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H2Ohio and OACI Update

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

“The H2Ohio program is in an expansion time period,” said Jordan Hoewischer, Director of Water Quality and Research for Ohio Farm Bureau. “We have had funding from the State of Ohio to expand from the original 14 counties to 24 counties. We are now adding additional counties. We have had very high enrollment in the voluntary program by farmers in those Western Lake Erie Basin Counties. There are a couple million acres currently enrolled, and there are a couple thousand farmers implementing a number of identified conservation practices on those acres. It shows that if it is a good voluntary program is offered, farmers to participate.”

Further expansion and enrolling additional acres across more watersheds is the next step. “As we roll further across the state and cross into more watersheds, we hope to continue the promotion and raise the awareness of farmers that may not have been as wrapped-up in water quality issues and the programs available,” said Hoewischer.… Continue reading

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Artificial intelligence or illusion?

By Don “Doc” Sanders

Recently I attended an artificial intelligence (AI) conference at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. It was an eye-opener. And it gave this old fogey a bit of a headache as I pondered the implications on my drive back to Ohio.

We’re witnessing incredible advances in using computers to manage huge amounts of data for analysis, interpretation and development of new strategies. Some warn that these advances could have downsides. For instance, Goldman Sachs predicts that 300 million jobs worldwide will be lost because of AI. The American press just loves writing about such dire forebodings.

Yet, financial experts like Porter Stansberry, a futurist and incredible stocks picker, suggest that these reports of doom are fantasy. The advances are in machine learning, neural networks and large language models (LLM), an AI algorithm that uses massive data sets to find solutions and create new content.

None of these advances, though, are truly AI.… Continue reading

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Top 10 of 2023: 7

By Matt Reese

There were plenty of surprises among the top stories of 2023 at ocj.com, at least for me. See what you think as we work our way up through the list of the most-viewed posts from the website this year. 

7. Stover scores a big win for Ohio beef

So, this one was not a surprise, except that it maybe was not a little higher on this list. OSU star tight end and cattle farmer Cade Stover teamed up with the Ohio Beef Council to get some national exposure for Ohio agriculture. Stover hopes to play professional football in the NFL and then return to the family farm.… Continue reading

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Top 10 of 2023: 8

By Matt Reese

There were plenty of surprises among the top stories of 2023 at ocj.com, at least for me. See what you think as we work our way up through the list of the most-viewed posts from the website this year. 

8. Hermit of Mad River

This is the first of the real surprises for me. Though I certainly found Doc Sanders’ article to be extremely interesting, I did not think the tale of professor David Steinberger, who contracted tuberculosis and lived in a tree house near the banks of the Mad River starting in 1900, was top 10 material. I should’ve learned to never underestimate Doc’s ability to spin a yarn, especially about a fascinating icon in Ohio history.… Continue reading

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Top 10 of 2023: 9

By Matt Reese

There were plenty of surprises among the top stories of 2023 at ocj.com, at least for me. See what you think as we work our way up through the list of the most-viewed posts from the website this year. 

9. Court lands on the side of preserving farmland in Bailey case

The Marysville area has been a hotbed for all types of development in recent decades and a years-long precedent-setting case for farmland preservation was finally resolved in spring of 2023. A battle between Columbia Gas and the Bailey family wrapped up in favor of the Baileys, upholding the integrity of the agricultural easement on the land. … Continue reading

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Top 10 of 2023: 10

By Matt Reese

There were plenty of surprises among the top stories of 2023 at ocj.com, at least for me. See what you think as we work our way up through the list of the most-viewed posts from the website this year.

10. Sold! A history of the Heavilin family on the farm

I love the stories about Ohio’s Historic Farms that have long been a staple of OCJ (the first editor Tim Reeves worked with the Ohio Department of Agriculture to get the program started), and I also love it when one of them cracks into the top stories of the year. The story highlights a great eastern Ohio family with a fascinating history on their Harrison County farm. … Continue reading

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A look at the Fair Labor Standards Act

By Leisa Boley-Hellwarth     

Agriculture enjoys special treatment in some federal and state laws. One specific perk is the exemption from paying overtime to agricultural workers according to the Fair Labor Standards Act. Agriculture is exempt from being required to pay overtime. Some employers, however, may opt to pay overtime in order to stay competitive and keep employees, but that is optional. Let’s look at a recent case that discusses this exemption.

