Country Life

Building a future from the soil

By Matt Reese

Whether it is the start of a new growing season or the advent of a new career for a young farmer, the culture, industry and art of food production begins with the soil.

“Every producer’s most valuable asset is the land they farm. It is the key to their livelihood and long-term productivity, which is why Cargill is committed to partnering with farmers to increase their productivity by promoting sustainable, innovative agricultural practices. Adoption of regenerative practices helps farmers create a system that is more resilient and economically viable, ensuring their success for future generations,” said Nathan Fries, Sustainability Lead with Cargill. “We realize, however, that every farmer is unique and in a different place when it comes to the adoption of regenerative agriculture. Three years ago, we launched Cargill RegenConnect, providing farmers choice as to which practices are best suited to their operation’s unique growing conditions.” 

Ohio Ag Net’s Dale Minyo interviewed Janelle Leach, Conservation Agronomist about the Cargill RegenConnect program in Sidney.
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FSR welcomes new crop of exhibitors, recognizes supporters

More than 50 companies will join the ranks as exhibitors for the 61st Farm Science Review Sept. 19-21 at the Molly Caren Agricultural Center. The new exhibitors represent various sectors in the agriculture industry including livestock handling, equipment advancements, agronomic technology, agricultural policy and more.

“We are witnessing a new wave of technology in agriculture and are looking forward to the advancements our new exhibitors are bringing to the show,” said Nick Zachrich, Farm Science Review manager. “We continue to be a farm show that has something for everybody and that is thanks to the number of exhibitors that show up year-after-year.” 

A few of the new exhibitors joining the line-up at this year’s show include: 

  • Holganix (Booth #554) — Holganix has two unique products for the agricultural market: Bio 800 Agriculture and Bio 800 Breakdown. Holganix Bio 800+ products harness the power of over 800 species of soil microbes to build soil health, increase yield, reduce fertilizer and increase the breakdown of crop residue. 
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Ohio’s outdoor recreation plan

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is laying out a plan that looks at the future of outdoor recreation and wants us to weigh-in on what we want to see.  ODNR developed a draft of its Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) after engaging with public and outdoor recreation providers and conducting a statewide survey. The SCORP is a five-year strategic plan that guides state and local investments for developing and managing outdoor recreation and facilities.

“We know people all around the state love to enjoy the great outdoors in different ways,” said ODNR Director Mary Mertz. “This plan gives us a blueprint for the future and allows us to tailor a plan for outdoor recreation that fits the wants and needs of Ohioans.”

The SCORP priorities include advancing the trail network, enhancing existing recreational facilities, emphasizing recreational opportunities and access to waterways, raising awareness about recreation opportunities, and protecting the natural environment.… Continue reading

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Spotted lanternfly continues its spread in Ohio

The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) has confirmed several new spotted lanternfly (SLF) infestations across the state, including Columbus and Toledo.

In 2021, ODA designated the spotted lanternfly as a destructive plant pest and established regulations aimed at reducing the risk of spread. As a result of new detections, Franklin, Hamilton, Lucas, Mahoning, and Muskingum counties will be added to the spotted lanternfly regulated area. In regulated areas, spotted lanternfly infestations have been confirmed and inspections are increased.

The spotted lanternfly was first detected in the U.S. in Pennsylvania in 2014. It was likely brought to the U.S. by imported goods. The first confirmation in Ohio was in Mingo Junction in 2020. 

The spotted lanternfly is an insect native to Asia that is a pest of grapes, hops, and apples, along with many other species of plants. This pest is a great concern to the grape and wine industry, which contributes more than $6 billion dollars in economic activity to the state yearly.… Continue reading

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Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Ohio Proud Program celebrates 30 years

Made in Ohio, grown in Ohio. During Ohio Proud month, the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) is celebrating 30 years of supporting Ohio communities producing Ohio-made and grown products. From fresh meats, fruits and vegetables to dairy products and snack foods, families can find one-of-a-kind products grown and made in Ohio by looking for the Ohio Proud logo.

