Tuesday, November 24, 2015

ECOFA meeting December 2nd

DOVER, OHIO - At the December 2, 7:00 PM meeting of the East Central Ohio Forestry Association (ECOFA)we will have, Dr. Jeff Goff, a chemistry professor from Malone University, he is a certified collector of yellow jackets and hornets for 2 pharmaceutical labs that specialize in providing purified venom for allergy centers that diagnose and treat sting-allergy patients using venom immunotherapy.  Although Jeff's formal training has been in chemistry, his interest in all things biological started very early.  Goff became an avid birdwatcher by age 9, an accomplished bug identifier by his junior year of high school, and worked for the Indiana Dept of Natural Resources monitoring gypsy moth outbreaks during his freshman yr. of college.  Dr. Goff's talk will highlight the natural histories of 6 species of hymenopterans in NE Ohio 

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

Monday, November 16, 2015

New Chief of ODNR-DOW

Department of Natural Resources: Former Division of Wildlife official Ray Petering is coming out of retirement to serve as chief of the division, the agency announced Friday. He will assume his new post Monday.  "Ray's background and experience in the field of fish and wildlife resources, as well as his success in establishing and maintaining partnerships to strengthen wildlife conservation, made Ray the ideal candidate for this job," ODNR Director James Zehringer said in a statement. "Under Ray's leadership I anticipate the Division of Wildlife will make great advancements in furthering ODNR's efforts to improve Ohio's fish and wildlife management."  Sue Howard, assistant chief of the division, has been serving as the acting chief since the resignation of Scott Zody last month, ODNR reported. She will resume her role as assistant chief with responsibilities for fish and wildlife management as well as the business, federal aid and information and education sections of the division.  Mr. Petering has more than 30 years of professional fish and wildlife experience in Ohio having retired from the ODNR Division of Wildlife in 2011 as the acting assistant chief and executive administrator in the fish management and research section. More recently he served as a project manager for the division and authored the State Wildlife Action Plan, according to the agency.  Mr. Petering holds degrees from Ohio State University and the University of Georgia.
In a separate announcement, the agency said it will provide a public update on the beginning of the construction phase and site preparation work for the Buckeye Lake dam project on Monday, Nov. 16.  The event is set for 2 p.m. at Buckeye Lake State Park, 2905 Liebs Island Rd. in Millersport. It will include staff from ODNR, Gannett Fleming and the newly selected construction management firm, ASI. The agency said state and local elected officials and community members will also be on hand to participate.
ODNR also said this week it is taking applications for the Ohio Geology License Plate Fund grant program that helps support graduate students conducting geologic research in the state.  The program, funded through renewals of the Ohio Rocks! license plates, will provide two $1,200 grants to earth science students at Ohio colleges and universities for graduate-level research on Ohio's geology. The awards will be selected on the quality of the student applications, their professors' letters of reference and the relevancy of the research.  The deadline for application submission is Jan. 15, 2016. The application and complete submission guidelines can be found on the agency's website.

Latest Utica Shale Numbers

 Utica Shale: The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has issued 2,078 permits for drilling in the Utica shale since December 2009, according to an analysis of the latest figures by the Ohio Energy Resource Alliance.  That includes 13 more permits since the ODNR's most recent update on Oct. 31.  Since December 2009, 1,635 Utica wells have been drilled, 1,034 of which are in production.  Carroll County has the most permits with 497 while Harrison County is second with 378 permits and Belmont County is third with 292 permits, according to the OERA.
In other shale news, a new report from Bricker & Eckler LLP outlines more than $5.7 billion in new investments made in Ohio since spring 2015 as a result of shale development.  "Since we began tracking shale development two years ago, growth has been consistently on the rise," partner and Oil & Gas Industry Group co-chair Matt Warnock said in a statement. "Not only do we continue to see new projects, but the level of investment continues to be significant - in the billions. Ohio continues to reap the benefits of active, ongoing, and new development in the energy sector."  The 16-page report touches on several large scale investments, including:
  • A potential $5.7 billion ethane cracker currently being explored for Belmont County.
  • *$640 million invested in natural gas gathering and water services assets in Belmont and Monroe counties by Rice Midstream Holdings and Gulfport Energy Corp.
  • An eastern Ohio pipeline from Marathon Oil and Price Gregory estimated to bring in $1 million in weekly payroll.
  • A $1.75 billion pipeline effort in Ohio and two other states.

