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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.
Results are available online for the 2019 Michigan Organic Soybean Variety Trials. The trials included 43 varieties – 20 of which are commercially available. Results include details on source, variety, maturity group, hilum color, percent oil, percent protein, maturity days after planting, plant height, yield and multi-year data.
Previous years’ organic trials for soybeans, edible beans, and other agronomic crops can be found at the Organic Farmers of Michigan website.
Ohio State Corn and Oats Variety Trials Planned for 2020
Ohio State is planning organic crop variety trials this year for both corn and oats. Organic farm manager Gerald Reid reports 15 varieties of oats have emerged and that corn trials should be planted soon.
Previous Ohio State organic corn variety trials can be found online as well:
Biostimulants are not exclusive to organic systems, but they are a common input for organic growers. Ohio State vegetable production specialist Matt Kleinhenz has spent many years studying microbial-based biostimulants (MBBS). Few agricultural input markets have seen the kind of explosive growth that has occurred with MBBS.
“These products are widely available, relatively inexpensive, are said to offer interesting and appealing benefits, and rarely put users at significant risk, unlike some other products,” says Kleinhenz.
Nicole Wright, program coordinator for the Vegetable Production Lab’s MBBS project, also attributes market growth to increased interest in microbiology.
“I think growers are applying them and thinking about soil and soil microbiology,” she says, “They are thinking ‘everything I hear says that having healthy soil means having lots of living things in them and if I can contribute to that, it’s a good thing.’”
With a constant stream of products entering and exiting the market, Kleinhenz and his team are less interested in testing specific products and more interested in answering the bigger questions surrounding this subset of agricultural inputs. Their research has focused on identifying which factors are important to product efficacy, such as the effect of timing and application rate.
Kleinhenz and Wright have this advice for growers interested in or already using MBBSs on their crops:
- Do background research. Just because a product is OMRI-listed does not mean it’s been found effective. Set aside time to read up on the product. Take a critical look at label instructions. What details are provided about the timing, application rate and application methods? What can the manufacturer tell you about mixing it with other products or using it in specific conditions or crops?
- Be wary of claims that seem exaggerated. Most of these products create modest, gradual, and/or inconsistent yield improvements. Growers should have realistic expectations for MBBS products.
- Product consistency can be an issue with MBBSs. If a product only works some of the time, the cause may be related to the user, the manufacturing process and product itself, or production conditions. For example, environmental factors like soil fertility, pH, or cropping history might influence the product’s effectiveness.
- Use storage and handling procedures that acknowledge these are living products. Avoid temperature extremes and chlorinated water, for example.
- Track what happens. Referrals from other users of the product are valuable. But remember that their success won’t necessarily be repeated in your farm’s unique conditions. When trying a new product or practice, maintain a similar untreated part of your field to compare. Do your own experiments with rate and timing. Keep records on what you applied, where, and take notes on any differences you see in growth, yield, quality, etc.
- Use good cultural processes to increase microbials in your soil too. Wright likens MBBS products to taking a vitamin vs. eating healthy foods. Cultural practices that favor soil biodiversity, organic matter, and good drainage are also needed to provide food and conditions that allow microbial life to thrive.
Change is coming
So far, these products are largely unregulated. For the first time, the current farm bill includes language defining a biostimulant--an important first step in creating better uniformity in the industry, says Kleinhenz. Some manufacturers are concerned about the overall image of MBBS products and are pushing for a more narrow definition along with efficacy testing.
Kleinhenz feels regulation will usher in increased product consistency and better information for consumers, but regulation may also limit the number of products available. Testing product efficacy requires time, expertise, and/or expenses that smaller manufacturers may find challenging.
He also questions if it is truly appropriate to apply the same efficacy standards used for many mainstream agricultural inputs. Based on averages and standard, proven statistical analysis, a comparison of treated and non-treated plots failed to show that inoculation (product use) significantly influenced yield. However, the Vegetable Production Systems Lab team observed many times when a MBBS did increase yield (and a few times when it lowered it).
“If you went out to your truck and it only started half of the mornings, you’d be pretty annoyed and conclude it’s unreliable, that it’s not working,” Kleinhenz says. “However, if you apply a product to your crops or soils and see measurable improvement say, 30% of the time, you might still find the application worthwhile if the costs and other risks were low. Our goal as a team is to provide growers and others with information they can use to distinguish worthwhile from unwise investments and practices.”
There are many additional practical questions to answer that could involve microbiology and decision-making. For now, Kleinhenz and his lab are enjoying the conversation and questions stimulated by this growing and changing industry.
