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Managing at the critical level for P and K

By Greg LaBarge, Ohio State University Extension, Field Specialist, Agronomic Systems

The Tri-State Fertilizer Recommendations is the foundation of fertility management in Ohio. The build, maintenance, and drawdown approach of this bulletin rely on managing the soil test level around a critical level that provides enough nutrient to meet the immediate needs of the crop. This philosophy of management is used for two of our three macronutrients needed in crop production, phosphorus and potassium. The scheme works due to the immobile nature of these two nutrients in the soil and the method of uptake exhibited by plants.

It is important to fully understand how the bulletin co-editors defined the terms used in the Tri-State Recommendations as we put the principals into practice. The key term is “Critical Level.” Other parts of the recommendations hinge on defining this term.

As defined, the Critical Level is “…the soil test above which the soil can supply adequate quantities of nutrient to support optimum economic growth.”… Continue reading

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Organic Animal Health Symposium

Experts from Dean Foods, Organic Valley and Aurora Organic Dairy will be among the speakers when Ohio State University hosts an Organic Animal Health Symposium on March 18 in Columbus.

The event’s focus will be on the health of livestock in organic farming systems. Included will be discussions of practices and of future research and education needs.

The event takes place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Blackwell Inn and Conference Center, 2110 Tuttle Park Place, on Ohio State’s campus in Columbus.

Admission is free and open to anyone interested in organic farming and livestock health, including scientists, Extension professionals, veterinary practitioners, farmers and consumers. Lunch is included. Advance registration is required by March 11 due to limited space.

Participants should register at

The speakers are:

* Jennifer Walker, director of stewardship, Dean Foods.

* Pam Ruegg, professor, Department of Dairy Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

* Juan Velez, senior vice president of farm operations, Aurora Organic Dairy.… Continue reading

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Trupointe automating and expanding South Charleston liquid fertilizer facility

By Heather Hetterick & Matt Reese

Trupointe has consolidated five locations into one in southern Ohio.  The move was made to increase efficiency.

The Cedarville, Catawba, Sedalia, Medway, and the South Charleston locations have all consolidated into one new South Charleston fertilizer facility. It includes a new office, 1 million-gallon 32% tank, capacity for 150,000-gallon storage of ammonia and a new 24/7 liquid unloading bay.

“We put in a 1 million gallon 32% tank, which gives us more storage per unit of N compared to 28%. We will still continue to spray 28% and we will cut it as it goes to our tanks,” said Brad Dinnen, the operations manager for the South Charleston Agronomy Location. “We put in 150,000 gallons of ammonia storage in a 90,000-gallon tank and two 30,000 gallon tanks. I can load 16 tanks at one time through four risers. We got a four-inch pump and two three-inch pumps.… Continue reading

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National farm groups oppose ag cuts

In a letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, 12 national farm groups stated their opposition to disproportionate cuts to farm programs as part of the recently-introduced American Family Economic Protection Act advanced by Senate Democrats to avert cuts under the sequestration set to take effect March 1.

The proposal would cut $27 billion dollars from agriculture spending, however the cuts would come entirely from commodity programs under Title 1 of the farm bill, a lopsided approach opposed by the farm groups. “While we understand the goal of passing legislation to avoid budget sequestration, your proposal takes all of the budget savings from just one section of farm bill,” stated the groups in the letter. “The fact that this proposal, if adopted, would simply delay sequestration until January 2014, in hopes that a larger long-term deficit reduction deal could be reached by Congress and the White House has us very concerned that agriculture is the only non-defense budget sector being cut while other sectors are not touched.”… Continue reading

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USDA announces additional steps to reduce misuse in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

Agriculture Under Secretary Kevin Concannon announced tough new measures as a part of USDA’s ongoing effort to ensure integrity in the nation’s nutrition safety net, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

“Where there is a will to commit malfeasance, bad actors will try to find a way, and we must do everything we can to stay ahead of the curve,” Concannon said. “Today’s announcement reaffirms USDA’s ongoing commitment to cracking down on abuse and protecting taxpayers’ investment in this critical nutrition lifeline.”

