Alayna DeMartini

Technical Editor
Focus Areas: 
Production Agriculture, Farm Science Review.
  1. (Photo: Getty Images)

    Ohio farm incomes forecast to rise—again

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—Even during a growing season when 1.5 million fewer acres of soybeans and corn were planted in Ohio, average farm incomes in the state are likely to increase compared to last year, according to an agricultural economist with The Ohio State University. That’s primarily because of higher government payments made to farmers nationwide in 2019, said Ani Katchova, an associate professor and chair of the farm income enhancement program at the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). Across the country, government funds paid to farmers through the Market Facilitation Program (MFP) more than doubled this year to $10.7 billion. That money is intended to help compensate farmers for a decline in demand for crops and livestock sold abroad...
  2. MIgrant workers in Huron County play a crucial role in harvesting vegetables throughout the season. (Photo: Ken Chamberlain, CFAES)

    Need farm workers? It could get easier

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—Hiring migrant farm workers will become cheaper and easier as a result of several upcoming changes to the process, according to a labor economist with The Ohio State University. The new rules on getting visas for temporary foreign workers will allow agricultural employers to pay migrant workers an hourly wage based on what other domestic workers employed in the same position in the area are paid. “That should help keep costs down for farmers,” said Joyce Chen, an associate professor in Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). The current formula for calculating wages requires farms to average the hourly wages of both U.S. supervisors and their field workers to generate an hourly wage for temporary...
  3. (Photo: Getty Images)

    Soil health at risk on fallow fields

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—With so many Ohio fields left unplanted this year, farmers should consider the risks to next year’s crops, soil experts from The Ohio State University warn. If wind or rain carry away the topsoil of a bare field, it can take years to rebuild that topsoil, said Steve Culman, a soil fertility specialist with Ohio State University Extension, the outreach arm of Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). Topsoil is the layer richest in microscopic organisms, which fuel plant growth. Besides losing topsoil, not having any living roots in a field can cause microscopic fungi in the soil to die off, harming the soil’s ability to support a healthy crop, Culman said. However, it’s unlikely that fields left...
  4. (Photo: Getty Images)

    News tips and events for the week of Oct. 7

    Tip 1: Insects Galore: How pesticides pose a risk to bees and how healthy plants can help prevent landscape pest problems are among the topics that will be discussed at the upcoming Insect University. The Oct. 30 event sponsored by The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) will also feature discussions about tracking and managing plant pests and how to protect yourself in nature from Lyme disease and West Nile virus. The daylong event at the Nationwide & Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center, 2201 Fred Taylor Drive, Columbus, Ohio, includes a bug zoo and an optional tour of Ohio State’s Museum of Biological Diversity. For more information about the event, visit go.osu.edu/insectU or contact Denise Ellsworth, program director of CFAES...
  5. Waterhemp is spreading quickly across Ohio. (Photo: CFAES)

    Warring with Weeds

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—They can sprout up anywhere in a field and they increasingly do: weeds, specifically a family of weeds known as pigweeds. As they harvest, farmers should watch for patches of pigweeds, which are quickly multiplying across the state. A campaign dubbed “No Pigweed Left Behind” is aimed at encouraging farmers to stop those weeds from spreading any further. This year could be especially challenging because the state’s record rainy spring caused many crop fields to be left unplanted, ideal conditions for weeds to move in.  Ohio is home to five types of pigweed, each of which can cost a grower a lot to eliminate. Farmers and gardeners love to hate weeds in general, but pigweeds are especially problematic because they grow fast, produce a...
  6. (Photo: Getty Images)

    More diseases and lower yields forecasted for corn and soybeans

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—The late start to the planting season stunted growth in many corn and soybean fields across Ohio, and yields for both crops are expected to be the state’s smallest since 2008. Last spring’s unrelenting rain caused shallow roots to develop in both soybean and corn plants because the roots did not have to reach far down into the soil for moisture, say crop experts with The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). Planting in wet soils also led to soil compaction in which particles of soil became pressed together, reducing space between them and limiting the flow of water. Then summer brought little rain in much of the state, further hindering the plants’ ability to absorb water. “The issues...
  7. (Photo: Ken Chamberlain, CFAES)

    Farm Science Review 2019: Delayed harvest bolsters attendance

    LONDON, Ohio—Even during a challenging year for farmers, the 57th annual Farm Science Review topped recent years’ visitor totals with its first-ever career fair, more than a hundred educational talks, and new technology. This year’s late harvest boosted attendance at the farm show, which attracted 114,590 people over three days. Typically at this time of the year, many farmers are driving combines. Instead, some were eyeing brand-new combines and tractors displayed at the show, taking pictures of their children and grandchildren behind the wheel. Under sunny skies and welcoming mild temperatures, visitors learned about the economics of producing malting barley, legal issues associated with growing hemp, the most common mistakes made by family-run farms, and tactics...
  8. (Photo: Getty Images)

