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Celebrate 30 years with us!

The first issue of Ohio’s Country Journal was nearly 30 years ago in September of 1992. It featured Stark County dairy farmer Mark Thomas and his tireless promotion of ethanol through his success on the race track behind the wheel of an ethanol-powered hot rod. 

By 1992, Thomas had won three International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) world championships and always promoted his favorite fuel — corn ethanol. From there, Thomas’ racing career and ethanol took off. Since 1992, ethanol has been among the greatest success stories of agriculture in Ohio. 

In 30 years there have been plenty of other industry-shaping developments. I have been perusing the OCJ archives in recent weeks as we work our way through year 30 and have been amazed at the massive changes that have shaped Ohio agriculture. Along with the rise of ethanol, here are some others.

Genetically modified crops

There is not much in the last three decades that has had more impact in crop fields than this topic. … Continue reading

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Correcting soil compaction from a wet 2021 harvest

By Greg LaBarge, CCA, Ohio State University Extension agronomist

The wet fall left many of us with tough decisions. Proceed with harvest and know we are compacting fields or delaying harvest until dryer soils or have the ground firm up with colder soil temperatures. Those who waited for the ground to firm up are still working on harvest here in January 2022. Those that proceeded with harvest have compaction and most likely at least some ruts they need to decide how to handle. 

Before getting to remedies, we need to understand how severe the compaction was. The field conditions, equipment loads, and tire pressures are important to determine compaction severity. 

The soil and water status where the highest compaction occurs is when the soil is below saturation (e.g., when water fills 85% of pore spaces). The small amount of air space gives soil particles room to move into, while the soil strength is still quite close to its weakest state.… Continue reading

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Biden Administration to increase H-2B visas

To address the country’s ongoing labor shortage, the Biden Administration this announced it will allow an additional 20,000 foreign workers into the country under the H-2B visa program. 

The program permits employers to temporarily hire such workers for non-agricultural labor or services, including meatpacking. Employers requesting H-2B visas must attest to the U.S. Department of Labor that they will offer a wage that equals or exceeds the higher of the prevailing wage, applicable federal minimum wage, the state minimum wage or local minimum wage. Most of the visas will be available only to workers who received H-2B visas in the last three fiscal years, but 6,500 will go to laborers from El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti and Honduras. Farm groups continue to ask congressional lawmakers to expand the current H-2A visa program to year-round agricultural laborers, including meatpacking workers.… Continue reading

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2022 Ohio Hops Conference

Hop growers, aspiring hop growers, hop enthusiasts, brewers, beer professionals and the hop curious are invited to register and attend the 2022 Ohio Hops Conference February 26 and 27, 2022.

The Ohio Hop Growers Guild is pleased to announce that registration is now open for the 2022 Ohio Hops Conference! Registrations are limited for in person attendance as well as a limited number of tradeshow vendors, but will also have a virtual option. The event will take place in the Beer Museum at Brewdog DogTap Columbus in Canal Winchester at 96 Gender Rd. Registration for participants and tradeshow is on the Ohio Hop Growers Guild website,

Keynote presentations will be from members of the Hop Quality Group. University specialists and industry experts will provide information on Hop Breeding, Soil Fertility, Harvest Timing, Disease, and Insects. Panels of Brewers and Hop Growers will also cover a wide array of topics including hops production, quality, and marketing.… Continue reading

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Ohio Sheep and Wool Program Proposal Funding Approved for Fiscal Year 2021-2022

By Roger A. High, executive director, Ohio Sheep and Wool Program

The Ohio Sheep and Wool Program (OSWP), Ohio’s sheep and wool check-off program, is investing over $60,000 in sheep and wool promotion, education, research, industry information, and producer and youth educational programs in fiscal year 2021-22. OSWP received 14 Requests for Proposals for fiscal year 2021-22, with seven of these proposals approved for full or partial funding by the board during its October meeting.

OSWP approved programs will benefit every segment of the Ohio sheep industry. Major educational programs funded include the Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium, Ohio Sheep Day, Young Shepherd’s Assembly, the Mid-Ohio Shepherd’s Group — Quarterly Mid-Ohio Shepherd’s Educational events, and other related programs and activities. 

Producer related programs include supporting a Young Entrepreneurs Educational Program, which includes funding for sheep producers to attend the Trailblazers Tour Industry Leadership School. The youth related program, the OSIA LEAD Council Buckeye Sheep Youth Expo, which is proposed as a major sheep industry youth educational activity in 2022.… Continue reading

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A look at no-till research: Ohio’s prominent role in the U.S. and around the world

By Randall Reeder, Ohio State University Extension Agricultural Engineer (retired)

“Glover, they’re going to fire you.”

