Alayna DeMartini

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

    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...
  2. (Photo: Getty Images)

    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...
  3. (Photo: Getty Images)

    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...
  4. (Photo: Getty Images)

    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...
  5. (Photo: Getty Images)

    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...
  6. 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...
  7. (Photo: Getty Images)

    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...
  8. (Photo: Getty Images)

    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...
  9. (Photo: Getty Images)

    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,...
  10. (Photo: Getty Images)

    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...
  11. (Photo: Getty Images)

    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...
  12. (Photo: Getty Images)

    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...
  13. (Photo: Getty Images)

    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.,...
  14. (Photo: Getty Images)

    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...
  15. (Photo: Getty Images)

    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...
  16. (Photo: Getty Images)

    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...
  17. (Photo: Getty Images)

    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...
  18. (Photo: Getty Images)

    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:...
  19. (Photo: Getty Images)

    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...
  20. (Photo: Getty Images)

    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 (...
  21. (Photo: Getty Images)

    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....
  22. (Photo: Getty Images)

    Meetings to help farmers sign up for ag risk programs

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—Farmers who prefer planting over paperwork could gain a lot from a series of upcoming meetings that will guide them through the tedium of signing up for farm safety net programs and crop insurance. Ohio State University Extension and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are partnering to offer free meetings across Ohio to help growers of commodities decide on a government farm program that will help protect them against dips in farm income. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). By March 15, farmers of corn, soybeans, and wheat have to decide which one of three government farm programs they want to enroll in. Each offers different benefits. Those who sign up for...
  23. (Photo: Getty Images)

    U.S.-China trade deal unrealistic?

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—A new trade deal reached between the United States and China might significantly increase China’s imports of American agricultural products, including soybeans. A pause in the ongoing trade war between the two countries might seem like good news to farmers, but the planned annual increase in China’s imports of U.S. agricultural goods is likely higher than either country can deliver on, said Ian Sheldon, an agricultural economist and professor with The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). Under the U.S.-China trade deal, which is expected to be finalized Jan. 15, China has committed to buying at least $40 billion worth of U.S. agricultural goods by the end of 2020. China purchased $24 billion in U.S...
  24. Wildlife photographer Thomas Mangelsen will appear Jan. 21 at the Ohio State campus in Columbus.

    News tips and events for the week of Jan. 13

    Tip 1: Life in the Wild—Wildlife photographer Thomas Mangelsen will discuss on Jan. 21 his exhibit containing 40 photographs, all taken in the wild over four decades of his career. The event will be at the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Chemistry (CBEC) building, at The Ohio State University’s Columbus campus. Mangelsen’s photos reveal the wide array of nature and wildlife he has photographed in his travels to all seven continents. The exhibit of Mangelsen’s photographs, which first appeared at the Durham Museum in Mangelson’s home state of Nebraska, will be at COSI in Columbus starting Jan. 15 until January 2021. His in-person appearance on Jan. 21 will be from 7–8:50 p.m. The event launches the fifth Environmental Film Series, hosted by the...
  25. (Photo: Getty Images)

    Late planting leads to wetter harvested grain

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—More Ohio farmers invested extra time and fuel this year to dry their harvested corn and soybeans because both grains were planted several weeks late and had less time to dry in the field. While drying harvested corn in a mechanical dryer is typical each year, some producers in the state dried soybeans this year for the first time ever. “Soybeans dry a whole lot better outside when it’s 70 degrees and you can run around in short sleeves. Farmers are harvesting in winter coats,” said Eric Richer, an Ohio State University Extension educator in Fulton County, on the far northwestern border of the state. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). If grain...

Pages