Alayna DeMartini

Technical Editor
Focus Areas: 
Production Agriculture, Farm Science Review.
  1. Farm Science Review 2020: Online and free

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—Farm Science Review will come to you on your laptop or smartphone this year, and for free, you can watch livestreamed talks and recorded videos featuring the latest farm equipment and research to pique your curiosity.  From Sept. 22–24, people from across the Midwest and the world can learn tips for increasing farm profits and growing crops from soybeans to hemp.  Beginning in September, virtual visitors can find out about the show’s offerings by going to fsr.osu.edu and clicking on an image of the show’s site. Within that image, people can click on the various icons to find the schedules for talks and demos they’re most interested in, such as field demonstrations or “Ask the Expert” talks.  Among...
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    Ohio farmers hankering for rain

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—Shifting from a wet spring to a very dry summer, Ohio now has over one-third of the state in moderate drought conditions, with northern Ohio the driest. August forecasts offer a bit of optimism, at least for southern Ohio. Above-average rainfall is expected in the south but not the north, said Aaron Wilson, climate specialist with The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). “I think there are some farmers who are worried,” Wilson said. “But no one is panicking.” Across Ohio, moderate drought conditions cover 37% of the state, and nearly 85% of the state is at least abnormally dry, Wilson said, citing the July 30 update from the U.S. Drought Monitor. Moderate drought is the lowest...
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    Agricultural exports doing relatively well

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—Though the COVID-19 pandemic has cut demand for many U.S. products, agricultural exports are holding up well, according to a new analysis by an agricultural economist with The Ohio State University.  The reason?  “We all have to eat,” said Ian Sheldon, a professor in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).  Even when consumer income declines, the demand for food changes very little, Sheldon said. People in the developed world might be dining out less frequently, but they’re still buying groceries. Exports of U.S. agricultural goods, including soybeans, which are Ohio’s top agricultural export, are up, Sheldon said. By the start of June, the amount of U.S. soybeans exported was 200,000...
  4. Rattan Lal has pioneered agricultural methods across the globe that enrich soil and enhance crop yields. (Photo: Ken Chamberlain, CFAES)

    Ohio State soil scientist awarded World Food Prize

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—A soil scientist at The Ohio State University whose research spans five continents was just awarded this year’s World Food Prize for increasing the global food supply by helping small farmers improve their soil.   Over five decades, Rattan Lal, a Distinguished University Professor in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES), has reduced hunger by pioneering agricultural methods across the globe that not only restore degraded soil but also reduce global warming. “Every year we are astounded by the quality of nominations for the Prize, but Dr. Lal’s stellar work on management and conservation of agriculture’s most cherished natural resource, the soil, set him apart,” said Gebisa Ejeta, chair of...
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    New federal funds available for farmers

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—Good news for farmers dismayed by a drop in prices and demand for what they produce. New federal payments will be issued to eligible farmers to help offset lower demand and prices for their produce, grain crops, milk, and livestock as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.                                  Producers of cattle, hogs, specialty crops, corn, soybeans, and other agricultural goods can apply for the payments through Aug. 28 at their local Farm Service Agency Center. The funding is related to losses farmers have experienced during the first six months of this year. Market prices for...
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    Getting your lawn in shape

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—While you’re spending so much time (stuck) at home these days, you can’t help but notice the home improvement projects you haven’t gotten to or didn’t quite finish. And then there’s the lawn. How can you not notice your lawn and how green or dandelion-crammed it is compared to say, the neighbor’s lawn – not that you’re into comparing. You’re a little more Johnny-on-the-spot with mowing because, well, there’s fewer other diversions besides the tiling you need to do in the downstairs bathroom and painting the kitchen cabinets to make them look a bit less 1960s. At least working on the lawn takes you outside. If the lawn is on your home improvement list or just something to do to avoid cabin fever, here...
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    Where’s the beef … pork … chicken … lamb?

    Meat prices are up. And some grocery stores have limited how much meat you can buy. While shoppers might be paying more for meat, the prices livestock owners are earning for their pigs, chickens, cattle, and other animals are down—that’s if they can even sell them. Meatpacking plants have had to shut down fully or partially because of the number of their employees sick with COVID-19 or concerned about catching the disease. As a result, farmers have had to keep their fully grown livestock on the farm, though they were ready to go to market. In some cases, farmers in Ohio and nationwide have had to begin reducing their flocks or herds by euthanizing them. Stan Smith, a livestock owner and program assistant for Ohio State University Extension in Fairfield County, and Lyda G...
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    Backup in meat processing leads farmers to painful decisions