Friday, November 13, 2015

The magic behind farm fresh eggs

SHOREVIEW, Minn. — Most flock raisers will tell you there’s something special about walking to the backyard and grabbing a few eggs for breakfast. In the ‘pets with benefits’ equation, farm fresh eggs are protein-packed gifts that families across the country have come to love.image006 (2)
Gordon Ballam, Ph.D., a flock nutritionist for Purina Animal Nutrition, says the magic behind each farm fresh egg is a 24-26 hour process, with much of the work happening overnight.
“The biggest involvement for the hen is creating the egg shell. The shell defends the yolk from bacteria and keeps the chick or yolk safe,” he says. “Because of this importance, hens spend much of the process making sure the calcium-rich shell is strong and protective. When the lights are off and the hens are sleeping, that’s when most of this internal work happens.”
The fact that shells are created at night is clear when looking at the egg formation timeline. For example, if a hen started the process at 7 a.m., she would be creating the egg shell, starting around 12 p.m. and continue for 20 hours during the evening and through the night when the birds are not eating.
“Through this entire process, hens incorporate nutrients from their feed into the egg and shell,” Ballam says. “For instance, hens offered a nutritionally-complete feed with calcium can lay eggs with vibrant, yellow yolks with strong shells. The addition of flaxseed meal can help hens produce eggs with high levels of valuable omega-3 fatty acids.”
Following is an approximate outline of the egg production process:
Ova release (1/2 hour): Each female chick is born with thousands of immature yolks, known as ova. Over time, the ova mature. When the first ova is developed and ready to start the egg production process, it is released into the hen’s reproductive funnel. This release takes about half an hour.
Initial egg white is created (3 hours): As the egg enters the reproductive tract, the egg white begins formation, starting with a clear, protective yolk casing called the vitelline membrane. As the ova enters the magnum, layers of thick and thin proteins, known as the albumen, begin forming, creating the egg white.
Egg shape is formed (1 hour): The developing egg then travels to the isthmus. Here, the ova is shaped into the oval-shape recognized as an egg, a process that takes about one hour. The inner and outer membranes are also formed during this stage.
Shells are formed (20 hours): The most significant piece of the egg formation process happens in the uterus or ‘shell gland’ of the hen. The developing egg spends about 20 hours in the shell gland, where the shell is formed and its color is added during the last 5 hours.
The shell formation takes the most amount of time to complete.
“Strong egg shell formation requires very high levels of calcium. If the hen does not have the nutrient to support shell production, she may pull the calcium from her specialized (medullary) bones to support shell formation,” Ballam explains. “To support egg shell formation, select a complete layer feed that includes oyster shell. Oyster shells break down slower than traditional calcium, helping to supply calcium to hens at night, when they need it most.”
Once the shell is formed, pigments, called porphyrins, are secreted from cells within the uterus to add color to the egg shells. Chickens that produce eggs with white shells do not produce any of these pigments.
Bloom is added and egg emerges (1 hour): The formed egg travels to the vaginal area where bloom is added to the shell. Bloom, or the cuticle, is a protective coating that helps protect the egg from bacteria. A natural lubricant is also added to the shell for a safe exit through the cloaca.
“After laying the egg, the hen will either start the process again or take a day off after completing a clutch of eggs,” Ballam says. “To help the process go smoothly and keep hens healthy and productive, a quality ration is important. After all, the formation of nutritious eggs is contingent on what the birds eat.”
To learn more about backyard flock nutrition and management, visit www.purinamills.com/chicken-feed or connect with Purina Poultry on Facebook or Pinterest.
Purina Animal Nutrition LLC (www.purinamills.com) is a national organization serving producers, animal owners and their families through more than 4,700 local cooperatives, independent dealers and other large retailers throughout the United States. Driven by an uncompromising commitment to animal excellence, Purina Animal Nutrition is an industry-leading innovator offering a valued portfolio of complete feeds, supplements, premixes, ingredients and specialty technologies for the livestock and lifestyle animal markets. Headquartered in Shoreview, Minn., Purina Animal Nutrition LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Land O’Lakes, Inc.
Because of factors outside of Purina Animal Nutrition LLC’s control, individual results to be obtained, including but not limited to: financial performance, animal condition, health or performance cannot be predicted or guaranteed by Purina Animal Nutrition LLC.
—Purina Animal Nutrition LLC

