Primary nutrient basics: Potassium

Potassium (K) is absorbed by plants in larger amounts than any other mineral nutrient except nitrogen, and is required for nutrient movement in the plant. It is essential for the makeup of over 40 different enzymes and is involved in more than 60 different enzyme systems in plants. Potassium is also important in the formation of sugars and starches in plants. Crops that produce a large amount of carbohydrates (sugars) such as cotton, almonds, alfalfa, grapes, cherries and peaches require large amounts of potassium.

Potassium is used by plants to regulate the process of opening and closing the stomatal openings of their leaves. That process influences water use efficiency and carbon dioxide use in the plant. Potassium’s influence on cell turgor pressure and water relations in the plant helps the plants resist the effects of drought and temperature extremes, and aids resistance to many plant diseases.

The problem

Depending on soil type, 90 to 98% of total soil potassium is unavailable.… Continue reading

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OSIA/OSWP award nominations due June 1

In 2010, the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association (OSIA) Board of Trustees initiated an award nomination program to recognize outstanding accomplishments made by sheep farmers as well as people who are associated with the Ohio sheep industry. Nominations for these awards can only be submitted by OSIA members and must be received by June 1, 2016.

Award recipients will be honored at the 2016 Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium. If you would like to nominate someone for any of these awards, please contact the OSIA Office at 614-246-8299 or for an application. Award applications will also be posted at after April 1, 2016.

Nominations are being accepted for the following categories. Information and requirements regarding these awards will be available with the award application:

  • Charles Boyles Master Shepherd Award
  • Friend of the Ohio Sheep Industry Award
  • Distinguished Service Award
  • Environmental Stewardship Award.
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Sheep industry scholarship opportunities

Dr. Jack Judy Memorial Scholarship Fund

Ohio Sheep Improvement Association (OSIA) and the Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation in coordination with the Dr. Jack Judy Family has created the Dr. Jack Judy Memorial Scholarship Fund to support future sheep farmers through a memorial scholarship program. The Dr. Jack Judy Memorial Scholarship Fund is offering a minimum of one $1,500 scholarship to a deserving young person who is at least a second year undergraduate student pursuing an agricultural degree.

“We want to thank Dr. Jack Judy’s family for making a major contribution to this scholarship fund, it is a tremendous tribute to the family’s interest in the sheep industry and the family is very hopeful that this scholarship program will make a contribution to the sheep industry in Ohio” said Roger A. High, OSIA Executive Director.

To assist the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association in “growing” this Dr. Jack Judy Memorial Scholarship program, please send memorial contributions in the name of Dr.… Continue reading

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Transition from row crops to pasture leads to profitability

Pete Conkle loves to stand in the rolling pastures of his family’s Columbiana County farm and just listen to the sound of his hungry cattle biting, tearing and chewing into a fresh new paddock of grass.

“I love that sound,” he said. “It is therapeutic for me.”

That sound gives Conkle plenty to ruminate about as it represents many things to him —profitability, success, animal husbandry, and hard-earned harmony between land, farmer and livestock. It all started when Conkle, this year’s Ohio Cattlemen’s Association Environmental Stewardship Award winner, returned home shortly after college and began to transition a few outlying grain fields to grass in order to supply feed for his commercial cow-calf operation.

“We’d always had some calves but when I finished at Ohio State and came home, a good friend was looking for a place for a couple bred cows and so I bought them to eat the grass in the front.… Continue reading

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Pork exports struggled in 2015 but finished strong

Despite struggling for most of 2015, U.S. pork exports posted a strong finish during December, ending a tough year on a high note. December export volume was up 3% from 2014. For the year, U.S. pork and pork variety meat exports totaled 4.7 billion pounds in volume and $5.58 billion in value, down 2% and 16%, respectively from 2014.

“Without a doubt, 2015 was a difficult year for U.S. pork exports,” said Becca Nepple, vice president of international marketing for the Pork Checkoff. “The West Coast port slowdown, market-access challenges, the strong U.S. dollar and strong competition led to last year’s decrease in exports.”

However, pork exports accounted for 24% of total 2015 pork and pork variety meat production. Export value per head averaged $48.31, down 23% from 2014.

