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PCCF and Pickaway County Farm Bureau purchase junior fair beef for food pantries

The Pickaway County Fair had a different packer bidding on the steers at the Pickaway County Junior Fair Sale this year. The Pickaway County Community Foundation and Pickaway County Farm Bureau joined forces to purchase all of the steers from the 4-H and FFA youth that participated in the Pickaway County Fair.

Pickaway County Community Foundation Executive Director Jan Shannon noted that the partnership accomplished two important goals. First, it recognized the work and effort of the youth that raised the steers by paying a generous $1.15 per pound. Second, beef processed at the Orient Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction meat packing plant will be distributed by Farm Bureau and the Foundation to local food pantries to feed those in need.

“Rarely do you see such a collaboration that benefits not only the youth that worked hard raising the animals but then, in exchange, those in need in our county” Shannon said.… Continue reading

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Earthworms enhance soil tilth and fertility

By James J. Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

Every farmer loves to see earthworms in their soil because it indicates good soil health and productivity. Earthworms, cover crops, and no-till together are a great way to improve your soil. After a 3- to 4-inch rain (more or less) last week, farmers should observe where water is standing and where it is not ponding. In healthy fields that had no-till, cover crops, and earthworms, there should be less standing water due to better soil tilth and cleaner water coming off the fields in the surface water or tile. Cover crop roots increase macro and micro-pores and the earthworms decompose and move the organic residue to form soil organic matter (SOM), to keep nutrients and soil in place.

Here are just a few things the earthworms do to improve our soil. They alter soil structure, improving water movement, enhancing nutrient dynamics and plant growth.… Continue reading

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COVID-19 merges medical and legal issues

By Leisa Boley Hellwarth, a dairy farmer and attorney near Celina

Doctors shouldn’t practice law. Lawyers shouldn’t practice medicine. And politicians shouldn’t practice medicine either, but I digress. Some of the most practical and timely legal information I’ve read recently came from a physician practicing in a COVID-19 Unit in Detroit, who shared what she wished her patients had completed prior to their coronavirus diagnosis, advance directives. These legal documents are a set of instructions someone prepares in advance of ill health that determines his healthcare wishes. End of life is a topic none of us likes to contemplate, but according to the doc, not dealing with the inevitable can make the inevitable even more problematic and painful for the patient and the family.

She shared the anguish of the next of kin of a 30-year old patient whose body was unable to fight the coronavirus. He had not executed any legal documents nor had he ever discussed the issues with his family.Continue reading

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Hay and straw: Labor of love? Or love of labor?

By Matt Reese

Baling hay and straw is a labor of love for brothers Miles and Caleb von Stein that requires a love of labor they’ve had since high school.

“Growing up, Caleb and I loved baling. We did it for our FFA SAE project. We started with 20 or 40 acres of straw. Dad and my uncle said we’d never get it all baled,” Miles said. “That was in 2010 and it almost was a personal challenge and we tried to do more every year. Then they didn’t think we could do 50 or 60 acres and now we are doing 600 or 700 acres. The fact that they thought we couldn’t do it almost fueled us even more to grow.”

Small square bales of hay and straw have paved the way for the von Steins to take their Hancock County family farm in a new and innovative direction focused on soil health, high quality products and meeting unique customer demands.… Continue reading

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Challenges continue for pork producers in wake of Trump executive order

By Matt Reese

President Trump invoked the Defense Production Act (DPA) to extend federal support to the U.S. meat production and production systems. By triggering the DPA, the federal government will prioritize the continuity of meat processing plant operations.

The nation’s pork industry has been hit particularly hard with processing back-ups in recent weeks, said Cheryl Day, executive vice president of the Ohio Pork Council.

“The executive order is taking real time action to ensure the safety of those workers in the plant but also to make sure our food supply chain for meat and poultry will continue,” Day said. “It declares that processing plants are critical infrastructure and seeks to safely keep those processing plants open so farmers can keep delivering hogs at some level and there will be pork delivered to the consumer. While this won’t financially fix what is going on in the industry at the farm level, it definitely will help them continue to deliver hogs and it is the right move in the right direction.”

