Thursday, June 30, 2016

Voluntary conservation practices helping enviroment

Voluntary conservation is reducing runoff

Iowa Farm Scene

USDA says farmers have helped cut nitrogen runoff in Iowa and Mississippi River Basin by up to 34%.
Published on: June 28, 2016

Soil conservation and water quality improvement practices by farmers have reduced nitrogen and phosphorus runoff in Iowa and other states in the Upper Mississippi River Basin, according to a federal study released last week. Several farmers I visited with at the Farm Progress Hay Expo at Boone June 22-23 were talking about this topic. We discussed the voluntary vs. regulatory issue, as more farmers and landowners need to be putting water quality improvement practices on their land.
Farmers are reducing nitrogen, phosphorus pollution
Based on current water quality data, researchers at USDA and the U.S. Geological Survey determined that voluntary agricultural conservation practices are helping reduce nitrogen downstream in the Upper Mississippi River Basin watershed by as much as 34%. The impact on phosphorus reduction wasn’t as much, with reductions topping out at 10%. Iowa is part of the Upper Mississippi River and the Missouri River basins.
Until this study, nutrient reductions have been difficult to detect in streams because changes in multiple sources of nutrients (including non-ag sources) and natural processes can have confounding influences that conceal the effects of improved farming practices on downstream water quality. The models used......(To read more, click the link below):

Farmers assisting with pollution issues

Farmers helping to limit algae in Great Lakes

  JUN 28, 2016

Summers along the Great Lakes include fishing, boating -- and dangerous algae blooms that can shut down beaches. These blooms are caused by excess phosphorous, a lot of which comes from farms. Now some of the region's farmers are testing agricultural practices that could reduce harmful runoff.

The Statelers are unique from the other two project farms because they care for more than 7,000 hogs from birth until they’re ready for market, as well as planting crops.
Duane Stateler and his son Anthony run Stateler Family Farms, one of a handful of demonstrations farms across the country. Over the next five years, three farms in Northwest Ohio will test different practices to find out what reduces phosphorus runoff.
Underneath each of Stateler’s three barns is a manure pit, which he uses to fertilize 500 acres of corn, soybeans, and wheat.  Stateler will use that fertilizer to .......(To continue reading, click the link below): 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Mimicking nature: Cover crop guru Dave Brandt was an early adapter

Mimicking nature: Cover crop guru Dave Brandt was an early adapter

Cover crops and earth.
Fairfield County farmer Dave Brandt believes in the benefits of cover crops, and the proof is in his soil.

CARROLL, Ohio — The fields that belong to central Ohio farmer David Brandt are easy to spot.
He grows the same crops as most grain farmers: corn, soybeans and some wheat. But when those crops are harvested, his fields look very different.
During the off-season -— fall through early spring — his fields are still growing with plants like sunflowers and radishes, mixed with various kinds of grasses that form a layer of vegetation over his soil.
It’s called cover cropping — and the concept is nothing new. In fact, with all of today’s concerns with water quality and nutrient loss, cover crops are arguably more popular now than ever before.

Early adapter

Brandt, 69, has been using cover crops in his no-till operation since 1978, about five years after he went 100 percent no-till.
He needed a way to break up the soil compaction and, not wanting to go back to tillage, he decided that maybe he could use the root action of cover crops to help break up his soils.
“It seemed to loosen the soil; it eliminated the compaction we were having from the surface,” he said.
His way of farming was criticized at first, he said, and some still don’t understand it.
“They (other farmers) thought we were crazy,” he said. “‘Farming in the weeds — he’ll never make it.’
”In truth, Brandt’s fields do resemble a bit of....(To read the link below):

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Guernsey County Soil & Water Conservation District is pleased to announce that Casey Brooks has been appointed District Program Administrator.
Brooks, a Guernsey County native, has a Bachelor of Science in Ecology from the University of Akron and a Master’s of Science in Sustainable Systems from Slippery Rock University.  Before joining Guernsey Soil & Water, Brooks was an Organic Certification Specialist for the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) and previously worked for Zane State College, the Wilds, YMCA Storer Camps in Michigan, Lorain County Metroparks, Aullwood Audubon Center & Farm and The Nature Conservancy in Michigan, Delaware, Minnesota, Maine, Massachusetts and Missouri. 

Brooks said he is looking forward to expanding the availability and awareness of the services that Guernsey Soil & Water provides and developing relationships with community members to further the sustainable management of the county’s abundant natural resources. 

USDA StrikeForce Conservation Funding Available Morgan and Guernsey Landowners Apply by June 24, 2016

COLUMBUS, Ohio, June 8, 2016 –As part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s StrikeForce, expanded to include several Ohio counties this year, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is now offering financial and technical assistance to eligible landowners in Morgan and Guernsey Counties through the new Conservation Enhancement and Outreach Project.
In StrikeForce counties, over 20 percent of the population live below the poverty level.  Designed to increase access to USDA programs and services to people living in areas of persistent poverty, USDA staff in StrikeForce counties collaborate with State, local, and community officials to leverage community and economic development opportunities. 
The conservation practices available through the Conservation Enhancement and Outreach Projectprotect natural resources whileenhancing pasture, crop, and forest land.   Nutrient management practices, such as animal waste storage facilities and cover crops, protect water quality and improve soil health.  Brush and herbaceous weed control practices improve forest and grass lands by stemming the spread of invasive and noxious plants that often crowd out native plants or harm livestock.  High tunnel systems extend the growing season and provide a source of locally grown produce in areas far from grocery stores.  Several other conservation practices are also available for site-specific natural resource management needs.
The benefits of conservation applied on an individual’s land extend into the local economy.  Typically, landowners installing conservation practices use local sources of raw materials and labor.Improved land is more productive land which generates more income that may be used for higher education, local purchases, and local investments. 
Individuals interested in applying for the Conservation Enhancement and Outreach Projectshould make an appointment with the local NRCS conservationist as soon as possible.  To receive financial assistance,an application for Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) funds is required. Landowners in Guernsey County should call 740-432-5621, ext. 3. 