An Ohio Proud birthday celebration took place during the Ohio State Fair Aug. 1 inside of the Taste of Ohio Café.

Created in 1993, Ohio Proud is the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s marketing program that identifies and promotes food and agriculture made and grown in Ohio. Food and agriculture contributes more than $105 billion to the state’s economy. More than 350 partners across Ohio are currently in the Ohio Proud program including fruit and vegetable growers, meat processors, dairy and cheese makers, snack food companies, bath, and body care products and more.… Continue reading

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Is livestock risk protection right for you?

By Michael Sweeney, vice president, Bickle Farm Solutions

Michael Sweeney

If you have been following the cattle market the past 12 months, you know that it has been quite a ride. It seems like almost weekly we see a new record high in feeders or live cattle, and it does not appear that there is an end in sight to it right now. The hog market has been no slouch either. Everyone selling loves record setting prices, but those prices are only as good as the plan you have in place to capitalize on them.

It has been awfully hard to miss in the cattle market in the last year. Feeder cattle have been moderately priced while fats continued to soar higher. But here recently that gap has narrowed quite a bit, causing a tighter margin and more opportunity for a cattle producer to make a mistake. Forward contracting your fat cattle is always a good way to lock in some margin.… Continue reading

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Rice it up!

By Shelly Detwiler

On a Midwest farm surrounded by cornfields, it was a rare occurrence when rice graced our supper table. I loved and gobbled potatoes, baked, frenched, casseroled, scalloped and hashed. Years later as a young dietitian in South Carolina listening to my patient’s eating habits, I learned that rice trumps potatoes in the South (with the exception of sweet potatoes that is). To blow my ever-loving mind, My boys LOVE rice! This just seems cra-cra for this potato lovin’ mama. Rice to potatoes was like the winners and losers. That changed last winter on a cold morning visit to Beaufort Farmers’ Market with a purchase of Rollen’s Raw Grain Charleston Gold rice.

I had stumbled upon some heirloom varieties of rice from where it had all begun. The story goes that rice was introduced to the Americas through Charleston, SC in the very late 1600s. Being the low country climate and close to the rise and fall of tides created a perfect growing location for rice.… Continue reading

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The unique community and commerce of county fairs

By Matt Reese

The 2023 county fair season is still going strong around Ohio as communities gather together to celebrate agriculture, youth and each other. It does not take any visitor to a county fair long to see how the local community rallies around the event. Each county or independent fair has its own unique niche within the local business community, especially with regard to agribusinesses.

Many businesses pour so much into county fairs as a part of their marketing efforts, but also because they truly love the events.

Dusty Sonnenberg recently talked with Julia Woodruff, an account officer with Ag Credit at the 2023 Huron County Fair. Woodruff grew up in Huron County 4-H competing at the county fair and now her children do as well. She has also served as a 4-H advisor in the county for many years. In her role at Ag Credit, she gets to be involved in a new capacity as a supporter of the fair. … Continue reading

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Is Ohio farmland up for sale to foreign countries?

By State Representative Angie King

Prime farm and pasture land is a precious commodity in Ohio. With agriculture the state’s top driver of a $698 billion economy, I began to take notice when Chinese-controlled businesses and the Chinese Community Party increased their purchase of prime farmland in the Midwest.

But not only does the sale of good agricultural ground worry me, but it is also that some of these purchases and attempted purchases just happen to be right next to military bases. Only six months ago, the Chinese government flew a spy balloon across the United States, including the Midwest, before being shot down off South Carolina’s coast.

In North Dakota, Grand Forks City Council halted the progress of a corn mill after a Chinese-based food manufacturer purchased 300 acres of farmland just a handful of miles from Grand Forks Air Force Base. 

