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Virtual conference energizes Ohio FFA members

By Meredith Oglesby, OCJ FFA reporter 

Ohio FFA members are feeling motivated to make a difference in their local communities and chapters since attending the first Energize Ohio FFA Conference. The virtual conference, offered on Jan. 16 and Jan. 17, allowed FFA members from across the state to connect and learn about motivation. 

“Energize Ohio FFA offered [a chance for] students to gain powerful insight and key takeaways to improve their chapters at home through the power of motivation,” said Kyra Davidson, Ohio FFA State Vice President at Large. 

During the opening session, Mallory Caudill, former Ohio FFA State Sentinel and current Ohio Corn and Wheat Intern, spoke to students on behalf of Ohio Corn and Wheat, the conference sponsor. The Ohio FFA state officer team hosted the remaining four sessions. 

“This was not a typical event, and it was not a typical presentation either,” Davidson said. “The Ohio FFA state officers do not normally facilitate all-day conferences such as Energize Ohio FFA, much less virtually!” … Continue reading

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OFSWCD officers elected

The Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (OFSWCD) is pleased to announce the officer slate for 2020-21 as confirmed by the OFSWCD Board and Delegates. 

During the Annual Conservation Partnership Meeting, held virtually this year, Matt Peart, a Wayne Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) supervisor, assumed the role of the President. Peart is a first-generation farmer from West Salem.

“It is not one person, committee or game plan that makes the difference. It is a team with the same heart and the same goals that will make an impact and a difference for the betterment of conservation in Ohio,” Peart said. 

In addition, Jeff Duling, a Putnam SWCD supervisor, assumed the role of 1st Vice President. Samantha Steiner, a Warren SWCD supervisor, assumed the role of 2nd Vice President. Dave Anspach, a Clermont SWCD supervisor, remained in the Secretary-Treasurer role and, Bob Short, a Williams SWCD supervisor, who completed his two-year role as President moved into the Past President role. … Continue reading

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Health care and weather sources of farm stress

Weather was a major source of stress for farmers in 2019 when unrelenting rain kept some from being able to plant. 

But perhaps more surprising was that health care costs weighed as heavily on their minds as businesses costs and profit margins that year, according to a survey done by The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

One in three farmers in the survey reported major stress from farm economic conditions —land prices, production costs, and commodity prices — and paying for health care.

“Ohio farmers told us they were experiencing distress, and it wasn’t just because of the prices and economics of agriculture. It was also struggles over health insurance or events that happened: life transitions, job losses, drug abuse, divorce,” said Doug Jackson-Smith, a CFAES professor.

Jackson-Smith conducted the survey last year on a random sample of 837 farmers across the state with CFAES assistant professor Shoshanah Inwood and postdoctoral researcher Andrea Rissing.… Continue reading

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American Rescue Plan and agriculture

On March 11 President Biden signed into law a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus package known as the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. 

The measure includes another round of stimulus payments for Americans and aid directed at families and state and local governments impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The relief package also appropriates $3.6 billion for U.S. Department of Agriculture to support the food and ag sector supply chains, including grants and loans for personal protective equipment and funding for COVID-19 testing in animals.

“America’s farmers, ranchers and producers will reap the benefits of the American Rescue Plan as more resources flow through the economy, as more businesses open up, spurring greater demand for American food and agricultural products,” said Tom Vilsack, USDA Secretary Vilsack.

Here is an overview from USDA on the ag-related provisions specifically to reduce hunger across the country, strengthen the food supply chain, invest in rural America, and provide support to socially disadvantaged farmers.… Continue reading

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The Sentinel Oak

By Matt Reese

Farmers and trees have a contentious relationship. While livestock on pasture can benefit from their summer shade, there are few other practical benefits of trees on farm ground. They persistently plague fence rows, rob yields from surrounding crops and serve as highly inconvenient obstacles for farm equipment of every kind. 

With this reality in mind, I always marvel when I see a lone tree standing out in the middle of a farm field. Why is it there? Each one has a different story, I’m sure. In every case, though, a striking tree standing out in the middle of a farm field is a combination of God’s magnificent handiwork and the intentionality of generations of landowners to preserve it. 

