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Improving drainage with cover crops

By James Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

As the weather warms and snow melts, many fields are saturated with standing water.  While cover crops may improve drainage, they are not a cure all.  A farmer with no tile or subsurface drainage once asked why the cover crop’s he planted did not improve his drainage. Fields need an outlet for water to drain away whether that be surface drainage or subsurface (tile) drainage. Most plant roots do not grow in water, and when the water table is high, root growth is severely limited due to a lack of oxygen. Even cover crops needs some internal drainage to maximize root growth.

Cover crops improve soil structure, add soil organic matter (SOM), and create root channels to move water into existing tile lines.  Cover crops may make your existing drainage system work more efficiently.  Many farmers today are splitting 40 to 50-foot tile lines that was installed years ago to improve drainage. 

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ASA sets policy

Members of the American Soybean Association (ASA) have completed the organization’s annual resolutions process to set the tone and direction for policy advocacy in the weeks and months ahead.

As is typical with any “out with the old, in with the new” activity, the organization aims each year to build on sound existing resolutions by adapting where needed and supplementing with new resolutions to address emerging priorities. One such example of a soy priority on which the organization is focusing more this year is climate and conservation.

“Throughout this year’s document we recognize the role that climate and conservation will play in policy discussions in 2021, from thoughtfully addressing development of public and private ecosystem services markets to promoting precision agriculture technology as a tool to improve environmental stewardship while providing economic returns for growers,” said Kevin Scott, ASA president and soybean farmer from Valley Springs, South Dakota.

Changes and additions for 2021 run the full gamut.… Continue reading

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Value Added Producer Grant (VAPG) webinar

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development invites you to participate in a free webinar on the application process for the Value Added Producer Grant (VAPG) Program. Rural Development is currently accepting applications for this program, which provides grants to develop new products from raw agricultural products or to expand marketing opportunities for value-added products.

Farmers, ranchers and owners of producer-based rural small businesses in Ohio and Indiana that plan to apply for the VAPG Program this year are encouraged to attend the webinar to learn more about the application process. The webinar will provide additional information about the program and the FY 2021 application process for potential applicants. Topics covered during the webinar will include:

• An overview of the program 

• Application deadlines

• Eligibility criteria 

• Definition of value-added products 

• Eligible uses of grant funds 

• How to apply

The Value Added Producer Grant (VAPG) Webinar is scheduled for Wednesday, March 10, 2021 at 10:00 AM EST. Please… Continue reading

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January red meat exports down

U.S. beef and pork exports opened 2021 below the large volumes posted a year ago, according to January data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). 

Beef exports totaled 105,047 metric tons (mt) in January, down 2% from a year ago, while value slipped 3% to $653 million. The decline was due mainly to lower beef variety meat shipments, as muscle cut exports were steady with January 2020 at 81,398 mt, valued at $584.4 million (down 1%) and accounted for a larger share of production than a year ago. January beef exports were very strong to South Korea and continued to gain momentum in China. Following a down year in 2020, exports also rebounded to the Middle East.

January pork exports totaled 248,656 mt, down 9% from a year ago but slightly above USMEF’s projections. Export value was down 13% to $642.8 million. Pork muscle cut exports were down 11% in volume (208,234 mt) and 15% in value ($551.3 million), while pork variety meat shipments trended modestly higher than a year ago.… Continue reading

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Ohio’s Country Journal & Ohio Ag Net Podcast |Ep.195 |Buchey and the Beast

Matt, Kolt, and Dusty host our guest, Cory Atley and have an intriguing discussion about nicknames. Cory won the National Corn Growers Association Yield Contest for Ohio! You can find Cory on The Podfather and Corn Warriors TV Shows. Dusty has audio with a group from the Ag Equipment Manufacturers Association. And Matt has audio from Keith Sowell from Bane Welker. … Continue reading

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Addressing corn establishment challenges

By Harold Watters, Ohio State University Extension agronomist 

Increased precipitation and extended cold periods into May have resulted in extended/late corn planting for at least parts of Ohio in many recent years. A reduced number of field days in April can be documented with the trend from 1995 to 2020 for five less working days. The prediction for 2021 looks like it will extend this pattern. The La Nina pattern appears to have kicked in, with more moisture and an Arctic outbreak giving us a snowy February. 