The first time Glover Triplett took his wife to see the new no-till research plots in 1962, the corn was about a foot tall, and the ground was littered with dead weeds and corn stalks from the previous year. The plot looked awful compared to a clean tilled field. She was scared he would lose his first faculty position at OSU-OARDC in Wooster.

Well, he was not fired, and neither was his co-researcher, Dave Van Doren. But they did attract interesting questions about their innovative research, including, “How can you measure erosion if you don’t have any runoff?”

Triplett and Van Doren established identical plots in 1963 at Hoytville (Wood County) and South Charleston (Clark County). These plots at OSU-OARDC research stations continue to give valuable results today. No-till was known as “farming ugly” in the early days by farmers accustomed to perfectly clean fields, with not a speck of crop residue. Since these earliest experiments, Ohio has played a unique and important role in the world of no-till. … Continue reading

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Enlist herbicide county restrictions

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

On Jan. 11, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) completed the registration amendment process for Enlist One and Enlist Duo herbicides. These Enlist herbicides received a seven-year registration through Jan. 11, 2029. The Enlist weed control system offers multiple herbicide modes of action to control several resistant weeds and is centered around 2,4-D choline with Colex-D® technology. Enlist E3 soybeans are tolerant to three herbicide modes of action, which include: 2,4-D, glufosinate, and glyphosate.

Mark Loux OSU Extension Weed Scientist
Dr. Mark Loux, OSU Extension Weed Scientist

On the new label, the EPA banned the use of Enlist one and Enlist Duo in multiple counties across the country including 12 counties in Ohio. Those counties in Ohio include Athens, Butler, Fairfield, Guernsey, Hamilton, Hocking, Morgan, Muskingum, Noble, Perry, Vinton, and Washington. The noted reason for the county ban was due to the EPA’s newly rigorous analysis of risks to endangered species as a part of the Endangered Species Act.

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Agricultural fertilizer applicator certification training and testing options

By Greg LaBarge, CPAg/CCA, Ohio State University Extension

Fertilizer applicator certification began in 2014. The agricultural fertilizer applicator certificate is required by the Ohio Department of Agriculture when you apply fertilizer to more than 50 acres of agricultural production. Agricultural production is defined as grain, forage, and other cash crops grown primarily for sale. Both horticultural and agronomic crops are included under this law. There is no distinction between commercial and private fertilizer applicators: both certify or recertify in an identical way.

Commercial nitrogen or phosphorus containing fertilizers and manures from certain livestock operations require a fertilizer applicators certificate. Manure applications from permitted Concentrated Animal Feeding Facilities (CAFF) require the certificate.

A certificate is not required if you use only starter fertilizer through the planter, or if a certified applicator makes the application for you.

If you have any questions about whether you are required to have a fertilizer applicator certificate, call the Ohio Department of Agriculture at 614-728-6987 for a determination or more information on fertilizer regulations at reading

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EPA is muddying the waters once again

By Courtney Briggs, senior director of congressional relations for the American Farm Bureau Federation

No one knows the benefits of clean water better than our nation’s farmers and ranchers. The food, fiber, and fuel we produce to support the needs of all Americans requires clean water. The health of our most valuable asset — our land, requires clean water. And the well-being of our families and communities also requires clean water. However, new regulatory proposals by the Biden Administration will impose incredible burdens that will have unintended, yet lasting, consequences.
The Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers have proposed a new regulation that would, once again, change the definition of “waters of the United States.” This regulation would repeal the successful Navigable Waters Protection Rule and reinstate the troubling pre-2015 WOTUS rule. If finalized, this rule would erase all of the clarity and certainty that we have spent years working for, and give the agencies the ability to assert jurisdiction over dry land that is located many miles from a federally regulated water.… Continue reading

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USDA announces inaugural Federal Advisory Committee on Urban Agriculture

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack selected 12 members to serve on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) inaugural Secretary’s Advisory Committee for Urban Agriculture to provide input on policy development and to help identify barriers to urban agriculture as USDA works to promote urban farming and the economic opportunities it provides in cities across the country. 

The new Secretary’s Advisory Committee is part of USDA’s efforts to support urban agriculture, creating a network for feedback. Urban agriculture plays an important role in producing fresh, healthy food in areas where grocery stores are scarce, and also provides jobs and beautifies neighborhoods.   