In the early 2000s, Jose Ageo Luna Vanegas, a Mexican citizen, entered the U.S. legally on an H-2B visa (used by various industries for labor shortages). The hours were long, and the construction work was hard, but Vanegas received overtime pay.

In 2017, Vanegas, took a position with the same company, Signet Builders, but this time on an H-2A guest worker visa that authorizes foreign workers to perform “agricultural” work in the U.S. on a temporary basis, if the proposed employer can show that there are too few domestic workers willing and able to do the work and that the use of the guest workers will not undercut local workers wages and working conditions.… Continue reading

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Engaging students with GrowNextGen

By Matt Reese and Dale Minyo

The Punnett square has long been an excellent tool for teaching students about genetics to comply with Ohio’s Learning Standards set by the Ohio Department of Education. Punnett squares have also long been an excellent tool for encouraging back-of-the-classroom mid-afternoon naps. 

An increasing number of teachers are finding GrowNextGen programs to also be very helpful tools for helping students meet the expected academic standards with less nap facilitation. Amanda Northstine is a science teacher and Springboro Junior High in Warren County. She has seen a great response from her students after incorporating GrowNextGen curriculum into her classroom, including Chickenology.

“It’s important to be able to tie to the standards. We have such a limited amount of time and such a large number of standards to teach. We want to teach students in a very engaging way and using this Chickenology class covers all of the life science standards.… Continue reading

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Great Plains partnering to innovate in regenerative ag

James Shurts, ag division president of Grain Plains Manufacturing, joins Ohio Ag Net to talk their forward-looking perspective at the company, including an update on their ownership by Kubota. Discussions also focus on regenerative agriculture and sustainability through their partnership with Bayer, taking advantage of the unique relationship farmers potentially have with carbon markets. Tune in to learn more.… Continue reading

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A look toward 2024

By Doug Tenney, Leist Mercantile

A good friend who is “all about horses” inspired me to take time to visit the Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Ky. It was a quiet day at the track itself as all the attention was directed to a horse auction. As we meandered the grounds, a very welcoming lady staffer said to me, “Go wherever you want, no limits.” Cindy’s response, “Oh please, don’t tell him that.” She knows me…This harvest season was one for the books! The sky’s the limit! 

As the year winds down, here are some reminders for the months ahead. Corn basis will see some improvements in nearby bids compared to those seen late in harvest. As November came to a close, numerous Ohio facilities had those bids at December minus 70 cents or even wider. The December to March corn spread reached its widest levels in 15 years as it maxed out at 26 cents.… Continue reading

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SAF tax credit moving closer to a boost for biofuels

In December, the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service issued Notice 2024-06 for the new Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) tax credit created by the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) sponsored the  Sustainable Skies Act including the SAF tax credit, which passed into law as part of the Inflation Reduction Act last year. The tax credit will help airlines transition to this newer, renewable jet fuel, and to help jumpstart this industry in Ohio. SAF is a very significant potential market for agricultural-based biofuels. 

“I fought to include my Sustainable Skies Act in the Inflation Reduction Act to ensure that Ohio farmers and Ohio aerospace companies are leaders in making aviation more sustainable,” Brown said. “Together, we are pushing the administration to ensure that this tax credit works for Ohio farmers — this guidance is a big step in the right direction. I will keep fighting to ensure that when finalized it will expand markets for homegrown American biofuels so that Ohio’s grain industry helps power our future.” … Continue reading

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Enhancing Plant Nutrients with Microbes

By James Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

Scientists are looking for ways to produce a regular source of food on the moon. You cannot just plant crops in a greenhouse on the moon and expect them to grow.  They need nutrients that recycle and are in the right form.  That takes microbes.  Understanding what microbes make nutrients plant available may also allow “earth” farmers to use less commercial fertilizer. Farmers are now using biofertilizers (microbes) to enhance plant nutrition.  Here’s a summary of important plant microbes used to make plant available nutrients. 

