I’m fascinated by research, but frequently frustrated by how long it takes to reach end-users. Farming moves at a speed infinitely faster than research, but for good reason. Research helps us sort through casual observations and one-time coincidences for deeper truths and connections. Because we give more weight to research than observation, it requires more accuracy, rigor, and time.
But it all starts with good observations and questions. Which is why I’m so excited to attend the OEFFA Conference this month! It’s a great opportunity for disciplines to cross paths – farmers, growers, suppliers, researchers, program administrators—and share information.
At the OEFFA conference or otherwise, please feel free to be in touch. I’d love to talk about some of the research topics you’re interested in. We’re working with OEFFA and Central State on ways to promote organic research collaboration between farmers and scientists in Ohio. One opportunity listed below is the Warner Grant program (a long-time project of OSU's Agroecosystem Management Program), which is taking proposals until March 1. Also below are a few recent research updates, along with other resources and events coming up in the next month.
-Cassy Brown, OFFER program manager
Organic Dairy Herd Health Management in Ohio.
According to the most recent USDA survey, Ohio ranks 4th in the number of certified organic dairies and 14th in production. Organic dairy producers have distinct perspectives, approaches, challenges, and experiences when managing herd health, but few studies have documented these. Ohio State researchers used semi-structured interviews to examine herd health management for the organic dairy industry in and around Ohio. Interviews examined decision factors relating to disease prevention and treating infectious diseases, along with organic dairy - veterinarian relationships. Read more: https://go.osu.edu/orgdairy19.
Organic Corn Trial Results Available
The Ohio Organic Corn Performance Test evaluates certified organic corn hybrids for grain yield and other important agronomic characteristics. The tests were conducted on certified organic fields at Apple Creek (West Badger Farm) and Wooster (Fry Farm) in Wayne County and were intensively managed for nutrients and weed control using organic practices. See results at https://ohiocroptest.cfaes.osu.edu/organiccorntrials/.
Vegetable Pathology Lab 2021 Trials
The OSU Vegetable Pathology Lab carried out an active field research program in 2021, with full field trials spread across three Ohio research sites in Wooster, Celeryville, and Fremont and three bioassays for downy and powdery mildew management. As part of their 2021 trials, the lab tested biological control products, and disease-resistant varieties to manage diseases of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, pumpkins, cabbage and collards. You can read the research trial results at Plant Pathology Series 2022_Veg Pathology Research Rpts 2021_final. (These trials were not conducted on organic certified plots. Always refer to your certification agency’s approved list of products.)
43rd Annual OEFFA conference Feb 12, 17-19
The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association Conference is February 17 to 19 in Dayton, Ohio, and February 12 online. More than 1,200 folks from throughout the state attend this conference. Funds are available through SARE to cover Ohio State educators’ registrations. Contact Mike Hogan or Suzanne Mills Wasniak if interested in attending or displaying materials. Registration closes February 10. Learn more at https://conference.oeffa.org/
Ray Archuleta "Soil Health and Regenerative Ag - Feb 24 in West Liberty, Ohio
Missouri farmer, retired soil health researcher Ray Archuleta will discuss soil health and regenerative agriculture at the West Liberary Salm High School. This event includes a dinner at 5:30, with presentation at 6:30. The event costs $20 and includes CCA credits. Deadline to register is February 21, but space is limited. Read more at http://go.osu.edu/archuleta
Field Futures—Ohio – Workshop Event on Feb 22
Curious how climate change connects to your farm? Consider attending the inaugural Field Futures-Ohio workshop planned for Tuesday, February 22nd from 10-6PM at the Lodge at Scioto Grove. This unique event will use participatory design exercises to explore alternative climate futures for Ohio. There is no cost to attend, but space is limited and registration is required. Food and supplies provided. Register at go.osu.edu/fieldfutures by Tuesday, February 15 or contact Forbes Lipschitz for details (603 738 2144 or email).