Certainly among the more visible and spectacular specimens of farm field trees in Ohio was recently felled. The imposing swamp white oak tree was known by its owners as the Sentinel Oak and, by virtue of its impressive dimensions and location, was also well known by the local community in Hancock County, near Findlay.… Continue reading

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Building soil carbon

By James Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

There is renewed interest in paying farmers to sequester soil carbon by building soil organic matter (SOM) levels.  Building soil carbon is dependent upon temperature, moisture, vegetation, tillage, soil texture, crop rotation,  and microbial activity.  Soil is a major storehouse for carbon and carbon dioxide.  Ohio soils originally had 5-6% soil organic matter (50-60 tons decomposed SOM) in the top furrow slice (6.7 inches) of soil. Most Ohio soils today only have about 2-3% SOM, so an additional 2-4% SOM could be added.

Temperature, moisture, and vegetation controlled most carbon and SOM storage historically. Tropical areas have lower SOM while colder soils store more carbon in SOM. Tropical carbon is stored above ground while colder climates store carbon in the soil due to limited temperature and moisture.  Every 100F temperature increase will double microbial activity and releases carbon as carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

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Virtual grazing school

 Due to the pandemic, the Pastures for Profit Grazing School was held virtuallyIn case you missed the webinars, or if you do not have access to internet service or if you have poor Internet connection, Richland Soil and Water Conservation District will be sharing the webinars Wednesdays April 14, 21 and 28 from 10:00 a.m. to 12 noon. in the Longview Center Conference Room located at 1495 W. Longview

Avenue, Mansfield, OH. Registration is requested by April 7 and may be made at or by calling 419-747-8686.

The program is a grassland management school designed for grazing livestock producers and resource managers. 

The goals of the Grazing School are to:

  1. educate producers and resource managers in the art and science of grazing management
  1. transfer new technology in grassland management to producers and resource managers
  1. improve the producers’ ability to better manage their grassland and related natural resources

Participants will be able to use the information they receive to help ensure their grazing operations are environmentally responsible as well as economically viable.… Continue reading

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USDA seeks public comment on revised conservation practice standards

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is seeking public comment on proposed revisions to 23 national conservation practice standards through a posting in the Federal Register. The proposed revisions will publish March 9 with comments due April 8.

“NRCS wants to ensure that the standards used to carry out the conservation practices are relevant to local agricultural, forestry and natural resource needs,” Acting NRCS Chief Terry Cosby said. “We are revising conservation practice standards to make sure they are the best technology and address the needs of producers and the natural resources on their land.”

The 2018 Farm Bill required NRCS to review all 169 existing national conservation practices to seek opportunities to increase flexibility and incorporate new technologies to help the nation’s farmers, ranchers, and private forest landowners better protect natural resources on their working lands. In 2020, 57 conservation practice standards were updated after public review and are available on the NRCS website.… Continue reading

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Fair restrictions ease for upcoming season 🎙

By Kolt Buchenroth, Ohio Ag Net

In his COVID-19 Update press conference Thursday, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine told Ohio county and independent fair boards to expect a “full fair” situation this coming fair season.

“It’s our anticipation that we will be able to have full county fairs this year,” DeWine said.

He noted that social distancing will still be required on fairgrounds this summer, along with a continued mask mandate. To begin, outdoor grandstand capacity will be limited to 30%. Indoor capacity will be limited to 25%.

“We wanted to give fairs an idea of how they will be able to start their county fair,” he said.

DeWine reinforced the standing order that when the state reaches 50 cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 citizens, all health orders, including those for county and independent fairs, will be canceled.

The Ohio Fair Manager’s Association is hopeful.

“We greatly appreciate the governor’s conference today allowing fairs to proceed as full fairs,” said Howard Call, Ohio Fair Managers Association executive director.… Continue reading

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What crops will farmers plant this spring?

By Jon Scheve, Superior Feed Ingredients, LLC

Late last week, March corn and beans futures were trading at higher values than May contracts. Since this is happening in the March contract delivery period, it means demand for the physical commodity is extremely high. Also, basis is stronger for both commodities throughout the Midwest. This suggests the market is begging for grain now and futures may have to work higher to incentivize farmers to sell. However, if futures move too high, it could lead to increased South American export demand and U.S. export cancellations.

