Monday, September 30, 2013

About Moore Memorial Woods

The land was donated to the Guernsey Soil and Water Conservation District in 1955 by Mr. and Mrs. Edward Wallace as a living tribute to her father Major James W. Moore, a Civil War Veteran. It is located near Old Washington in Wills Twp approximately 12 miles east of Cambridge.

Moore Woods is typical of the second growth mixed oak forests in SE Ohio. Red, white and chestnut oaks are the primary species found along ridgetops and sideslopes. Walnut, poplar, hickory and other hardwood species can be found in the lower areas. Many varieties of shrubs, ferns and wildflowers grow throughout the tract. The topography ranges from flat along ridgetops and narrow valleys to very steep on sideslopes. Two small streams dissect the woods, and several vernal pools form in the spring. Species of wildlife include deer, grouse, squirrels, rabbits, turkeys, songbirds, and other small mammals.

The 78-acre tract of land, which is almost entirely forested, is being maintained as a laboratory for environmental education. This is an excellent place to study forestry, soil conservation, biology, and wildlife management. There is no fee for use of the facility, and the SWCD office has staff members with expertise in these subjects. There are workshops on various subjects offered throughout the year to adults and school aged children.

It is the belief of the District that to study nature the setting should be as close to the natural conditions as possible. Development at Moore Woods has been done with this basic theme in mind. An old township road divides the area, and there are over a mile of hiking trails. A parking area large enough for buses is available at the entrance. There is a pavilion and pit type restroom on site.

Friday, September 27, 2013

For maximum benefit, mix it up, cover crop expert recommends

There’s a reason most farmers who start with single species cover crops eventually move to mixes.
“Some of the most innovative cover crop users have continued to experiment with as many as 8 - 15 different cover crops in mixtures on their farms, to see what each contributes to their system,” says David Lamm of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). “These farmers are breathing new life into their soils, with no-till and cover crop mixes, and they’re telling us they’re getting all kinds of benefits.
A universal result is increased nutrient cycling, and in many cases a reduction in supplemental fertility is achievable.” Lamm, the leader for the NRCS National Soil Health and Sustainability Team in Greensboro, North Carolina, points to three of the top advantages to using mixtures:

1. No one species can deliver all the advantages multiple cover crops deliver in combination. Some fix nitrogen, some are very good at scavenging leftover nitrogen in the soil, and some have deep roots that extend benefits deeper into the soil profile. Still others help control specific weeds or attract beneficial insects, etc.

2. Each plant species offers a different chemical signature to the soil through the rhizosphere, which provides a different food source for bacteria and fungi in the soil. More variety in the food source creates the
habitat for a greater variety of soil organisms—most of which have a positive impact within the soil.

3. Organic matter production is put on the fast track. A diversity of plants above ground creates underground habitat with a healthy balance of predator and prey organisms in the soil. The balance results in
improved nutrient cycling. “We need to think about the organisms in the soil that cycle nutrients,” Lamm says. “Adding a diversity of roots to a soil that has seen only monoculture crops can awaken and ignite those organisms.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

More than pests, stink bugs damage Ohio crops

Up until this year, the stink bug was described as just a nuisance in Ohio. Now, the stinky pest is starting to cause agricultural damage.
Gene Kritsky, an entomologist and professor of biology at the College of Mount St. Joseph, said this is the first year the stink bug has officially been documented as causing problems to corn and soybeans in Ohio.
Read rest if article HERE

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

No-till, cover crops go hand-in-hand to build healthy soils, expert says

Even after 30 years of no-till and cover crop experience, Dwayne Beck, manager of South Dakota State
University’s Dakota Lakes Research Farm near Pierre, South Dakota says there’s still much to learn about
mimicking nature. But he says the critical first step is to realize that the soil is living and part of a larger

“The diverse plants of the prairies cycled carbon back to the soil, and that slow, steady return of carbon to the soil boosted soil organic matter which continuously fed billions of microbes,” Beck says. “Those microbes, in turn, broke down organic matter, making nutrients available to plants. This cycle produced the high levels of active organic matter in virgin prairie soils that accounted for the astounding yields sodbusters enjoyed in past generations.”