Aaron Wilson, Byrd Polar Research Center and OSU Extension Climatologist, expects the active La Nina pattern to continue into spring planting season. Precipitation will transition to more rain as we head into March and April. The current Ohio spring outlook is for above average precipitation through at least May-June.  His current temperature outlook calls for a warmer than average spring — a typical impact of a La Nina pattern.… Continue reading

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No hooks or bullets required

By Dan Armitage, host of Buckeye Sportsman, Ohio’s longest running outdoor radio show

I’m in my 25th year of hosting a radio show about hunting and fishing in Ohio. One of the best things about producing Buckeye Sportsman is the guests I get to talk to, from the ice fisherman I interviewed live from his shanty — sipping schnapps and obviously getting more “relaxed” by the minute — to the avid rabbit hunter who had a cottontail tattoo on his back, which he felt compelled to show those of us in the studio, complete with bunny tracks inked down his spine leading toward where he claimed the rabbit lived. It’s been a hoot, and I have tried to make the show as entertaining and educational as possible for an audience who, I assumed, loved to hunt and fish. 

The same is true with this column, which I figure is of special interest to anglers, hunters, trappers and others who enjoy such “consumptive use” activities in Ohio’s outdoors – which some refer to as “hook and bullet” sports.   … Continue reading

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Big market reports in March

By Doug Tenney, Leist Mercantile

The monthly USDA WASDE Report is on March 9. Traders and producers will be most anxious to learn if U.S. corn and soybean exports will increase compared to the February report which projected corn exports at 2.6 billion bushels, while soybean exports were pegged at 2.2 billion bushels. The trade was most disappointed with the February WASDE Report. Some analysts suggested USDA “punted until March or April,” when corn exports were not increased to the degree of expectations. It appeared USDA desired to gather more information regarding South America corn and soybean production in spite of dry weather conditions during December and the first five weeks of 2021.  

The second and third USDA reports this month will be on March 31 when the Prospective Plantings Report and Quarterly Grain Stocks Report are released. It seems a forgone conclusion U.S. corn and soybean acres will be above those planted in 2020.… Continue reading

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Kinze to expand True Speed Planter models

Responding to strong farmer demand and proven performance, Kinze will expand its True Speed high-speed planting technology to five more planter configurations for the 2022 season. The company is also introducing several new features to enhance its innovative Blue Vantage planter display. 

            Kinze’s 4905 True Speed planter will debut this spring in 16- and 24-row models, providing corn and soybean farmers with seed placement at speeds from 3 to 12 miles per hour. The high-speed technology, developed by Kinze, enables farmers to double the acres planted in a typical day, while maintaining precise singulation and seed spacing with various seed shapes and sizes and quick seed type changeover.

            For 2022, the expanded True Speed lineup will include:

  • A 4905 12R30 configuration, well-suited for smaller operations or a second planter for smaller fields. All three 4905 planters will also offer increased fertilizer capacity for 2022.  
  • 31/32R15 split-row and 16R30 configurations of the Kinze 3665, a 15-inch soybean planter for high-residue conditions with the versatility to also plant crops in 30-inch rows. 
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What sparks insurance coverage for the loss of dairy income?

By Jeffrey K. Lewis, Attorney and Research Specialist, Ohio State University Agricultural & Resource Law Program

When was the last time you read your farm business insurance policy? Under your policy, do you know when coverage is triggered for loss of business profits and loss of assets? In the case below, you will learn about a dairy farm that recently dealt with the issue of stray voltage causing dairy cattle to unexpectedly pass away. Even though the farm had insurance, the farm continued to operate, albeit at a reduced capacity, while it dealt with the silent killer. The farm continued to operate under the assumption that any loss of business income and the loss of its primary assets would be covered under its insurance policy.

Mengel Dairy Farms

Mengel Dairy Farms could not begin to fathom why its dairy cattle were unexpectedly dying off. Beyond its loss of livestock, Mengel also suffered loss of milk production and business profits.… Continue reading

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Commodity Classic 2021 – The State of U.S. Soy

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

The 2021 Commodity Classic features a number of informational sessions ranging on topics from grain marketing, to crop production, to farm policy. One of the kick-off sessions for soybean farmers was “The State of U.S. Soy.” The roundtable discussion hosted by Tyne Morgan featured Dan Farney, Soybean Farmer from Illinois and Chairman of the United Soybean Board (USB); Meagan Kaiser, Missouri Soybean Farmer and Treasurer of the USB; David Iverson, Farmer from South Dakota and Secretary of the USB; and Belinda Burrier, Maryland Soybean Farmer and Director and Marketplace Chair for USB.