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—The COVID-19 pandemic has led farmers to some excruciating decisions to cut their losses, including euthanizing animals. There’s a financial toll, for sure, but an emotional one as well.  “They’re cringing,” said Lyda Garcia, an assistant professor of meat science with The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). “It really hurts to have to do that.” With meat processing plants partially or fully closed or backed up with orders, some Ohio farmers who raise pigs and chickens for slaughter are reluctantly turning to reducing their flocks or herds. It’s not a decision they want to make, nor a decision they ever expected to make. This is happening amid other...
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    Buying milk during the pandemic

    Got milk? Depends on who you ask. At times, some stores seem to have very little milk. Dairy farmers, meanwhile, have plenty. But milk straight from the cow needs to be processed into products consumers want—like butter, cheese, yogurt and milk in one-gallon jugs. Because of the coronavirus and the shutdowns, demand for milk and dairy products for schools and restaurants has dropped off. So, milk processors have been trying to shift gears—from producing small containers of milk for schools and sizeable packages of cheese for restaurants, to packaging and bottling more products an individual shopper would buy. Either way, dairy farmers have to milk their cows every day. Early in April, for the first time, two companies that buy milk told some of Ohio’s dairy...
  10. Frost damaged early blooming grape varieties last week in southern Ohio.

    Frost grips grapes in southern Ohio

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—Southern Ohio vineyards took a hit last week when frost killed off early emerging buds, and northern Ohio grape growers are bracing for the potential in their area as well. “Some grape varieties like Chardonnay got absolutely obliterated in southern Ohio,” said Maria Smith, viticulture outreach specialist at the Department of Horticulture and Crop Science within The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). “For grape growers and some wineries, it’s a very big deal. You have vineyards that can’t cover the cost of the season because they lost one or two varieties of grapes.” While spring frosts can threaten vineyards across the state, the prospects for Ohio’s grapes this...
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    CFAES researchers working on a new COVID-19 test

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—Many people infected with COVID-19 show little to no symptoms of the disease, so researchers at The Ohio State University are creating a blood test that could detect the true extent of the pandemic The researchers have also assisted Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center physicians who have created a treatment for severe cases of COVID-19, using the blood plasma of people who had COVID-19 and beat it. Both the blood test for COVID-19 and the plasma treatment for those suffering from the respiratory disease could be critical in understanding and controlling the current pandemic.   Unlike the standard nasal swab test being used to diagnose COVID-19, the test that the Ohio State scientists, including ones at the College of Food, Agricultural, and...
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    More and more viruses ‘spilling over’

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—Viruses have been increasingly shifting from animals to people, a recent trend that has researchers at The Ohio State University closely studying a pig virus that can survive in human cells. The rise in viruses jumping to other species, so-called “spillover” events, is spurred by people, particularly in the developing world, cultivating land that was once isolated forests. In clearing those areas, people are exposing themselves to the viruses of wild animals that once lived secluded in those forests, said Scott Kenney, an assistant professor of veterinary preventative medicine at the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). Kenney’s research focuses on viruses that spread between animals and people. Exotic live...
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    Solar development expanding in rural Ohio

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—Despite what you might think in the winter or even early spring, Ohio gets enough sunshine year-round to fuel solar energy facilities—massive ones. The smallest solar energy project being planned in the state is 610 acres, and the largest is more than five times bigger, a facility slated to stretch across nearly 3,300 acres —over 5 square miles—in Hardin County. “We’re not talking about a few panels here and there,” said Peggy Hall, agricultural and resource law field specialist for The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). In total, the 12 solar energy facilities being built or in the planning stages will cover about 16,000 acres—primarily in southern Ohio (Brown,...
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    Are animals vulnerable to COVID-19?

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—While there’s no evidence so far that pets, livestock, or their owners can infect each other with COVID-19, there’s also very little research about a potential crossover. The novel coronavirus started with an animal, then mutated to transfer to people, but research hasn’t yet shown if the virus has jumped back to animals, said Scott Kenney, a researcher at The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). “Viruses are constantly sampling and evolving, trying to find other hosts,” said Kenney, who studies coronaviruses, including those that cross over from one species to another. Quickly spreading among people across the world, COVID-19 is believed to have originated in bats, but the bat...
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    Mud and more mud

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—Rain creates mud, and mud creates angst for farmers kept from doing what they value most: getting out in the fields. 2019 ended what was the wettest decade in Ohio on record. This winter has not been as wet as the last one, but it has been warmer, so the ground has not frozen for long, leaving fields saturated. And this spring is projected to bring above-average rainfall to Ohio, which will bring on more mud. And mud is not simply a gooey mess for the animals and people who trudge through it. Mud can keep farmers from planting and harvesting, lower crop yields, put livestock at higher risk for some diseases, and make it tougher for livestock to gain weight. Drive on wet soil with heavy equipment such as a planter or harvester and the pore space between the...
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    How to talk about the environment with people of either political leaning

