Monday, June 29, 2015

Having a rotation can show great benefits

Written by Jason Tyrell, Ag Resource Specialist

Anyone that is a Cleveland Cavaliers fan knows that having a good rotation can be highly beneficial. The CAVS made it all the way to the NBA Finals, just to lose in game 6 to the Golden State Warriors. They were highly outmanned due to injuries to key players and were only able to play 7 different players. Not much of a rotation when in comparison to the Warriors 10 and sometimes 11 man rotation. The Cavaliers showed extreme exhaustion in the final 3 games as the Warriors won 3 straight to win the series 4-2. This is a prime example of how important it is to have a proper rotation in place. The same concept goes for your crops. Having no rotation on your crops will absolutely exhaust your soils and limits its natural abilities to help your crops grow. Yes, there are ways to improve your soils capabilities, with fertilizer and nitrogen applications, but in a lot of situations, it just isn’t enough. Plus who wants to spend extra cash when they don’t have to?

Choosing a rotation
Just like the Cleveland Cavaliers, you as a farmer would like to choose the best rotation possible so that you can have the highest success. Just because a rotation works at one farm, doesn’t mean it will work for yours. Some farms are in floodplain areas where alfalfa would not be a wise decision to include in a rotation, where other farmers have suitable areas for alfalfa and deem it as a quality option. That is just one example of the many thoughts that must go through your mind when choosing a rotation.

Increase your yields
There are many benefits that you could see by implementing a crop rotation in your fields. One benefit is the increase in yield. If you are used to planting straight corn, try planting a rotation of corn and soybean. This rotation usually produces an increase in yield between 5% and 20% more than continuous corn. You could also include wheat into the rotation to see an increase in yield also. There are unlimited options when deciding a rotation that fits your farm.

Reduce your costs
Crops grown in a rotation will reduce your costs in several ways. A rotation such as soybean/corn/soybean/corn will reduce the amount of nitrogen that will need to be applied as opposed to a straight corn system, since soybean is a nitrogen producer. Another option to reduce costs is to no till. This saves a lot on the operation costs of planting as you do not have to till then plant. No till planting saves with gas, equipment, labor, and also has a variety of soil health benefits as well.

Control those weeds and insects
Weeds reduce yields of crops by competing for nutrients, water, and sunlight. Weeds also create problems with insects and diseases. With a crop rotation, producers are able to diversify their herbicide program. A lot of perennial weeds are vulnerable to late summer or fall herbicide applications. A broad leaf spray in June and or Roundup in the fall are popular choices in weed control. Some crops such as alfalfa or small grains out compete weeds and help to limit the herbicide application. No till planting normally relies more on chemical applications to prevent weeds, where conventional tillage will manually reduce many biennial and perennial weeds. Crop rotation also helps with insects. It is most effective against several low mobility insects, larvae and eggs. It completely depends on what type of crop you have in your rotation.

Don’t forget about cover crops!
I cannot talk enough about how great cover cropping is for soil health, reducing erosion, conserving moisture, weed control and insect control. There are so many options to choose from with cover crops. It is all dependent upon what you want to gain when it comes to choosing the types of cover crop and the diversity of the cover crop mix that you choose. Cover cropping is a great conservation practice that could be implemented into your rotation to improve a variety of things that in turn, will improve your yield and crop success.

Come back stronger next year
The hope for your crops, just like the Cleveland Cavaliers, is that next year will be a better and more productive year than the previous year. As the Cavs will be looking to win their first NBA title, you will be looking to achieve higher yields and less cost for your farming operation. Look into which rotations would suit you best and run with it. You may be pleasantly surprised with your results.


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Fun Conservation Day Camp Offered for Ages 8-11!

Guernsey Soil and Water Conservation District has been offering a day camp for area youth for 30 years!  This year at the Conservation Camp, our theme will be “Back to Our Roots” with fun and educational activities.

The two day camp is scheduled for July 22 & 23 from 9:00a.m. to 2:00p.m., and it is open to all youth, ages 8-11.  It will be held at Moore Memorial Woods, a land lab owned by the district, which is located 3 miles east of Old Washington. 
Camp fee is still only $5.00 for both days.  For this fee, the camper will receive a lunch both days, a binder full of information, and will receive their own camp T-shirt.  There will be 2 locations (one in Cambridge and one in Byesville) for bus pick-up and drop-off.

On the first day, students will learn about soil types and how they affect the lives of plants and people.  They will take a hike through Moore Woods, learning about the secret lives of many of the wild creatures that make the woods their home. They will play a game that teaches how to use a compass so they will never be lost in the woods. In the afternoon, we’ll make some great crafts to take home.
On the second day, we’ll take a bus to Salt Fork State Park, where the kids will spend the morning canoeing, fishing and learning archery.  After a picnic lunch, they will get to hold a fish and learn about their life cycle.  Then we will play some fun, educational games.