Success for soybean farmers in today’s market takes more than just a yield at harvest. Increasing demand for soybeans is an essential part of the equation. The soybean checkoff helps facilitate market growth and creation by funding and directing marketing, research and commercialization programs.… Continue reading

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Conservation Stewardship Program deadline announced

The next deadline for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Ohio Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) applications to be considered for funding this fiscal year is March 31, 2021. Agricultural producers wanting to enhance current conservation efforts are encouraged to apply for the CSP.

Through CSP, agricultural producers and forest landowners earn payments for actively managing, maintaining, and expanding conservation activities like cover crops, ecologically-based pest management, buffer strips, and pollinator and beneficial insect habitat — all while maintaining active agriculture production on their land. 

“CSP is designed to help farmers take their conservation activities to the next level,” said John Wilson, Acting State Conservationist for Ohio. “Our committed staff can help Ohio farmers and forest landowners identify natural resource concerns and provide technical and financial assistance to solve those problems or attain higher stewardship levels in an environmentally beneficial and cost-effective manner.”

CSP encourages the adoption of cutting-edge technologies and new management techniques such as precision agriculture applications, on-site carbon storage and planting for high carbon sequestration rates, and new soil amendments to improve water quality.… Continue reading

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Ohio’s Linder taking the lead for the nation’s corn growers through Commodity Classic

By Matt Reese

Ethanol, trade and farm sustainability are three key topics for the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) getting plenty of attention at the virtual 2021 Commodity Classic.

John Linder from Morrow County spelled out these key messages for the nation’s corn growers as the current president of NCGA. Linder grows corn, soybeans, wheat and seed beans on his farm near Edison, Ohio, but his focus this week has been on the state of the national corn industry. Top of mind in the current political climate is a science-based look at climate change.

“With both our optimistic nature and our long history of our bipartisan advocacy we will use that to complement NCGA’s drive to capitalize on the opportunities we see within this Biden Administration. It is well known that the Biden-Harris administration has chosen to address climate change as a top priority,” Linder said during the opening General Session of Commodity Classic.… Continue reading

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Swine barn upgrades address efficiency, regulatory needs

Faced with aging barns and regulatory change, many hog producers will remodel or make upgrades to their facilities this season. While some new barn construction is likely, the focus will be on improvements to existing structures.

That’s the expectation of several dealers for AP, the AGCO brand that produces equipment used in swine production. 

“The average age of barns is getting older,” said J.D. Myers, national sales manager of swine projects, with QC Supply based in Schuyler, Neb. “The farming economy has gotten better and producers are looking to reinvest in their barns in 2021.”

The biggest issue driving the improvements, the dealers say, is California Proposition 12, which requires producers to provide more space for breeding pigs, egg-laying hens and calves raised for veal. Effective Jan. 1, 2022, a minimum of 24 square feet of usable floor space must be provided per gestating sow for pork products used in the state.… Continue reading

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We all work for an audience

By Matt Reese

The after-lunch speaker for the Ohio Pork Congress was Damian Mason who grew up on a dairy farm in Indiana and now lives half the year on the home farm and half the year in Arizona. He makes a living speaking, writing, and advising about the challenges and opportunities resulting from our culture’s growing gap between consumer and producer. 

Though he had dreams of going into a career in agronomy, the ag economy in 1992 had other plans for Mason. He eventually found himself selling light fixtures in California. While living there, he won a costume contest one Halloween while dressed as Bill Clinton. This prompted an unusual transition to a career in comedy, making appearances around the country (including Ohio) as President Clinton.  

“One thing comedy taught me was the reality that we all work for an audience. We have forever been stuck in this thing in agriculture where we say, ‘Well you know what?… Continue reading

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Increasing fertilizer prices may force tough decisions

By Barry WardJohn Barker, Ohio State University Extension

The profit margin outlook for corn, soybeans and wheat is relatively positive as planting season approaches. Prices of all three of our main commodity crops have moved higher since last summer and forward prices for this fall are currently at levels high enough to project positive returns for 2021 crop production. Recent increases in fertilizer prices, however, have negatively affected projected returns. Higher crop insurance costs as well as moderately higher energy costs relative to last year will also add to overall costs for 2021.

