At the three northwest Ohio farms involved in the Blanchard River Demonstration Farms Network, there is always something new and innovative happening to give all farmers in Ohio insights on agricultural practices that help reduce and prevent nutrient runoff. While most of the projects take place in the field, one of the latest improvements happened online with the unveiling of a new website.
“Over the first five years, we did a really good job of getting nonfarmers on the demo farms to showcase our research and convey some of the ways farmers are using best management practices for water quality and nutrient management,” said Jordan Hoewischer, director of water quality and research with Ohio Farm Bureau. “When we signed a new five-year agreement with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to continue work on our demo farms, we took that opportunity to put a major focus on farmer engagement and getting them to find out about some of the new practices they need to consider.”
One of the biggest enhancements to the new website is a resource section, where farmers can click which topic they would like to learn more about, and the results will be aggregated based on their search.
“If you want to understand more about cover crops, for example, click that button and any blogs, articles, podcasts and facts sheets on cover crops will pop up,” Hoewischer said. “Our new site organizes it all for you, and we will keep adding to it as new information becomes available.”
The “resource” tab also includes materials on soil sampling, nutrient management plans, no-till, tile drainage, climate and weather, just to name a few.
Along with the new website comes a new approach to social media interaction to help keep farmers in-the-know about current research athe demo farms.
“There is a growing group of farmers who are doing a really good job of interacting with each other on Twitter and Facebook, so we have made a concerted effort to have a bigger presence on those platforms,” said Aaron Heilers, Blanchard River Demonstration Farms project manager. “Peer to peer learning is something that has skyrocketed because they trust the results that their neighbors are getting with new equipment and practices. We want to continue to foster an online community for farmers to interact with not only the demo farms, but with each other.”