Home / Crops / Ohio Field Leader

Ohio Field Leader

Pollinators and honey bees

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

A good deal of attention has been given to honey bees and other pollinators the last several years. Honey bees first began to draw notice back in 2006 when concerns over Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) first emerged. CCD is defined by the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service as a dead colony with no adult bees and with no dead bee bodies, but with a live queen, honey and immature bees. More recently, attention has been given to habitat for other pollinators as well. The USDA has looked at existing Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts in a Mid-Contract Management (MCM) process to address growing pollinator habitat concerns. Along with reducing soil erosion and improving water quality, CRP aims to ensure plant diversity and wildlife benefits as well. Several producers with CRP contracts for grass filter strips received letters from the FSA offices notifying them of recent revisions to the MCM process that require all CRP contracts undertake a MCM activity.… Continue reading

Read More »

Factors that influence nutrient loss

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

Identifying factors that influence flow and nutrient loss was the topic of a presentation by Brittany Hanrahan, research biologist with the ARS Soil Drainage Research Unit in Ohio at the Conservation Tillage Conference.

“We know that storms can contribute disproportionately to cumulative annual phosphorus (P) and nitrogen (N) losses during the year,” Hanrahan said. “The big picture is that excess P and N fuel algal blooms and have negative impacts. Excess P and N fertilize the algal blooms which eventually die and decompose stripping oxygen from the water causing hypoxic zones. There are over 400 different hypoxic zones found in the world today.”

Data collected in the edge of field studies show that peaks in water discharge coincide with peaks in precipitation events. Surface runoff levels of P and N differ from tile discharge levels.

Continue reading

Read More »

Beneficial insects and pest management

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

Scouting a developing crop is an important part of an integrated pest management (IPM) strategy. Sometimes an area not considered is the impact of beneficial insects. Curtis Young discussed important factors to consider when controlling pests at the 2020 Conservation Tillage Conference.

“Not all arthropod organisms (insects) are pests. There are beneficial insects, spiders, predatory mites, bacteria, viruses, fungi, and nematodes,” Young said. “Each of these has a role in managing and suppressing pest populations in the field.”

Dr. Curtis Young, OSU Extension

Beneficial insects play many key roles in crop production. Pollination is an important function; pest control is another.

“There are insects, spiders, mites and others that eat the harmful insects. These are often referred to as biological control agents. They include predators, parasitoids and parasites,” Young said. “They are useful at suppressing pest species populations like aphids, mites, and scale insects.”

Agronomic management decisions typically involve establishing and evaluating various thresholds.

Continue reading

Read More »

Phosphorus progress in Ohio

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

Heilmann Farms has been operating for nearly a century in Lucas County, just off the shores of Lake Erie. In that time, plenty has changed on the farm. In the last couple of decades, on-farm changes have included a significant reduction in phosphorus applications on the farm.

Phosphorus, of course, has been the source of extensive scrutiny in terms of water quality around the state, particularly in Lake Erie. In the case of Heilmann Farms, reducing phosphorus levels in their fields makes agronomic, economic and environmental sense.

“We have been deficit applying fertilizer for 20 years drawing down high fertility levels in fields. We intensely soil sample, and have developed yield management zones. We soil sample the heavier clay soils every three years, and soil sample the sand farms every other year,” said Jake Heilmann.… Continue reading

Read More »

eFields – 2019 Results Webinar

OSU Extension is offering a great opportunity to get an update on last year’s research without leaving the comfort of your home or farm office. With the directives to limit group meeting size, a webinar has been put together to review the 2019 results from all the eFields work. This will take place on Wednesday, March 25 from 9-10:00 a.m.

To register, visit http://go.osu.edu/efieldswebinar

Continue reading

Read More »

Optimizing soybean planting decisions

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

Adjusting management practices and optimizing soybean yields based on the planting date was the topic of a presentation by Manni Singh, Assistant Professor of Cropping Systems from Michigan State University at the Conservation Tillage Conference.

“We set the yield potential of soybeans when we plant them, and then we work the rest of the season to protect that yield potential,” Singh said. “We manage the planting date, we manage insects, and we manage diseases.”

Manni Singh, Agronomic Cropping Systems Specialist, Michigan State University

According to data collected by the Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments Center (GLISA), over the last 100 years, total rainfall has gone up by 11%. Of that rainfall, 37% occurs in heavy storm precipitation events.