USDA launches new conservation effort to aid monarch butterflies

KANSAS CITY, MO, Nov. 12, 2015 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced a new conservation effort to help agricultural producers provide food and habitat for monarch butterflies in the Midwest and southern Great Plains. This targeted 10-state effort by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will invest $4 million in 2016 to help combat the iconic species’ decline.

“These once-common butterflies are growing less familiar, and we know private lands will continue to play a crucial role in aiding the recovery of this species that serves as an indicator of ecosystem health,” NRCS Chief Jason Weller said.  “America’s farmers, ranchers and forest landowners are stewards of the land, and this effort helps them make voluntary improvements that benefit working lands and monarchs.”

NRCS Associate Chief Leonard Jordan unveiled this new conservation effort today in Kansas City, Missouri at the annual conference of the National Association of Farm Broadcasters. Missouri is one of the target states in this effort that benefits the orange-and-black butterflies known for their annual, multi-generational migration from central Mexico to as far north as Canada. Monarch populations have decreased significantly over the past two decades, in part because of the decrease in native plants like milkweed – the sole source of food for monarch caterpillars.

NRCS will provide technical and financial assistance to help producers and conservation partners plant milkweed and nectar-rich plants along field borders, in buffers along waterways or around wetlands, in pastures and other suitable locations. NRCS also help producers manage their pastures in ways that increase critical populations of milkweed and nectar plants while also improving the health of their rangelands.

Assistance is available to producers in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas and Wisconsin. These states are at the heart of the monarch migration. The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and remaining funds from the former Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) provide funding for this work. Additionally, NRCS is offering support for related enhancements through the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) to establish monarch habitat. These enhancements are available nationwide.

NRCS accepts EQIP and CSP applications from producers on a continuous basis. Producers interested in participating should contact their local USDA service center to learn more. WRP funds will be used to enhance monarch habitat on existing wetland easements.

These conservation improvements not only benefit butterflies, they also strengthen agricultural operations, support other beneficial insects and wildlife and improve other natural resources. Appropriate buffer habitats and better rangeland and pasture management practices reduce erosion, increase soil health, inhibit the expansion of invasive species and provide food and habitat for insects and wildlife.

NRCS’ effort contributes to a multi-agency, international strategy to reverse the monarch’s population decline in North America, estimated to have decreased from one billion butterflies in 1995 down to about 34 million today. The Obama administration, through the National Strategy to Protect Pollinators and Their Habitat offsite link image    , has a goal of increasing the eastern population of monarchs back up to 225 million by 2020.

Producers not in the regions targeted by this effort are also eligible for assistance to make conservation improvements to their land that can benefit monarch butterflies and many other pollinators, such as honey bees and native bees. More than three dozen conservation practices offered by NRCS can provide benefits to pollinators. Additionally, this effort works hand-in-hand with a three-year-old NRCS honey bee conservation effort in the Midwest and Northern Plains.

