Ohio Field Leader

Building weather resilience for a stronger 2020

Weather has always been one of the most variable factors in farming, but 2019 has been an extreme example. Heavy rains. Flooding. Storms. Tornadoes. While this year’s growing season has been anything but typical, there are valuable lessons to learn in preparation for a successful 2020.

With climate and weather trends continuously evolving, there are actionable strategies and tools to help build resilience against weather extremes next year and into the future.

Resilience-building strategies:

1. Expect extremes.

“This spring was extreme, but it certainly fits the trend,” said Aaron Wilson, climate specialist with The Ohio State University Extension. “Farmers can go into next year thinking about 2019 as an example of the types of conditions we see in all long-term trends moving toward with the understanding that more of these events are expected in the future.”

2. Use long-range weather forecasts.

“Looking at short-range weather doesn’t offer much help when making proactive management decisions,” said Noah Freeman, Digital Ag Technical Lead at AgReliant Genetics.

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What checkoff-funded research means for your bottom line

Local experts in crop and soil health work throughout the year to fine-tune soybean farming strategies to combat your toughest challenges. However, that’s not the only type of research supported by the Ohio Soybean Council (OSC) and the soybean checkoff. There’s also an innovative team in Ohio focused on finding new uses for soybeans and inventing new soy-based products to build demand and, at the end of the day, improve the profitability of farms.

Todd Hesterman, a soybean farmer from Henry County, is a member of OSC’s farmer-led board and is currently part of the team focused on developing new uses for soybeans. As the Research Committee Chair, Todd knows firsthand the benefit this research provides for Ohio farmers.

“Every new product development means an increase in soybean usage and demand,” Hesterman said. “Every increase in demand helps utilize more soybeans which, in turn, helps the value of soybeans down the road.”

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A manageable pest

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader

Anytime the words “invasive species” are used to describe a new pest, people take notice. That is the hope when it comes to the brown marmorated stink bug. Kelley Tilmon, Ohio State University Extension entomologist, hopes farmers will take advantage of the new Stink Bugs pocket guide and quick reference card. The new pocket guide and quick reference cards were produced with funding from the North Central Soybean Research Program and the Ohio Soybean Council and the soybean checkoff. Stink bugs are pests that may decrease soybean yields and quality significantly without proper management. “The good news it this is a manageable pest,” Tilmon said. “Most of our pyrethroid insecticides are effective against stink bugs. The use of organophosphates is not generally recommended.” Stink bugs attack soybeans by inserting their piercing and sucking mouthparts directly into the pod and developing seed. “In essence, they feed on the good stuff that the seed needs to develop,” Tilmon said.

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Unplanted acres and unanswered questions about Lake Erie’s algal bloom

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader

“So where is it coming from, and what more can we do?” This is a question many northwest Ohio farmers ask themselves, knowing they will likely be the ones to take the blame as the subject of the Lake Erie algal bloom regularly makes headlines in the paper and on the evening news. Considering the weather challenges faced during the planting season of 2019, many farmers are left perplexed.
According to Jason Williamson of the Williamson Insurance Agency, the question is valid. “Looking at the prevent plant numbers released by the USDA, 30% of the acres in the counties we cover in Northwest Ohio are prevent plant,” he said. “Wood County alone reported over 50% prevent plant.”

Those are acres where farmers did not get a crop in the ground, and the vast majority did not apply any fertilizer this spring or summer. With that being said, the lake is on track to have its fourth or fifth largest harmful algal bloom (HAB) on record.

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How AI and Unmanned Aerial Systems Could Change the Futureof Crop Scouting

Crop scouting may transition from a boots-on-the-ground job to an artificial intelligence endeavor in the sky thanks to research from The Ohio State University (OSU) and investments made by the Ohio Soybean Council (OSC) and soybean checkoff. Dr. Scott Shearer, professor and chair of OSU’s Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, and his team are testing the use of small Unmanned Aerial Systems (sUAS) in Ohio fields to automate the scouting process with data collected directly from the crop canopy.

Drone flying over an Ohio soybean field with stinger platform suspended beneath.

To dig deeper, OSC talked with Dr. Shearer about the project and the impact it could have on Ohio agriculture.

Q: Tell us about your current work with AI and sUAS.

A: We have developed a stinger platform suspended beneath a multi-rotor drone, or sUAS, to insert sensors into the crop canopy. These sensors capture high-resolution imagery from within the plant canopy, which can be used for real-time plant stress classification.

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Challenges continue in Northwest Ohio

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader

The challenges of the incredibly difficult planting season for northwest Ohio are spilling over into the harvest season.

With over 80% of his 2019 corn and soybean crops not getting planted, Glen Newcomer, an Ohio Soybean Association member from Williams County, said weed control and planting cover crops has become the next big issue in 2019.

“We sprayed all our acres early in the season to prevent them from going to seed, and to keep out any noxious weeds,” Newcomer said.

All their fields were sprayed, and they were able to go back and follow-up with tillage on several of them.

“We stopped planting soybeans on June 30. After that date, we knew the odds were not in our favor for getting a crop to maturity,” Newcomer said.

Once planting had ended, the next step was to develop a plan for how the remainder of the acres would be handled in preparation for the 2020 crop year.… Continue reading

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Use caution choosing cover crops for SCN-infested fields

There are plenty of agronomic incentives to plant cover crops this fall. But for fields infested with soybean cyst nematode (SCN) there’s one watch-out: Don’t feed the nematodes.

“If you have SCN in your fields, we encourage you to consider cover crops that are nonhosts and poor hosts for SCN,” says George Bird, Michigan State University nematologist and leader of The SCN Coalition. “It’s the single most damaging pest in North American soybeans, and once it’s in your fields, you can’t eliminate it completely, but you can manage it.”

Researchers from The SCN Coalition have compiled this list of cover crops that are suitable to grow in SCN-infested fields without fear of providing a host for the nematode. The list is based on the results of checkoff-funded research published by Iowa State University and North Dakota State University. Work with your crop advisors and local experts to decide what’s best for your situation.… Continue reading

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