“In tillage-based systems, mineralization is ‘boom and bust.’ Booms occur after tillage with busts following
shortly after. In contrast, mineralization in no-till soils is more evenly spread over the season,” Beck says.
Taken together with intensive rotation, no-till becomes a comprehensive program—there’s no need to fall back on occasional tillage, Beck says. “And you don’t want to till occasionally, because one year of tillage destroys that environment for microorganisms you’ve been building for years.”

“Once you realize the soil is living, it makes sense that the living organisms in the soil need a balanced diet, just as your livestock [need a balanced diet],” Beck says. “You can’t provide that diet with a continuous crop. That’s where cover crops and crop rotations come in; they’re needed to give that variety of food to the soil,” he says.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

OEPA announces grants

Ohio Environmental Protection -- Communities, local governments and businesses can now submit applications for various grants to support recycling programs and litter prevention efforts, OEPA officials said this week.   The agency will host an informational meeting on the 2014 grant application process Oct. 3 at the Department of Transportation auditorium.  Entities can apply for: the Community Grant, the Litter Cleanup and Tire Amnesty Grant, the Market Development Grant and the Scrap Tire Grant.  Applications should outline the project's parameters, budget and sustainability, as well as how the applicant will comply with matching fund requirements. They are due Feb. 3 and will be announced in May 2014, with funding available in July 2014.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Local Work Group Meeting Set

The Guernsey SWCD will conduct a Local Workgroup (LWG) meeting on Tuesday, October 24th at 9AM to identify resource concerns, discuss conservation priorities, and develop potential solutions. The meeting will take place at the SWCD office at 9711 East Pike, Cambridge.

While 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)432-5624.

When it comes to water, cover crops give more than they take, expert says

It’s a fair question. Why would farmers want to plant a cover crop that uses up water? But David Lamm, a soil health expert with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, says it’s what those cover crops give – not what they take – that’s the secret.

 “By using diverse annual cropping rotations and cover crop combinations increase soil organic matter. And for each 1 percent in organic matter, there is a 25 percent increase in water holding capacity and up to 30 pounds an acre more of available nitrogen,” he said.

In a recent survey by the Conservation Technology Information Center, 600 farmers affected by the drought
of 2012 reported an average increase of 14 bushels of corn per acre and five bushels more of soybeans per acre where they had a cover crop as compared to none.
Lamm said that while it’s true cover crops use some water in the soil profile to grow, they simultaneously
improve the soil structure by building soil aggregates, providing armor for the soil surface, and recharging the
water in the soil profile though increased infiltration.

“By using cover crops, no-till and crop rotations, farmers are finding that their soil actually has more available water for their cash crops when those crops really need it,” he said. “So those covers actually help protect farms against weather extremes like drought.”

Friday, September 20, 2013

2013 Area 3 Conservation Family Farm Award Winners

Award winner Randy Raber with Guernsey SWCD Board chairman Bill Bertram.
Mr Raber was nominated for this award by district staff and board members.
Randy and Marijane Raber farm more than 2500 acres in Guernsey County.  They grow corn, beans, hay, and they raise cattle.  Conservation practices utilized include no-till, cover crops, grassed waterways, filter strips and contour strips.  A 100-acre wetland has been restored on the farm.  Livestock exclusion fencing has been installed to prevent cattle from entering streams.  Other conservation measures include rotational grazing, access roads, heavy use pads, nutrient management, critical area seeding and cool season plantings.

The Rabers have been district cooperators since 1995.  They have opened up their farm to SWCD employees for grazing training.  Elected officials have also been invited to view the operation.  When asked to describe their conservation philosophy, Randy said. "Conservation is an ever-evolving process, with a better way and more to learn.  An open mind can protect our environment and be more profitable."

The Rabers were among five other families across Ohio to be honored in an award ceremony held during the Farm Science Review this week.  The Conservation Farm Family awards program was created in 1984 to recognize Ohio farm families for their long-standing dedication to natural resources and their exemplary efforts on conserving soil, water, woodland and wildlife on the land they farm.  The award program pays tribute to these farm families who have gone the extra mile in protecting the environment and the commitment to being good stewards of their natural resources.

