Thursday, September 29, 2011


The Tree ID walk which was cancelled due to rain has been rescheduled for Sunday, October 16th from 12-2PM. We'll have hot drinks and donuts afterwards in the pavillion.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Soil Inhabitants: Nematodes

Acrobeles ciliatus

Vital Statistics:Length: 0.3-1.5 mm (a line of 20 would stretch across a postage stamp). Lifespan: Unknown.
Total Nematode Population: up to 30 million per square meter (5,000 in one teaspoon of soil).

Natural History:Go anywhere in the soil and you're likely to bump into a roundworm, or nematode at work. They're the most common multi-cellular animals in soil. And they live all over the world. Roundworms also live as parasites in animals, including people. They aren't related to earthworms at all. Roundworms belong to a very exclusive group of animals—they're the only members!
Don't be fooled by their plain looks. Nematodes feed at every level of the soil food chain. This species hunts for bacteria. It swallows them whole and digests them in its gut. Other kinds of soil roundworms eat dead organic matter. Some prey on protozoa and other nematodes. Still others eat fungus. Roundworms that eat and live in plant roots can badly damage farm crops and flowers.
Nematodes wriggle their way through the thin film of water between soil particles. Some kinds of fungus actually trap nematodes in little nooses. Once the nematode is stuck, the fungus digests it.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Soil Inhabitants: Root Fungus


Vital Statistics:
Size:Hyphae (threads) less than 0.01 mm in diameter, extend for many meters (would reach across your bedroom).
Total Fungus Population:up to 20,000 km of hyphae (threads) per square meter (enough to stretch from Seattle to Miami five times).

Natural History:
Unlike plants, fungi have no chloroplasts. They can't make their own food like plants do. Many soil fungi are decomposers. They get energy from the organic matter they eat. But this food supply isn't always reliable.

A very special group of soil fungi have found a guaranteed food supply. They actually grow into the cells of plant roots. There they use sugars that the plant makes. This sounds like it would harm the plant. But the plant also benefits. The fungus extends its hyphae out into the soil beyond the plant's roots. This brings plants extra water and nutrient minerals. The fungus also protects the root from grazing nematodes and other, harmful fungi. In return, plants feed the fungi. This give and take is a true symbiosis. It helps both partners. It's so important to plants that just about every plant in the world has some of these little fungi growing in or around its roots.

In grasslands, the hyphae even connect different kinds of plants. This allows plants to trade the minerals they need to grow. Above ground, a meadow may look like separate plants. Underground, they all belong to a single web of living things.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Paul Bunyan Show is coming up

Paul Bunyan Show
When: October 7, 2011 - October 9, 2011
Where: Guernsey County Fairgroungs - Cambridge Ohio

Forestry equipment sales and demonstrations, educational sessions geared towards trade and general public. Lumberjack competitions and entertainment, log loader competition, Great Portable Sawmill Shootout. Great food and a good time for all.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Landowner Assistance Program planned for October 13th.

Rural landowners are often not aware of the many agencies in place to assist them with the various aspects of rural land ownership. On the evening of Thursday, October 13, several local agency offices will combine their knowledge and resources to present a workshop on Landowner Assistance. The meeting will be held at the Guernsey SWCD conference room at 9711 East Pike, Cambridge. It will begin at 6PM, and will last approximately 2 hours.

Debbie Redman, USDA/Farm Service Agency County Exec. Director will explain how hay and vegetable crop insurance works, and how it enables producers to be eligible for disaster programs offered. She will also talk about farm storage facility loans which are available for hay and grains, and cover various conservation programs which are offered in Guernsey county.

Kim Ray, USDA/Natural Resources District Conservationist, will cover the different types of EQIP contracts available, including those for pastureland and forestry. She will explain some of the practices available within these programs that can address the natural resource concerns on your property. She will also cover the WHIP program, which can assist in enhancing wildlife habitat.

Clif Little, OSU Extension Educator, Guernsey & Noble Counties will give an overview of the educational programming, teaching opportunities, and the many research programs his office offers the community. Many landowners are not aware of the wealth of scientifically based information available for their use which the university provides.