Soil Health webinar series – March 3
The OSUE 2022 soil health series concludes with “Hot Topics-What's the Future of Soil Health?” on March 3, 8-9 a.m. A variety of soil health researchers will briefly discuss their current and ongoing work. Come with your questions and ideas! Register at go.osu.edu/soilhealth2022. Recordings of previous webinars are available at https://agcrops.osu.edu/events/webinar-recordings/dirt-soil-health-investing-below-surface-0
Test Drive New Organic Seed Varieties
Are you a farmer or gardener in the Upper Midwest? Are you interested in contributing to the development of new tomato and pepper varieties for organic farmers in our region? Consider joining the Seed to Kitchen Collaborative and SeedLinked plant breeding network. Read more at https://seedtokitchen.horticulture.wisc.edu/
Warner grant proposals for Sustainable Agriculture Research – due March 1
The OSU Sustainable Agriculture Team and Agroecosystems Management Program (AMP) is accepting proposals for on-farm research projects on sustainable agriculture topics. Research is intended to identify and publicize sustainable agricultural practices and systems that are profitable, socially responsible, energy efficient, and improve water quality and other environmental concerns relevant to Ohio farmers. Farmers are invited to partner with OSU scientists and extension educators to carry out these on-farm projects. Read the Request for Proposals at go.osu.edu/2022-warner-grants or contact Doug Jackson-Smith if you have questions. Proposals are due March 1, 2022.
Organic Grain Training
The Organic Agronomy Training Service (OATS), the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s OGRAIN, and the American Society of Agronomy (ASA) have launched a video series, call series, and listserv for organic advisors and ag professionals to connect and learn from each other. Read more at https://www.organicagronomy.org/organic-advisor-call-series.
The OFFER program cooperates with Ohio State Agricultural Operations to maintain organic production space for field research. Most of the land is located at the West Badger Farm in Wooster and is managed organically when not active in research projects. Facilities include dedicated organic equipment, grain storage, and staff to assist with farm and certification management. Researchers or cooperators interested in reserving organic research land or cooperating for trials or demonstrations should contact Brian Gwin, OFFER coordinator. Multiple small and large grants are available for this work. Find more resources around this topic at https://offer.osu.edu/resources/resources-researchers.
This summer, West Badger is home to organic variety trials for corn and oats, year 2 of a perennial wheatgrass trial, and cultivation equipment trials in partnership with Tilmor. Plans for additional variety trials are underway.
|Cultivation Equipment Trials|
OFFER is pleased to partner with Tilmor for equipment trials on our West Badger research station. Based in Orrville, Ohio, Tilmor specializes in affordable tools and equipment for smaller farms. Read more about Tilmor at tilmor.com/en-us
|Organic Variety Trials|
Oats were planted in early spring along with organic corn variety trials.
|Variety trial results are archived at u.osu.edu/perf/. Results from 2021 oats should be added soon.|
|Perennial Wheatgrass Trials|
Kernza seed and forage was harvested in late July at the Wooster (above) and Fremont (below) sites. Kernza is a potential dual purpose crop for grain and forage. This work is part of a multistate project to track productivity, quality, and soil health under various fertilization and harvest timing treatments
|Weed pressure remains high at the Wooster site, but the Fremont trial was virtually weed free this second year. Leader researcher Steve Culman will continue to monitor this potential crop's competition with weeds to see if this crop might be useful duing organic transition or as an effective weed management tool with soil health benefits.|
As many producers look to diversify their farms and find opportunities to increase on-farm revenues, one potential avenue to consider is organic grain production. A Transition to Organic Grains workshop offered through Ohio State University Extension in Putnam County will take place in Ottawa, Ohio, at the Putnam County Educational Services Center on March 30, 2021 from 9 am to 2 pm.
The workshop is designed to answer producers’ common questions when considering a move from conventional to organic production. What do I need to know and what steps do I need to take to transition my fields to organic production? How long will the process take? What markets are available for my grain? How do I approach fertilization, weed management, and pest control? These and many more questions will be answered by industry and extension experts – as well as first-hand experiences of organic farmers.
The Transition to Organic Grains workshop is offered at no cost, but registration is required. Registration includes all handouts and a boxed lunch. To register, please call the Putnam County Extension office at 419-523-6294, register online, or email Scheckelhoff.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks to Beth Scheckelhoff for penning and sharing this article (originally published in the C.O.R.N. Newsletter).
New topics have been added to our winter webinar series lineup. On February 24, we will host Kate Hansen, author of the recently released guide from the Center for Rural Affairs “Conversations from the Field: Crop Insurance for Organic Operations.” She will be joined by Megan Vaith from Northbourne Organic Crop Insurance in South Dakota. Together our speakers will provide tips and insights into crop insurance options for organic growers.
Crop insurance is an important risk management tool for many farmers, and organic operations come with their own unique set of risks to consider. While crop insurance options for organic have expanded considerably in the past decade, a sizable percentage of organic crops still go uninsured, and beneficial options underused.