Production costs for Ohio field crops are forecast to be modestly higher compared to last year with higher fertilizer, fuel and crop insurance expenses. Variable costs for corn in Ohio for 2021 are projected to range from $386 to $470 per acre depending on land productivity. Variable costs for 2021 Ohio soybeans are projected to range from $216 to $242 per acre.… Continue reading

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I know we are supposed to already know the basics, but sometimes we forget

By Harold Watters, Ohio State University Extension

One of my buddies often takes calls and visits fields where a problem has occurred. And although he doesn’t say this to the grower or crop consultant he visits with, afterward he tells me “it’s the agronomy, stupid.”

I have taught from the Ohio Agronomy Guide this year and used it for some excerpts a couple of other times as well — and even I forget what is in there. I sat last evening with one of our county folks — a good one, Bruce Clevenger — and an industry agronomist. We went through the Agronomy Guide and just kept finding these words of wisdom. I hope you will read through the publication but I want to share some of the nuggets that Bruce and I found:

  • How is CEC determined? 
    • Page 28 — CEC = ppm Ca/200 + ppm Mg/121 + ppm K/390 + 1.2 x (7-BpH).
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OSU’s Farm Office Live continues through March and April

By Barry Ward, David Marrison, Peggy Hall, Dianne Shoemaker, Ohio State University Extension

“Farm Office Live” continues this winter as an opportunity for you to get the latest outlook and updates on ag law, farm management, ag economics, farm business analysis and other related issues from faculty and educators with the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University.

Each Farm Office Live begins with presentations on select ag law and farm management topics from our specialists followed by open discussions and a Q&A session. Viewers can attend “Farm Office Live” online each month on Wednesday evening or Friday morning, or can catch a recording of each program.

The full slate of offerings remaining for this winter are:

  • March 10 7:00 – 8:30 pm
  • March 12 10:00 – 11:30 am
  • April 7 7:00 – 8:30 pm
  • April 9 10:00 – 11:30 am

Topics to be addressed in March include:

  • Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP)
  • Proposed Stimulus Legislation
  • General Legislative Update
  • Ohio Farm Business Analysis – A Look at Crops
  • Crop Budget & Rental Rates

To register or view past recordings, visit reading

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OACI enrollment must be completed by March 31 for H2Ohio participants

The Ohio Agriculture Conservation Initiative (OACI) is a partnership between agriculture, conservation, environmental and research communities to recognize farmers for their dedication to advancing methods that improve water quality in Ohio and increasing the number of best management practices being implemented on farms.

The OACI Farmer Certification Program will help farmers, throughout Ohio, take conservation programs to the next level with a free, confidential analysis. Enrollment is the first step in engaging with the OACI certification program and takes just minutes to complete. To enroll in the Farmer Certification Program, download the app through the Apple App Store or Google Play Store, or visit

Those in the H2Ohio program, must be enrolled in OACI by March 31, 2021.

OACI offers resources and education that farmers need to proactively employ modern, science-based practices on their farms and better demonstrate how those efforts are improving water quality over time.

By collaboratively learning and sharing information across environmental and agricultural communities, Ohio’s water quality advocates stand as united, committed to identifying nutrient management and water quality solutions and helping farmers execute them.… Continue reading

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What happens to grain after it is delivered to elevators?

By Jon Scheve, Superior Feed Ingredients, LLC

Corn and bean prices will continue to be extremely volatile as the market determines how much grain will ultimately be exported out of the U.S. South America is beginning their harvest and currently their corn and beans are worth less than the U.S. right now. This could slow down U.S. export demand.

While a large percentage of the beans purchased for export have been shipped, a lot of corn purchased for export has not. Both crops still face the potential for cancellations, which could lead to larger carryouts and impact prices long-term.

How do cancellations work? To answer this, it helps to understand how grain trading works after farmers sell and deliver their grain.

What happens to grain after it is delivered to elevators?

Some farmers may be surprised how many times a bushel of grain changes hands before it’s consumed or processed in another country.… Continue reading

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