A Chinese billionaire and former army officer has purchased 150,000 acres near Laughlin Air Force Base in Texas with the prospect of building a wind farm.… Continue reading

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Make your avocation your vocation

By Leisa Boley Hellwarth

Nibblin’ on sponge cake
Watchin’ the sun bake
All of those tourists covered with oil
Strummin’ my six string
On my front porch swing
Smell those shrimp, they’re beginnin’ to boil

Wastin’ away again in Margaritaville
Searchin’ for my lost shaker of salt
Some people claim that there’s a woman to blame
But I know, it’s nobody’s fault

Jimmy Buffett died on September 1, 2023, and we lost one of our finest entertainers and a national treasure. What does this have to do with agriculture? As the late law professor, Morgan Shipman, used to opine, nothing and everything.

Jimmy Buffett was born on Christmas Day in 1946 in Mississippi. And he was the son of a son of a sailor, as his grandfather was a steamship captain from Newfoundland. Buffett described his younger self as a simple Catholic alter boy who wanted to play bass in a band so he could meet girls.… Continue reading

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GrowNextGen ambassadors take learning to the farm

In this featured audio, Ohio Ag Net’s Dale Minyo speaks with Bret Davis, a farmer in Delaware County. Davis hosted teachers from the GrowNextGen ambassador project at his farm to help them better understand agriculture and how they can build that understanding in the students they teach. From making the connection between agriculture and its products in our everyday lives to cultivating excitement, Davis and Minyo discuss why this type of learning is fundamental for all students – no matter their age. … Continue reading

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Ohio 4-H Pathways to the Future focuses on work ethic certification

Ohio 4-H youth development will be one of the first 4-H programs in the nation to offer high school students a work ethic certification. 

Designed by Mike Rowe, best known as the host of television’s Dirty Jobs, the work ethic curriculum will be offered under the Ohio 4-H Pathways to the Future initiative. Ohio high schoolers will have the opportunity to learn about the importance of work ethic, personal responsibility, delayed gratification, and a positive attitude when it comes to future employment.

“In 2008, Mike Rowe saw a need to connect with a skilled workforce and offer youth the opportunity to engage with the demand for a career in the trades,” said Margo Overholt-Seckel, program manager, Ohio 4-H Workforce Development and Pathways. “His foundation created the MRW Work Ethic Certification.”

Four Ohio 4-H professionals completed the training and can now offer the work ethic curriculum. Several other 4-H and community development Extension educators and professionals in the process of completing the training. … Continue reading

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Connecting soybeans and science for all ages

By Jake Zajkowski, OCJ field reporter

GrowNextGen ambassadors can be found at the county fair, library events, and even local community events. This group of young educators travels across the state, connecting soybeans with science in ways that many might not consider.

Microinvertebrates, although not something raised on a farm, are organisms that serve as crucial indicators of a healthy water system in agriculture. Shelbie Snoke talks about microinvertebrates in her role as a GrowNextGen ambassador while demonstrating water quality to children.

“We have three different water quality buckets. One contains super clean sand, while the others are so murky you can’t see through them,” Snoke said. “We have various microinvertebrates living in our water samples that serve as a visual, teaching kids how water quality can be determined by the organisms within it.”

Snoke set up her station in the Land and Living Building at the Ohio State Fair where she interacted with countless fairgoers whose sole exposure to agriculture may only be a few minutes with her.… Continue reading

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PFAS: The “forever chemicals” with a troubling impact, even on farming

There’s a broad class of highly toxic chemicals called PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances). About 14,000 of them. But never mind remembering their scientific names, let alone learning how to pronounce them.

Instead, remember PFAS by their common moniker, “forever chemicals.” They earn this descriptive handle because they break down very slowly and cause long-lasting catastrophic damage to the environment, health, and even the livelihood of farmers, like Art Schaap and his wife. They were (note my use of the past tense) the fifth generation of their family to own and operate Highland Dairy, just a few miles from Cannon Air Force base near Clovis, New Mexico. 

Until recent years, Highland Dairy milked about 4,000 cows. I first read about the dairy and PFAS five or six years ago when the chemicals were detected at the dairy. 

