Alayna DeMartini

Technical Editor
Focus Areas: 
Production Agriculture, Farm Science Review.
  1. Suzanne Steel (Photo: CFAES)

    Farm Science Review’s Hall of Fame winner chosen

    LONDON, Ohio—A long-time journalist, communicator, and promoter of the annual Farm Science Review, Suzanne Steel, has been inducted into the 30th class of honorees in the FSR Hall of Fame, where 78 others are honored for their contribution to the event. For 23 years, Steel worked in the marketing and communications department of the event’s main sponsor, the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) at The Ohio State University. During that time, Steel promoted FSR through contacts with national, state, and local media. FSR will take place this year from Sept. 17–19 at the Molly Caren Agricultural Center, 135 State Route 38 NE, in London, Ohio. The show offers visitors an opportunity to view the latest in technology and gain insights from...
  2. (Photo: Courtesy of Jolene Brown)

    Finding solutions on the farm even in tough times

    LONDON, Ohio—In talking to farmers across the Midwest, Jolene Brown, a professional speaker and family business consultant, offers some unexpected advice to those overwhelmed by the stress of cultivating the land. Call your family doctor, she’ll say. “When you make the appointment, tell them you have a sore throat.” A sore throat? The farmer will look at her awkwardly. Yes, she will assure them, a sore throat. “Once you get into the office with the doctor, tell the doctor what you’ve told me, that you’re having trouble sleeping, you’re anxious all the time, often irritated,” she says. To a farmer, a sore throat or another physical ailment is a legitimate reason to see a doctor. And farmers are more likely to make the...
  3. (Photo: Getty Images)

    Ohio stable in farm bankruptcies, while nation is up

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—Farm bankruptcies across the nation are up, but Ohio’s rate remains among the lowest in the Midwest, according to a new analysis by researchers at The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). Ohio had nine new farm bankruptcy filings from July 1, 2018, to June 30, 2019. That’s compared to 45 in Wisconsin, 39 in Kansas, and 32 in Minnesota—the three states in the nation with the highest number of new filings during that period. Farm bankruptcies in Ohio have been stable in recent years, with a total of under 10 annually since 2017, said Robert Dinterman, a post-doctoral researcher in agribusiness at CFAES. Dinterman and Ani Katchova, associate professor, analyzed farm bankruptcy trends in the past...
  4. (Photo: Getty Images)

    Stress task force offering help to struggling Ohio farmers

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—Dairy farmers grapple with slumps in milk prices while the cost of feeding their cows keeps rising. For crop farmers, prices for corn and soybeans remain low, and many growers couldn’t plant either crop this year. The persistent spring rain created the state’s worst planting year on record and has contributed to a near-record low level of hay to feed livestock in Ohio and across the Midwest. So much is out of a farmer’s control. Weather. Commodity and feed prices. A hike in international tariffs on American agricultural goods that has diminished demand for them. When rain this past spring kept farmers from planting, among the comments that circulated on Facebook was one offering a phone number for a suicide hotline.   Now, perhaps...
  5. (Photo: Getty Images)

    Farm Science Review to offer career fair

    LONDON—Looking for a job in agriculture? Come to Farm Science Review and you just might find one. For the first time, the annual agricultural trade show, sponsored by The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES), will offer the Career Exploration Fair for anyone interested in working in agriculture. On Sept. 18 from 10 a.m. to noon, visitors to the career fair can discuss jobs and internships with representatives from a variety of companies, many of them exhibitors at FSR, which is held at the Molly Caren Agricultural Center near London, Ohio. “With the hundreds of exhibiting companies, it’s a great place to look for another job or new career,” said Nick Zachrich, manager of FSR. The job fair will take...
  6. Frogeye leaf spot is one of the diseases growers should look out for, particularly among late-planted soybean plants. (Photo: CFAES)

    Planted late? Watch out for diseases

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—Late-planted corn and soybeans could be vulnerable to higher-than-normal levels of crop diseases this year, experts from The Ohio State University warn. When sown one to two months later than usual, corn and soybeans stand a greater chance of succumbing, especially, to fungal diseases. Dry weather across much of Ohio since July has helped stave off some disease spread because fungal diseases need moisture to thrive. Still, during a year when late planting has already limited the yield potential on crops, it’s critical to be watchful for other threats too, including all types of diseases, molds, and insects, advise experts with Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). Fungal diseases that can infect either...
  7. (Image: CFAES)

