Top Headlines

Featured Posts (Posts shown below the “Top Posts” on the home page)

Top 10 of 2023: 3

By Matt Reese

There were plenty of surprises among the top stories of 2023 at ocj.com, at least for me. See what you think as we work our way up through the list of the most-viewed posts from the website this year. 

3. Gone fishing?

I know there are plenty of farmers out there who enjoy fishing, but in 2023 there were back- to-back fishing-focused stories by Dan Armitage in the top 10. I don’t think there has ever been one fishing story, let alone two, in this category before. “Ohio angler nets Great Lakes bass record” posted in May and “Walleye getting no respect” posted in July.… Continue reading

Read More »

Earthworm Research

By James Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

Colorado State University examined 50 earthworm research studies to determine the effect on crop yields. All studies had different crops, soil types, tillage, and fertilizer applications. Overall, healthy earthworm populations increased crop yields an average of 23.3% world-wide. Earthworms thrive in healthy soils and do the best in no-till fields (no tillage), in cover crops fields with good soil organic matter levels, and where crops are rotated. These fields also had higher levels of beneficial bugs, bacteria, and fungi. Earthworms decreased the need for chemical fertilizer by an average of $50/Acre. Earthworms love healthy soils (No-till Farmer, 2024).

Tillage is a major deterrent to earthworm growth. Tillage destroys their burrows, kills some adults but also desiccates earthworm eggs and wipes out future generations. Nightcrawlers are top feeders, using surface residue for food and to maintain soil temperature. Tillage destroys soil organic matter (SOM) which red wigglers need to survive.… Continue reading

Read More »

Top 10 of 2023: 4

By Matt Reese

There were plenty of surprises among the top stories of 2023 at ocj.com, at least for me. See what you think as we work our way up through the list of the most-viewed posts from the website this year. 

4. Big Bud announces new offering for 2023

This was another surprise. It was just a refurbished press release from the folks at Big Bud highlighting their new tractor, but it had a couple of things going for it. First, it is Big Bud. Second, “one of the primary objectives of this project is to provide a tractor that has components that can be repaired by farmers, general mechanics or dealerships without restrictions.” Maybe it should not have been so surprising.… Continue reading

Read More »

In support of an ag trade proposal

The American Soybean Association and other groups urged President Biden’s Export Council to support a proposal that would strengthen U.S. agricultural trade in a letter to the President’s Export Council. Here is an excerpt of the letter.

We are writing on behalf of the U.S. food and agriculture community to ask you to support this important President Export Council (PEC) proposal to bolster American agriculture’s global competitive standing around the world. Together, the proposal’s recommendations provide guidance for the Administration to expand export markets opportunities for U.S. food and agriculture, eliminate unwarranted non-tariff barriers, and reinforce global food security.

In 2022, American food and agriculture exports totaled nearly $200 billion, providing jobs and economic opportunity throughout the supply chain in every corner and coast of the country.

Unfortunately, in 2023 we are experiencing a 9% decline in the value of U.S. food and agricultural exports, and a 16 percent decline in volume.… Continue reading

Read More »

Economist: Ohio farmers really hit a home run

“Just an outstanding year. Ohio farmers really a homerun,” said Tanner Ehmke, CoBank Knowledge Exchange lead economist for grains and oilseeds.

Ehmke joins Ohio Ag Net to discuss a wide range of topics impacting the farm economy. Thought 2023 was a strong year for Ohio, how do farmers keep their pencils sharp in their marketing plans to take advantage of changing market dynamics around the globe? Tune in for his tips.… Continue reading

Read More »

Top 10 of 2023: 5

By Matt Reese

There were plenty of surprises among the top stories of 2023 at ocj.com, at least for me. See what you think as we work our way up through the list of the most-viewed posts from the website this year. 