The announcement codifies an expanded legal definition of “trafficking” that incorporates not only the direct exchange of SNAP benefits for cash but other indirect methods of obtaining cash for SNAP benefits. The expanded definition now includes so-called “water dumping,” or the purchase of beverages in containers with returnable deposits for the sole purpose of discarding the contents and returning the containers to obtain cash refund deposits; and the sale or purchase of products originally purchased with SNAP benefits for purposes of exchanging those products for cash or other items.… Continue reading

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Trevor Kerr chosen as the FSA County Executive Director in Crawford County

State Executive Director for Ohio’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), Steve Maurer, would like to announce that Trevor Kerr has been selected as the County Executive Director (CED) for the Crawford County FSA office effective December 17, 2012.

Trevor grew up on a farm in southern Knox County, which included cattle, hogs, row crops, hay and the custom farming operation.  Growing up Trevor was active in 4-H at the Hartford fair in Licking County.  Trevor graduated from Ohio University (OU) in 2003 with a Bachelor of Science in Communication Studies.  While in school, Trevor worked in a variety of capacities at the Park National Bank Corporation including as a Proof Editor, Correction Clerk and then as the Assistant Supervisor in the Item Processing Department for the Park National Bank Corporation. As Assistant Supervisor, Trevor oversaw the daily balancing and currency exchange with the Federal Reserve and other local financial institutions. While attending OU, Trevor also worked at Sharp Arabian in Zanesville, Ohio.… Continue reading

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USDA announces planting transferability pilot program sign-up now available

The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) Planting Transferability Pilot Project (PTPP) permits Ohio producers to plant approved vegetables for processing on base acres under the Direct and Counter-Cyclical Program (DCP) or Average Crop Revenue Election Program (ACRE). The sign-up period for PTPP began Feb. 19, 2013, and ends April 5, 2013. USDA will not accept any late filed applications.

“PTPP offers producers the opportunity to diversify their crop production and better use their base acres. This project supports state farmers with additional sources of revenue and the production of healthy fruits and vegetables,” said Steve Maurer, Ohio FSA State Executive Director.

PTPP allows producers to plant approved fruits or vegetables for processing on a farm’s base acres. Approved plantings include cucumbers, green peas, lima beans, pumpkin, snap beans, sweet corn or tomatoes. Without the PTPP, planting these crops on base acres would be prohibited. Base acres on a farm will be temporarily reduced each year on an acre-for-acre basis, for each base acre planted with an approved fruit or vegetable on that farm.… Continue reading

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Beef, pork exports set new records in 2012

U.S. beef and pork exports set new value records in 2012, topping highs set in 2011, according to end-of-year statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

The achievement was more significant in light of challenging export conditions that included non-science-based trade barriers in several key markets and an anemic economy in certain regions.

“The export markets are a critical profit center for the industry at a time when the industry is challenged by high input costs and, on the beef side, a historically low herd size,” said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. “2012 saw record highs for per-head export values for both pork and beef at a time when those returns were sorely needed by producers.”

Pork exports set both volume and value records last year, reaching 2.26 million metric tons (mt)— up a fraction from the record set in 2011 — valued at $6.3 billion, a 3.5% increase over the prior year’s record.… Continue reading

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U.S. risk classification for BSE upgraded to negligible risk

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has received notification from the Scientific Commission for the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) recommending that the United States’ risk classification for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) be upgraded to negligible risk.

“This announcement by OIE’s Scientific Commission is great news for U.S. cattle producers. The U.S. beef industry has worked with government officials and scientists to implement multiple interlocking safeguards to prevent BSE from taking hold in our country,” said Bob McCan, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President-Elect, a cattleman from Victoria, Texas. “The most important of these safeguards is the removal of specified risk materials — or the parts of an animal that could contain the BSE agent should an animal have the disease — from all animals presented for slaughter in the United States. Being classified as negligible risk for BSE by the OIE is proof that these safeguards are working and protecting the public and animal health against BSE.… Continue reading

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Gordyville Draft Horse Sale draws Ohioans

By Kim Lemmon

The Mid-America Draft Horse Sale held at Gordyville U.S.A. Auction Center in Gifford, Ill., is the place to be if you own and show draft horses in America. This sale, commonly referred to as Gordyville by most draft horse folks, is the premier halter and hitch draft horse sale in the nation.

In February of each year, draft horse enthusiasts from throughout the United States travel hundreds of miles, often with their trailers in tow, to make sure they don’t miss this yearly sale that includes some of the best draft horses the industry has to offer. This year’s sale was held Feb. 19 -22, 2013. Ohioans, of both the equine and human variety, weren’t in short supply.