“Conversations from the Field: Crop Insurance for Organic Operations,” a new educational guide released early this month by the Center for Rural Affairs, sheds light on the crop insurance process and options available for organic production.
“Today, more than 80 certified organic crops can be insured, and there are a number of unique options and considerations for organic policies,” said Kate Hansen, a Center policy assistant. “We believe this resource will provide the information farmers need as they consider their insurance options for the coming crop year.”
The guide features interviews with seven crop insurance agents who have experience with organic operations, and seven organic farmers from across the Midwest. Topics covered include insuring the higher value of organic crops using contract prices, the claims process, prevented planting, the crop insurance timeline over a given year, and advice for finding an agent.
“This guide would be a valuable read for many,” Hansen said. “From beginning organic farmers, to experienced organic producers looking to purchase crop insurance, to agents trying to better understand the perspective of their organic customers.”
Click here to view “Conversations from the Field.” Important deadlines for crop insurance are coming up and now is a great time to learn about recent changes and start thinking about coverage options. Please join us on February 24 and bring your questions.
This February 24 session is part of our Organic Winter Webinar series, which features a variety of topics on Wednesdays from 11 to 11:45 a.m. You can see our full lineup, view log-in details, watch past presentations, or sign up for email reminders at go.osu.edu/organic-series. Also new to the lineup is a March 10 session on cultural control of ragweed and other annual weeds. We are developing sessions on grazing and marketing as well. The session originally scheduled for February 24 on organic dairy herd health management has been moved to April 21 due to unforseen circumstances. If you have questions, please contact program manager Cassandra Brown at email@example.com.
This year between January and March in 2021, the Pastures for Profit curriculum will be offered as a virtual course.
The Pastures for Profit program is a collaboration between Ohio State University Extension, Central State University, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Ohio Department of Agriculture, and the Ohio Forage and Grasslands Council. One live webinar will be offered per month along with “work at your own pace” videos and exercises that accompany each webinar.
Event organizer, Christine Gelley, Ohio State extension educator in Noble County, welcomes organic participants. She sees pasture management as a naturally low-input farming system if it’s done right, relying on holistic thinking and species diversity.
Each webinar will be offered live on Zoom at 7 P.M. and feature three presentations in a 90-minute span. Attendees will be able to interact with the speakers and ask questions in real time. Once registered, attendees will be granted access to the online course including the webinars and complementary resources. Participants that attend all three webinars will have the opportunity to earn a certificate of completion. Registered participants will also receive their choice of a curriculum binder or USB drive of the traditional course by mail.
The webinar schedule and topics are as follows.
Webinar One- Core Grazing Education: Wed., January 13th at 7 p.m.
- Evaluating Resources and Goal Setting
- Getting Started Grazing
- Soil Fertility
Webinar Two- The Science of Grazing: Wed., February 3rd at 7 p.m.
- Understanding Plant Growth
- Fencing and Water Systems
- Meeting Animal Requirements on Pasture
Webinar Three- Meeting Grazing Goals: Wed., March 3rd at 7 p.m.
- Pasture Weed Control
- Economics of Grazing
- Creating and Implementing Grazing Plans
A series of additional videos that complement each webinar will be accessible to registered participants that include topics such as:
- Soil Health & Fertility
- Species Specific Tips
- Stocking Densities
- Forage Sampling and Analysis
- Winter Feeding Strategies
- Conservation Practices
- Genetic Traits of Forages
- Pasture Layouts
- Farm Economics
- Pasture Walks/Virtual Tours
These videos will focus on more specific pasture management topics at the beginner and experienced manager levels.
The Pastures for Profit course utilizes Scarlet Canvas. For best performance, Canvas should be used on the current or first previous major release of Chrome, Firefox, Edge, or Safari. Canvas runs on Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, or any other device with a modern web browser.
Cost of the course is $50, which includes the Pastures for Profit manual. Current and new members of the Ohio Forage and Grasslands Council are eligible for a $10 discount on registration. Register for the course by visiting https://afgc.org/ofgcwebinar.
Trends and Highlights of Ohio Farmers: Organic Sector Implications
December 2, 2020, 11-11:45 a.m.
The recent USDA Certified Organic Survey provided an overview of continued growth in organic agricultural production in Ohio and nationwide. Organic farmers were also an area of focus for the 2020 Ohio Farm Poll Study conducted this past year at Ohio State.
On December 2, 2020, farm poll study leaders Douglas Jackson-Smith, Shoshanah Inwood, and Andrea Rissing will focus in on survey results for organic growers.