The Conservation Family Farm award is sponsored by the Ohio Farmer; Ohio Federation of Soil & Water Conservation Districts; The Ohio Farm Bureau Federation; USDA-Natural Resource Conservation Service; and Hancor, Inc.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Chestnut - The Tree That Built Young America

NEW PHILADELPHIA, OHIO – Joseph Reardon will present a program titled "Chestnut - The Tree That Built Young America" at the October 2 meeting of the East Central Ohio Forestry Association (ECOFA).  The 8 PM program will discuss the wide variety of uses of the American chestnut - from tanning leather to telegraph poles and the hopes for restoration from a devastating blight.

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.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Discover the cover: Farmers realize benefits, challenges of soil-improving cover crops

A growing number of farmers throughout the nation have “discovered the cover”—and for some very
good reasons.  They’re increasingly recognizing that by using cover crops and diverse rotations, it’s possible to actually improve the health and function of their soil. According to David Lamm, a soil health expert with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service in Greensboro, N.C., farmers are also reaping the benefits healthy soils bring to their operations in the form of better nutrient cycling, improved water infiltration and more consistent yields over time.

“The principles of building healthy soils are the same everywhere—you have to stop tilling the soil and switch from a monoculture crop rotation to one with a diversity of crops that should include cover crops,” Lamm said. “But the path to soil health is different on each farm.”

Lamm said that keeping the soil covered and growing with living roots is a critical component in improving
the health and function of the soil. “That means understanding how to manage cover crops in a soil health
management system. And that can be one of the biggest challenges farmers face.”
According to Lamm, cover crop and cash crop selections and rotation sequences should be chosen to fit the
farmer’s resource concerns and priorities, and the resources available at that farm.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Conservation Work Has a Place in Your Backyard

Whether you live in the country, on an average-sized suburban yard, or on a tiny plot in the city you can help protect the environment and add beauty and interest to your surroundings with backyard conservation.
The District works with farmers and ranchers to make conservation improvements to their land, resulting in cleaner water and air, healthier soil and better habitat for wildlife.

But conservation work is not just for farmers or ranchers. You can help protect natural resources, whether your place is measured in acres, feet or flower pots.
This month is Conservation Month. As part of this week, we wanted to share a few tips for how you can be a conservationist in your own backyard. Here’s a few:

Plant trees: Trees in your backyard provide homes for wildlife, lower heating and cooling costs, clean air, add beauty and color, provide shelter from the wind and the sun and improve property values.
Provide food and shelter for wildlife: Welcome birds, butterflies, beneficial insects, bats and other wildlife to your yard by selecting the right plants. Certain trees, shrubs and flowers – especially those that are native – can give wildlife the perfect food and sanctuary.

Build a pond: Another good way to invite wildlife to your yard is by building a pond. Water provides habitat for birds, butterflies, frogs and fish. Plus, ponds are a  scenic addition to the yard.
Create a raingarden: Many yards can support a backyard raingarden that benefits you and your community. Letting runoff from your roof, parking area and yard slowly filter through a raingarden mini-wetland helps prevent pollution of neighboring creeks and may help prevent flooding. Raingardens also encourage the recharging of underground aquifers and, like the right plants or a pond, provide good homes for wildlife.

Compost scraps from kitchen and yard: All organic matter eventually decomposes. So, why not spare your trash bags and town’s landfill by composting yard and food scraps. Composting, even with a simple compost pile, speeds the process by providing an ideal environment for bacteria and other decomposing micro-organisms. The final product, humus or compost, looks and feels like fertile garden soil. It’s perfect for your garden.

More tips like these are available in a Backyard Conservation publication, which is available at the district's office.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Budget Breathes New Life Into Alternative Energy Tax Break

Twenty-three wind and solar energy developers have lined up to benefit from a three-year-old tax break program that was recently extended in the biennial budget, underscoring a growing level of interest in the incentive program.  In 2010 the General Assembly created the Qualified Energy Project Tax Exemption for renewable and advanced energy developments (SB232, 128th General Assembly). Rather than paying Ohio's public utility tangible personal property tax and real property taxes, developers can pay a fixed payment per megawatt of electricity with the revenue flowing to local governments.