“Urban agriculture has been growing in impact and importance, and we are taking bold actions to build a support structure,” Vilsack said. “I look forward to learning how we can better serve urban agricultural producers, which will complement our efforts focusing on equity, local food systems, access to safe and nutritional food and new ways to address climate change.”  

The Committee is made up of agricultural producers, and representatives from the areas of higher education or extension programs, non-profits, business and economic development, supply chains and financing. Carl… Continue reading

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Yes, Brazil’s soybean crop has failed: What now?

Daniele Siqueira

By Daniele Siqueira, AgRural Commodities Agrícolas 

Imagine having your soybean crop trying to bloom and fill pods under 100 to 110 degrees every day for two weeks, after receiving below-normal rains for nearly three months and already having lost most of your corn crop, which is planted earlier than soybeans. That has been the reality in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil’s southernmost state and number-three soybean producer. 

In the first days of January, AgRural cut its production estimate for the 2021-22 Brazilian soybean crop to 133.4 million metric tons, 12 million down from the potential production forecasted in early November and about 4 million metric tons smaller than the record crop harvested in 2020-21. Even before the failure in Rio Grande do Sul, Paraná (our number-two soybean producing state) also lost a significant part of its crop due to hot dry conditions in November and December, and further damage occurred in January. … Continue reading

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Ohio’s Country Journal & Ohio Ag Net Podcast | Ep. 237 | Mental Health Casserole

Jami Dellifield, Family & Consumer Sciences Educator with Ohio State University Extension in Hardin County joins Dusty and Kolt. Jami is the winner of the first ever Yvonne Lesicko Perseverance Prize (or Y-Prize) for farm mental health. Plus, Matt has an update with Tyler Stiles in Fairfield County on the Enlist authorizations — or lack there of — in select Ohio counties. Matt also visits with Cheryl Day, Executive Vice President of the Ohio Pork Council.… Continue reading

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OSU Extension seeks a new agronomic systems field specialist

Ohio State University Extension is seeking applicants for a faculty position of Field Specialist, Agronomic Systems. The summary of duties is listed below and a complete listing of the position description can be found: at–Field-Specialist–Agronomic-Systems_R36703.

This faculty position provides overall leadership for developing and implementing a comprehensive and balanced teaching and applied research agenda for Agriculture and Natural Resources within the Department of Extension in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University.  Working collaboratively with a team of OSU professionals within OSU Extension as well as with cross-disciplinary department and colleges, the faculty member functions as a consultant with clientele to address statewide issues as expertise is needed; provides unbiased research-based alternatives; evaluates and responds to large scale statewide needs vs. individual requests; and secures resources (grants, contracts, user fees) to focus on these issues. The faculty member will seek courtesy faculty status within the appropriate department to maintain an integrated connection with campus departments and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC).… Continue reading

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H2Ohio deadline approaching

Voluntary Nutrient Management Plans (VNMP) are due soon in the 10-county expansion area of Governor Mike DeWine’s H2Ohio Initiative. Producers enrolled in H2Ohio need to submit a VNMP by March 31 to apply for the next phase of program incentives.

Approximately 800 producers in the expansion area enrolled more than 600,000 acres of cropland into the H2Ohio program last fall. This represents more than 38% of the cropland in the project area — Crawford, Erie, Huron, Marion, Ottawa, Richland, Sandusky, Seneca, Shelby, and Wyandot counties.

All enrolled producers must submit a completed VNMP, which is the base best management practice (BMP), to their local Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) to receive incentive payments before signing up for additional practices in the spring.  A VNMP tells producers where to place fertilizer, how much, and when.

H2Ohio participants in the expansion area are also reminded to submit required documentation if they are enrolled in the overwintering cover crop and conservation crop rotation/small grains practices. … Continue reading

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USDA partners with Port of Oakland

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced plans to increase capacity at the Port of Oakland in Oakland, California and improve service for shippers of U.S. grown agricultural commodities. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is partnering with the Port of Oakland to set up a new 25-acre “pop-up” site to make it easier for agricultural companies to fill empty shipping containers with commodities. Fewer containers have been made available for U.S. agricultural commodities, as ocean carriers have circumvented traditional marketing channels and rushed containers back to be exported empty and as a result, many of these carriers have suspended service to the Port of Oakland. USDA is now taking action to reduce these shipping disruptions that have prevented U.S. agricultural products from reaching their markets.