Find out what this survey, and other available data, tell us about Ohio’s organic farming community. We’ll cover commodities, marketing strategies, and attitudes of this industry sector and see how they compare, in general, with Ohio’s conventional farm community on a variety of trends and characteristics.
This presentation is the first in a series of organic-themed webinars being hosted this winter by OFFER (Ohio State’s Organic Food & Farming Education and Research program). The series will provide opportunities for Ohio’s organic community and those who work with them, to learn about Ohio State resources and to provide feedback, experience, and ideas for new research and program directions. Farmers considering organic certification or seeking ways to lower their farm inputs will also benefit from the presentations.
The webinar series is scheduled for Wednesdays at 11 a.m. Sessions will be short, focused, practical, and will invite participant feedback.
Additional winter programming from Ohio State extension can be viewed at https://agnr.osu.edu/programming/farm-direct-markets. Series on farm management, agricultural safety, soil health, and more are listed and/or under development.
Did you miss this presentation or want to watch it again? You can view it here: https://youtu.be/aeakxcQHfxQ
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On October 22, the United State Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service released survey results from the 2019 Certified Organic Survey. Nationwide, sales of organic commodities rose 31% since the last organic survey in 2016. The number of farms producting certified organic commodies increased by 17% nationally, while land used for organic production increased by 9%.
A few Ohio highlights
Number of Farms. Ohio's organic sector remains strong, ranking 5th among U.S. states in the number of certified organic operations. The number of certified organic farms in Ohio grew by 37% since the last organic census in 2016. The number of certified organic acres in Ohio increased 51% in that time. However, the average acres of organic cropland per farm increased by only 10% in the state.
Agronomic Leadership. Grain corn continues to be one of the top U.S. organic crop commodities and Ohio continues to be a major producer of organic corn, ranking 5th among states in the number of producers, and 9th in the number of acres. Ohio also ranks in the top ten states for organic soybeans and oats, in terms of number of farms and acres in production.
Organic Sales. The number of farms selling organic products in Ohio increased by 38%, but actual sales only increased 16%. Sales growth occurred mainly in crops (56% growth for Ohio, vs. a national increase of 38%). Sales of livestock products (eggs, milk, etc.) grew by 13% (similar to national growth of 12%). However, livestock and poultry sales in Ohio actually decreased by 39% (while growing by 19% nationally and 34% in the neighboring state of Pennsylvania). OFFER is beginning to investigate organic meat packaging and processing in the state to see if this could be an area for future growth. As previously noted by OEFFA’s report on the 2017 agricultural census, “the number of custom meat processors in the state has declined for decades and is currently critically limited.”
The 2019 Certified Organic Survey is a Census of Agriculture Special Study. This marks the sixth comprehensive organic survey NASS has conducted, beginning in 2008, but the methodology has varied in past studies. This recent study provides comparable data between the 2016 Organic Survey.
- 2-page Report Highlights - 2019 Certified Organic Survey
- Executive Briefing slides - 2019 Certified Organic Survey
- Full 2019 Report, Past Reports, and more about the USDA NASS Organic Program
- Ohio Agriculture: The Changing Contours of Farming, Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, June 2019
It's online, free, and happening this week. The 2020 Farm Science Review runs Tuesday, September 22 through Thursday, September 24. The virtual event will feature more than 400 exhibitors and 200-plus livestreamed and recorded talks and demos from Ohio State professors and Ohio State University Extension educators. If you miss any of the live sessions, don’t worry. Most materials and sessions will be available until July 2021. Registration is required for the review, but only involves a name and email address.Sign up at fsr.osu.edu.
A Sampling of Offerings
Value Chains in Food and Agriculture. A panel discussion by Ohio State agricultural economicst on Tuesday, Sept 22 at 10 a.m. will focus on food chain issues for the Ohio agricultural industry during the coronavirus pandemic and what lessons have been learned so far, how farmers markets and local food outlets have adapted, and the risk management related to crops and livestock. Panelists will also address trade and other economic issues of current interest.
Considering direct meat sales? On a related note, a talk about "On-the-Farm Slaughter and Processing," is slated for Tuesday, Sept. 22, 11–11:30 a.m. and at noon, Garth Ruff, beef cattle field specialist with Ohio State University Extension will share advice on “Direct to Consumer Meat Sales.”
Forages and Grazing topics are offered at the Gwynne Conservation area, including Grazing/Soil Health, Grazing Management Through the Eyes of the Animal, Native Warm Season Grasses, Meeting Animal Nutrient Requirements on Pasture, and much more.