Applications for EQIP submitted by entities, such as farmers applying as a corporation, must register with the Central Contractor Registration (CCR), a process that can take up to 3 weeks.  Information about CCR requirements, including obtaining a Data Universal Number System (DUNS) number, is posted on the NRCS website at

***Ginseng Seed Sale***

The Guernsey SWCD is holding its first ever Ginseng Seed Sale. American Ginseng is a plant native to Guernsey County as well as Appalachian Ohio. Ginseng is a plant most coveted for its roots that are often credited for their tonic and medicinal properties. Purposes for growing Ginseng would be to increase forest diversity and potentially create a cash crop for the future by selling the roots down the road when they’re legally mature and Ginseng season is in. The Guernsey SWCD is taking pre-paid orders for stratified Ginseng seed by the ounce. The seed costs $10 per ounce of stratified seed and there are approximately 437 seeds in one ounce of seed. All proceeds from the sale go towards the district’s education events. For more information about planting and growing Ginseng you can reach us at 740-489-5276, or stop by our office located at the Guernsey County fairgrounds in Old Washington.

Order Today!

2016 Logging BMP Workshop

            Logging is and has been going on in Guernsey and surrounding counties for many years, for the most part with no issues. Occasionally something happens that is brought to our attention and is then dealt with. To help insure that these issues are kept from happening and how to deal with them accordingly, the Guernsey Soil and Water Conservation District, The Ohio Division of Forestry, and Superior Hardwoods of Ohio held a workshop for local loggers to attend and learn about BMP’s (Best Management Practices). The goal of this class was to help educate loggers about Ohio’s BMP laws that are required on logging jobs so that local soil and water quality are not degraded due to timber harvest activities. Jeremy Scherf, State Service Forester, talked about BMP’s and why they’re important to the land they help conserve and the ground they’re implemented on, as well as different tips and tactics and how they apply under multiple circumstances.  Bob Mulligan, Forest Hydrology Manager from The Ohio Division of Forestry, also spoke about the importance of BMP’s and soil and water conservation during silviculture practices and how there are laws in effect to ensure that our natural resources are not infringed upon. Bob also talked about where these laws spurred from and the direction legislation is looking at turning on the subject. Tony Machamer, Forester with Superior Hardwoods of Ohio, showed loggers why BMP’s are important to them from a saw mills perspective, because taking care of the ground that timber is harvested from is a near and dear issue to them as a business. To wrap things up Levi Arnold, Wildlife/ Forestry Specialist with the Guernsey SWCD talked about filing a voluntary form with the district called a Timber Harvest Management Plan which can give loggers some legal stability if one of their logging jobs were to come into question about best management practices installed on a property and some of the benefits this form gives to all involved in a timber harvest, everyone from the landowner, and forester, to the logger, and SWCD representative. For any questions please call the Guernsey SWCD at 740-489-5276.

Bob Mulligan, Forest Hydrologist with The Ohio Division of Forestry, answers questions about Ohio’s BMP laws.

Jeremy Scherf, State Service Forester with The Ohio Division of Forestry, gives a presentation to loggers about why BMP’s are important and how they help the land.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Fun Day at Moore Woods

On May 19th the Buckeye Trail 6th grade class came out to Guernsey SWCD’s Moore Memorial Woods for a fun day of learning about what natural resources can be found in forests around Guernsey County. We'd like to say a huge thank you to all the teachers who helped bring the kids out and a special thank you to Dave Schott from Noble SWCD, and Anna Hodges for helping teach the kids. the kids went around to five different stations where they learned how to identify and measure trees, learned how to identify different mammal furs and skulls, how to use a compass to navigate, multiple species of plants and different uses of them on a nature hike, and finally they made a custom t-shirt with paint and used leaves and items they found in the forest to decorate them with.


Jason Tyrell, teaching one of the groups orienteering


Levi Arnold, showing one of the groups furs from different mammals and special adaptations each species has.

Casey Brooks showing the kids a cool plant during the nature hike.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Two side-by-side rows with very different populations

Two side-by-side rows with very different populations

Tom Bechman

Crop Watch: Economics favor leaving both stands at this stage in the season.

Published on: Jun 6, 2016

The farmers who manage the Crop Watch field agonized over it as it turned cool and wet after planting on April 27. It rained on 15 of the first 17 days in May in their location.
Here are two side-by-side rows that illustrated both what cool, wet soils can do and the fact that corn has a microclimate that can be as small as one row.
These pictures were taken 30 days after planting. The row on the left checked in at 28,000 plants per acre. But the row on the right only had 16,000 plants per acre.
When the photo was taken, it was obvious you wouldn’t tear up the row on the left. That wasn’t so obvious even two weeks earlier.
GOOD AND MEDIOCRE: The row on the left has 28,000 plants per acre. The one on the right has 16,000 plants per acre. Economics favor leaving both instead of planting over now.
GOOD AND MEDIOCRE: The row on the left has 28,000 plants per acre. The one on the right has 16,000 plants per acre. Economics favor leaving both instead of planting over now.

Indeed, using information from a chart on expected yields due to various planting dates and populations, leaving the row on the left — assuming the entire field looked like it — would have been the right decision. The chart is in the Purdue University Corn & Soybean Field Guide. It’s based upon data....(to read more, click the link below):

Frustrating early spring gives way to rapid late planting progress

Frustrating early spring gives way to rapid late planting progress