By Randall Reeder, Ohio State University Extension Agricultural Engineer (retired)
Yes, it’s virtual. The field day held each spring at David Brandt’s farm in Fairfield County will be recorded ahead of time and streamed on April 7 (Wednesday) at 9:00 a.m.
You can watch online, free. The program will be on Facebook.com/OhioNotillCouncil. If you don’t have Facebook, go to our website to watch: OhioNoTillCouncil.com. (The program will be archived on our Facebook page and our YouTube channel for later viewing.)
One of the biggest barriers for “conventional” farmers to overcome is concern about reduced net income. Eric Niemeyer and Dave Brandt will tackle this concern head on. They will share case studies and go in depth on the economics of no-till, cover crops and other components of “regenerative agriculture.”
Terry Mescher is the coordinator of the H2Ohio program for the Western Lake Erie Basin for ODA. Director Dorothy Pelanda will join him in giving an update. They will review the present signup, the overall financial commitments and discuss the future of the program. Currently H2Ohio is in 14 counties. In the next state budget, they hope to add the portions of 10 other counties that are in WLEB.
Terry Cosby, Chief, NRCS, will discuss the direction the agency is taking in the Biden Administration. Vinayak Shedekar, OSU ag. engineer, will give results of edge-of-field water quality research on the Brandt Farm. The research includes continuous no-till with cover crops, conventional tilled, and short-term no-till fields. Mike Thompson, Grower Acct. Manager for Indigo Ag will talk about the current situation for Carbon Markets in Regenerative Ag.
Capturing carbon, climate change
One clear goal of the Biden Administration is to tackle global warming. And farmers are at the front of the line.
Now, being at the front can be good. Or bad. If they are handing out millions of dollars (for sequestering carbon with no-till and cover crops), then being at the front is a huge advantage. But if you’re being shot at (because you are plowing or burning too much diesel) that’s not a good position.
Regardless of your views on climate change, global warming, Democrats or Republicans, removing carbon from the air and storing it in your soil, as organic matter, is a positive for your operation. There are no negatives. Increasing your organic matter levels, for example, from 3% up to 6% will increase yields. Most good Ohio farmland was at that level 150 years ago.
Improving active organic matter by 10% increased corn yield by 5% in a study conducted by Steve Culman, OSU soil fertility specialist.
Adding organic matter to soil, usually with continuous no-till and cover crops, increases water holding capacity, according to Jim Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services, (previously with OSU Extension and NRCS).
Consider this: typical July rainfall in Ohio is about 5 inches, often occurring as thunderstorms. If a no-till corn field with excellent infiltration held 3 more inches because of a higher level of organic matter, would that help the crop thrive through an August dry spell?
When the government decides to “pay farmers for carbon sequestration” no-tillers who have already been adding organic matter wonder if they will qualify. They should. Even if the surface soil has fairly high organic matter (4 to 6%) they will keep adding carbon deeper in the soil with deep rooted crops (corn) and cover crops (such as cereal rye).
Whether you get paid directly or not, storing more carbon in your soil will add to your bank account.