“These extreme weather events in the spring cause poor field conditions and a variable planting window that farmers need to manage,” Singh said.

Continue reading

Read More »

Soybean research recap

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

Soybean fertility studies, relative maturity, row width, seeding rates, and the benefits of adding wheat to the rotation were just a few of the topics covered by Laura Lindsey in a presentation given at the Conservation Tillage Conference in Ada last week.

“A study conducted from 2013-2015 with 199 farmers in Ohio looked at cultural practices, and measured soil fertility and

Laura Lindsey, OSU Extension Soybean and Small Grains specialist

soil cyst nematode levels in 600 fields,” said Laura Lindsey, Ohio State University Extension soybean and small grains specialist. “The study investigated both the highest yielding areas of the field and lowest yielding areas of each field and compared them. Soil fertility was a primary factor that accounted for yield differences.”

When evaluating soil test phosphorus (P), 65% of the fields had at least a portion of the field that needed P fertilizer.

Continue reading

Read More »

The role of soil microbes

By James J. Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

Soil microbes are abundant, making nutrients available to plants. There are more soil microbes in a teaspoon of soil than there are people on earth. Most soil microbes exist under starvation conditions and are dormant, especially in tilled soils. There are 1,000-2,000 times more microbes near active live roots than tilled soil, and each microbe is a soluble bag of plant available fertilizer. Active roots supply 25-45% of their total root carbohydrates to feed the microbes. The plants feed the soil microbes sugars and the microbes supply the plant with amino acids, soil nutrients, and water.

Bacteria, actinomycetes, and protozoa tolerate soil disturbance and dominate in tilled soils. Fungi and nematode populations tend to dominate no-till soils with live plants. Recent research shows that humus originates mainly from the dead bodies of microbes stacked up in the soil. Good soil is just a graveyard for dead microbes!

Continue reading

Read More »

Cover crop termination

By Alyssa Essman and Mark Loux, Ohio State University Extension, Weed Science Specialist

The 2019 growing season came and went and left many fields in a state of disarray heading into 2020. Many growers that were unable to plant decided to use cover crops, to reduce soil erosion and provide some weed suppression during the extended fallow period. Terminating these cover crops using the right methods at the right time will be critical to ensure timely planting and prevent the cover crops from competing with cash crops. The three main methods of cover crop termination are natural (species that winter kill), chemical, and mechanical. Cover crops may also be bailed, grazed, or harvested as silage. Most species require some sort of management decision for termination. Cover crop species, growth stage, weather, and cover cropping goals should all be considered when planning termination method and timing. These decisions require a balance between growing the cover long enough to maximize benefits and terminating in time to prevent potential penalties to the following cash crop.

Continue reading

Read More »

Strip-till advantages

By James J. Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

Spring tillage warms the soil because each tillage pass reduces soil moisture by 0.5 to1.0-acre inch. It takes 10X more energy to warm up cold wet soil then air, so a tilled warmer, moist, well aerated corn seed may germinate faster.  Tillage create good seed-to-soil contact for even and consistent corn stands and also kills early weeds which may reduce yields 10%.  Tillage also burns up carbon and mineralizes soluble nutrients (50 PPM nitrates) for faster early corn growth. These early tillage benefits are the main reason why farmers do annual tillage.

The downside risks though are also a problem.  Tillage causes higher soil erosion, soils start to seal as the soil organic matter is mineralized (40-60% loss in SOM in last 75 years), soils become tighter, harder to farm, less water infiltration, ponding water, and higher water and nutrient runoff. Weeds and other pests (insects and diseases) thrive on tilled soils, and generally more inputs (fertilizer, fuel, equipment, pesticides) are needed to get good yields.

Continue reading

Read More »

Compaction or poor soil structure?

By James J. Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

Engineers insist that soil compaction is caused by wheel traffic (true) but it also comes from excessive tillage, rain (think hard driving rains) and gravity (to a lesser degree).  Soil compaction is poor soil structure due to a lack of roots and active carbon (soil organic matter, SOM) from root exudates.  Tillage adds soil oxygen that promote bacteria that breaks down the good soil structure (macro-aggregates, macro’s) or soil that crumbles.  The glues that form the macro’s comes from plant roots and microbial waste or byproducts.  Bacteria wastes are important for cementing soil particles into micro-aggregates (micros) while fungi are important for producing glomalin that cement micro’s together into macro’s. Micro’s are the building blocks to good soil structure, but without the glues, they cause poor soil structure or compacted soils.  A balance of soil bacteria and fungus are needed for good soil structure.