For a registration form or if you have questions, please call Guernsey Soil and Water at (740) 623-0324, Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:00am and 4:30pm. Our new office is located on the Guernsey County fairgrounds at 335C Old National Rd, Old Washington.   Or you can download the application from our education page.  Registration deadline is July 13, 2015.  Only the 1st 40 applications will be taken.

Visit the district often at our website at

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Spraying to control the Gypsy Moth in Ohio

REYNOLDSBURG – Yellow planes flying low in Marion County on Monday morning targeted gypsy moth mating, said a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

The ODA began aerial treatments designed to disrupt gypsy moth mating on 25,699 acres in Crawford, Delaware, Franklin and Marion counties.

To help protect Ohio’s diverse habitat, the ODA operates multiple programs aimed at managing the gypsy moth in Ohio. One such program, the Slow-the-Spread program, focuses on monitoring, detecting and reducing isolated populations to slow the gypsy moth’s movement across Ohio through treatments.

Airplanes fly 100-200 feet above the tree tops to apply the treatment throughout the day. The treatments in central Ohio were to be done over one or two days.

In all counties receiving treatment, the department uses a single application of the product Disrupt II. This product does not kill the moth, but it disrupts the mating process by confusing the male as it searches for a female mate. Disrupt II is not harmful to birds, plants, pets or humans.

Pre-recorded daily updates about planned treatment blocks are available to citizens by calling 614-387-0907 or 800-282-1955, ext. 37, after 5 p.m.

The gypsy moth is a non-native, invasive species that feeds on the leaves of more than 300 different trees and shrubs and is especially fond of oak. A healthy tree usually can withstand only two years of defoliation before it is permanently damaged or dies. To date, 51 of Ohio’s 88 counties have established gypsy moth populations.

For more information on the gypsy moth, including maps of treatment areas and videos of the mating disruption process, visit online.

Monthly ECOFA meeting planned

Dover Library, Dover, Ohio, At the July 1, 7:00 PM meeting of the East Central Ohio Forestry Association (ECOFA),Karen Russo, President of The Friends of Beaver Creek State Park will speak to us on the preservation efforts of Gaston's Mill in Pioneer Village.  The mill was built in the 1830's, is on the National Register of Historic Places and is the only operating water driven grist mill in Columbiana County and one of the few operating historic water driven grist mills in Ohio. She will speak of their efforts to find people with the skills to repair the wheel, the funds to carry it out and their fight to keep it open for the 2015 season.

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, June 22, 2015

Ohio Agency Briefs

Agency Briefs
ODNR: Ohio watercraft officers are cracking down on boating under the influence.  The DNR will participate in Operation Dry Water June 26 to 28 as a way to curb the number of accidents and death tied to boating and the use of drugs and alcohol.  "Drinking and boating are a combination that can lead to serious and even deadly, consequences," said Mike Miller, chief of the division of watercraft. "It is critical for operators and passengers to stay sober and stay safe at all times while boating."  Ohio law defines boating under the influence as the operation of a boat with a BAC of .08 or higher.
State Veterinarian Tony Forshey and Ohio Poultry Association executive vice president Jim Chakeres this week briefed the House Agriculture & Rural Development Committee on the status of avian flu in Ohio.  The disease was confirmed in the US in 2014 and has not yet been found in Ohio. But officials have cancelled all live bird exhibitions as a precautionary measure to stop the potential spread of the illness.  "Minimizing the potential for exposure is the best defense against having one of these viruses becoming established in Ohio," Dr. Forshey said.
EPA: Applications are being accepted for grant funding for projects aimed at reducing nutrients in Lake Erie. About $2 million in funding is available for projects that are innovative or highly effective within the Lake Erie Watershed, according to the EPA.  Projects can include stream restoration, dam removal, wetland restoration or re-naturalization, sediment and nutrient reduction and more. Applications are due Aug. 14 for funding during FY 2016. Mail applications to Russ Gibson or Martha Spurbeck at the Ohio EPA/Division of Surface Water, P.O. Box 1049, Columbus, OH. 43216. For more information, visit the EPA's website.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Big Rains Swamp Ohio

Backyard boating in Belle Center in NW Ohio

A steady dose of heavy rains over the last few days for many parts of the state has created a number of dangerous situations for people and challenging situations for crops. Impassable roads, significant flooding and saturated crop fields were common throughout the state yesterday.

Read rest of article  HERE

Thursday, June 11, 2015

16 years of Ag School Days

Wildlife/Forestry Specialist Levi Arnold 'looks
at some of the macroinvertebrates the kids found

Ag Resource Specialist Jason Tyrell shows some "bugs" to 3rd graders

The sheer joy of being outside on a beautiful day

Catching "bugs"

Hey, look at what I found!