Learn more about the Monarch Habitat Development Project and other pollinators. For more on technical assistance and financial resources available through NRCS conservation programs, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted or your local USDA service center, 740-432-5621.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Center For Regulatory Solutions Report, Ag Groups At Odds On Corn-Based Ethanol

A new report and media campaign from the Center for Regulatory Solutions targets corn ethanol production, saying it is harming the environment and driving up fuel costs.  Specifically, CRS takes aim at the federal Renewable Fuel Standard, a policy rolled out in 2005 by Congress and designed to lower greenhouse gas emissions by increasingly expanding biofuels including corn-derived ethanol.
Supporters say the benchmarks prompt more investment in ethanol, protecting the environment, diversifying the nation's fuel sources and boosting jobs. But opponents say the standards resulted in a surge of corn growth which ended up driving up ozone-forming emissions, water usage, soil erosion and transportation costs.  The 38-page report comes less than a month before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency releases its finalized proposed rule for the RFS, which could maintain or deviate from Congress's established benchmarks. The report's Thursday release is timed to coincide with an anti-RFS television ad campaign by the American Council for Capital Formation that launched this month.

CRS President Karen Kerrigan said the report "puts the spotlight directly on the failures of Washington's corn ethanol mandate for Ohio."  “Supporters of corn ethanol promised economic and environmental gains from using corn in our fuel supply," Ms. Kerrigan said in a statement. "Ten years later, we are left with broken promises and a lose-lose mandate for both the environment and the small businesses that power our economy."

Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association President Tadd Nicholson criticized the report in an interview, saying the farmers that would be negatively impacted by an RFS reduction are small businesses.

"Certainly we have a whole lot of data that would absolutely show that in terms of environment there's an over 30% reduction in greenhouse gas reduction due to ethanol," he said, citing a 2007 study from Argonne National Labs. "We know very well, indisputably this is a cleaner burning fuel for the environment."

He called the report's claim that ethanol production has driven up transportation costs "especially egregious."

In its report, CRS argues the standards have resulted in:

Nearly 1.92 million metric tons of carbon dioxide and ozone-forming emissions
An additional 5,000 tons of volatile organic compounds and 28,000 tons of nitrogen oxides between 2005-2014
4.5 billion gallons a year in water consumption between 2008-2014
More than 8,500 tons of cumulative soil erosion in Ohio between 2005-2014
$400 million in additional transportation fuel costs in Ohio during 2014
"It is clearer now than ever before that the RFS benefits very few at the expense of very many," the report argues. "The corn ethanol lobby remains a powerful force in Washington, to be sure, but even corn-producing states like Ohio are beginning to recognize that the costs of the RFS far outweigh the benefits."

CRS argues that a recent poll of Ohioans shows the tide is turning as the standards fall out of favor with more citizens. When first asked, 73% of those polled indicated they were unfamiliar with RFS. After receiving an explanation of the mandate and its goal, respondents were fairly split with 44% approving the RFS and 45% disapproving.

When told that the U.S. EPA has said the original congressional targets under the RFS were too high because of the decreasing demand for gasoline, 62% of respondents said that made them less likely to support the existing RFS and higher ethanol mandate targets.

Overall, nearly 90% of respondents indicated they would be less likely to support RFS if ethanol production and consumption led to decreases in air quality or increases in greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventional fuels.

"Now is the time to put aside a failed policy and repeal this costly Washington mandate," Ms. Kerrigan said.

In contrast, the OCWGA and other agriculture-based groups are hoping the EPA's final proposal adheres to the benchmarks already established by Congress. A national poll released last month by the National Biodiesel Board found that 80% of voters supported a renewable fuel standard.

Ohio Farm Bureau spokesman Joe Cornely said any study on ethanol's impact should account for the benefits the industry adds - including jobs.

"It's like any public policy arena. There are going to be differing view and you're going to see fancy reports from all of those views so this is just one of many," Mr. Cornely said. "I think the educated consumer will read and study a variety of sources of information, not just one."