“With projections for increased pork production this year, the Checkoff is committed to strengthening its partnership with our international customers,” Nepple said.… Continue reading

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Sheep industry leadership school returns to Ohio

Participants 20 years of age or older who are interested in all aspects of sheep production and marketing have until May 1, to register for the July 10-14, 2016, Howard Wyman Sheep Industry Leadership School being held at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. This intense four-day program will incorporate site tours of exceptional Ohio sheep operations with the Lamb 509 short course taught by Roger High and Dr. Henry Zerby of OSU.

In addition to the site tours, participants will spend one full day in the OSU Meat Lab learning about carcass grading, performing hands-on fabrication of carcasses and processing meat products.

Interested individuals must complete an application form. Applications will be reviewed and 32 participants will be selected to attend the 2016 school. Though there is no fee to apply, a registration fee of $200 is required if accepted. The National Lamb Feeders Association will provide meals, lodging and tour-related expenses.… Continue reading

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Pig farmers from across the U.S. get updates on changing antibiotic guidance

Nearly 300 National Pork Industry Forum delegates, pig farmers and U.S. pork industry staff assembled in Indianapolis today to learn more about the upcoming regulatory changes to on-farm antibiotic use. The producer update session — an annual activity at Forum — included case studies and tips on how farmers can be ready when new Federal Drug Administration regulations take effect Jan. 1, 2017.

“Producers have been preparing the past 18 months for the very real and substantive changes that are occurring on pig farms across the country in regard to responsible antibiotic use. Producers are very aware of the challenge of antibiotic resistance and are working hard to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics, both on the farm and in human medicine,” said Derrick Sleezer, National Pork Board president and a pig farmer from Cherokee, Iowa. “Our industry is committed to continuous improvement, and these sessions today ensure that we all have the latest information to apply to our operations when we return home.”… Continue reading

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High protein canola has value in swine diets

A new study at the University of Illinois has determined that high-protein canola meal could prove to be a valuable ingredient in swine diets.

“Canola meal is an excellent plant-based source of protein that is often included in swine diets,” said Hans H. Stein, a professor of animal sciences at U of I. “In recent years, canola varieties have been developed which contain greater concentrations of protein than conventional varieties. Our study has provided new information on the nutritional value of high-protein canola meal.”

High-protein canola seeds have thinner hulls than conventional canola seeds. As a result, the meal derived from these seeds has a lower proportion of fiber, and a greater proportion of protein and oil, than conventional canola meal.

Researchers in Stein’s lab conducted two experiments to determine how well pigs digest energy and amino acids in high-protein canola meal.

“The digestibility of energy in high protein canola meal is greater than in conventional canola meal when fed to broilers and turkeys,” Stein said.… Continue reading

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Time to nominate America’s Pig Farmer of the Year

The deadline to apply to be the next America’s Pig Farmer of the Year is quickly approaching. Applications are being accepted through March 13 at The award recognizes a U.S. pork producer who demonstrates excellence in raising pigs using the We Care ethical principles and in sharing his or her story with the public.

On March 7 at 6 p.m. CST, the 2015 America’s Pig Farmer of the Year, Keith Schoettmer from Tipton, Indiana, will hold a conference call for those interested in applying this year. During the call, Schoettmer will answer questions about the application process and his experience with the award. The information for the call is below and can also be found at

“It wasn’t a light decision for me to apply last year. My family and I decided to apply because we felt like it was a great way to give back to an industry that has taken good care of my employees and family over the years,” Schoettmer said.… Continue reading

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NPPC recommends better national preparation for pests, diseases

In recent testimony, the National Pork Producers Council urged congressional lawmakers to work with the Obama administration to improve the preparedness of the United States to deal with a foreign pest infestation or disease outbreak.

While over the years improvements have been made to the systems that safeguard U.S. agriculture, former USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Administrator Bobby Acord, testifying on behalf of NPPC, told a subcommittee of the House Committee on Homeland Security, much more needs to be done to prevent plant and animal pests and diseases from entering the country and devastating U.S. food producers.

Accord, who served as APHIS administrator from 2001 to 2004, told the committee’s Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communication that the introduction of foreign pests and diseases can have severe consequences for agriculture production, consumer prices and, potentially, food availability. They also could adversely affect U.S. exports, with foreign trading partners closing their markets to U.S.… Continue reading

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South Africa resumes importing U.S. pork

South Africa started accepting U.S. pork exports in February. NPPC, which worked with the Obama administration to convince the African nation to lift a de facto ban on U.S. pork, welcomed the news.