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—It seems intuitive: A social media post or an ad about an environmental issue written in a way that appeals to conservative values will likely persuade conservatives. But more often than not, messages about environmental issues are framed to resonate primarily with liberal-leaning individuals, said Kristin Hurst, a postdoctoral research associate with The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). “They’re preaching to the choir, but they’re not reaching the conservatives they’re trying to convince,” said Hurst, who researches behavior as it relates to sustainability. In a recently published study, she and Marc Stern, a professor at Virginia Tech, wanted to see how different written...
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    News tips and events for the week of March 9

    Tip 1: Boosting sales of food and farm businesses: An upcoming set of workshops is aimed at helping food and farm businesses that sell products such as eggs, pork, or baked goods to identify strategies to increase sales. Participants of the workshops, which will be held March 23 and March 30 in Chillicothe, Ohio, will learn marketing, social media, and sales tactics, among other skills, and will generate a set of goals to improve their businesses. The workshops are being hosted by The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) Center for Cooperatives, Ohio State University Extension Direct Food and Agricultural Marketing Team, and Ohio Farm Bureau. The two workshops will be 2–6 p.m. at the Ross County Service Center, 475 Western Ave.,...
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    How and why to keep phosphorus on no-till fields

    ADA, Ohio—Left untilled, fields gain organic matter and maintain high yields, but there’s a tradeoff to consider when deciding not to till. Fields that aren’t tilled are less likely to erode, sending soil and the components of fertilizer, including phosphorus, downstream, a threat to water quality. However, when rain runs off a field that’s not been tilled, that rain is more likely to carry with it phosphorus in a form that can be readily available to produce algal blooms downstream, said Warren Dick, a retired soil scientist from The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). That’s because fertilizer in a no-till system is not mixed into the soil and often stays at the surface, making it more vulnerable...
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    Another wetter-than-average spring expected

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—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...
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    Warning: Coyotes could be watching you

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—Increasingly drawn to life in and around cities, coyotes might be losing their tendency to be reclusive and their fear of the neighbors. A researcher with The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) is trying to find out: Has city life changed coyotes? Wildlife biologist Stan Gehrt, who has researched coyotes in the Chicago area for the past two decades, recently began a study on the personality of coyotes in Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati, in addition to those in Chicago. Gehrt will explore whether coyotes living in or around cities are becoming more bold, and if so, what’s causing the change in their disposition. If these wild urban dwellers have become more audacious, was the change a result of...
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    Fertilizer applied years ago still affects Lake Erie

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—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. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). Phosphorus runoff from...
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    News tips and events for the week of Feb. 10

    Tip 1: Sowing Seeds of Success—Anyone just starting out in farming or interested in doing so could learn some basics about raising produce, managing livestock, and how to market their products, at the March 14 Small Farm Conference and Trade Show at The Ohio State University at Mansfield. Sponsored by Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES), the event will include talks on growing produce in greenhouses, timber harvesting, fencing for livestock and raising hops, hemp, and barley. Anyone unsure about how to make a sufficient profit on just a few acres of land or how to raise or market produce could gain some helpful advice from attending this daylong conference. For more information, visit go.osu.edu/osufarmconference2020. Tip 2:...
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    Burned out caring for someone? Attend this workshop

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—As people age and some become disabled, they may need a caregiver, and while that role can be fulfilling, it also can be exhausting and sometimes isolating. Anyone who cares for another likely has experienced the stress and possibly the feelings of helplessness that can come with taking care of an ailing person. To help caregivers through the many hurdles, The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) is co-hosting a workshop on Feb. 22. The workshop is for people who care for someone who is disabled or sick, adult children concerned about aging parents, as well as those who work for long-term care facilities. “Caregiving can be very meaningful work. And it’s also really hard work, ” said...
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    Ohio hemp growers: Tread slowly

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—Got a hankering to grow hemp? Consider the gamble: The crop could generate hundreds, even thousands, of dollars per acre. Or, quite possibly, nothing at all. The market price for CBD oil, which is derived from hemp flowers, has declined recently because of an oversupply on the market. Farmers in some states are awaiting payment for hemp they grew but could not sell. Some other growers are finding it can be very easy for hemp to exceed the legal limit of 0.3% THC; when this happens, the plants must be destroyed.   “Don’t jump in,” said Peggy Hall, an agricultural and resource law field specialist for Ohio State University Extension, the outreach arm of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (...
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    Warmer and wetter, Ohio's climate is shifting

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—Little snow, warmer days. It’s been an unusual winter. Or has it? For the past four decades, Ohio’s winters have been warming twice as fast as its summers. And the state is getting more rainfall as well. 2019 was the sixth wettest year in Ohio and the 12th warmest, said Aaron Wilson, climate specialist for The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).   “It was certainly our wettest decade on record,” Wilson said. On average, Ohio’s annual rainfall has increased 5%–15% since the early 1900s, with the largest increases in areas such as north-central Ohio where fall rainfall has risen by 31%, Wilson said. So far, this winter is proving to be warmer than average....

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