For nitrogen (N), the rhizobium bacteria convert atmospheric N2 into ammonia (NH3).  The rhizobia (R) infect the plant in root nodules and then convert N into useable plant forms.  Farmers inoculate soybeans, hay, and cover crops with specific rhizobia strains to generate free N for the plant.  Use Bradyrhizobium japonicum for soybeans; R. trifolii for red clover, crimson clover, and white clover; R meliloti for alfalfa; and R.… Continue reading

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Lorain County Jr. Fair perseveres in Fight the Hunger, Stock the Trailer

Farm Credit Mid-America’s ‘Fight the Hunger, Stock the Trailer’ contest saw great competition for the good cause of raising food for local communities in 2023. The results are in and for the second year in a row, the Lorain County Jr. Fairboard has again seized the winning place across Ohio with a total of nearly 24,000 pounds of food donated. In this video, Ohio Ag Net hears from Evan Han of Farm Credit Mid-America alongside Lorain County Fair’s Holden Harker and Nolan Norman about how they persevered through a year of flood conditions to continue giving back to their community.… Continue reading

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Managing manure for bigger yields, less impact

A conversation with Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio’s Field Leader and Glen Arnold, CCA Field Specialist, Manure Nutrient Management, Ohio State University Extension

Dusty: How did the summer months and fall go with getting manure applications done?

Glen: It’s been a pretty good year in 2023 for manure application. We had a very dry April, so if people needed to get manure applied to fields in April, the opportunity was there. Then we got crops planted and we stayed pretty dry in June, so for those of us who do a lot of manure application on top of emerged corn or incorporate in between the rows, we were able to get a lot of that done. Then a drier than normal summer and fall has allowed us to get most of our manure application work done in the state. You see most of the dairies, when you look at their manure ponds, they’re pumped down nicely.… Continue reading

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Maintenance considerations for spinner spreaders

By John Fulton

Winter is a good time to go over fertilizer application. Good maintenance and calibration ensure accurate applications especially for variable-rate application (VRA). We recommend spinner spreaders to be routinely maintenance and, at minimum, calibrate at least once annually for each fertilizer source one plans to apply with a spreader. Spinner spreader settings need to change for each type of fertilizer product being applied while these settings may need to be adjusted based on application rates and field conditions. 

While technology on spreaders, especially VRT spreaders, has increased over the past decade, field performance remains vital for profitable production. Just because the latest technology has been adopted does not directly correlate to accurate field performance; unfavorable consequences are possible if incorrect rates or non-uniform application occur. 

Here are suggestions to ensure accurate placement of fertilizer this coming spring 2023 with spinner spreaders along with resources our OSU Digital Agriculture Team has developed for spreaders.… Continue reading

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EQIP opportunities expedited

Ohio producers interested in the popular Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and Inflation Reduction Act — Environmental Quality Incentives Program — (IRA-EQIP) funding can take advantage of the ACT NOW process, which immediately approves and obligates applications when the application meets or exceeds a state-determined minimum ranking score. Applicants will experience a targeted, rapid streamlined application and contract approval process.

“This process allows us to fund promising projects immediately, rather than waiting for all applications to come in for the fiscal year,” said John Wilson, Ohio State Conservationist. “I urge producers and landowners to take advantage of this flexibility.”

EQIP and IRA-EQIP provide financial and technical resources to producers and landowners to improve their operations, commodity production and environmental benefits. 

Financial assistance is now available through the following categories.


Conservation opportunities exist in cropland, forestry, pasture operations, seasonal high tunnels, socially disadvantaged producers, conservation activity plans, on-farm energy, and organic/those transitioning to organic. Producers… Continue reading

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Ag lessons from the earth to the sky

By Matt Reese and Dale Minyo

Jamie Brown, a 6th-grade science teacher at Miami East Junior High, was named the GrowNextGen Teacher Leader of the Year for her work to connect the science of agriculture to Ohio classrooms by making science more relatable through the real-world use of biology, chemistry, and environmental science.   

“I have been involved with GrowNextGen since 2018. I had a friend that worked for Pioneer and she thought I would be interested in it. I’m the one friend out of my friend group that is not involved in agriculture — I’m the one teacher. My husband works in agriculture too, so GrowNextGen helped me better understand something I’ve always been passionate about. Since then, I’ve kind of just been hooked,” Brown said. “The program has helped me get students to understand that soil is a natural resource that we need to take care of. Without it, we can’t feed a growing population.… Continue reading

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