    News tips and events for the week of Aug 5

    Tip 1: Film festival celebrates agriculture: The inaugural Germinate International Film Fest taking place Aug. 16–17 in Hillsboro, Ohio, will feature two days of films about rural communities and their associated industries. The intent of the festival is to expand what people know about agriculture, natural resources, and rural communities. Along with films, the event will include panel discussions to provide a forum for open discussion about agricultural, environmental, and rural community development topics important to the public. While rural areas represent 97% of the U.S. landmass, only 19.3% of the population resides in a rural area. Less than 2% of the nation’s population identifies as farmers. This festival will provide an opportunity to showcase the agricultural...
  8. The recent disaster declaration in 40 of Ohio's counties offers financial assistance to farmers unable to plant a cash crop on saturated fields. (Photo: Getty Images)

    Ohio’s disaster aid levels still uncertain

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—Though the disaster declaration for nearly half of Ohio’s counties extends low-interest loans to farmers, many growers are hoping for changes that could offer more financial help, according to experts with The Ohio State University. The full extent of benefits that come with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue’s disaster declaration are still unknown. The federal agency has yet to make decisions about the federal disaster aid bill passed in June.   Growers want the USDA to approve requested changes to disaster aid packages that would increase payment guarantees to farmers who file crop insurance claims on acres where they could not plant a cash crop, said Ben Brown, assistant professor of agricultural risk management in the...
  9. (Photo: Getty Images)

    Keeping livestock nourished despite hay shortage

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—Less salad, more carbs and proteins. That’s counter to what many say is right for our diet. But for cows and other livestock, that’s the direction in which their diets are likely to shift. Farmers are trying to keep their animals well fed amid a Midwest shortage in hay and other grasses grown for livestock to eat. “They have to start cutting back right now,” said Bill Weiss, dairy nutritionist with The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). Cutting back doesn’t mean the animals will have to eat less. It means they might need to eat more alternatives to the higher amounts of fiber they typically get. So, for example, if hay, which is high in fiber, normally makes up about...
  10. (Photo: Getty Images)

    News tips and events for the week of July 8

    Tip 1: Helping farmers prepare for weather challenges: Ohio just experienced its wettest year on record. Along with more rainfall, the state is experiencing more intense downpours, which can put fields at risk of erosion and could send phosphorus and nitrogen from fertilizer into nearby waterways. A conference aims to help farmers prepare for the challenges resulting from a wetter, warmer climate. “Climate Smart: Farming with Weather Extremes” on Thursday, July 18, at the Der Dutchman restaurant in Plain City will include a host of speakers addressing not only climate trends, but also the pros and cons of various ways to manage water on fields. The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) is cosponsoring the event with the State...
  11. Corn can be planted as a cover crop this year. (Photo: Getty Images)

    Federal change to assist farmers who plant cover crops

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—Farmers prevented from planting a cash crop due to unrelenting rain can now sow a cover crop and still be eligible to receive some federal trade assistance. This aid is in addition to crop insurance payments on those acres. The change in policy on cover crops that the U.S. Department of Agriculture made on July 1 is one of several allowances the agency has made in recent weeks to assist farmers in the Midwest, where persistent rain has delayed or prevented many growers from planting cash crops. The funds for trade assistance on cover crop acreage will come through the Market Facilitation Program (MFP), aid for farmers that was created to help offset growers’ losses as a result of the recent, international tariffs on U.S. goods. Many Midwestern farmers...
  12. Excessive rain has contributed to a severe dip in the hay inventory across the Midwest. (Photo: CFAES)

    Hay inventory severely low across Midwest

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—Excessive rainfall has not only hindered soybean and corn farmers’ attempts to plant, but has contributed to a near record-low level of hay to feed livestock in Ohio and across the Midwest. The hay inventory in Ohio has dipped to the fourth lowest level in the 70 years of reporting inventory, leaving farmers struggling to find ways to keep their animals well fed, said Stan Smith, a program assistant in agriculture and natural resources for Ohio State University Extension. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). The situation is not much different across the Midwest, where some livestock owners are having to pay much higher prices for animal feed. “We’re...
  13. (Photo: Getty Images)