Of the 432 sale horses listed in the 2013 sale catalog, approximately 80 horses representing just more than 50 consignors all made the trip from Ohio to participate in the sale.… Continue reading

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Ohio State Fair seeking talented young musicians

The Ohio State Fair is looking for talented young musicians for membership in the prestigious All-Ohio State Fair Band and the All-Ohio State Fair Youth Choir, traditions that date back to 1925 and 1963, respectively.

Dedicated high school musicians in grades 9 through 12 are encouraged to apply for membership, which is granted based on a number of factors including student ability and recommendation from choral or band directors. Participating students gain a unique musical and educational experience, as well as an opportunity to build many lasting friendships during a two-week stay at the Ohio State Fair. Being a member of the Band or Choir offers a valuable challenge to learn and perform music of varied genres, as well as an opportunity to work with a staff of talented and motivational music educators from across Ohio.

Interested high school students may obtain an application from their local school band or choir directors, or download them from ohiostatefair.comContinue reading

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Sequestration may lead to meat inspector furloughs

Across-the-board federal budget cuts could force the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to furlough up to 6,000 meat inspectors for up to two weeks, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a recent speech.

The sequestration, an across-the-board cut in government spending, is set to go into effect on March 1 if Congress does not act.

“As soon as you take an inspector off the floor, that plant shuts down,” Vilsack added, noting that removing inspectors even for a short period would affect several hundred thousand workers and would affect the supply of meat and eventually consumer prices as well as the turmoil it would cause livestock producers.

The U.S. government has a statutory obligation to provide meat and poultry inspection services, American Meat Institute President J. Patrick Boyle told President Obama in a letter sent to The White House. Without inspection, meat and poultry processing plants are prohibited by law from operating.… Continue reading

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EPA releases producer information to activist groups

This week the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) was notified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that the agency had been collecting information from states on Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). This information was requested by extremist groups, including Earth Justice, the Pew Charitable Trust and the Natural Resources Defense Council through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and granted to them.

“When we reviewed the information submitted by the states and released by EPA, we were alarmed at the detail of the information provided on hard working family farmers and ranchers, family operations including my own,” said NCBA Past President J.D. Alexander, a cattle feeder from Pilger, Neb. “It is beyond comprehension to me that with threats to my family from harassment atop bio-security concerns, that EPA would gather this information only to release it to these groups. This information details my family’s home address and geographic coordinates; the only thing it doesn’t do is chauffeur these extremists to my house.… Continue reading

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Fortkamp’s pullet starter house saves heating cost with AgriThane SPF Insulation

Experienced pullet farmers know the first three days is the most critical time in a chicken’s life. And in colder winter climates the right insulation of the pullet starter house can make all the difference in the profitability of raising healthy chickens. Greg Fortkamp, a third-generation poultry farmer in Fort Recovery, OH, (avg. Jan. low 15 degrees F/avg. high 32 degrees F) used AgriThane high performance spray foam insulation (SPF) by U.S. company, NCFI Polyurethanes on his 48 ft. x 305 ft., metal, cage-free pullet house to ensure more of his 30,000 pullets survive and get the best possible start to life.

“Baby chicks are unable to thermoregulate their body temperature,” says Fortkamp, whose pullets come in at a fragile one-day old. “They need a well-regulated and consistent thermal comfort zone. The temperature must be maintained between ambient temperatures of 88 degrees F to 92 degree F, and humidity levels of 60 percent or higher.… Continue reading

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Insurance for crops following a cover crop

Producers in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio who want to insure corn, sweet corn, popcorn, hybrid seed corn, processing pumpkins, soybeans, processing beans or grain sorghum following a cover crop must: stop haying or grazing the cover crop by May 10, 2013; and terminate all cover crop growth at least seven days before the final planting date for the spring crop being planted.

Additionally, producers are required to terminate a cover crop before planting the spring crop. Producers with a history of planting into a living cover crop may apply for a written agreement to allow insurance for this practice.

In areas where double-cropping is insurable, producers may be able to insure soybeans, processing beans and grain sorghum without meeting the requirements above. However, additional rules and higher premium rates apply.

Brian Frieden, Director of the Risk Management Agency’s Springfield Regional Office urges producers to contact their insurance agent if they have questions about insuring spring crops following cover crops.… Continue reading

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Understanding termite digestion could help biofuels, insect control

A termite’s own biology with help from microorganisms called protists, are keys to the insect’s digestion of woody material, according to a Purdue University scientist.