Continue reading

Read More »

Reducing phosphorus runoff

By James J. Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

Tremendous farmer turnout occurred for the new Ohio H20 plan for $30 million being provided to 14 Northwest Ohio counties to improve Lake Erie water quality.  Almost everyone agrees that phosphorus (P) in surface water is a major issue.  The excess P in surface water is causing Harmful Algal Blooms (HAB) in Lake Erie.  Since we are dealing with many algae (singular), the plural is algal not algae (common mistake).  One pound of P in water may produce 500 pounds of HAB.  The HAB in water need 1/10 the amount of P that our land-based plants need to thrive, so even a little P in surface water causes HAB to thrive.

In the 1970’s/1980’s, the problem was total phosphorus which includes dissolved (or soluble) reactive phosphorus (DRP) plus the particulate phosphorus (PP) or P attached to soil particles.  Recently, researchers have concentrated mainly on DRP because it flows with the water and is easily HAB absorbed. 

Continue reading

Read More »

Continuous soybeans and cover crops

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader

Soybean growers across Ohio, and especially farmers enrolling in the new H2Ohio program, will be interested in research conducted by Keeley Overmyer, investigating possible impacts from a crop rotation with continuous soybeans and the use of cover crops. Overmyer’s research was funded by a grant from the Ohio Soybean Council and Soybean Checkoff.

According to a survey conducted by the North Central Soybean Research Program, there has been a steady increase in the percentage of Ohio fields with soybeans following soybeans. In 2014, only 8% of the soybean fields were in a continuous soybean system. Just 4 years later, that number has climbed to 17% of the fields in Ohio with soybeans following soybeans. According to the 2017 Census of Agriculture, 718,000 acres of cover crops were planted in Ohio. Percentages have continuously climbed with soybean fields having a cover crop planted either prior to the soybean crop, or following the soybeans.

Continue reading

Read More »

Prevent plant acres and rogue weeds: Having a control plan is the key

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader

With prevent plant acres abundant in 2019, some fields experienced a huge increase in the weed seed bank. For some of those fields, pre- and post- herbicide applications were delayed, or did not occur at all. In other fields, weed control was attempted by mowing and tillage prior to seed development. Looking ahead to 2020, weed management could be a challenge.

“This is one of those time you do not want to cut out any of your pre- herbicides or cut rates on your post-,” said Mark Loux, Ohio State University Extension weed scientist.

The three primary weeds of most concern coming out of the 2019 prevent plant acres include: waterhemp, ragweeds, and marestail.

“Farmers need to be sure to have a comprehensive effective herbicide program that includes; effective burndown or tillage, a full rate of preemergence herbicide with residuals, and choosing an effective post emerge soybean trait system,” Loux said.

Continue reading

Read More »

Fertilizer applied years ago still affects Lake Erie

By Alayna DeMartini, Greg LaBarge and Laura Johnson

Although corn or soybeans could not be planted on 1.6 million acres of Ohio farmland last year and little to no fertilizer was applied to those fields, the amount of phosphorus entering Lake Erie still was high.

That might seem odd. After all, many of those unplanted acres were in northwest Ohio, the region that feeds into the Maumee River and ultimately into Lake Erie.

But a lot of phosphorus was already present in fields from fertilizer applied years before, and older phosphorus is another contributor to the level of phosphorus in Lake Erie, said Greg LaBarge, an Ohio State University Extension field specialist.

Greg LaBarge, OSU Extension Field Specialist

Phosphorus runoff from farm fields is a cause of the harmful algal blooms plaguing the lake.

“Phosphorus was already in fields, ditches, rivers, and tributaries, and it just moved downstream,” LaBarge said.

The rain added momentum — 2019 was the sixth wettest year on record in Ohio, which increased the chances that phosphorus, an ingredient in fertilizers and manure, would travel downstream with the rainwater, said LaBarge, an agronomist involved in a statewide phosphorus water quality monitoring effort.