This research is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Organic Transitions Program under award Number 2016-51106-25714 and also under award number 2016-38640-25381 through the North Central Region SARE program under subaward number LNC16-380.
In-person Ohio State Extension events scheduled for March and early April are being canceled due to coronavirus concern. County extension offices will also be closing, but Ohio State employees continue to work remotely and can be reached by email. Read more here.
The Wood County Transition to Organic Grains workshop originally scheduled for April will be rescheduled for a safe and appropriate date.
Ohio State Resources for Coronavirus
More resources will be added at Ohio State's Addressing 2020 Agricultural Challenges website.
Need Business Help?
OSU South Centers Business Development Network has expert advice, technology, and other resources for small businesses, manufacturers, and cooperatives.
Learning at home
Ohio State March Ag/NR Madness
Ohio State specialists are offered Agricultural and Natural Resources Madness this March: 64 timely educational events broken into daily brackets (topics). You can register to join these live at 9 a.m., noon, and 3 p.m. each day, or watch recorded events at your leisure. Schedule, registration, and archives can be accessed here: https://agnr.osu.edu/events/agriculture-and-natural-resources-madness.
E-extension Webinars on Organic/Sustainable Production
New and archived organic agriculture webinars are available through e-extension (https://learn.extension.org).
Upcoming seminars include:
The Microbiome: What is it and How Might it Impact Organic Dairy Production?
Monday, March 30 at 2:00 pm EDT
Update on Organic Crop Insurance Options for 2020-2021
Tuesday, March 31 at 2:00 pm EDT
MidAtlantic Women in Agriculture Webinar: Learning From Other's Mistakes: Estate Planning Mistakes and Solutions
Wednesday, April 8 at 12:00 pm EDT
Economics of Grazing Organic Replacement Dairy Heifers
Wednesday, April 22, 2020 at 2:00 pm EDT
Licenses for hemp cultivation and processing are available in Ohio beginning this week. However, Brad Bergefurd, horticulture specialist at Ohio State’s South Centers, warns potential growers to consider carefully before clearing ground for our state’s budding hemp industry.
“Long term, I think Ohio hemp for seed, fiber and possible nutraceutical products has great economic potential for Ohio agriculture,” says Bergefurd, “but I am afraid early adopters of this crop right now could be setting themselves up for failure if they have not firmly developed their own hemp marketing and production plants well in advance.”
Hemp production has high potential as an organic product, especially for CBD production, which is the type of production Ohio State’s trials focused on. Since CBD is used in health products, manufacturers prefer or require organic practices. But the risk level is high, says Bergefurd. From the university hemp trials in 2019, he found production was very labor-intensive and required specialized equipment for planting, harvesting, and drying. Planting costs alone were around $10,000 - $15,000 per acre. These are risky investments for a crop that might ultimately be confiscated if it fails to meet minimum THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) levels.
Even though the university purchased low-THC varieties, all the southern Ohio trials failed to pass the legal minimum for THC, says Bergefurd, which is not an uncommon problem. The issue of illegal THC levels, along with falling prices from a national oversupply of CBD hemp, have caused serious losses for farmers in Kentucky and other southern states in the past year, leading to economic strain and farm foreclosures. He doesn’t want to see that happen in Ohio.
In addition to the low THC requirement (0.3% for hemp--compared to average marijuana THC content of 3.5%), hemp crops must be harvested within 15 days of Ohio Department of Agriculture’s THC testing. In the Ohio trials, levels of both THC and CBD rose with decreasing moisture levels, leaving much of a farmer’s fate up to the weather. That’s nothing new; but combined with the other risks and start-up costs, it might give a grower pause.
“We just have a lot of research work to do before we are fully prepared,” says Bergefurd. “Not only for growing the crop, but we have limited to no hemp buyers, or processing and marketing infrastructure developed in Ohio as of today.”
After all, it’s been nearly 80 years since hemp was last grown legally in Ohio. Bergefurd says research is needed to develop management practices for pest control and other production concerns, along with breeding programs to develop varieties better suited to the low THC requirements. He is hopeful that legalizing hemp will be an important first step in creating the research and investment needed to make hemp a viable new market for Ohio.
Ellen Essman, from Ohio State's Law Office urges growers to read through the Ohio Department of Agriculture's Hemp Program page carefully to become familiar with the many rules and fees involved.
"If you wish to grow or process hemp," she writes in the OSU Farm Office Blog, "there are detailed rules you must follow, such as getting your sites approved, setback requirements, land use restrictions, and providing ODA with information like GPS coordinates of the land and the number of acres and plants you cultivate, just to name a few."
- "Don’t Hurry Into Hemp” article from OSU South Centers.