A primary mission of their neighbor, Cannon Air Force Base, is to train airmen to extinguish devastating fires caused by plane crashes, bombings and fuel explosions.… Continue reading

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Animal feed and greenhouse gas emissions in the United States and China

By Karen Mancl

“Save your kitchen scraps to feed the hens,” urged a poster for the victory gardens created on the home front in the Second World War. Feeding food scraps to backyard chickens and pigs turned this waste into a delicious source of human food. Pigs were especially prized in this effort as they would eat what most other animals considered inedible.

Times have changed in both the United States and China. Chinese farms are the world’s number one chicken producers and raise half the world’s pigs. Today, most U.S. farms feed grain to pigs and chickens. China recently halted its widespread use of food waste to supply chicken and pigs after an outbreak of disease in 2019. 

Perhaps going back to past methods might create a greener future. Today, a third of food grown globally is wasted, and as it decomposes it emits methane that is 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide.… Continue reading

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Sustainable Agriculture Grants now available from North Central Region SARE

The North Central Region — Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (NCR-SARE) program currently has four open grant programs to fund research and education projects that advance sustainable agricultural practices in the North Central region. 

Since 1988, NCR-SARE’s competitive grants have advanced agricultural innovation that promotes economic viability, stewardship of the land, air, and water, and quality of life for farmers, ranchers, and their communities. 

These grant programs are for farmers, ranchers, scientists, educators, institutions, organizations, and others exploring sustainable agriculture in the 12 states in the North Central region (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin). Learn more about these open grant programs at

NCR-SARE’s open grant programs

Farmer Rancher Grant Program — a competitive grants program for farmers and ranchers. Proposals must be received by 4 p.m. Central, Dec. 7, 2023. NCR-SARE will host a Zoom meeting about this grant program on Oct. 4 at 4 p.m.… Continue reading

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CAUV battle in Tuscarawas County

By Leisa Boley-Hellwarth

In Tuscarawas County, Ohio, the Dalton G. Bixler 2016 Trust owns nearly 68 acres that is leased to Brettenbach Wine Cellars that operates vineyards. All of the Bixler acreage was enrolled in the CAUV (Current Agricultural Use Value) program that Ohio provides for property tax purposes that farmland devoted exclusively to commercial agriculture may be valued according to its current use rather than at its “highest and best” use. The state initiated CAUV in 1973.

In 2018, the Tuscarawas County Auditor split two parcels from the 67.76 Bixler acres. One parcel referred to as the Toolshed is 3.76 acres. Another parcel of one acre is called the Warehouse. The Toolshed parcel includes a 6,000 square foot building, which acts as an event venue for wedding receptions and charitable events, and also stores and ages 40 to 60 barrels of wine. A wine press is also stored in the Toolshed, and wine processing sometimes takes place in the facility.… Continue reading

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Log Cabin Days

Shorter days, cooler temperatures and sweet apple cider usher in the fall season, and with it Log Cabin Days. Join in the family-friendly fun Friday, Sept. 15 and Saturday, Sept. 16. Proceeds from this event go to the American Cancer Society and Mohican Parochial School. The location is 552 SR 95, Loudonville, OH 44842.

 The two-day family-oriented event has something for everyone and will also include demonstrations of lumberjack skills, ax throwing, wood chopping and cross-cut sawing, and 19th-century log home-related trades such as hand hewing, wood carving, furniture making, gun building, spinning and rug braiding building.

 Many activities will encourage audience participation as well as offer a lineup of excellent seminar speakers. There will be over 40 booth exhibits containing rustic home furnishings, builders, craftsmen and home material providers. Taking place on Friday at 3 p.m. is a cabin and rustic furnishings auction with three prebuilt cabins, three pavilions, and many hand-crafted items including, bedroom suites, coffee tables, dining tables, end tables, home decor, and an Amish-made log cabin quilt, all of which are quality consignments from local craftsman.… Continue reading

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