The acreage battle is on between corn and beans, with minimal consideration for other crops this year. A couple weeks ago the USDA Economic Outlook Forum predicted 92 million corn acres and 90 million soybean acres (182 million combined) would get planted this year. That’s 2 million more total corn and bean acres than 2018, which is the highest on record.… Continue reading

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The potential disruption of Prop 12

It’s time for the pork industry to lead the discussion and shape its own economically viable animal welfare and sustainability targets nationwide. That’s one of the conclusions of a new RaboResearch report, “U.S. Pork Supply Chain Locked in Limbo as Producers Await Legal Ruling.” According to the report, California’s Proposition 12 raises many issues that could continue to challenge the supply chain if end-users institute more, un-uniform standards.

The report outlines how the U.S. pork supply chain faces significant disruption in 2022, when California’s animal welfare regulations go into effect.

·        California produces less than 2% of its internal pork needs, so the burden to comply with Proposition 12 regulations will fall on producers outside the state.

·        Less than 4% of U.S. sow housing currently meets the new standards.

·        RaboResearch estimates that compliant pork supplies could fall 50% short of California’s needs on January 1, 2022.

·        California will experience a severe pork deficit and high prices.… Continue reading

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Crop insurance deadline March 15

Department of Insurance Director Judith L. French is reminding Ohio farmers that March 15 is the final date to purchase or modify federal crop insurance coverage on 2021 spring-planted crops.

“Ohio farmers should consider whether crop insurance fits in their risk management plans,” French said. “We can help in that process. We have a listing on our website of agents licensed to sell crop insurance and provide guidance.”

Federally subsidized, multiple-peril crop insurance covers certain weather, pest, and revenue related losses. This coverage is dependent on crop establishment and reporting dates determined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) that farmers must meet. The dates vary by crop and county and are available at State-regulated policies for damage caused by hail and fire are also available with additional requirements.

Ohio farmers can contact the Ohio Department of Insurance at 1-800-686-1526 and visit to find insurance agents licensed to sell crop insurance.… Continue reading

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Economics of soil health evaluated

Improving soil health can help farmers build drought resilience, increase nutrient availability, suppress diseases, reduce erosion and nutrient losses, and increase economic benefits according to recent Soil Health Institute research. 

“In addition to benefiting farmers and their land, many soil health management systems also benefit the broader environment by storing soil carbon, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and improving water quality,” said Wayne Honeycutt, president and CEO, Soil Health Institute (SHI). “However, investing in soil health is also a business decision, and information regarding the economic benefits of adopting soil health practices was limited until the Institute’s recent evaluation.”

To address this information gap, Cargill and SHI partnered to assess the economics of soil health management systems and provide farmers with the economic information they need when deciding whether to adopt regenerative soil health systems.  

SHI researchers interviewed 100 farmers across nine states (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, and Tennessee) who adopted soil health systems to acquire production information such as tillage practices, nutrient management, pest management, yield changes, and others.… Continue reading

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Vilsack outlines USDA priorities at Commodity Classic

By Matt Reese

As has been the tradition, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture addressed attendees of the Commodity Classic, this time on a virtual platform. 

Newly confirmed in the role, Tom Vilsack outlined some of the top priorities for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the coming months and years. First on the list was the ongoing response to COVID-19.

“As difficult as it has been for those who work at USDA, it has been incredibly difficult for those we serve at USDA. I understand and appreciate that every farmer, every rancher every producer in the country has gone through a very difficult time,” Vilsack said. “With previous COVID packages, some but not all of those in the supply chain have been helped and assisted to get through this crisis. First and foremost we wanted to do an evaluation at USDA to determine precisely what the need is out there. How many groups within the supply chain need help and assistance?… Continue reading

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Thomas Puch recognized as 2021 Ohio CCA of the Year at CTTC

Day one of the 2021 Conservation Tillage and Technology Conference included the recognition of Thomas Puch of Carrollton, Ohio as the 2021 CCA of the Year by the Ohio Certified Crop Adviser (CCA) Program. 

Puch is an agronomist at Heritage Cooperative, responsible for developing nutrient management plans, making weed management and seed recommendations, taking soil samples, scouting, and much more. His total-farm approach helps growers improve profitability, while also increasing their awareness of environmentally beneficial and sustainable practices.  