According to a White House factsheet, the Department of Agriculture is directed to ensure America’s meat and poultry processors continue operations uninterrupted to the maximum extent possible under the order.… Continue reading

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4-H events cancelled statewide through July 6

By Kolt Buchenroth

According to a letter penned by Dr. Kirk Bloir, Assistant Director of 4-H Youth Development with Ohio State University Extension, all Ohio 4-H events are cancelled through July 6, 2020. This closure does not include county fairs, which are governed by county agricultural societies. The letter reads:

It is with a heavy heart that I share this news with you. Due to ongoing health concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the decision has been made to cancel all Ohio State University Extension in-person programming through July 6.

This includes all 4-H programs, activities, and events. Additionally, we’ve made the very difficult decision to cancel all 4-H camps through August 31. Although in-person programming is canceled, we will continue to offer virtual 4-H experiences.

We know this is an incredible disappointment and recognize how much everyone looks forward to our cherished 4-H summer events. As 4-H professionals committed to providing positive youth development programming, we share your sense of loss.

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Is a wetter-than-average spring on the way?

Farmers anxiously awaiting spring rain forecasts might want to take several deep breaths and keep their rubber boots ready.

Above-average spring rainfall is expected in March, April, and May—which is exactly what happened last year.

However, recent forecasts call for warmer-than-average temperatures in March. If that happens, that could dry up some of the ground moisture, making it manageable for farmers to get into their fields to prep them for planting.

How much rain will this spring bring?

“It’s impossible to say,” said Aaron Wilson, climate specialist for The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

Time will tell whether the rain levels will rival last year’s, when farmers across the state struggled to get into their saturated fields. An unprecedented number of fields across Ohio could never be planted. When farmers were able to get into their fields, they risked their tractors and other equipment getting mired in the mud and compacting the soil, making it less suitable for seed growth.… Continue reading

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Keeping your head in the agricultural game while the rules keep changing

A conversation with…

Michael Swanson, an economist with Wells Fargo Bank who spoke at the 2020 Ohio Agribusiness Association Industry Conference

 

OCJ: You talked about how the three-point line changed the strategy of the game of basketball with the addition of an arbitrary line added to the court. Coaches, players and teams all had to adjust their game plans to account for the change and those who adapted most quickly and effectively had the advantage. Agriculture certainly has some similarities. What are they?

Michael: Every day someone is drawing a new three-point line on our court. It could be a regulatory three-point line. It could be a technology three-point line. Either way, it changes the game. Agriculture used to be a labor-intensive industry and now it is an input driven industry. You used to be able to get up earlier, work later and out produce your neighbor. That is not always the case anymore.… Continue reading

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People, product and protocol — Biosecurity and African swine fever

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader

The world is watching African swine fever (ASF) and it is a top concern for the U.S. pork industry.

“It would be devastating for our industry. Our industry depends on exports,” said Dave Pyburn, Vice President of Science and Technology at the National Pork Board. “Immediately in the face of an outbreak of any of the big three foreign animal diseases, (classical swine fever, foot and mouth disease, and ASF), we would see all exports stop.”

ASF is not harmful to humans, but is fatal to pigs. This particular swine disease has a near 100% fatality rate according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The ASF virus originated in sub-Saharan Africa, though most of the ASF headlines have come from China. According to a Purdue Agricultural Economics report, the USDA estimates that hog slaughter and pork production are falling sharply in China as ASF continues to devastate the Chinese pork industry.… Continue reading

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Ohio Ag Weather and Forecast – January 9, 2020

January 9, 2020 -- Rain begins overnight tonight with just general showers. Through tomorrow we see showers continue, spreading across the entire state. The Friday rain action will be steady, but generally light. Then a second wave is still on the way for  Saturday into early Sunday. We are keeping event rain totals this morning at 1-3" with coverage at 100%

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To outer Mongolia and back

By Don “Doc” Sanders

When I was a boy, my Dad would often use “outer Mongolia” to describe the location of anyone or anything that was a distance from us — including the closest fertilizer plant to our farm, about 40 miles away.

He’d be impressed that I recently returned from outer Mongolia — or rather, the real-life independent nation of Mongolia, situated north of China and east of Siberia, more than 6,000 miles further away from home than that fertilizer plant. I was invited by the Christian Veterinary Mission (CVM) to participate in their V.E.T. Net mission project in Mongolia.