“COVID-19 revealed vulnerabilities across our supply system, both at our ports and in the agricultural sector,” Vilsack said. “As the economy has made an historic recovery, it has put additional strain on the supply chain.… Continue reading

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OABA welcomes OSHA vaccine mandate withdraw

By Matt Reese
On Jan. 25, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) withdrew its emergency vaccine mandate order for businesses with 100 or more employees that was issued on Nov. 5, 2021.
Chris Henney, president/CEO of the Ohio AgriBusiness Association, was pleased to hear the news.
“This was big news for our industry. As you can imagine we have a lot of companies and co-ops that have more than 100 employees across the state serving Ohio’s farmers. We also have a fair number of smaller companies that employ less than 100 employees. There was the potential for larger employers to lose employees to their competitors that are smaller than 100 employees. Essentially the government was picking winners and losers here,” Henney said. “We’re very thankful this rule is not going to move forward at this time. Long term, I think there is still an opportunity for OSHA to look at other pathways to accomplish what they want to accomplish.… Continue reading

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Farmers feed the world, Versailles FFA feeds the farmers

By Bethany Starlin, OCJ FFA reporter

Plant in the spring, sidedress, spray and wait all summer, then finally begin harvesting come fall. It is no secret that farmers dedicate their lives to growing the food that feeds our world. They spend hours upon hours in the fields yet do so without complaining because they truly love what they do. 

In an attempt to give back to those who keep the agriculture industry running, the Versailles FFA Chapter created the Feed the Farmer program. 

“Feed the Farmer is an important program to show our appreciation to the farmers who feed us and play such an important role in our lives,” said Emma Middendorf, a sophomore member of the Versailles FFA Chapter. 
Dena Wuebker and Taylor Bergman, the agricultural educators at Versailles High School, recognized the need to support their community’s farmers. Free time is hard to come by for farmers during harvest so the potential for them to gather at a group breakfast or dinner just wasn’t feasible.… Continue reading

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Muddy compacted pasture problems

By Erika Lyon, Ohio State University Extension, Jefferson and Harrison Counties

During the last couple of weeks in December and into early 2021, eastern Ohio saw warmer-than-usual temperatures and a lot of rain. What does this mean for our pastures and hay fields?

With rain comes the mud, and with mud often comes compaction. Compaction in forage crops often occurs withing the top 3-4 inches of soil, but it can also appear at deeper levels, forming “hard pans” that restrict the movement of water.

Compacted soils mean reduced pore space to house water and air — two important components of healthy soils. Nearly half of soils should consist of pore space, whether macro- or micro-pores to allow roots to develop deeper and water to better infiltrate downwards. Compaction can ultimately lead to increased drought and disease susceptibility of plants, even when it appears there is standing water in a field.… Continue reading

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USDA Rural Development investing in rural Ohio

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Secretary Jewel Bronaugh announced that USDA is investing $1 billion to build and improve critical community facilities in 48 states, Puerto Rico and Guam. This infrastructure funding will increase access to health care, education and public safety while spurring community development and building sound infrastructure for people living in rural communities.

“The Biden-Harris Administration has made investing in infrastructure improvements a top priority,” Bronaugh said. “These loans and grants will help rural communities invest in facilities and services that are vital to all communities, such as health care facilities, schools, libraries, and first responder vehicles and equipment. When we invest in essential services in rural America, we build opportunity and prosperity for the people who call rural communities home.”

USDA is investing $43.4 million in rural Ohio to build and improve critical community facilities. USDA is making funds available to 13 projects through two programs that will fund essential community services to help rural Ohio, the Community Facilities Loan Guarantees and Community Facilities Direct Loans and Grants.… Continue reading

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OABA Conference drives agribusinesses to new heights

More than 300 Ohio AgriBusiness Association (OABA) members and industry professionals were on hand to engage in collaborative learning and networking at the organization’s annual Industry Conference, January 25-27 at the Renaissance Columbus Westerville. Through a variety of sessions presented by well-respected speakers from across the country, the conference pushed attendees to reach for new heights in their agribusiness endeavors. 

“OABA members displayed great resiliency and flexibility over the past two years in adapting to virtual events,” said Christopher Henney, OABA president and CEO. “It was energizing to once again bring our membership together in person for this year’s Industry Conference.”

The conference addressed key topics in today’s agriculture industry, including economic outlook, carbon markets, climate dynamics, supply chain implications, trade, workplace safety, hiring and retention during the Great Resignation Period, and much more. Notable speakers at the three-day event included Robert Fox, CoBank Knowledge Exchange; Dan Hanson, Marsh McLennan Agency, LLC; Aaron Wilson, Ohio State University; and Mark Worner, Agoro Carbon Alliance. … Continue reading

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