Joe Lehman & Jim Mizik, Soil & Water Conservation District Technicians will explain what their respective districts do to address issues that face rural landowners. Besides assisting the USDA-NRCS staff in putting their programs “on the land”, SWCDs also provide technical advice and educational opportunities on a variety of topics, including drainage, wildlife habitat, wildlife damage control, forestry management, and water supply development.

James Cline, Farm Credit Services Loan Officer will speak on the programs and services that his organization can offer landowners. He will explain some of the lending opportunities that are offered, such as farm and rural real estate loans, as well as operating, equipment, and construction loans.

There is no cost for this program, but please pre-register by calling 740-489-5300 or 740-432-5624 so that adequate materials are prepared.

Night Hike scheduled for November 3rd

(Click on photo to enlarge and print.)Come to a NIGHT HIKE at Moore Memorial Woods on Thursday, November 3rd from 5:30 to 8:00 PM. The Guernsey Soil & Water Conservation District will be hosting a night of fun and learning for children from six to sixteen. There will be pumpkin decorating, making turkey calls, and wildlife specialist Joe Lehman will lead a hike through the gathering dusk, explaining to the kids what is happening in the woods as the animals prepare for the long winter ahead. The evening will conclude with a weenie roast, marshmallows, and hot chocolate.

Space is limited to the first 30 kids. Please bring an adult with you, as supervision is required, and they will have just as much fun as you will! There is no charge for this event, but you do need to register by October 31st to attend. Stop by the office at 9711 East Pike during business hours M-F, or call the district at 432-5624. You will be provided with directions to the woods (east of Old Washington) when you register, or click on the page above to find the woods.

Soil Inhabitants: Beetle Mites

Oppia sp.

Vital Statistics:Length: 0.2 - 0.3 mm (could stand on the tip of your ball-point pen).
Lifespan: 6-12 months
Total Mite Population: up to 600,000 per square meter (6 in one teaspoon of soil).

Natural History:
In spite of their name, the round little beetle mites aren't insects at all. They are actually cousins of the spiders and ticks. Beetle mites are just one group of thousands of kinds of mites that live in the soil. Like most soil organisms living in a world of darkness, beetle mites have no eyes.
Mites are one of the first links in the chain of decomposers that break down organic matter into humus. Armies of mites swarm through leaf litter and the air spaces between soil grains. Each kind looks for its favorite food. Beetle mites eat nothing but fungus. They turn the fungus into pellets. Bacterial colonies coat the pellets and feed on them. The bacteria make plant nutrients from the pellets. The leftovers become part of the soil.
Beetle mites also carry fungi and bacteria with them, helping to spread these organisms through the soil. When the die, their bodies join the chain, adding minerals back to the soil.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Many thanks to our victims, er....volunteers!

Cambridge city mayor Tom Orr
Meadowbrook teacher Matt Wentworth
Meadowbrook teacher Laura Kackley
Buckeye Trail teacher Ginny Barker
Guernsey county commissioner Steve Douglass

Thank you to all the volunteers that made the Guernsey Soil & Water Conservation District's "Pie in the Eye" for conservation a success! Our thanks to all of you who bought a chance to throw a cream pie at your favorites!
Thank you to Riesbecks, Cochran's Market, T&J Market, and Food Distributors for donations of whipped topping!
The money raised goes to support our summer Conservation Daycamp, which is in its 26th year. Still only $5 for 2 days of fun and learning!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Don't forget the Pie throwing tomorrow at the Fair!

On Wednesday, September 14th at 5PM, you will have a chance to throw a cream pie at your favorite target! Be sure to stop by the SWCD booth behind the grandstand - only $1 per throw, with the proceeds to benefit our Concervation Day Camp. "Con Camp" has been held every year since 1985, teaching hundreds of Guernsey county youth over the years.

Soil Inhabitants: Amoebas

Amoeba proteus

Vital Statistics:Length:0.3 mm (40 would fit between the lines on your notebook paper).
Lifespan: Can survive long inactive periods in dry, sealed capsule.
Total Protozoa Population: up to 10 billion per square meter (5 million in one teaspoon of soil).

