to the stream bank.  Leave at least a 25-foot strip of undisturbed forest next to streams.  But remember that the steeper the adjacent slopes the wider the filter strip should be.
9)  Don't skid logs through a stream.  Flowing water carries sediment downstream and results in off-site pollution, a serious House Bill 88 violation.
10)  Don't leave any logging slash greater than 6" in diameter in any perennial (flows year round) stream.  It should be pulled far enough away from the stream so that flooding would not carry it away.

If you don't know which best management practices to use during a timber harvest, or you don't know how to install them, refer to "BMPs for Erosion Control on Logging Jobs in Ohio".  This pocket-sized handbook is an easy-to-use reference and contains all the BMP specifications that you need.  This handbook is available from Guernsey SWCD.

It can be downloaded from this ODNR website:

Friday, January 18, 2013

FULL-TIME DISTRICT TECHNICIAN - deadline to apply February 1

The Guernsey Soil & Water Conservation District is seeking applications for the position of District Technician.
Responsibilities will include, but not be limited to: Providing education, technical assistance, and field assistance to landowners/operators and units of government, primarily in agricultural and urban drainage and flooding issues.
Applicants should have Minimum of 2 year degree and/or experience in natural resources conservation practices and current agricultural production practices (including rowcrops, livestock, hay production, grazing management, nutrient management).
Candidate should be proficient in Microsoft Office and preferably have experience using ArcGIS software. Salary range from $22,880 - $29,120 (plus benefits) commensurate on degree and / or experience.


Guernsey Soil & Water Conservation District
9711 East Pike, Cambridge, OH 43725
Telephone: 740-432-5624 Fax: 740-432-2833

Vacancy Announcement - District Technician

• Provide technical assistance to and education of individual landowners in the successful development and installation of conservation practices relating to the District’s mission and goals in cooperation with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the ODNR Division of Soil and Water Resources.

• Responsible for assisting in planning tour, field days, technical workshops, and public viewing of demonstrations including equipment, plots, practices, etc.

• Provide assistance to landowners to comply with the provision of Ohio’s Agricultural Pollution Abatement Law.

• Provide leadership and guidance to landowners who wish to learn or fine tune their grazing strategies.

• Provide support and assistance to landowners with soils suitability assessments, flooding and drainage complaints, and stream protection.

• Lead backyard conservation program with a focus on rain gardens and other storm water infiltration practices. Update and develop outreach programs pertaining to backyard conservation topics.

• Promote the Envirothon Contest and solicit contest participants in county schools. Coordinate training events with area schools.

• Represent the District at meetings of local, state and federal agencies and organizations as directed.

• Attend monthly board meetings and/or other meetings as designated by the DPA and/or Board of Supervisors.

• Keep abreast of all federal, state, and local laws that affect the conservation work within the district.

• Prepare and maintain all records, reports, and forms as required. This includes the computerized payroll and data collection system, currently known as SWIMS.

• Coordinate the technical work with the other district staff and technical requests with the NRCS District Conservationist and the DPA.

• Must comply with all of the district’s policies (i.e. Employment Policy, this position description)

• Must demonstrate regular and predictable attendance.

• Perform all other duties as assigned by the DPA and/or board of supervisors.


• Minimum of 2 year degree and/or experience in natural resources conservation practices and current agricultural production practices (including rowcrops, livestock, hay production, grazing management, nutrient management).

• Ability to communicate effectively in both oral and written form; exercise sound judgment; use time and organizational skills wisely; be groomed and dressed appropriately as to reflect well on the Guernsey SWCD; cooperate with co-workers; receive and implement instructions from DPA and board of supervisors; communicate and work well with landowners without discrimination. Success in this position will depend greatly on the ability to develop a working relationship with landowners in order to implement conservation practices. This will require outreach, planning, and follow-up over the long term.

• Ability to operate field equipment (survey equipment, water quality monitoring equipment, GPS data collector, digital camera, etc.) with guidance and training.

• Familiarity with popular computer software (including, but not limited to, MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher) and willingness to learn new applications. Some proficiency in ArcView, GIS, ERIN preferred, or an ability to learn these programs quickly.

• Must be insurable for government vehicle operation and have a valid Ohio driver’s license.

• Ability to pass a background check in order to use county and federal computer system.

• Be a certified conservation planner, or work to become within 18 months of employment.

• Be certified or work to become in TDP Level 1 and 2 within 24 months of employment.


• Occasionally performs duties during inclement weather.

• Required to lift and carry necessary equipment; walk over uneven, steep ground; cross fences.

• Required to transport district rental equipment using district vehicles.

• Required to work in close proximity to construction equipment while in operation.

• Required to attend evening and weekend meetings on occasion within and outside the county.


A formal performance review will be conducted annually by the DPA. During this review, salary advancement and items concerning the employee’s professional growth and employment are discussed. At this time, a set of goals for the coming year which meet with the goals of the district will be discussed and agreed upon.

Salary and Benefits:

Salary will be commensurate with experience, qualifications and available funding. Salary range will be from $22,880 - $29,120. Employee will be under the Ohio Public Employee Retirement System and will be eligible for vacation, sick leave, and the County health insurance benefits.

