Alayna DeMartini

Technical Editor
Focus Areas: 
Production Agriculture, Farm Science Review.
  1. (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...
  2. (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...
  3. 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...
  4. 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...
  5. 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...
  6. (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....
  7. (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:...
  8. (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,...
  9.  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...
  10. (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...
  11. 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...
  12. 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...
  13. (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:...
  14. (Photo: Getty Images)

    Rural Ohio gaining jobs

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—Since 2010, job growth in Ohio’s rural areas has been strong, nearly comparable to the growth in the state’s major cities, according to an economist at The Ohio State University. Between 2010 and 2017, only six states had better rural job growth than Ohio, said Mark Partridge, an economics professor at Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). “As long as this economic expansion continues, rural Ohio is going to fare pretty well compared to the rest of the U.S.,” Partridge said. Between 2010 and 2018, Ohio’s nonmetropolitan areas with populations less than 50,000 and not within commuting distance of major cities had a 7.6% increase in the number of jobs—nearly 10 times the...
  15. Dead ash trees fell near a trail at the Glen Helen Nature Preserve in Yellow Springs, Oh. (Photo: CFAES)

    Beware of falling ash trees

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—Ash trees, some dead for years, are increasingly falling in Ohio, spurred by fungi feeding off of what the emerald ash borer has left behind. First seen in Ohio in 2003, the emerald ash borer, an invasive beetle originally from Asia, has since killed off swaths of trees across the state and much of eastern North America, but some of those trees have remained standing for years. Enter phase two of the problem. Various fungi, including one called turkey tail, have been slowly consuming what’s left of the dead trees, in some cases destabilizing the trees. Add some wind, and the dead trees come down. “We expected this to happen,” said Joe Boggs, an entomologist with Ohio State University Extension, the outreach arm of The Ohio State University...
  16. (Photo: Getty Images)

    Ohio’s urban school districts outperforming rural ones

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—Even with higher rates of poverty in Ohio’s major cities, urban school districts are outperforming rural districts, a recent study by The Ohio State University shows. Rural schools, particularly in Appalachia, tend to have lower average test scores than schools in urban areas, despite city districts having higher poverty rates and a larger proportion of students with limited English proficiency, said Mark Partridge, a professor at Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) and one of the study’s authors. On average, school districts with more minority students and more poverty require additional money to achieve the same academic standards as districts with larger shares of white and affluent student...
  17. (Photo: Getty Images)

    An invisible fence for cattle?

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—Controlling where the cattle roam may soon get a whole lot easier. Animal science researchers with The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) will be testing a virtual fence for cows and other livestock this summer. It’s akin to an invisible fence for a dog, triggering a harmless but attention-getting shock if the animal crosses an unseen boundary. “It’s not a sharp pain. It’s like a mild punch,” said Anthony Parker, a professor of animal sciences and one of the CFAES researchers who will test the virtual fence. Each cow or other animal will wear a smart collar guided by GPS. Then, using a device called eShepherd, the farmer will be able to remotely monitor the animals’...
  18. (Photo: Getty Images)

    Farm income projections hold a bit of good news

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—Corn prices are on the rise, while soybean prices are projected to continue to dip this year before recovering a bit in 2020, according to government projections. And this year, national net farm income, which takes into account many commodities not grown in Ohio, is projected to increase 10 percent over last year’s total, forecasts from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) show. “These are not the best of times, but it’s stable,” said Ani Katchova, associate professor and chair of the farm income enhancement program at The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). Low commodity prices can put financial stress on growers, but the bankruptcy and loan delinquency rates, indicators of...
  19. (Photo: Getty Images)

    Everything you need to know about the farm bill in one summit

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—Profits for Ohio corn and soybean farmers are not likely to be as high as they were in 2018 when growers benefited from above normal yields and new government aid, according to an agricultural economics expert at The Ohio State University. At least two factors could be different this year: Yields in 2018 were record high for corn and soybeans, which may not happen again in 2019, and the government payments that farmers received to compensate for the impact of foreign tariffs may not be reissued, said Ben Brown, manager of the farm management program in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) at The Ohio State University. “We’re expecting Ohio corn and soybean farmers, on average, to either break even or experience losses...
  20. (Photo: Getty Images)