Natural History:Soil amoebas belong to a diverse group of one-celled animals called protozoa. They roam the film of water coating each soil particle. This water layer is so thin that an amoeba can still survive in even very dry soils.
An amoeba uses its blobby tentacles both to move and to feed. It doesn't waste any time chewing its food. Its tentacles surround a food item and bring it inside its body. A single amoeba can eat thousands of bacteria each day. Amoebas eat so many bacteria that they compete with nematodes for food. Soils with lots of protozoa have fewer nematodes.
Amoebas belong to the soil recycling crew. They can't use all of the nutrients in the bacteria they eat. So a lot of the nutrients go back into the soil. Plants use these nutrients to grow.
Amoebas and other protozoa must breath oxygen. They mostly live in the top layer of soils that mix well with the air.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Soil Inhabitants: Bacteria

Vital Statistics:Length: 0.001 - 0.005 mm (over 1,000 could fit across the head of a pin).
Lifespan: Divides into two new bacteria as often as every 20 minutes.
Total Bacterial Population: Up to 1,000 trillion per square meter (5 billion in one teaspoon of soil).

Description & Natural History:All life in the soil depends on its smallest residents. Single-celled bacteria are the oldest living things. And they power the entire ecosystem. They may have boring shapes, but they do ore different biochemical jobs than any other kind of organism.
Thousands of species of bacteria fill the soil. Most are decomposers. They recycle the energy stored in dead organic matter back into plant food. Other bacteria make nutrients with the help of host plants. For example, bacteria living in the roots of plants like peas and clover turn nitrogen from the air into fertilizer. A few bacteria can get energy from minerals instead of organic matter. Some of these can even feed on chemical pollution.
Bacterial colonies make slime that helps them stick to soil particles. The slime also sticks soil particles to each other. These goopy clumps help hold water in the soil. Plant roots can easily grow through the spaces between these clumps.
The familiar, earthy odor of rich, damp soil is the smell of bacteria at work.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Soil Inhabitants: Night crawler

Lumbricus terrestris

Vital Statistics:
Length: 9-30 cm (would fit in your hand).
Lifespan: 3-6 years
Total Earthworm Population: up to 300 per square meter (several in each shovel of soil).

Natural History:Our largest and most common species of earthworm is not native to North America. Night crawlers stowed away with European settlers bringing their favorite plants. Since then they've spread everywhere people have gone.
Earthworms have no teeth. That doesn't stop them from eating just about any dead organic matter they come across. They also swallow soil as they burrow. The microscopic animals in each bite of soil become worm food, too. An earthworm's gut is a great place for bacteria to grow. Earthworm castings add more bacteria back to the soil than the worm eats. More bacteria mean healthier soil. Together, all the worms in an area the size of a football field can eat about four tons of earth a year! All this adds to the humus in the soil.
It's a myth that earthworms come to the surface when it rains because they are drowning. Some scientists think that this behavior helps worms migrate to new territory or to find a mate. But no one knows for sure why they do it.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Soil Inhabitants: Eastern mole

Scalopus aquaticus

Vital Statistics:Size: 13-20 cm long, including tail (would fit inside a can of peas).
Lifespan: 3 years
Population: Several per acre.

Natural History:Moles use their webbed feet and strong shoulder muscles to literally swim through the soil. Unlike their cousins the shrews, moles are almost blind. They use their sense of smell and the ability to feel vibrations to find food and navigate.
Gardeners blame moles for ruining plants. But they don't actually eat plant roots or bulbs. Instead, they're hungry for earthworms and insect larvae. Moles help control populations of harmful insects. Digging is hard work. So an active mole must eat about half its entire body weight each day.
Moles dig their tunnels in open pastures, meadows, and woodlands. They like moist, sandy loam soil the best. A mole looking for food will tunnel just under the surface. Its digging helps loosen the soil and allows air in. Moles also dig deeper permanent tunnels and burrows. They use these for sleeping, raising young, and traveling to food sources.