“Tom looks for all ways to improve a grower’s bottom line and help them be successful, he believes the growers success is his success,” said Michelle Egli, who nominated Puch for the award. “Tom continues to adapt new technologies and help growers to be sustainable into the ever-changing agricultural industry. He continually strives to help shape and better the industry for the next generation.”

According to Egli and grower John Martig, who also nominated Puch for the award, Puch is a mentor to young farmers and agribusiness professionals.… Continue reading

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Deadline to enroll for Ohio Agriculture Conservation Initiative Farmer Certification Program is March 31

The Ohio Agriculture Conservation Initiative (OACI) released a video to encourage farmers to sign up for the OACI Farmer Certification program through the mobile app to help increase adoption of best management practices and recognize farmers who demonstrate a commitment to continuous improvement.

Enrollment has been simplified for the OACI Farmer Certification Program, which will help farmers take conservation programs to the next level. Farmers participating in the H2Ohio program must be enrolled by March 31, 2021.

“Enrolling is easier than ever with the new streamlined account set up,” said Kris Swartz, northwest Ohio farmer and OACI chair. “Farmers can enroll using the mobile app or through our website when and where it’s most convenient. After enrolling, farmers will be eligible to become certified in 2021.”

OACI’s Farmer Certification Program will help improve soil health, yield and cost-efficiency and deliver cost savings for farmers through practical, workable soil health solutions.

The no-cost program is administered by the Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts and is available to farmers throughout Ohio.… Continue reading

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Spring nitrogen for wheat

By Matt Hutcheson, CCA, Product Manager, Seed Consultants, Inc. 

Application timing and amount are key factors in achieving high winter wheat yields. While the amount of N required in the fall is relatively small, it is critical to promoting early development and tillering. With spring weather around the corner, winter wheat producers will be gearing up for spring topdress of their wheat crop. Timing and rates are critical in the spring as to maintain the high yield potential of winter wheat varieties.

Spring applications of N should be made after the plants break dormancy. Although in some situations field conditions may be favorable, nitrogen applied in the late winter before plants have broken dormancy is more likely to be lost before plants can utilize it. Spring N applications should not be made before wheat has broken dormancy and begins to green up. The University of Kentucky publication “A Comprehensive Guide to Wheat Management in Kentucky” recommends: “When making a single N fertilizer application the best time is when the crop growth stage is Feekes 4-5, (Zadoks 30, usually mid-March) just before the first joint appears on the main stem and when wheat starts growing rapidly.”… Continue reading

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Mixed March 9 USDA WASDE numbers

By Doug Tenney, Leist Mercantile

The report was neutral for corn and negative for soybeans. Brazil soybean production was up one million tons, a small surprise.

It is most interesting to review the market expectations for USDA reports in 2021. Last month, traders were expecting lots of changes with the monthly WASDE Report. That did not happen. The word, “punt,” was used numerous times in comments which followed the February WASDE Report when referencing what USDA did last month. 

Conversely, few changes were expected today. The trader’s estimates for corn ending stocks are down 31 million bushels from last month. Trader estimates for soybean ending stocks are down just 3 million bushels compared to February.

Plenty of price volatility has taken place in the past 30 days. Both old and new crop soybeans have made new contract highs. New crop corn made the most new contract highs with the December 2021 or March 2022 CBOT contracts.… Continue reading

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Virtual Conservation Tillage & Technology Conference 2021

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader: a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean checkoff

The annual Conservation Tillage & Technology Conference (CTC) will be virtual this year. Instead of the usual 2-day conference at Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio, CTC 2021 will be held on FOUR days, March 9-12 (Tuesday-Friday). There will be 5 hours of content each day. Tuesday will feature Crop Management information; Wednesday will focus on Nutrient Management; Thursday will highlight Pest Management; and Friday will cover Soil & Water Management. Each day will start at 8:00 a.m., and with breaks, finish about 2:00 p.m.

Panel discussions are a great format to get good information from varying perspectives. The Monday “Crop Talk at CTC” programs feature 5 panel discussion groups throughout the day.

Laura Lindsey, OSU Extension Soybean and Small Grains specialist

The morning begins at 8:00 a.m. with a discussion titled “Maximizing Soybean Yield,” featuring Dr Laura Lindsey from Ohio State, Horst Bohner from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, and Shawn Conley from the University of Wisconsin.

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