Friday, November 6, 2015

High Court Rules on Oil And Gas Leases

 A recorded oil and gas lease is a title transaction, whereas the unrecorded expiration of an oil and gas lease is not, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled Thursday.  The court, in a unanimous decision written by Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor, found that under Ohio law, the unrecorded expiration of an oil and gas lease does not amount to a title transaction.  "It is self-evident that the termination or expiration of a lease returns the lessor and the mineral estate to the status quo prior to the lease," Chief Justice O'Connor wrote in the court's decision. "Upon expiration, the lessee loses his status as lessee by virtue of the terms of the agreement and no longer has an exclusive, vested right to the mineral estate.
Thus, the expired or terminated lease no longer affects the lessor's title in the mineral estate."
The case stems from a 90-acre parcel of land in Harrison County from which mineral rights were leased to a mining company in 1958, according to the court. Since that time there have been several transactions involving the mineral rights and surface property.  The court's determination is based on the state's Dormant Minerals Act, adopted in 1989 and amended in 2006, its news arm reported.

Under the law, a mineral interest severed from the surface property rights is deemed abandoned and reunited with the surface rights unless at least one of six "saving events" has occurred in a 20-year period.  "Construing the mere expiration of a lease as constituting a saving event would not contribute to the clarity of the record of title that the Dormant Mineral Act seeks," Chief Justice O'Connor wrote. "Likewise, allowing the mere existence of an oil and gas lease to toll the 20-year time period for abandonment during its life does not further the purpose of the statute."

The court, however, was more divided on the question of whether a recorded oil and gas lease constitutes a title transaction.  Chief Justice O'Connor, along with three other justices, found that because the Dormant Minerals Act defines a title transfer as "any transaction affecting title to any interest in land, including title by will or descent, title by tax deed, or by trustee's, assignee's, guardian's, executor's, administrator's, or sheriff's deed, or decree of any court, as well as warranty deed, quit claim deed, or mortgage," a recorded oil and gas lease does meet that standard.  "If the General Assembly wanted to limit the qualifying title transactions to those transactions transferring title to ownership of land, it could have said so. Instead it defined a 'title transaction' as 'any' transaction affecting title to 'any' interest in land," the chief justice wrote for the majority.

Justice Sharon Kennedy concurred with the court's answer to the question, however, dissented in its analysis.  Justice Paul Pfeifer and Justice Terrence O'Donnell found that an oil and gas lease is not a title transaction.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Guernsey Soil and Water Conservation District Announces Local Workgroup Meeting

The Guernsey Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) will conduct a Local Workgroup (LWG)  meeting on Monday, November 16th at 1PM to identify resource concerns, discuss conservation priorities, and develop potential solutions.  The meeting will take place at the SWCD office at 335C Old National Rd, Old Washington, which is on the Guernsey county fairgrounds.
While the Local Work Group membership is limited to Federal, State, county, tribal, or local government representatives who are familiar with agriculture and natural resources interests, the meeting is open to the general public, who is invited to participate and provide input on local conservation issues and resource challenges.  LWGs support locally led conservation efforts by coordinating USDA programs with other conservation programs in an effort to provide an integrated solution to addressing natural resource concerns. 

For more information, contact the Guernsey SWCD office at (740)489-5276.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Soybean Scholarships Offered

The Ohio Soybean Council Foundation is offering $36,000 in scholarships for the 2016-17 school year.  The scholarship program is aimed at encouraging undergraduate and graduate students to consider opportunities available in agricultural careers, the foundation said. Funding will be provided for Ohio students who pursue degrees in fields that support the industry, including business, communication, economics, education, engineering, science and technology.  "In order to fulfill the workforce needs of agriculture in the 21st Century, we need to engage the best and brightest in all fields from engineering and chemistry to agronomy and economics," Amy Sigg Davis, OSCF scholarship selection committee member and soybean farmer from Warren County, said.  There are eight undergraduate scholarships available, including six general scholarships of up to $3,000 each, the foundation said. One undergraduate student pursuing a degree related to science, technology or soybean research will receive the $5,000 Bhima Vijayendran Scholarship and another studying agricultural business or communications will receive the $3,000 Farmer, Lumpe and McClelland Excellence in Communications Scholarship.  Two scholarships of up to $5,000 each are available to graduate students who are enrolled at an Ohio university and conducting research in bioproducts, biobased materials, biotechnology, bioengineering, biopolymers or a related field, and focused on advancing the soybean industry.  The deadline to apply for the scholarships is Jan. 15, 2016.

Link to scholarship applications.