    What to do if you can’t plant a cash crop

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—Growers who opt not to plant corn or soybeans this year because of consistently wet fields would be best off not leaving those fields bare, according to an expert at The Ohio State University. A bare field is a vulnerable field, subject to losing its valuable, nutrient-rich layer of topsoil because wind can blow the topsoil away and rain can wash it away, said Sarah Noggle, an educator with Ohio State University Extension, the outreach arm of Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).   And a field without a crop is an open invitation for weeds to take over, making it harder to prevent weeds the next time a crop is planted there, Noggle said. Planting a cover crop such as oats, buckwheat, or cereal rye to have...
  14. (Photo: Ken Chamberlain, CFAES)

    Learn to cope with on-farm hurdles at Farm Science Review 2019

    LONDON, Ohio—There’s no shortage of challenges for farmers these days: delays in planting, low commodity prices, and dwindling amounts of hay to feed farm animals. At a time when farmers might be seeking advice on dealing with those and other obstacles, Farm Science Review 2019 will offer that, plus the latest in farm technology and products. The three-day agricultural trade show from Sept. 17–19 offers educational talks and opportunities to speak one-on-one with experts from The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES), which sponsors the annual event at the Molly Caren Agricultural Center near London. “With last fall and this spring being two of the most challenging seasons for farmers in recent history, you...
  15. More rain in the forecast for the next couple of weeks could further delay or prevent planting. (Photo: Ken Chamberlain, CFAES)

    Many Ohio acres likely to be left unplanted

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—To plant or not to plant. It’s becoming a bit easier for some farmers to decide between the two, with each day that the growing season progresses and forecasts for rain continue. The last 12 months have been the wettest on record in Ohio, and that has put farmers across the state so far behind in planting corn and soybeans that some are deciding to not plant and to file an insurance claim instead. Only 50% of Ohio’s corn crop and 32% of its soybean crop were planted by June 9, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The delay in planting adds an extra layer of strain on farmers already facing low prices for corn and soybeans, low animal feed supplies, and uncertainty about trade relief aid. For those who haven’t...
  16. A flooded field in southwestern Wayne County illustrates the challenge for a lot of Ohio farmers anxious to plant: excessive rainfall. (Photo: Ken Chamberlain, CFAES)

    Ohio’s record rainfall leaving some farmers on the sidelines

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—During the wettest yearlong period in Ohio on record, the state is lagging the furthest behind in planting corn and soybeans compared to all states that plant the crops, according to experts from The Ohio State University and federal reports. From June 1, 2018, to May 31, 2019, average rainfall across Ohio totaled 52 inches, which is about 10 inches above the mean for that period in the last decade, said Aaron Wilson, climate specialist for Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). “We’ve had very wet soils for a very long time,” Wilson said. As a result, only 50% of Ohio’s corn crop and 32% of its soybean crop was planted by June 9, a report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows. By...
  17. A new CFAES report details regulations across the United States aimed at preventing harmful algal blooms in waterways. (Photo: Getty Images)

    News tips and events for the week of June 10

    Reducing fertilizer runoff into waterways across the United States: A new report details laws across the United States intended to decrease the amount of key nutrients in fertilizer from entering streams, lakes, and rivers. The report was written by Peggy Hall, agricultural and resource law field specialist for The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environment Sciences (CFAES), and Ellen Essman, a CFAES research associate. In addition to examining laws, the report also describes measures that various states have taken to encourage farmers to voluntarily participate in practices that reduce the amount of nitrogen or phosphorus, both critical ingredients in fertilizer, from leaving the farm fields on which they were applied. Excessive nitrogen and phosphorus in water...
  18. (Photo: Getty Images)

    Taxes on farmland dropping steadily

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—Taxes, on average, are going down for owners of farmland across Ohio and are expected to decline at an even faster rate beginning in 2020, a study by researchers with The Ohio State University shows. The average value of agricultural land across the state has dropped by a third since a recent change in how the state calculates taxes for farmland owners, according to a study by Robert Dinterman and Ani Katchova, two agricultural economists with the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). Starting in 2020, farmland values in the state likely will drop by another one-third, said Dinterman, a postdoctoral researcher with CFAES. With values going down, owners of agricultural land in the state should see similar declines in their taxes....
  19. (Photo: Getty Images)