The wind and solar energy industries had argued that Ohio's tax rate was too high compared to neighboring states and would stymie renewable development, despite earlier passage of the state's alternative energy portfolio standards (SB221, 127th General Assembly).  To date, seven renewable energy projects - four wind farms and three solar facilities - have been approved for the tax exemption, according to the most recent information from Development Services Agency. Sixteen applications are still pending.

 All of the applications, so far, have come from wind and solar developers, DSA said. However, the tax exemption is also available for advanced energy projects, such as high-tech nuclear, clean coal and cogeneration technologies.  DSA spokeswoman Katie Sabatino said the agency has seen a spike in interest in the Qualified Energy Project Tax Exemption during the last two years.  There were only two applications in 2010 and in 2011, she said. In 2012, DSA received nine applications and has already received 10 this year.

Once approved, the "payment in lieu of taxes" program covers a facility's lifespan, but policymakers included a sunset date in the legislation. The original deadline was set for new renewable projects to be under construction by the end of 2011 and in production by the end of 2012.  However, lawmakers extended the sunset date in the previous biennial budget (HB153, 129th General Assembly) by two years, then added another two years to the program's lifespan in the current budget bill (HB 59).

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Celebrate Protect Your Groundwater Day

The district joins the National Ground Water Association (NGWA) in encouraging the citizens of Guernsey county to protect public health and the health of the environment by protecting groundwater on Protect Your Groundwater Day, September 10.

For household water well owners, how they manage their well systems and property can make a difference in their water quality. People who do not use household wells also can make a difference in groundwater quality, for instance, by how they store, use, and dispose of hazardous household substances, or how well they maintain their septic systems.

Additionally, with drought gripping much of the United States, protecting groundwater through conservation is more important than ever.

Protect Your Groundwater Day is an occasion for every citizen to ACT: Acknowledge the issue, Consider how it applies to you, then Take action. Here are some action steps individuals can take courtesy of the (organization) and NGWA:

1. Acknowledge the causes of preventable groundwater contamination
o There are hazardous substances common to households
o Most household water use occurs in a few areas around the home.
If you own  a water well
o Wellheads should be a safe distance from potential contamination
o Septic system malfunctions can pollute groundwater
o Poorly constructed or maintained wells can facilitate contamination
o Improperly abandoned wells can lead to groundwater contamination (read related article).                          

2. Consider which apply to you

o What specific hazardous substances are in and around your home?
o Where do you and your family use the most water?
If you own  a water well
o Is your wellhead a safe distance from possible contamination?

Monday, September 9, 2013

ZOAR, Ohio — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ commanding general said a visit to a northeastern Ohio village has put its troubled, decades-old levee on his radar.
Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick visited Zoar this week as a guest of U.S. Rep. Bob Gibbs. Gibbs, a Republican from Lakeville, has advocated for the historic village and leads a House subcommittee with oversight of Bostick’s agency.

A flood in 2008 exposed problems with the levee, and the corps has spent about $4.5 million on it and is studying options for its future. That could mean repairs, moving the village to higher ground or allowing it to flood.  Read rest of story HERE

Friday, September 6, 2013

It's time for the annual Farm Science Review

From teaching techniques to help growers improve water and soil quality to helping farmers and producers learn how to combat invasive species, experts from the Ohio State University Extension will seek to break new ground during this year’s Farm Science Review Sept. 17 to 19 at the Molly Caren Agricultural Center in London, Ohio.

Those issues are just a sampling of some of the topics participants can expect to learn about during the three-day farm trade show that annually draws more than 130,000 farmers, growers, producers and agricultural enthusiasts from across the U.S. and Canada.

The review, now in its 51st year, is nationally known as Ohio’s premier agricultural event.

“We’ve got our best crop start ever here at the review,” said Chuck Gamble, manager of the Farm Science Review. “Our corn and soybean prospects are the best crops we’ve ever planted, and we harvested the best wheat crop we’ve ever grown.”

Gamble said the review sold out of exhibitor space sooner this year than in any previous year, which is a clear indication of the level of the interest participants have in attending the show and learning about what the review has to offer.