The United States can ship to South Africa a variety of raw, frozen pork, including bellies, hams, loins, ribs and shoulders, for unrestricted sale and other pork for further processing. South Africa imposed a number of restrictions on pork imports, including one to prevent the spread of Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) to South African livestock even though the risk of disease transmission from U.S. pork products is negligible.

There is no documented scientific case of PRRS being transmitted to domestic livestock through imported pork. (New Zealand, a PRRS-free nation, imported pork for 10 years from PRRS-positive countries without getting the disease.) In early January, after the Obama administration threatened to suspend its trade benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act — duty-free access for products exported to the United States — South Africa announced it would partially lift its ban on U.S.… Continue reading

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Liver abscesses in cattle

Liver abscesses are the primary cause of liver condemnation in feedlot cattle. Two scientists (C. D. Reinhardt and M. E. Hubbert) reviewed the research on the topic. Severe abscesses may reduce the value of beef carcasses by $38 per animal. Cattle slaughtered in the Midwest states average 13% with and 4% being severe liver abscesses.

There has been an increase in prevalence of liver abscesses in Holstein steers, rising from 12% in 2003 to 55% in 2013. Prevalence of liver abscesses in Holsteins fed in places like Ohio may average 23% with 9% being severe. One reason liver abscesses are higher is that Holsteins are typically on feed longer than typical beef breed cattle.


Causative factors

High grain diets can increase the acid level in the digestive tract and this can erode the rumen wall. Certain bacteria then get into the blood stream and get lodged in the liver and cause infection.… Continue reading

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Sustainable soil health

“A Nation that destroys its soil destroys itself.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt.

We have learned some harsh lessons about how to treat our soil. While most of us are aware of the problems of the past, some agricultural operations in the world are not heeding those lessons.

We all know that healthy soil is essential to feed the ever-increasing population of the world. However, many agriculture practices continue to damage and deplete our natural resources — of which soil ranks among the top. These practices have caused reductions in soil productivity due to soil loss through erosion and changes in the nutritional balances in soil. This has resulted in nutrient depletion and increased our dependence on synthetic fertilizers. Because of the low efficiency of many commercial fertilizers, we have over-applied many nutrients to maintain or increase crop production levels.

Although these increased inputs have led to higher yields to meet the demand for food production, the over-application of nutrients has resulted in continuous environmental degradation of soil, water and vegetation resources.… Continue reading

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Ohio Forage and Grassland Council highlights bright opportunities for the future of grazing

Last week the Ohio Forages and Grassland Council (OFGC) held their Annual Conference at the Ohio Department of Agriculture. The program covered topics including research into the value of irrigating pasture, the benefits of reduced lignin alfalfa in increasing digestibility and the use of nitrogen inhibitors in pasture.

All of the components of the program were to help attendees piece together a plan for better managing their pastures in the future.

“A long time ago, 99% of farms were actively grazing, even up in my neighborhood in northwest Ohio. Now it is predominantly corn and soybeans road to road. But at one time everybody had grazing,” said Gary Wilson from Hancock County, with the OFGC. “As economic conditions become harder, doesn’t it make sense to have animals do the work and the harvesting? The problem is that a lot of the experience and intellect to take care of animals has left with the previous generations, but we are learning more and there is a tremendous future.… Continue reading

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Preparing food for prisons and convicts for the work force

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, over 2.2 million adults were incarcerated in the United States in 2013. The general public doesn’t largely concern themselves with the dealings of all of those cons while they’re put away, but just south of Columbus near Orient, a select group of professional meat processors works side-by-side with inmates on a daily to feed the prison system.

Through the gates of the Pickaway Correctional Institution at the far end of the compound sits the Ohio Penal Industry Meat Processing Career Center — one of the largest of its kind. The sparkling clean state-of-the-art facility churned out 4 million pounds of product last year alone. And it’s run almost entirely by inmates.

“We’re really proud of these guys. They take their jobs seriously. They want to learn,” said Tony Stout, a head staff member of the facility. “We have roughly 85 offenders between three processing zones.… Continue reading

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For Your InFARMation program deadline approaching

“How do Ohio farmers make sure we have good, safe food to eat?” is the question Ohio third-grade students are encouraged to answer by March 11 as part of a statewide essay contest. The winning student’s essay will earn an all-expenses-paid field trip for his/her entire class to an Ohio livestock farm.

The essay contest is part of the Ohio Livestock Coalition’s (OLC) For Your InFARMation program, which offers Ohio teachers free educational materials designed to teach third-graders about the origins of the food they eat every day and about the important role agriculture plays in the state’s economy.

