Monday, December 30, 2013

Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry

Ohio Department of Natural Resources -- Deer hunters donated 58,500 pounds of venison to local food banks this hunting season, according to Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry and the ODNR. Records show that hunters donated 1,170 white-tailed deer which totaled about 234,000 meals for needy Ohioans, with one processed deer amounting to about 50 pounds of venison and 200 meals, the agencies reported.   Thanks to consistently generous hunters, the National Shooting Sports Foundation has ranked the state fifth nationally in hunter-donated venison.

Because hunters aren't responsible for the processing fees associated with the venison, the FHFH and ODNR partner to cover the costs to send it to one of 77 approved state meat processors.  Donations will continue through the end of the deer-archery season on Feb. 2.

Friday, December 20, 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 recognizing that by using cover crops and diverse rotations, it’s possible to actually improve the health and function of their soil, said David Lamm, a soil health expert with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

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.”

Keeping soil covered and growing with living roots is a critical component in improving the health and function of the soil, Lamm said.

“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,” he said.

By Ron Nichols, Natural Resources Conservation Service 

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.

“Farmers not familiar with how mixtures of cover crops work together might ask ‘why would I want to plant a cover crop that uses up all my water?’” Lamm said. “But using diverse annual cropping rotations and cover crop combinations increase soil organic matter. And for each 1 percent in organic matter, there can be a 25 percent increase in water holding capacity and up to 30 pounds an acre more of available nitrogen.”

While it is true cover crops use some soil profile water, they simultaneously improve the soil structure by building soil aggregates, he said. They also provide mulch that reduces evaporation and runoff losses and break up subsoil to increase water recharge.

“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. “Those covers actually help protect farms against weather extremes like drought.”

Learn more about cover crops and “Unlock the Secrets in the Soil,” the agency’s soil health awareness campaign.

- See more at:

Thursday, December 19, 2013


Engineers at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) announced that they have created a process that takes an enriched stew of algae and turns it into crude oil which, in turn, can be made into a usable bio-fuel. The development was announced in a recent issue of the journal Algal Research.

Read article and see video HERE

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

First in the Series - 2014 Tree Seedling Sale includes White Pine

White Pine (Pinus strobus)
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.

The White Pine is among several varieties which will be offered in the 2014 Tree Sale held by the Guernsey Soil & Water Conservation District. For more information and to receive a 2014 Tree Sale order blank, please call 740-432-5624

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Root rot saps traditional Christmas fir trees

BAKERSVILLE, N.C. -- Jeff Pollard trudged up the steep slope and stopped at a desiccated, rust-brown tree. Two months earlier, workers had tagged this Fraser fir as ready for market.
It was going to be someone's Christmas tree. And now it was dead.

"Never get paid back for this tree," he said with a shrug. "Eleven years of work -- gone."

Read rest of article  HERE

Monday, December 16, 2013

Ohio-shale drilling permits top 1,000

Late last month, Ohio regulators approved their 1,000th drilling permit in the Utica shale, a milestone that was nearly four years in the making.
As of Dec. 7, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources had approved 1,015 permits. It hit the 1,000 mark on Nov. 26.
Permit activity continues to increase, with 562 approved this year, 371 last year and the remaining 82 in 2010 and 2011.
The number this year exceeds the projection of 525 that state officials said in May that they expected for all of 2013.

Read rest of article   HERE

Friday, December 13, 2013

Fall gypsum improves soil for next crop

WOOSTER, Ohio – Farmers who apply gypsum to their fields in the fall can expect to increase sulfur and calcium in their soils for their next crop, an Ohio State University scientist says.

Read rest of article  HERE

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Composting for the lazy

For experienced gardeners, good compost is worth its weight in gold. There’s nothing healthier for your plants than rich black compost
But for most gardeners, the only way to get compost is to buy it.
You already know how good compost is for your garden, but how can you have an unlimited free supply of it without a lot of hard work?

Read rest of article HERE

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Restoring Riparian Habitat for Soil & Water Conservation

By Travis Smith, Wildlife/Forestry Specialist 
I was working as a research biologist conducting biological assessments in the Great Miami River watershed when I was first exposed to the incredible impact that sediment pollution can have on an ecosystem.  I did not realize how major of a role  riparian vegetation played in soil and water conservation until I observed  firsthand the impacts of sediment pollution on an ecosystem where no riparian BMP’s (Best Management Practices) were utilized.  The entire reach of the river adjacent to the farm was completely silted in, which destroyed pool, riffle, run, structures, thus creating monotypic morphology.  It also destroyed important breeding habitat for many sensitive aquatic wildlife species, and decreases bank stabilization.  Decreased bank stabilization can cause sloughing, bank slippage, and extreme soil erosion, which results in the loss of valuable cropland.  With the demand growing for viable cropland which is needed to meet the world’s growing food supply, we can ill afford to let our farmland continue to be washed away.              

The riparian zone:  is the interface between the land and a river or stream.  Riparian zones are significant in ecology, environmental management, and civil engineering because of the role they play in soil and water conservation

Riparian zones function in the 4Rs

The 4R nutrient stewardship represents the four rights of fertilizer management- source, rate, time, and place.

The impacts of eutrophication caused by the increased use of fertilizer needed to keep up with the growing demand for crops have been felt by the presence of toxic algae blooms in numerous lakes, rivers, and streams throughout Ohio.  Currently Grand Lakes St. Mary and the Sandusky Bay are probably the two biggest hot button topics in the state related to this issue.

Research shows riparian zones are instrumental in water quality improvement for both surface runoff and water flowing into streams through subsurface or groundwater flow. Particularly the attenuation of nitrate or denitrification of the nitrates from fertilizer in this buffer zone is important. Riparian zones can play a role in lowering nitrate contamination in surface runoff from agricultural fields, which runoff would otherwise damage ecosystems and human health. This process is also called biofiltration.  