Continue reading

Read More »

A million dollar response: H2Ohio meetings

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader

Last week, three H2Ohio informational meetings were conducted by representatives from the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA), Ohio Agricultural Conservation Initiative (OACI) and local county soil and water conservation district offices. Over 1,000 farmers and agribusiness people have attended so far according to organizers. The meetings were held in Perrysburg, Delphos, and Defiance, with every venue at capacity.

“This is a tremendous outpouring of farmers and the farming community who believe with all their hearts in the power of voluntary conservation efforts. It is a shame the general public cannot see everyone here tonight, this is tremendous,” said Dorothy Pelanda, Director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture, addressing members of the agriculture community in attendance at the Defiance meeting last Wednesday evening.

Earlier in January, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and ODA Director Pelanda announced that $30 million in H2Ohio funding would be available to Ohio farmers in a 14-county area of the Maumee River Watershed to implement select conservation practices.

Continue reading

Read More »

High oleic soybean opportunity for Ohio in 2020

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader

Ohio farmers now have increased availability of high oleic soybean contract opportunities and more delivery locations and options to grow high oleic soybeans for the 2020 season. High oleic soybeans earn an average premium of 50 cents per bushel. High oleic varieties also offer a sustainable, highly stable, U.S.-grown oil product for the food industry and other customers, expanding the market for U.S. soy.

For farmers, high oleic soybeans are backed with over a decade of research to ensure they meet expectations in the fields. Farmers growing high oleic soybeans report that high oleic yields on par with their other varieties. For end-use customers, high oleic soybeans offer higher-functioning soybean oil that meets the needs of a growing number of food and industrial customers. This added functionality allows farmers to add market potential.

“On my farm, high oleic soybeans have proven to be hearty.… Continue reading

Read More »

Why should you know your soybean disease rating numbers?

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader

Anne Dorrance, OSU Extension Plant Pathologist, says farmers should do some homework.

“Farmers need to take some time this winter and go back and look at their soybean seed varieties and see what the scores were for resistance to common diseases that they regularly see each year depending on what the environmental conditions are,” she said.

Anne Dorrance OSU Soybean Researcher Field Leader
Dr. Anne Dorrance, OSU Extension Plant Pathologist

Soybean Cyst Nematode (SCN) is a pest that is frequently talked about. Recently, and a multi-state campaign known as “What’s your number? Take the test. Beat the Pest.” funded by the soybean checkoff and SCN Coalition has been attempting to raise awareness of the soybean yield losses as SCN populations rise. Nematodes are becoming “resistant to the resistance,” said Dorrance. Farmers are encouraged to sample their fields for soybean cyst nematodes to know what levels they are actually dealing with on each farm and in each individual field.

Continue reading

Read More »

$30 million allocated to agriculture in the lower Maumee River Watershed

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader

Sign-up for farmers to participate in the H2Ohio initiative, and receive incentives for implementing approved nutrient management practices begins in February at the local Soil and Water Conservation District offices. A series of meeting have been scheduled in Northwest Ohio to explain the application process for farmers in the 14 county area of the lower Maumee River Watershed who wish to participate in the H2Ohio program. The Ohio Department of Agriculture has announced that $30 million of funding designated for Governor Mike DeWine’s H2Ohio program is available and a total of eight meetings have been scheduled during the month of February to explain the application process for H2Ohio funds and answer questions about the program’s conservation practices.

“In conjunction with details about H2Ohio, these meetings will also introduce the brand-new Ohio Agricultural Conservation Initiative (OACI) Farmer Certification program. This program is focused on conservation.

Continue reading

Read More »

Micronutrient fertilization

By James Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

Recent research on photosynthesis shows the importance of adequate nutrient fertility. On average, corn plants only perform full blown photosynthesis about 10-20% of the time, even when weather conditions are ideal. Why? High rates of photosynthesis required essential mineral elements to build carbohydrates, amino acids, proteins, and enzymes. If an essential nutrient is lacking or not in a plant available form, photosynthesis shuts down. High soil biological activity makes nutrients plant available. A healthy soil with living roots has 1000-2000X more microbes than a bare soil. Each microbe is a soluble bag of fertilizer full of plant available nutrients to feed the crop.

Jim Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

The availability of soil nutrients is dependent on three factors. One is the chemical form that it can be taken up by the plant.  Second is the proximity to actively absorbing plant root. Three is the soil nutrient must be in a soluble form that can be absorbed by plant roots. 

Continue reading

Read More »