    Hemp holds potential for Ohio farmers

    LONDON, Ohio—Ohio’s recent legalization of growing and processing hemp comes at a time when the state’s farmers might be especially interested in finding more sources of income. Though costly to grow, hemp can be profitable particularly as a source for cannabidiol (CBD) oil, an extract produced from hemp seeds and used to treat various illnesses, said Peggy Hall, agricultural and resource law field specialist for The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). Markets for Ohio-grown hemp products are just starting to be developed. Still, hemp holds potential for farmers in the state, Hall said. An unprecedented number of Ohio farmers this year had to either plant late in the season or could not plant at all because of...
  9. (Photo: Getty Images)

    News tips and events for the week of Sept. 9

    Tip 1: Solar farms spreading in Ohio: With large-scale solar energy development on the rise in Ohio, some of the state’s farmland owners are being sought out to lease their land for these projects. In the past two years, the Ohio Power Siting Board has approved six large-scale solar projects with generating capacities of 50 megawatts or more, and three more projects are pending approval. Typically, lease agreements between solar energy developers and landowners require a long-term legal commitment of 25 years or more. Leasing land for a solar energy development raises implications for the land, family, farm operation, and community. Legal and energy experts from the The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) have developed a free...
  10. Switchgrass and Indiangrass, both prairie grasses, can survive flooded conditions and even drought. (Photo: CFAES)

    Planting alternative grasses that can handle lots of rain

    LONDON, Ohio—Like many of us, farm animals want to eat what they’re used to. And because livestock are not adventurous eaters, farmers have to train them to try something new by limiting their access to the food they’re most familiar with. That can be done by growing new grasses in a different field, and then moving the livestock to graze on that field. It’s kind of like when parents don’t give the option of chicken fingers and buttered spaghetti to their picky child and instead serve just roast and broccoli. Many farmers in Ohio might be trying to grow and feed their animals different grasses this year, as supplies for hay and traditional forage grasses are exceptionally low. Ohio’s hay supply is the lowest since the 2012 drought, and the...
  11. A class on exercises that can be done while sitting in a farm vehicle is among the offerings at the upcoming Farm Science Review. (Photo: Getty Images)

    Exercise in a combine?

    LONDON, Ohio—With all the bending, lifting, and repetitive moves that farming demands, the career can exact a toll on a person’s body—young or old. Pain might seem unavoidable, the inevitable cost of cultivating the land. However, there are ways to prevent long- and short-term injuries, in part through exercises that can be done while sitting in a tractor or a combine. More exercise? “When you’ve already worked 14 hours a day, you don’t want to work out. But there is a way to fit some exercises and stretching into your routine without having to go to the gym,” said Laura Akgerman, disability services coordinator for Ohio AgrAbility. The program, which is offered by The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental...
  12. Lake Erie is among the bodies of water in Ohio affected by phosphorus runoff from farm fields. (Photo: Getty Images)

    Attracting more farmers to participate in water quality efforts

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—Skepticism, more than anything else, is keeping farmers from changing how they apply fertilizer to their fields, according to a behavioral scientist at The Ohio State University. Many farmers question whether the conservation measures they are being asked to do, such as applying fertilizer underground rather than on the surfaces of fields, will actually improve water quality in Lake Erie, said Robyn Wilson, a professor in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). And they also question whether they can carry out those measures on their farms, particularly small farms that typically have less equipment and fewer workers and financial resources than larger farms have, Wilson said. So, offering farmers more evidence about the link...
  13. (Photo: CFAES)

    Farm Science Review media credentials available

    LONDON, Ohio—This year’s Farm Science Review, set for Sept. 17–19 offers numerous events, exhibits, and presentations of interest to members of the media. The annual farm show, sponsored by The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) takes place at the Molly Caren Agricultural Center near London, Ohio. Media members will need tickets to get in and parking passes for the news media lot. For those, please email Sherrie Whaley, media relations coordinator, at whaley.3@osu.edu on or before Sept. 2. Please provide in the email your name, title, organization, and contact information; how many tickets and parking passes you need and any special needs or requests you might have. We’ll mail the requested number of...
  14. 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...
  15. (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...
  16. (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...
  17. (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...
  18. (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...
  19. 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...
  20. (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...
  21. 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...
  22. (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...
  23. (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...
  24. 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...
  25. 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...

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