    Farmers need to gear up for more rain

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—Weather extremes like those during 2018, much more rain, and heavier downpours are likely to become the norm rather than the exception in Ohio, according to a climate expert with The Ohio State University. As a result, the state's farmers will have to deal with more and more water pouring onto and running off of their fields, and that could threaten the quality of water downstream, said Aaron Wilson, climate specialist with the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). Last year was the third wettest year ever in Ohio. Temperatures have been getting warmer across the Midwest, with the coldest temperature in the year now up 3 degrees from what it was in the first half of the 20th century, Wilson said. Warmer temperatures have led to a...
  21. (Photo: Getty Images)

    Helping farmers know their bottom line

    LOUISVILLE, Ohio—In this rural town, a short drive from Canton, Ohio, Mark Thomas had been running a 400-cow dairy farm for years. That, plus row-cropping 2,000 acres, kept him outside, where he wanted to be most days. But the number-crunching side of his job—tabulating production costs, losses, and inventory—never thrilled him. He and his wife, Chris, made money, sure. They paid their taxes on time, always. But for a while, they weren’t able to keep as close a watch on their production costs as they could have. And though profits for milk have dipped in recent years, they kept on milking. Last year, they stopped. Selling off their herd of Holsteins, they switched to raising heifers while continuing with cultivating corn, soybeans, and wheat. While it was...
  22. Phosphorus filters are being studied in Ohio as a possible means of improving water quality in Lake Erie and other bodies of water. (Photo: Getty Images)

    Keeping phosphorus out of waterways

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—In a pit about 3 feet underground lies one possible solution to reducing a large amount of the phosphorus draining from some of Ohio’s agricultural fields. At two locations in the state, researchers with The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) are testing phosphorus filters that have the potential to remove up to 75 percent of the phosphorus running through them. Phosphorus can be found in commercial fertilizers and animal manure. On a typical agricultural field, rainfall percolates through layers of soil and eventually into an underground plastic pipe system that carries the rain to a drainage pipe, then to a ditch or nearby waterway. With a phosphorus filter, the water flows through an underground tank...
  23. News tips and events for the week of Feb. 18

    Tip 1: Farming in Ohio cities: In formerly vacant city lots across Ohio, urban farms are increasingly sprouting up. Ohio State University Extension, the outreach arm of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES), partners with urban growers to increase the production of local foods and to create jobs. Columbus now has an estimated 30 urban farms, and Cleveland has 45. OSU Extension offers training and resources to help members of urban agriculture operations get their farms up and running, and then sell their produce. An article on Ohio’s urban farms, which can be republished, is available at: go.osu.edu/urbanaginohio. Tip 2: Help for beginning and small farms: Running a farm of any size can be challenging but, for small farms, the...
  24. (Photo: Getty Images)

    Consider rotating use of GMO seeds to avoid resistance

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—It may be that a certain type of genetically modified corn or soybean seed works well, bringing high yields and sizeable profits. But planted in the same field, year after year, the same seed might not be the right choice, said Curtis Young, an entomologist with The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). When the same genetically engineered crops are grown in the same field repeatedly—crops developed to produce toxins that kill insects, for example, or to survive weed-killing sprays—the target insects or weeds begin to adapt. They can become resistant to the toxins or weed killer. Take, for example, soybean seeds that are genetically engineered to tolerate glyphosate, a chemical that kills weeds. A...
  25. The frequent rain is filling up manure ponds and lagoons across the state. (Photo: CFAES)

    Showers limiting days for spreading livestock manure

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—Rain falls, and that might make some farmers happy, depending on the time of year. Then, a lot of rain falls, off and on, for months, and not only do fields fill up with water, but so do manure ponds and lagoons, and that might make some farmers a bit nervous. Ohio had the third wettest year ever in 2018, and there’s been little letup since then, leaving farm fields across the state saturated. For farmers with a lot of livestock, spreading manure onto wet land as fertilizer is not an option right now, and manure ponds are filling up fast.   Because manure ponds and lagoons are outdoors and uncovered, they collect not only animal waste from livestock housed inside, but they also collect rainwater. Indoor pits located under livestock holding...

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