Application Deadline:

Anyone interested in the position should contact the Guernsey SWCD  and submit a resume (with at least three references) along with a cover letter to the SWCD’s address listed at the top of this job description by February 1, 2013.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Administration Cultivating Fertilizer Regulations As Ag Groups Ask Farmers To Reduce Usage

As agriculture groups ask farmers to reduce the amount of fertilizer they use, the Kasich Administration is developing legislation aimed at fighting algae blooms that have been choking several Ohio lakes in recent years.  More than a dozen agricultural groups recently sent a letter to farmers asking them to help clean up the state's waterways - a development that drew praise from environmentalists, who say government intervention might still be necessary.  That's the message in the letter signed by the Ohio Farm Bureau, Ohio Cattlemen's Association, Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association, Ohio Soybean Council, Ohio Livestock Coalition and others.
"Government, special interest groups, the media and the public all expect you to help clean up the state's water resources. If farmers don't do this on their own, there will be federal and state laws and regulations that will mandate how you farm," the letter warns.  The groups ask farmers to immediately begin reducing nutrient runoff into waterways, a major contributor to algae blooms in Grand Lake St. Marys, Lake Erie, and the Gulf of Mexico. They also advise producers to document their reductions.  "Farmers must proactively solve this challenge. There's more at risk than higher costs of regulation. Unless farmers make significant reductions in nutrient runoff, they will increasingly take the blame for phosphorus loading and toxic algae," the letter says.
Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Erica Hawkins said Wednesday the administration was in the process of developing legislation to implement recommendations included in last year's report by the Director's Agricultural Nutrients and Water Quality Working Group.  The report recommended a fertilizer applicator licensing program similar to existing regulations for pesticides applicators, which include continuing education requirements. It also called for requiring retailers to collect data on the amount and location of fertilizer being sold and authorizing the Department of Natural Resources to more aggressively pursue "habitual bad actors."  Ms. Hawkins said most of the Ohio Clean Lakes Initiative, which was formed last year to help state agencies share information on the algae problem, was aimed primarily at increasing education and encouraging the adoption of nutrient management plans and soil testing for now.  "We need to do more to collect more information to do more research so we can understand what we need to be doing," she said. "The bulk of the legislative changes you're going to see are better ways for us to understand how fertilizer is being used, when, and where it's being used to get a clearer picture of the status of things right now and see if we're going to need to make other changes down the road."
Sen. Randy Gardner, who is working with administration officials on legislation to help combat algae blooms in Lake Erie, said it was too early to say whether the proposal might call for additional regulations.  "Like most things, if we can attack this challenge in a voluntary way and make a real difference, that I think is almost always the preference, as opposed to government mandates and regulation," he said.  "If I introduce something that isn't able to generate support by the governor and by the legislature, then all we do is talk about an issue," he said. "I want to fundamentally get things done. We need to discuss how much can be done through existing incentives and through voluntary efforts."
Policymakers could take a more local approach by involving soil and water conservation districts in water management plans, Sen. Gardner said.  "Whether that's required filings and required plans that are established through them or through the state, or whether it's voluntary review, that's to be decided," he said. "I think it makes sense to utilize soil and water districts because they are some of our more trusted and respected local agencies that work with farmers and others to help on these issues."  Sen. Gardner said he would like to offer a comprehensive measure that deals with the many factors contributing to algae growth, such as municipal sewer overflows and dredging, which can stir up nutrients in the in the lake bottom.  "My strong preference would be to gain support by all of the governor's cabinet officials responsible for each area of the legislation and then move forward," he said. "We want the agencies involved in helping implement involved in what we're trying to get done."
Meanwhile, the Ohio Environmental Council commended both the agricultural groups' effort to get farmers to voluntarily limit fertilizer application and the Kasich administration's initiatives to fight algae blooms.  Joe Logan, director of agriculture programs for the OEC, said voluntary conservation practices are helping to keep the soil and nutrients on the field and out of waterways.  "But voluntary efforts alone may not be sufficient to accomplish the magnitude of nutrient reductions necessary to prevent toxic algae and to fully restore water quality in western Lake Erie and Ohio's inland lakes and streams," he said in a statement.  "Most farmers are conservation minded. But some, due to economic circumstances or their traditional farming practices, simply have not been willing to take full advantage of these programs. We hope the ag-coalition letter helps motivate those farmers to take the matter of responsible nutrient use more seriously," he said.  Mr. Logan said nutrient pollution and harmful algae problems have grown in recent years, despite on-going voluntary conservation initiatives.  "In order to restore the health of Lake Erie, Grand Lake St. Marys, and Ohio's other inland lakes, all farmers and ranchers should help conserve soil and water resources. Ultimately, though, a regulatory lever may be needed to make that happen," he said. "Our state and nation must resolve the nutrient issue, likely through a combination of voluntary efforts, eligibility requirements for Farm Bill programs, and direct regulatory requirements."

Friday, January 11, 2013

Farmers urged to voluntarily cut runoff

Ohio farmers are being warned that if they don’t take steps to reduce the manure and fertilizers that wash off their fields and pollute streams and lakes, government officials will order them to do it.
Read an article in the Columbus Dispatch explaining how concerns over algae blooms in Grand Lake St Marys and western Lake Erie are drawing attention to agricultural runoff into streams, rivers, and lakes across Ohio.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Changing soil pH on your farm

Many physical, chemical and biological processes necessary for crop survival, growth and yield are affected by soil pH.  
Read article on how to adjust the pH in this article: