Thursday, October 31, 2013

Many considerations ‘in the mix’ when choosing cover crops, expert says

There are a lot of things for farmers to consider when deciding how to mix that perfect cocktail – ah, of cover crops.
“Seed availability, cost, seeding methods, ability to terminate the plants and other factors enter into the number of species a farmer might use,” says David Lamm of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
“Some studies suggest six to eight species from three of the four groups would be about right,” Lamm says. “Our NRCS plant materials centers are conducting a three-year study to look at this.”
Lamm says location dictates the amount of growing season available, so it should be considered when selecting varieties of cover crops.
There are a number of common mixes being recommended depending on the location in the country. For the northern Corn Belt, Lamm says a common mix is cereal rye, hairy vetch, winter peas and daikon radish. In the south and southeastern U.S., a common mix is cereal rye, hairy vetch, crimson clover, and daikon radish.
“But producers shouldn’t limit themselves to these mixes,” Lamm says. “They should continue to experiment to see what might work best on their farms.” He suggests interested farmers talk with farmers who have long-term experience, too.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Cambridge Middle School soils class

 Technician Jason Tyrell teaching a class on soil types for the Cambridge City middle school classes today. He showed the students how you can judge the percent of soil particles - clay,silt, or sand - in a particular sample by wetting and feeling the texture of the soil ribbon.
Jason showing the class how different soil types stay in suspension or precipitate out of water.   Sand will do so the fastest, then silt, and clay can take days to precipitate out of suspension.  This is one of the reasons that Wills Creek looks so muddy, as Guernsey county soils contain a high percentage of clay particles.

He also took copies of the Guernsey County Soil Survey, and showed the kids how to read the maps, and what the codes mean.   They liked this part of the class the best.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Expert urges farmers to ask—and answer—five questions before cover cropping

Joel Gruver is Western Illinois University’s go-to cover crop guy. He has worked with many farmers who are using cover crops, and he has tested cover crops on University plots. He understands that farmers considering soil health-building cover crops should go in with eyes wide open.

As a result, Gruver has a long list of questions a farmer should ask—and answer—before the first cover crops are planted. Five of the most important questions are:
1. What equipment is available (owned, available for rent or custom hire) to seed cover crops in my area?
2. What windows of opportunity exist as defined by weather and climate, current cropping practices, cover crop genetics—and can current windows be expanded by acceptable adjustments like shorter season crops or alternative cover crops?
3. How will I terminate the cover crop and achieve an acceptable stand of the next crop?
4. Will I have the time and labor to make this work?
5. What’s my contingency plan—and risks—if the cover crop doesn’t establish or doesn’t die on schedule?
“Cover crop management today isn’t just a revisiting of old practices abandoned by the fathers and grandfathers of today’s farmers,” he says. “Innovative large-scale grain farmers have started integrating cover crops into their production systems in ways that were never even considered before.”

Monday, October 21, 2013

Conservation Group To Complete $400k Study on Cover Crops

An Indiana non-profit focused on agricultural conservation practices will be charged with examining the economic, agronomic and environmental impacts of cover crops in a forthcoming study funded by a USDA Conservation Innovation Grant.
The study, to be prepared by the Conservation Technology Information Center, will also look at the contributions of cover crop practices to pollinator habitat, nutrient cycling, and soil health.
CTIC received $482,000 to complete the study with the help of experienced and novice cover crop users in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and South Dakota.
Read rest of article HERE

Friday, October 18, 2013

Saving Sheep Buried By Blizzard

When the blizzard that dumped 24-48 inches of snow across the Black Hills and western South Dakota ended, my parents -- Tom and Karen Seaman, of Newell, S.D. -- loaded up their snowmobile and 4-wheeler and headed out to Castle Rock where they had 800 lambs and ewes on summer pasture.

Read rest of story HERE

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Board of Supervisors Election and Annual Meeting

On Tuesday October 29th, the Guernsey Soil and Water Conservation District will be holding their 71th annual meeting and banquet.  Every year the GSWCD holds an annual meeting for the purpose of electing members to the five member board that comprises the board of supervisors for the district.  This year there will be one member elected to a three-year term.

The mission of the Guernsey Soil and Water Conservation District is to promote through education and technical assistance the sustainable use of natural resources for the benefit of present and future generations.  The traditional perception of the Soil and Water Conservation District has been one of working primarily with the agricultural community.  The district does work on natural resource issue with local agriculture but in addition to that it is a considerable resource to all landowners and land users in Guernsey County.

This year's slate of candidates for election to the district board of supervisors include; Steve Douglass and Bob Sherby.  The candidate with the most votes will be elected to a three-year term.  The official election will begin at 6:00 pm Tuesday, October 29th at the Cassell Station VFD, 4500 Peters Creek Rd, Cambridge, Ohio.  Voting may be done from 6:00pm to 7:30pm. 

The banquet will be served at 7:00pm, with a brief program following the meal. The meal is catered by Smokin’ C BBQ.  Tickets for the banquet are $10, and can be purchased from any current board member, or from the SWCD office.  If you are unable to attend the day of the election, absentee ballots are available at the district office located at 9711 East Pike, Cambridge, Ohio until 4:00pm October 29th.  Eligible voters are all individuals who are at least 18 years of age and a resident of Guernsey County or at least 18 years of age and own real estate in Guernsey County.  Consider participating in this important process.  For additional information you may contact the Guernsey Soil and Water Conservation District office at (740) 432-5624.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

‘Home-grown innovation’ needed for wide-spread cover crop use

Before World War II, most farmers included forage legumes like alfalfa and red clover in crop rotations ahead of nitrogen-demanding crops like corn. Forage grasses and small grains were also commonly used to curb soil erosion.
But according to Joel Gruver, a cover crop expert at Western Illinois University, cover crops fell out of favor during the rise of mechanized agriculture in the 1950s and 1960s—and increased again in the 1970’s due to growing public concern about the environment combined with spikes in input costs.
Today, farmers are recognizing that cover crops, used in combination with no-till and diverse crop rotations, can significantly improve the health of their soil—and with it, the productivity and profitability of their farms.

“Modern agriculture’s cover crop pioneers have figured out how to make them work on their farms, with some impressive results,” Gruver says. “It’s going to take home-grown innovation by farmers who haven’t used cover crops to really ramp up their use. I say that because everyone’s situation is different; cover crops aren’t an ‘off the shelf ’ practice that can be done the same way on every farm.”
While the basic principles of cover crops may stay the same, Gruver says the best genetics, establishment, and termination methods for individual farms can vary widely with respect to objectives, location, weather conditions, crop, soil types, and more.
“Fortunately, many of the farmers trying cover crops now are experienced no-tillers or strip-tillers who have a track record of doing the type of trouble shooting necessary to make cover crops work consistently,” Gruver says.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

OSU Extension offers guidance for reseeding pasture in pipeline rights-of-way

CALDWELL, Ohio - Farmers who are negotiating easements across their property for shale oil and gas pipelines might want to include a clause about when the company should reseed their pastures because reseeding at the wrong time of year often results in failure, a forage expert with Ohio State University's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences says.

Read rest of article   HERE

Friday, October 11, 2013

Aquaponics combines fish and crops for a productive retirement

There is something fishy about a guy who doesn’t golf or watch television, at least in the case of Doug Blackburn. With those two traditional staples of retirement time use not an option, Doug set to work a few years ago to find a way to pass the time as he approached his departure from the work force..

Read rest of article   HERE

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Ethanol plant to reopen Oct. 15

COSHOCTON — Three Rivers Energy is looking to hum to life in a week’s time.

President Jim Galvin said the ethanol production facility is set to restart operations Oct. 15. He said 40 workers have been hired and are on site now preparing to begin production. Job training, machinery preparation and receiving of raw materials are wrapping up now.

Read rest of article HERE

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Cover crops key in preventing yield losses when converting to no-till

Most farmers with experience in improving soil health have converted from conventional tillage to no-till farming, then over time, added cover crops into their farm operations.
But many farmers have experienced yield drops, at least in corn, in the transition years to no-till. However, that doesn’t have to be the case, and there’s no need to master no-till before you use cover crops with no-till, says Jim Hoorman, an assistant professor and Extension educator for Ohio State University.
“No-till corn yields typically lag conventionally tilled fields by as much as 10 to 15 percent for five to seven years until the microbial populations recover in the soil,” Hoorman says. “That’s because in the transition years, as microbes increase in numbers and build organic matter and humus, the corn crop has competition for nitrogen—microbes take up nitrogen faster than plants, so if nitrogen is limiting, the crop will suffer.”
But farmers can shorten – or eliminate – a yield drop in the short term while you’re on your way to increasing yields long term by using cover crops from the start with no-till, he says.
 “The literature says there are 1,000 to 2,000 times more microbes associated with living roots than in soil without live roots,” Hoorman says. “If you want to build soil, you need to leave it undisturbed and keep it covered with living plants as much of the time as practical.”

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

ODNR Urges Caution When Burning Debris

COLUMBUS, OH – Ohioans should be aware of the outdoor burning regulations and take necessary precautions if they plan to burn debris, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).

“We want to encourage people to be safe and responsible when conducting outdoor burns this season,” said Robert Boyles, chief of the ODNR Division of Forestry. “While Ohio does not typically encounter large fires like those in the Western states, when people are not careful with their outdoor burns they can create the potential for loss of property or life.”

Ohio law states outdoor debris burning is prohibited from 6 a.m.-6 p.m. during October and November. Burning is limited in the fall due to the abundance of dry fuel on the ground from dried grasses, weeds and autumn leaves. Winds can make a seemingly safe fire become quite hazardous. Violators of Ohio’s burning regulations are subject to citations and fines. Residents should also check Ohio Environmental Protection Agency regulations and consult with local fire department officials about burning conditions and safety considerations.

If a fire does escape control, immediately contact the local fire department. An escaped wildfire, even one burning in grass or weeds, is dangerous.

The ODNR Division of Forestry offers these safety tips for burning debris outdoors:

  • Consider using a 55-gallon drum with a weighted screen lid to provide an enclosed incinerator.
  • Know current and future weather conditions and do not leave debris burning unattended. Keep suppression tools such as a charged water hose, shovel and a rake close by while burning debris.
  • Be informed about state and local burning regulations. Homeowners living within incorporated limits should check with their fire department for local ordinances. Most incorporated areas do not allow open debris burning due to the close proximity of homes and businesses.
  • Visit and for more information and tips on protecting a home and community.

Remember, Smokey Bear says, “Only you can prevent wildfires!”

Friday, October 4, 2013

Ag Feels Immediate Impact of Shutdown

There was certainly no shortage of negative reaction Tuesday morning as Americans – and ag stakeholders – awoke to news that legislators had failed to reach a budget agreement that would fund government activities for the next fiscal year.
Many in the ag industry consider the latest impasse just part of a "double whammy" of sorts, comprising a second government foible following continuing, yet rather messy farm bill negotiations.

Read rest of story HERE

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Paul Bunyan Show starts Friday

Here is the schedule for the Paul Bunyan Show, which is here in Guernsey county at the fairgrounds on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

"The Original American Forestry Show"
October 4-6, 2013
8 am - 6 pm Friday and Saturday • 9 am - 3 pm Sunday

Guernsey County Fairgrounds
335 Old National Road
Old Washington (Cambridge), OH 43768

Admission Prices:
$8 - Adults • $4 - Seniors (60 and over) & Kids (12-7)
Children 6 & Under Free

No pets allowed! There will be forestry equipment running live throughout the grounds and it is a very loud and scary place for pets! Please leave your pet at home!
No unauthorized vehicles, ATV's or personal golf carts allowed on Show grounds. Scooters will be available for rent $30 per day at the Show. First come, first served.

Preventing, treating deer damage

Bucks can’t resist sapling trees and will shred them as part of their mating ritual during the fall rut season starting in mid-September.
Known as “buck rubs,” this wanton damage to young trees and shrubs can be prevented very easily.
Shredded trees can be treated to prevent permanent damage, but earlier preventive measures are well worth the trouble. Here’s how to do both.

Read rest of article HERE

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

High-risk host trees coming down at East Fork

Officials with the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service announced plans to begin high-risk host tree removals in the East Fork Wildlife Area Sept. 16 as part of the Asian Longhorned Beetle Eradication program.

Read rest of article HERE