5. Ohio Frontier battles in the Northwest Indian War

Field reporter Mike Ryan did it again with a great story looking into the fascinating role of what is now Ohio in the early formation of our nation. The Northwest Territory played a pivotal role in the early days of the United States with a series of grim battles between white settlers and the indigenous people.… Continue reading

Read More »

Top 10 of 2023: 6

By Matt Reese

There were plenty of surprises among the top stories of 2023 at ocj.com, at least for me. See what you think as we work our way up through the list of the most-viewed posts from the website this year. 

6. Wool cooperative closing its doors after over a century of service

It was the end of an era. In 1918 a small group of wool producers had a vision of cooperatively marketing their product to command better market prices for individual farms. The idea grew into Mid-States Wool Growers Cooperative with, at one point, 10,000 farmer owners marketing 6 million pounds of wool from 23 states. In May, though, after more than a century of service to the nation’s sheep producers, Mid-States Wool Growers in Fairfield County — the last location of the cooperative — closed its doors.… Continue reading

Read More »

USDA selects Ohio State to support new effort in urban agriculture

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) recently selected The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) to support the creation of a new USDA Urban Service Center designed to further urban agriculture and innovative production in Ohio. 

The USDA is opening 17 new Urban Service Centers in 15 states nationwide, including in Ohio. The Cleveland USDA Urban Service Center is a first for Ohio and is supported by Ohio State University Extension. The five-year collaborative partnership will later expand to metropolitan sites across northeast, central, northwest, southwest, and urban Appalachian areas in Ohio.

FSA awarded cooperative agreements to organizations located in the 17 cities where USDA is opening an USDA Urban Service Center or will have an urban county committee, said John Patterson, state executive director for the USDA FSA in Ohio.  

“Until now, there has been no vehicle for urban growers to easily access USDA priorities and funding,” Patterson said. “Whether a farm is in a rural area or the middle of a city, the USDA FSA is committed to working with farms of all sizes and in all locations.… Continue reading

Read More »

H2Ohio and OACI Update

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Field Leader, a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and Soybean Check-off

“The H2Ohio program is in an expansion time period,” said Jordan Hoewischer, Director of Water Quality and Research for Ohio Farm Bureau. “We have had funding from the State of Ohio to expand from the original 14 counties to 24 counties. We are now adding additional counties. We have had very high enrollment in the voluntary program by farmers in those Western Lake Erie Basin Counties. There are a couple million acres currently enrolled, and there are a couple thousand farmers implementing a number of identified conservation practices on those acres. It shows that if it is a good voluntary program is offered, farmers to participate.”

Further expansion and enrolling additional acres across more watersheds is the next step. “As we roll further across the state and cross into more watersheds, we hope to continue the promotion and raise the awareness of farmers that may not have been as wrapped-up in water quality issues and the programs available,” said Hoewischer.… Continue reading

Read More »

Artificial intelligence or illusion?

By Don “Doc” Sanders

Recently I attended an artificial intelligence (AI) conference at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. It was an eye-opener. And it gave this old fogey a bit of a headache as I pondered the implications on my drive back to Ohio.

We’re witnessing incredible advances in using computers to manage huge amounts of data for analysis, interpretation and development of new strategies. Some warn that these advances could have downsides. For instance, Goldman Sachs predicts that 300 million jobs worldwide will be lost because of AI. The American press just loves writing about such dire forebodings.

Yet, financial experts like Porter Stansberry, a futurist and incredible stocks picker, suggest that these reports of doom are fantasy. The advances are in machine learning, neural networks and large language models (LLM), an AI algorithm that uses massive data sets to find solutions and create new content.

None of these advances, though, are truly AI.… Continue reading

Read More »

Top 10 of 2023: 7

By Matt Reese

There were plenty of surprises among the top stories of 2023 at ocj.com, at least for me. See what you think as we work our way up through the list of the most-viewed posts from the website this year. 

7. Stover scores a big win for Ohio beef

So, this one was not a surprise, except that it maybe was not a little higher on this list. OSU star tight end and cattle farmer Cade Stover teamed up with the Ohio Beef Council to get some national exposure for Ohio agriculture. Stover hopes to play professional football in the NFL and then return to the family farm.… Continue reading

Read More »

Top 10 of 2023: 8

By Matt Reese

There were plenty of surprises among the top stories of 2023 at ocj.com, at least for me. See what you think as we work our way up through the list of the most-viewed posts from the website this year. 