Michael Scharf, the O. Wayne Rollins/Orkin Endowed Chair in Urban Entomology, studies termite digestion to improve biofuels production and find better ways to control termites. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates the cost of controlling termites and repairing damaged homes is $2 billion each year in the United States.

Much of the study on how termites break down woody materials, which focused on the symbiotic relationship between the insect and the bacteria living in its gut, found that bacteria apparently have little, if anything, to do with termite digestion.

Scharf and collaborators at the University of Florida wanted to see how diet affected those bacteria. If the bacteria play a role in digestion, the type of materials the insect eats should affect the composition of the bacterial community living in the termite gut.… Continue reading

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OEFFA announces 2013 Stewardship and Service Award recipients

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) has named the 2013 recipients for the Stewardship Award and Service Award. Mardy Townsend of Marshy Meadow Farm in Ashtabula County received the Stewardship Award and Rev. Charles Frye of Ashland County received the Service Award.

The announcements were made on Saturday, February 16 as part of OEFFA’s 34th annual conference, Growing Opportunities, Cultivating Change. The Stewardship Award recognizes outstanding contributions to the cultivation of sustainable agriculture and the Service Award recognizes outstanding service in support of sustainable agriculture.

Mardy Townsend raises grass-fed beef cattle at Marshy Meadows Farm in Ashtabula County, near Windsor, Ohio. Portions of the 226 acre farm has been in the Townsend family since 1972 but it wasn’t until 1993 that she transitioned to grass farming to better suit the farm’s wet, erodible land conditions and the area’s long, cold winters. Marshy Meadow Farm’s land has been certified organic through OEFFA since 1996 and the beef herd is in transition to organic.… Continue reading

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National FFA Week

National FFA Week began Saturday throughout the U.S. and includes activities and events at the national, state and local level in all 50 U.S. states throughout this week.

Each year, National FFA Week gives the nearly 560,000 FFA members throughout the country, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands a chance to raise public awareness about FFA and agricultural education and share the importance of American agriculture in general.

According to responses to the National FFA Organization via social networking sites Twitter and Facebook, local FFA chapters plan to visit elementary and middle schools to talk to students about the importance of agriculture, stage local farmers’ markets and labor auctions, host teacher appreciation breakfasts, conduct Olympic-style competitions based on agricultural activities, perform community service projects and connect with state and local government leaders.

Historically, the week of President George Washington’s birthday was designated as National FFA Week in 1947 at a National FFA board of directors meeting.… Continue reading

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Hauling hazardous materials on the farm

By Matt Reese

Hazardous materials and farm truck hauling may not seem to go together, but they do more often than many farmers may think.

“Regardless of what size of operation you have, how you apply your ag products and ag chemicals is being watched. There are a lot of regulations out there involving the transportation of some of these products,” said Bill Lehmkuhl, a crop consultant from Shelby County. “Commercial carriers have a lot of regulations and we don’t have to deal with some of those rules in agriculture. However, many of the products, including fertilizers, pesticides as well as gasoline and diesel fuel, that we may be hauling to the fields, are actually considered hazardous materials.”

The specifics of the rules can be confusing, though.

“We can be treated differently as long as we stay close to home and there is a lot of confusion about this,” he said.… Continue reading

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Ohio Cattlemen’s Association youth raise $13,000 and counting to benefit Make-A-Wish

The Ohio Cattlemen’s Association BEST Program for youth ages 8-21 years, along with generous donors, raised more than $13,000, surpassing the $8,000 goal, to benefit local youth through Make-A-Wish. Fifty youth led their decorated show calves before a panel of judges at the BEST Celebrity Showdown at the Clark County Cattle Battle on February 8, 2013, in Springfield.

The showdown kicked off with the Pledge of Allegiance led by Honorary Wish Child Alexis. Judging the show were NFL players and Ohio natives Justin Boren, offensive lineman for the Denver Broncos; Jim Cordle, offensive lineman for the New York Giants; and former OSU Buckeye linebacker, Zach Boren. Participants were encouraged to dress up their calves for the judges who had never attended a cattle show. The winner was awarded a special Seth Rogers Memorial Trophy, in memory of a local young man who was granted a wish and enjoyed working with cattle alongside his family.… Continue reading

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