What did you find in your net?
Stream Monitoring class at Ag School Days recently.  This event reaches over 400 third graders in Noble and Guernsey county each year for 16 years.  Students have a WONDERFUL time learning all about how farmers and farming effect the environment.  Good conservation practices by good stewards of the land benefit the soil and water of our counties.  This is one of the many educational events the district is involved with each year, and the only one that we ask for donations from sponsors.  Many thanks to those businesses and individuals in the county that support this event.

Severance Tax Increase Could Be Ready For Budget Amendment

Senate President Keith Faber said he still hoping to get buy-in from the oil and gas industry on a plan to hike the severance tax, but indicated that agreement wasn't necessary for the chamber to move on the contentious issue. The Celina Republican told reporters during a Monday news conference to unveil changes to the biennial budget, he was "very optimistic" about the Senate's ongoing effort to broker a deal between the oil and gas industry and the Kasich administration.
The American Petroleum Institute-Ohio, however, has not budged in its opposition to altering the severance tax in the budget and is still running ads warning that a tax hike could jeopardize the state's economy.
Gov. John Kasich has long said the current severance tax of 10 cents per barrel of oil and 2.5 cents per 1,000 cubic feet of natural gas is far too low to recover the value of stripping Ohio's natural resources. He argues that much larger petroleum producing states have imposed significantly higher taxes without driving the industry away.  The governor's third attempt to increase the severance tax in the executive budget called for a fixed rate of 6.5% on the value of oil and gas produced at the wellhead, with a lower rate of 4.5% for natural gas and natural gas liquids taken downstream. 
Despite his optimism about the Senate's ongoing discussions, Sen. Faber expressed frustration with the industry's refusal to budge on the issue.  "The governor's folks have shown a great willingness to negotiate, the industry has shown a great willingness to show up, and at times negotiate," he said.  "But let me let everybody know: willingness to have total agreement is not a limitation on us putting a severance tax provision in the bill before it leaves the Senate. I don't like people who show up to negotiate and say, 'I'm not negotiating,'" he added.
Ways & Means Committee Chairman Sen. Bob Peterson, who is overseeing discussions on the issue, anticipated an agreement could be ready for inclusion in next week's omnibus amendment to the budget.  "Sometimes the pressure of the budget's very helpful," he said. "I think maybe the news next week is: we've reached compromise on severance tax reform."
Chris Zeigler, executive vice president of API-Ohio, offered a less optimistic assessment about reaching a compromise so soon.  "We certainly appreciate the conversations that we've had with Senate members on this issue," he said in an interview. "But at no time has this association ever given any indication that we're willing to negotiate on severance within the context of a budget."  Mr. Zeigler said he believed the proposal warranted separate legislation because of the complexity of the issue  "Unlike other tax proposals that are being considered, this isn't just an increase in a rate. This is a fundamental change in tax structure," he said.  While the industry is willing to discuss changes to the severance tax, the sharp downturn in commodity prices has already resulted in drilling rigs leaving Ohio's shale fields, he said, arguing for a very cautious approach to taxes.  The many months of deliberations on the House's severance tax plan last year, on which API was neutral, show how difficult it is to tackle in a last-minute budget amendment, Mr. Zeigler said.  "Considering that we're fundamentally changing going from a volumetric tax to a value-based tax, I think it deserves its own attention and isn't caught up in all the other machinations of budget time," he added.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Bird Flu worries cancel shows in Ohio

The Ohio Department of Agriculture canceled all live bird exhibitions Tuesday in a bid to stave off avian flu that has impacted other states.  The effort is meant to insulate Ohio's $2.3 billion poultry industry, the department said.  The contagious virus has been found in several Midwestern states but has not yet been found in Ohio. It appeared in the U.S. late last year and since then has infected more than 44 million birds in 197 locations.  The ban on exhibitions will impact county and independent fairs, the Ohio State Fair, and all other gatherings of birds for show or sale including auctions or swap meets, ODA reported. Similar bans have been enacted in other states.  "This was a difficult decision because it means young people can't show their birds at fairs, but it's in the best interest of an industry that literally thousands of Ohio families and businesses depend on and which provides billions of dollars to our state's economy," ODA Director David Daniels said in a release. "The right move isn't always the easy move, but this is the right move, especially when you see just how devastating the virus has been to other big poultry states like Iowa and Minnesota."  Mr. Daniels added that an outbreak of the virus could drive up consumer costs for poultry products like chicken, turkey and eggs.
State veterinarian Tony Forshey said the virus can be spread through direct contact with contaminated materials that came from infected birds.  "This means that exhibitions, auctions and swap meets where birds are co-mingling pose a high risk of unintentionally spreading this disease," Mr. Forshey said. "Until we can be sure that there has been no transference from the wild bird population migrating through the state, we need to do all we can to minimize the exposure for our domestic birds."