    Northeast Ohio hosts millions of cicadas

    A brood of cicadas that slumbered underground for nearly 17 years has emerged in northeast Ohio crawling, flying, and hitting buildings and trees. While above ground, the bugs will eat a little, mate a lot, then die. The 17-year cicadas arrive in the millions and though they’re distinct from locusts, by the sheer number of them you might think you’re experiencing one of the 10 Biblical plagues. “Some people are creeped out,” said Eric Barrett, an assistant professor and Ohio State University Extension educator in Mahoning County. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). The early sightings of this brood of 17-year cicadas in Ohio have been in five counties:...
  20. (Photo: Getty Images)

    Reviving your lawn after winter’s freeze and thaw

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—If your lawn is more brown than green or dense with dandelions, you can probably blame Mother Nature. Those shifts in temperature we appreciated in Ohio last winter, moving from freezing to above freezing and back and forth, have taken a toll on lawns across the state. As the underground moisture froze and thawed repeatedly, the water in the soil expanded and contracted, and that could have pushed up roots, exposing them and possibly killing them, said Todd Hicks, turfgrass pathology program coordinator with The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). “Some peoples’ lawns look like they were seeded with dandelions,” Hicks said. Other lawns came out of winter with many bare patches of soil,...
  21.  The latest round in the trade war between the United States and China has resulted in higher tariffs Americans will pay for goods from China. (Photo: Getty Images)

    Tariffs leading to ‘point of no return’

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—Even if the United States eventually reaches a trade agreement with China, the damage done from the ongoing trade war could take years to undo, according to an agricultural economist with The Ohio State University. It took a while to build a Chinese market for U.S. products, including American soybeans, and it will likely take considerable time to rebuild that market, said Ian Sheldon, a professor with Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). “Trade negotiations don’t get resolved in months; they take years. It’s not simple. These are the two largest economies in the world, essentially mud wrestling. I think we’ve reached the point of no return,” said Sheldon, who serves as the Andersons...
  22. (Photo: Getty Images)

    Making it more viable to turn agricultural waste into renewable fuel

    WOOSTER, Ohio—Although the stalks and leaves of a corn plant can be turned into ethanol, the high cost of collecting, storing, and transporting the material has limited its use in producing the fuel. Ajay Shah, an agricultural engineer with The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) is testing a method that could cut the cost of collecting and delivering corn plant material for making ethanol by up to 20%. Shah just received a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to test the effectiveness of a new method that harvests and transports corn plants intact, the ears together with the stalks. Shah’s strategy has the potential to spur the lagging industry of so-called cellulosic ethanol—ethanol produced...
  23. Rain across the state has slowed progress on planting. (Photo: Getty Images)

    Late start on planting might not hurt yields much

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—Despite rain that has stalled the planting of corn and soybeans across the state, yields might not be reduced, according to two grain specialists at The Ohio State University. That’s because weather later in the growing season can have a bigger impact on yields than the date the seeds go in the ground, said Peter Thomison and Laura Lindsey, both agronomists at Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). During July and August, too much or too little rain or really hot temperatures can be detrimental because that’s when corn plants form kernels and soybean plants form beans, Thomison and Lindsey said. Only 4% of this year’s corn crop has been planted compared to 50% this time last year; 2% of the...
  24. Local food production has gained in popularity in part because consumers have lost some trust in larger food companies.

    Rural job growth rate in Ohio surpasses Columbus rate

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—In a surprising turn, Ohio’s rural counties of Wyandot and Holmes topped the job growth rate of Columbus between 2010 and 2018, according to an economist with The Ohio State University. And other rural counties including Harrison and Morgan nearly matched Columbus’ job growth rate during that same period, said Mark Partridge, an economics professor at Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). Columbus, typically the state’s front-runner for job growth, experienced 18% job growth between 2010 and 2018, but Wyandot’s was 23% and Holmes’ was 20%. Both Morgan (16%) and Harrison (17%) counties’ job growth rates were just slightly less than the Columbus rate. “Rural Ohio is...
  25. (Photo: Getty Images)

    News tips and events for the week of April 29

    Tip 1: Spurring economic development in Ohio: Challenges and opportunities for economic development in Ohio is the topic of the May 8 Spring and Policy Outlook Conference sponsored by the Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics in The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). Talks include “Food and Agriculture as Ingredients of Economic Development” by Zoë Plakias, an assistant professor in CFAES and “Does an Urbanizing World Still Need Rural America?” by Mark Partridge, professor in CFAES and Swank Chair in Rural-Urban Policy. The free event is open to the public. For more information, visit: go.osu.edu/springoutlook Tip 2: Harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie’s central basin:...

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