About 25 years ago, Gerald and Francis Mitchem were called to create V.E.T. Net and bring the gospel to the people of Mongolia. They realized that to be successful in introducing the gospel it was important to help Mongols by improving the care of their horses, sheep and cows for a better quality of human life before they could evangelize.… Continue reading

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A large increase in historic family farms recognized by the Ohio Department of Agriculture

The Ohio Department of Agriculture’s (ODA) Historic Family Farms Program registered 975 historic farms between 2010-2019. That’s a 26% increase in historic farms during the decade. In comparison, during the program’s first 16 years (1993-2009), 749 farms were registered. The top registering counties in the last decade were: Putnam County, 122 farms, Mercer County, 65 farms and Hancock County, 33 farms.

Ohio’s Historic Family Farms program was developed in 1993 to honor Ohio’s founding farm families for their contributions to agriculture in Ohio. Farms under same-family ownership for 100 years or more qualify to be designated as a historic family farm.

“In 26 years, we’ve seen this program grow from eight recipients in its inaugural year to nearly 1,800 registered farms today. The level of enthusiasm from farm families receiving their historic designations is indisputable,” said Erin Dillon, program administrator for the Ohio Historic Family Farms Program. “The successes of the Historic Family Farms Program can be solely attributed to families who proudly continue their farming heritage — it’s our duty and honor to acknowledge that perseverance.”

In 2019 alone, ODA recognized 106 new historic farms owned by the same family for at least 100, 150 or 200 consecutive years.… Continue reading

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World champion Buckeyes celebrate success in the sawdust

By Emily Beal, writer for The Ohio State University College of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences

This time of year, Ohio State University fans around the world are getting ready to watch a Buckeye team make a run for a National Championship. Many, though, many not realize that there are already some 2019 champion Buckeyes that compete in a different type of venue. The Ohio State Dairy Judging Team proved it was the cream of the crop, placing first at the National Intercollegiate Dairy Cattle Judging Contest at the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wis. this fall. The last time Ohio State won the contest was in 1986.

The Dairy Judging Team placed first among 18 schools in the National Intercollegiate Dairy Judging Contest on Sept. 30. Coached by Bonnie Ayars, The Ohio State University team placed seventh for reasons with a score of 788. The team consists of fourth-place overall individual Billy Smith and ninth-place overall individual Lauren Almasy along with Sarah Lehner and Ian Lokai.… Continue reading

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The (not so spooky) tale of Halloween pumpkins

On a day with no shortage of haunting pumpkins around the corner, many people may be wondering just how the largest, most terrifying of these autumn staples come to be. The answer is not nearly as spooky as the end product. A bit of late night investigation will reveal there is a fair amount of agricultural expertise behind those giant Halloween pumpkins.

Even first-time growers are capable of growing pumpkins in excess of 400 pounds if the seeds are the Atlantic Giant variety, which are available at numerous garden centers and catalogs, according to Mike Estadt, educator, Ohio State University Extension.

“To grow pumpkins in excess of half a ton, it all begins with superior genetics,” Estadt wrote in Growing Giant Pumpkins in the Home Garden, a new Ohioline fact sheet.

Ohioline is OSU Extension’s free online information resource and can be found at ohioline.osu.edu. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.… Continue reading

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Soil health risks in fallow fields

With so many Ohio fields left unplanted this year, farmers should consider the risks to next year’s crops, soil experts from The Ohio State University warn.

If wind or rain carry away the topsoil of a bare field, it can take years to rebuild that topsoil, said Steve Culman, a soil fertility specialist with Ohio State University Extension.

Topsoil is the layer richest in microscopic organisms, which fuel plant growth. Besides losing topsoil, not having any living roots in a field can cause microscopic fungi in the soil to die off, harming the soil’s ability to support a healthy crop, Culman said.

However, it’s unlikely that fields left bare for one year will develop fallow syndrome, which refers to a drop in the yield or health of a crop grown on a previously bare field, he said.

“Soils don’t degrade overnight, typically,” Culman said. “Degradation can happen over many years or decades, just like building healthy soil can take decades.”

If a field stayed bare this year and the farmer is concerned about planting on it next year, he or she can plant soybeans or wheat on those acres because corn is more susceptible to fallow syndrome, Culman said.… Continue reading

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