To participate, Ohio third-grade teachers and students are encouraged to visit to obtain the essay guidelines and form. All essays are due March 11 and winners will be notified by April 8.

“As more and more Ohio families become generations removed from the farm, it is increasingly important to educate students at a younger age on where their food comes from and the critical role Ohio livestock farmers play in feeding Ohio and the world,” said Jenny Hubble, Ohio Livestock Coalition representative.… Continue reading

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Best of the Buckeye Ohio Beef Expo nominations due March 1

The Ohio Beef Expo is quickly approaching. Best of the Buckeye cattle who are nominated for this event prior to March 1 will incur a $25 per head nomination fee. Cattle may be nominated up until the Ohio Beef Expo for an increased late nomination fee of $75 and can be nominated for both the Ohio Beef Expo and the Ohio State Fair by March 1, 2016 for a rate of $40. The breeder or exhibitor may submit the nomination forms and fee for the Best of the Buckeye nominations. For nomination forms Completed nomination forms may be sent to the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association at 10600 U.S. Hwy. 42, Marysville, OH 43040.

The Best of the Buckeye program is hosted by the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association in conjunction with the Ohio Beef Expo and the Ohio State Fair, and recognizes top-placing Ohio bred, born and registered calves, along with the breeder and exhibitor, in each breed division at the two shows.… Continue reading

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Industry urges preparations to deal with foot-and-mouth disease

Citing the seriousness of the disease and the devastation it could cause the U.S. livestock industry, the National Pork Producers Council urged congressional lawmakers and the Obama administration to make dealing with an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) a priority. FMD, a foreign animal disease endemic in Africa, Asia, South America and the Middle East, can affect all cloven-hoofed animals, including pigs, cattle and sheep. While it rarely infects humans and isn’t a food safety issue, an outbreak in North America, which currently is free of it, could negatively affect meat exports and domestic meat sales.

NPPC immediate past president Dr. Howard Hill, a veterinarian and pork producer from Cambridge, Iowa, testified on the country’s preparedness for an FMD outbreak before the House Committee on Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture. To deal with any foreign animal disease outbreak, the U.S. pork industry has been working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture on a “Secure Pork Supply” plan, which would enhance coordination and communication among producers and federal, state and local government officials, support continuity of operations for producers and accelerate disease response.… Continue reading

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Lambing school next month

The Ohio Heartland Sheep Improvement Association (OHSIA) is sponsoring a lambing school on Saturday March 19 at the Mount Hope Livestock Auction Barn located at 8076 SR 241, Mt Hope, OH 44660 .  The lambing school will focus on both lambing and early lamb management and will run from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm.

Dr. Eric Shaver, DVM, from East Holmes Veterinary Clinic in Berlin and Doug Clevenger, OSU/OARDC Beef and Sheep Research Manager and shepherd of the OARDC flock, will be teaching the school.   Dr. Shaver will cover care of the ewe and lamb from gestation through lambing and weaning.  Topics that will be addressed include nutrition, vaccinations, lambing supplies, handling lambing difficulties, tube feeding and getting the newborn lamb off to a good start.  Early lamb care including castration and tail docking will also be covered.   Doug Clevenger will cover sheep behavior with a focus on managing ewes and lambs at lambing time from a shepherd’s perspective. … Continue reading

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Dairy Manager Discussion Group Feb. 18

The February Dairy Manager Discussion group meetings will be held on Thursday, Feb. 18 at Jake’s Steakhouse located at 6655 E. Lincoln Way, Wooster. Participants will order and pay for their own meals.  The “established” dairy manager group meeting is scheduled for 12:15 pm and the “dairy managers of tomorrow” group is scheduled for 7:00 pm. Gustavo Schuenemann, OSU Extension dairy veterinarian will be the speaker for both groups but presenting a different topic for each group.

For the 12:15 pm group, Dr. Schuenemann will be presenting the topic; “Helping Employees be Successful: Establishing and Supporting Good Communication on the Farm.”  In his work as a veterinarian Dr. Schuenemann was finding many herd health and herd production problems could be traced back to farm employees and managers not being consistent in good management practices, not doing tasks in a timely manner, or even just plain doing the wrong thing.  When he began to talk with employees and ask them about what they were or were not doing he discovered that communication problems; miscommunication, misunderstanding, language barriers and personality conflicts were the real root causes of many herd health and production problems. … Continue reading

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