OSU Small Farms Center will offer "Organic Wed Control: Options for Small Scale Vegetable Growers" on Tuesday at 11:30., as well as sessions on agritourism, on-line sales, hemp, small grains, goat production, blackberrires, and more.
The OSU Agronomic Crops team will offer a daily Q&A sessions throughout the day on cover crops and soil health, on-farm research, forage crops, plus virtual agronomy plot tours.
Other topics on tap this year include increasing profits from small grains by planting double crops, climate trends, managing cash flow on the farm, farm stress, and rental rates on agricultural land. Sessions are divided by topics and searchable by keywords.
At this point in the growing season, you might have more dirt on your hands than time. But for those interested in new production techniques, here are a few opportunities for learning. Most are available for viewing whenever you are.
The Organic Farming Research Foundation is seeking feedback on their new online training modules. There will be 6 models in all when finished. Topics available now include Ecological Weed Management, Nutrient Management, Soil Health, and Conservation Tillage. https://ofrf.org/programs/education/
The Rodale Institute is offering their Organic field day online. Just $25 gets you access to all 13 virtual field days, presented July 13-17. Thirteen topics include pastured hog production, beekeeping, organic no-till, and vegetable systems.
Indiana Organic Grain Farmer Meeting – Recordings from the February 2020 meeting include presentations from farmers and researchers, including a session on the financial side of organic transition and an organic no-till research update.
You can also view new articles (and accompanying spreadsheets) comparing financials of conventional and organic crop rotations: from the Purdue University Center for Commercial Agriculture
Looking for something a little more hands-on? Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) offers internship, apprenticeship, and mentorship programs for beginning farmers.
Since 2016, soybean farmers have quickly adopted dicamba- and 2,4-D-ready crops in their fight against herbicide-resistant weeds. However, the expanded use of these herbicides during the growing season has led to an increased threat of drift damage for neighboring specialty crop growers. Several high-value crops can be damaged by concentrations of 1/300 the labeled rate or lower. Crops with especially high sensitivity to dicamba and 2,4-D include grapes, tomatoes, and soybeans that are not engineered for dicamba-resistance. Recent legal issues have limited the use of three dicamba products for the 2020 growing season, but 2,4-D and other dicamba products are still in use and will continue to pose a risk in areas with diversified or organic production.
A new fact sheet series is available to help specialty crop growers prepare for and respond to possible dicamba and 2,4-D drift. The series provides tips for being proactive, detailed steps for documenting and responding to damage, and a brief background on why dicamba and 2,4-D have been especially problematic. A Frequently Asked Questions fact sheet highlights various concerns pertinent to specialty crop producers. The series sought input from a variety of crop and herbicide specialists across the United States, as well as state regulatory agencies.
Fact sheets are available online at go.osu.edu/ipm-drift.
Preparing for drift
“Vigilance and communications are the two big things,” says Ohio State weed specialist Doug Doohan, “Knowing who your neighbors are, talking to them about your plans, talking to them about their plans, being aware of who’s doing what on the land and when.”
But who is your neighbor when it comes to drift? Just how far can dicamba drift travel? Most spray droplet drift will move short distances. This type of damage is generally limited to adjacent fields. However, dicamba and 2,4-D are likely to drift as a gas or via a temperature inversion. Temperature inversions can be especially damaging, moving suspended pesticides in a fog-like layer for longer distances.
“There’s all kinds of circumstantial evidence of much greater movement,” says Doohan. “When you’re talking inversions, if an inversion is motivated by a 2-3 mph wind, it could go miles—especially if the conditions persist through the evening.”
Doohan has helped investigate several drift cases and was one of the co-authors for the new fact sheet series. He encourages growers to establish a Standard Operating Procedure to prepare for a drift incident, just as they might for food safety concerns. He also stresses the importance of documenting suspected drift quickly, thoroughly, and repeatedly. The new fact sheet series offers detailed suggestions for these activities.
“If you see something, document it,” he advises. “Use your cell phone. You can always delete unneeded photos later, but you can’t go back in time and get the picture you wish you had taken.”
The new fact sheet series was cowritten by specialists at The Ohio State University and Purdue University, with support from the North Central IPM Center Working Group on Herbicide-Drift Risk Management. The working group organized in the fall of 2019 and plans additional projects in the coming year, including more resources and an anonymous survey of specialty crop growers to better assess the extent and frequency of drift damage throughout the north central region. The North Central IPM Center serves Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin and is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture through agreement 2018-70006-28884.