Controlling the source, rate, time, and place of fertilizers are extremely important, but could be made exponentially more effective with the restoration of the riparian buffer zones to aid in sequestering excess nutrient runoff.

Types of Restoration

Horticultural restoration- refers to a high level of site management and external human inputs that include site preparation (land-leveling, disking), planting of nursery-grown trees and shrubs in predesigned patterns, irrigation, and chemical weed-control for three or more years. Horticultural restoration is appropriate along rivers where the river’s physical processes have been severely modified by humans with dams, levees, bank stabilization, and water diversions.

Process restoration- which strives to reestablish river processes onto the site. Process restoration is appropriate on riparian sites along a river that retains functioning river processes (e.g. no dams, and few levees or water diversions).Process restoration attempts to restore a site by working with existing river processes. This may involve, for example, breaching a levee to reconnect the river to its floodplain behind the levee, or changing landuse, such as cessation of farming or a modified grazing plan, or creating topography by cutting swales or building low berms on the floodplain.

Gauging the Effectiveness of Riparian Buffers

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Grant partners SWCD, Schools and OEPA to promote water quality

A $5,000 Environmental Education Mini Grant was awarded this week to the Fayette Soil and Water Conservation District.   The grant will be used to purchase seeds, tree protectors and educational signs for a city farm streamside educational project along Paint Creek to reduce nutrient loadings upstream from the city of Washington Court House's drinking water treatment plant.   Volunteers will plant approximately five acres of trees and shrubs and 12 acres of prairie grass, wildflower mix and cool season grasses while students from two high school science clubs will monitor water quality upstream and within the project area, sample soils and measure tree and vegetative growth over several years.  The project is one of nine throughout the state that were funded for a total of $35,192.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Celebrating World Soil Day Today!

Too often, it’s treated like dirt.

But this week our living and life-giving soil is finally getting some of the respect it deserves as the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization celebrates World Soil Day on December 5 in Rome, Italy.  Under the framework of the Global Soil Partnership, the event is held each year with the goal of raising awareness of the importance of healthy soils for food security, ecosystem functions, and sustainable development.

Those of us who work in agriculture and natural resource conservation understand that healthy soil is the foundation upon which our food and fiber production is based. That’s why we’re calling it World Soil Health Day.

Understandably, it’s easy to take soil for granted because it’s mostly hidden from view—and few who live off the farm have reason to give it a second thought. Yet this amazing resource is responsible for nearly all life on the planet. Fortunately, scientists, conservationists and farmers are increasingly recognizing that keeping our soil healthy and functioning is the key to our survival.

Here in Guernsey county, the district joins with other conservation partners, working directly with private landowners to improve the health of the soil on our working lands. And by improving the health of the soil, we are also improving the health and vitality of our farms, families and communities.

This renewed focus on the health of our soil has created an exciting new revolution in American agriculture as farmers, ranchers and other landowners are increasingly making their land more productive and sustainable through soil health management systems.  Although all farming operations are different, most all can benefit from keeping the soil covered as much as possible; disturbing the soil as little as possible; keeping plants growing throughout the year to feed the soil; and diversifying plants as much as possible using crop rotation and cover crops.

By improving soil health, Guernsey county agricultural producers can harvest benefits on and off the farm including increasing farmland sustainability and resilience; improving water and air quality; providing wildlife habitat; and reducing flooding.

World Soil Health Day serves as a reminder to all of us that we owe our existence to the soil. As we face mounting global production, climate and sustainability challenges, I believe there is no better time to work hand-in-hand with Guernsey county farmers and ranchers to improve the health of this critical living resource.

The promise of our future depends on it.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Ohio's deer harvest down 3%

COLUMBUS   Hunters in Ohio checked more than 22,600 deer on Monday, the opening day of the state's deer-gun season. The season runs through Sunday. Deer hunters get an extra 30 minutes each day to hunt.
According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, hunters have harvested about 3 percent fewer deer compared to the same time last season. Hunters have bagged almost 110,000 deer so far this season compared to roughly 113,000 last year.
Approximately 420,000 hunters are expected to participate in this year's season. They must have a valid deer permit and a valid Ohio hunting license.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Drive with caution - deer are on the move

Department of Transportation -- As deer hunting season ramps up, ODOT announced Monday that an increase in the animals' movements has caused an increase in vehicle crashes.   In 2012, 20,993 vehicle collisions involved deer were reported to ODOT. Six people were killed and 1,013 were injured as a result of the crashes  "Increased deer movement typically begins around the start of fall and continues past hunting season," said Ohio Department of Transportation Director Jerry Wray. "The result can mean more deer on our highways and more crashes with vehicles."

 Total deer collisions, which ODOT has mapped out, were highest in Stark County, where 558 were reported. Richland County reported 558, Hamilton County reported 524 and Clermont and Lorain Counties both reported 470.   ODOT said motorists who strike a deer should report the crash to local law enforcement, the sheriff's department, the Ohio State Highway Patrol or the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Grants available through ODNR

Ohio Department of Natural Resources has approved grants that will improve public access to outdoor recreation facilities statewide.  NatureWorks and Land and Water Conservation Fund grants will fund 92 community-based projects to build and renovate parks and other recreational areas. Those projects include acquiring more than 30 acres of green space and developing and improving 28 playgrounds, 11 shelters and gazebos and nine park restrooms.  The department has said that it would like more than $2 million in NatureWorks grants and more than $500,000 in LWCF grants be awarded to communities across the state.  
For information on which municipalities received grant money and what they'll be spending it on, visit the ODNR grants webpage.