Monday, June 1, 2015

Tips to keep your flock healthy

A healthy flock is a happy flock. Healthy birds are better able to produce quality eggs, raise a clutch of chicks or roam our backyards. With disease pressures ever present, how can we prevent illness from entering our flocks?

Gordon Ballam, Ph.D., a poultry nutritionist for Purina Animal Nutrition, encourages flock owners to create a simple disease prevention plan. Ballam divides prevention into two core topics: quality nutrition and sound management.
“The most important aspect of bird health is a partnership of good nutrition and flock management,” he says. “For optimal health and production of your birds, you can’t have one without the other.”

Read rest of article  HERE

Update on CAUV proposed changes

Despite Final Modifications, Farmers Say CAUV Formula Still Needs Work
Department of Taxation staff said Thursday that updated valuation tables for agricultural land are firm, despite farmers' continued complaints that more needs to be done to ensure they're paying fair amounts  The grievances were aired at a public Agricultural Advisory Committee meeting in Columbus, where the department detailed previously announced changes to the Cultural Agricultural Use Value calculation.  Changes include using more up-to-date crop prices and yields and an increased deduction for woodland clearing. However, they don't encompass recently proposed Ohio Farm Bureau Federation's recommendations to further adjust the factors used to determine the capitalization rate and set lower values for land that's part of a federal conservation program. 

The current CAUV formula wrongfully assumes that land is held for only five years and becomes more valuable as its mortgage is paid down, OFBF's Leah Curtis said. In reality, land is often held over generations and the capitalization rate should take into account productive capacity rather than the owner's equity in the land.  "We would like to see (the recommendations) implemented, if possible, for values this year," she told ODT.  However, tax Equalization Division Executive Director Shelley Wilson said after the meeting that the 2015 tax year valuation tables set to be issued by the tax commissioner next week will take into account only those calculation modifications already agreed upon.  Attempting to make any changes in time for this tax year would "be pushing our timeline," she added.  Ms. Wilson said the department has chosen not to adopt some of the recommendations that have been made by committee members because of complexity and the limited scope of its work related to valuations.  Some of the suggestions, she said, "don't really represent calculating a use value, which has been assigned to an appraiser and we have always maintained that it is the department's job to actually act as an appraiser to calculate a use value which is just like the market value of your house. The answer is where the data takes you. It's not something that you can ethically manipulate."  Despite the department being resolute with the OFB recommendations that have already been implemented in the 2015 valuations, conversations will continue in an effort to make the formula as accurate as possible, Ms. Wilson said.
Ted Finnarn, with the Ohio Farmers Union, urged increased examination of the capitalization rate and other OFB recommendations regarding draining and wood clearing costs.  While the new calculation includes increased deductions for surface drainage and wood clearing, they remain below actual costs, he and others in attendance contended.  "We feel those values are still a little bit out of whack. The changes we made are good and we're moving in the right direction, but more needs to be done," Mr. Finnarn said.
Ohio Forestry Association Director John Dorka said members "object" to the woodland clearing deduction that was doubled to $1,000 in the new formula. "It's our opinion that it's considerably higher than that, and we've provided data that supports that," he said. 
The updated cost of clearing woodland that's taken into account when calculating CAUV is at the level that it would have been in the early 1990s, Steve Maurer, state executive director for the Ohio Farm Service Agency, said.  He also supported the OBF recommendation to tax crop land that's been set aside for conservation at the lowest possible rate.  "We as an agency would have an interest in making certain...that treatment of the land for tax purposes does not inhibit the decision to put it in conserving use," Mr. Maurer said.
Delaware County Auditor George Kaitsa and the Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry also backed OBF proposals targeted toward more accurate valuations.
A handful of farmers from Montgomery County also weighed in. They spoke out against the valuations, saying that taxes have increased so significantly in the past few years that many are struggling to maintain their operations.  They complained that the average statewide millage that is used is unfair because they're paying higher taxes than are factored into the formula. However, Ms. Wilson said tailoring CAUV to individual farms or counties would lead to complications.  "There are 3,500 different soils and 4,500 different taxing districts. That's an awful lot of data, not only for us to manipulate and certify back to the counties, but small rural counties do not have sophisticated computer systems so it becomes an administrative burden," she said.  ODT would alter valuations to include incentives or make other artificial adjustments only if it was required to do so through legislation, Ms. Wilson said.  Earlier this week, OFB State Policy Director Brandon Kern briefed the House Agriculture & Rural Development Committee on the CAUV recommendations, telling lawmakers to standby in the event that the administration fails to take action on additional changes.  In continuing to further review the valuation program, which 60% of farmland is registered under, Ms. Wilson said it will be important for all parties to keep in mind the department's duty to all tax payers.  "Every time we lower a farmer's value, residential values go up, so it's a fairness issue for everyone," Ms. Wilson said.