Some other review highlights include:

• An appearance by the Peterson Farm Brothers, a musical trio from Kansas that creates agriculture-inspired music video parodies to popular music. The videos are posted on YouTube. They will be on hand to discuss their experiences with visual agriculture communications at 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Sept. 17 in the Morton Building.

• Daily field demonstrations by members of the OSU Extension Agronomic Crops Team on corn, soybean and wheat crops in plots established outside the eastern edge of the review exhibit area. The plots are just outside Gate C near the main entrance gate.

• A demonstration of an unmanned aerial system for real-time crop maintenance and precision agriculture. The drones can be used to provide useful site-specific data, including crop scouting and geo-referencing, to allow growers to monitor pesticides dispersion and fertilizer usage and to monitor crop health parameters, including soil moisture.

Farm Science Review pre-show tickets are $7 at the Muskingum County office of the OSU Extension. Tickets are $10 at the gate. Children age 5 and younger are admitted free.

Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 17 and 18 and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 19.

Mark Mechling is an extension educator of agriculture and natural resources at the Muskingum County Ohio State University Extension Office. He can be reached at 740-454-0144 or

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Salaries for new ag grads up significantly

A new report on starting salaries being paid to recent ag college graduates shows that, overall, they are making five percent more than those who graduated just a year earlier.  The report covers students who graduated in winter 2012 or spring 2013.
Read rest of article HERE

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Why do fish die in recreational ponds?

By JASON REYNOLDS  wildlife/forestry specialist with the Columbiana SWCD

This summer, I have received many calls from landowners concerned with fish kills in their ponds.
While summer fish kills can be caused by a variety of reasons, here in Ohio many times it is caused by premature fall turnover. This process begins with thermal stratification of the pond.

Thermal stratification is a change in water temperature at different depths in a pond. Some of you may have noticed this when swimming in a pond or lake. If your pond is stratified, you may have felt that the water around your legs is noticeably colder than the water at the surface of the pond.
Thermal stratification of a pond usually begins in May or early June and ends in September or early October.

In early spring, the water temperature begins to warm to 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Winds blowing across the pond cause the water to circulate from top to bottom, maintaining a constant temperature and a good supply of oxygen throughout the pond.
As summer approaches, the water temperature will warm even more and the pond may begin to stratify if conditions are right.
If calm, hot summer days persist, stratification will strengthen even more and become harder to break up. The pond will have a warm upper layer and a colder bottom layer.

Little oxygen by August
If these calm, hot summer days continue, the colder bottom layer will lose most, if not all of its oxygen by August. This is the result of large amounts of organic matter decomposing and fish respiration.
The warmer upper layer of water will then contain most, if not all, of the oxygen in pond. This warmer upper layer will contain enough oxygen for the fish to survive. This is when a problem can arise.

In most ponds, the volume of colder, oxygen-deficient bottom layer of water exceeds the volume of warmer, oxygenated upper layer of water. So if we get a heavy rain, the cold rain water will plunge through the warm upper layer of water toward the bottom cold layer of water.
This is due to the fact that cold water is denser than warm water.

So when the cold water sinks to the bottom, it causes the whole pond to mix very quickly. The mixing of the oxygen deficient bottom layer with the oxygenated upper layer causes the oxygen to drop to levels that are lethal to fish.

Aerate your pond
One way to help prevent premature fall turnover is to install an aeration system. An aeration system will continuously add oxygen to the water, even on those calm, hot sunny days.
These systems help keep ponds from becoming stratified, so premature fall turnover will not occur.
You do not need to run an aeration system 24/7. Using the aeration system at night from May to September will prevent summer fish kills.
Installing an aeration system is one of the most effective ways to prevent summer fish kills.

Other options
There are other actions that pond owners can take to help prevent summer fish kills. To help limit aquatic plant growth, make sure your pond has shoreline slopes of 3:1. This will create a better balance of oxygen levels between day and night.

If you are looking to eliminate or reduce aquatic vegetation, make sure your application of herbicide and or algaecide is completed before July 1. If you are treating your pond after this date, treat a quarter of the pond every two to three weeks.