8. Hermit of Mad River

This is the first of the real surprises for me. Though I certainly found Doc Sanders’ article to be extremely interesting, I did not think the tale of professor David Steinberger, who contracted tuberculosis and lived in a tree house near the banks of the Mad River starting in 1900, was top 10 material. I should’ve learned to never underestimate Doc’s ability to spin a yarn, especially about a fascinating icon in Ohio history.… Continue reading

Read More »

Top 10 of 2023: 9

By Matt Reese

There were plenty of surprises among the top stories of 2023 at ocj.com, at least for me. See what you think as we work our way up through the list of the most-viewed posts from the website this year. 

9. Court lands on the side of preserving farmland in Bailey case

The Marysville area has been a hotbed for all types of development in recent decades and a years-long precedent-setting case for farmland preservation was finally resolved in spring of 2023. A battle between Columbia Gas and the Bailey family wrapped up in favor of the Baileys, upholding the integrity of the agricultural easement on the land. … Continue reading

Read More »

Top 10 of 2023: 10

By Matt Reese

There were plenty of surprises among the top stories of 2023 at ocj.com, at least for me. See what you think as we work our way up through the list of the most-viewed posts from the website this year.

10. Sold! A history of the Heavilin family on the farm

I love the stories about Ohio’s Historic Farms that have long been a staple of OCJ (the first editor Tim Reeves worked with the Ohio Department of Agriculture to get the program started), and I also love it when one of them cracks into the top stories of the year. The story highlights a great eastern Ohio family with a fascinating history on their Harrison County farm. … Continue reading

Read More »

A look at the Fair Labor Standards Act

By Leisa Boley-Hellwarth     

Agriculture enjoys special treatment in some federal and state laws. One specific perk is the exemption from paying overtime to agricultural workers according to the Fair Labor Standards Act. Agriculture is exempt from being required to pay overtime. Some employers, however, may opt to pay overtime in order to stay competitive and keep employees, but that is optional. Let’s look at a recent case that discusses this exemption.

In the early 2000s, Jose Ageo Luna Vanegas, a Mexican citizen, entered the U.S. legally on an H-2B visa (used by various industries for labor shortages). The hours were long, and the construction work was hard, but Vanegas received overtime pay.

In 2017, Vanegas, took a position with the same company, Signet Builders, but this time on an H-2A guest worker visa that authorizes foreign workers to perform “agricultural” work in the U.S. on a temporary basis, if the proposed employer can show that there are too few domestic workers willing and able to do the work and that the use of the guest workers will not undercut local workers wages and working conditions.… Continue reading

Read More »

Engaging students with GrowNextGen

By Matt Reese and Dale Minyo

The Punnett square has long been an excellent tool for teaching students about genetics to comply with Ohio’s Learning Standards set by the Ohio Department of Education. Punnett squares have also long been an excellent tool for encouraging back-of-the-classroom mid-afternoon naps. 

An increasing number of teachers are finding GrowNextGen programs to also be very helpful tools for helping students meet the expected academic standards with less nap facilitation. Amanda Northstine is a science teacher and Springboro Junior High in Warren County. She has seen a great response from her students after incorporating GrowNextGen curriculum into her classroom, including Chickenology.

“It’s important to be able to tie to the standards. We have such a limited amount of time and such a large number of standards to teach. We want to teach students in a very engaging way and using this Chickenology class covers all of the life science standards.… Continue reading

Read More »

Great Plains partnering to innovate in regenerative ag

James Shurts, ag division president of Grain Plains Manufacturing, joins Ohio Ag Net to talk their forward-looking perspective at the company, including an update on their ownership by Kubota. Discussions also focus on regenerative agriculture and sustainability through their partnership with Bayer, taking advantage of the unique relationship farmers potentially have with carbon markets. Tune in to learn more.… Continue reading

Read More »