Alayna DeMartini

Technical Editor
Focus Areas: 
Production Agriculture, Farm Science Review.
  1. 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...
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    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...
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    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’...
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    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...
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    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...
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    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...
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    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...
  8. 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...
  9. 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...
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    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...
  11. 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...
  12. Damage from dicamba, a weed killer, can include cupping of soybean leaves. (Photo: CFAES)

    News tips and events for the week of Feb. 11

    Tip 1: Preparing for new rules on dealing with dicamba: Anyone who buys, handles, or applies certain dicamba products on a growing crop that’s resistant to the weed killer now has to be a licensed pesticide applicator and has to take dicamba training. These new requirements aim to reduce the potential for dicamba to drift onto sensitive crops. The Environmental Protection Agency on Oct. 31 required changes to labels of three dicamba products: Xtendimax, Engenia, and FeXapan. The changes detail additional stipulations on when and how to use the product to try to protect nearby fields. Staff affiliated with the Ohio State University Pesticide Safety Education Program have prepared training videos to assist growers in preparing for the Core Pesticide applicator exam. Ohio State...
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    Rainy days lead to muddy, thinner cows

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—Stuck in the mud, some cows across the state might not be putting on enough weight. Cattle have been getting pretty muddy as a result of Ohio’s extremely heavy rainfall in 2018 and precipitation so far this year. The mud can lead to thinner cows because it takes a lot of energy for cattle to trudge through mud and to keep their bodies warm when cold mud sticks to them, said John Grimes, beef coordinator for Ohio State University Extension. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). Pregnant cows that don’t gain enough weight are at risk of having weak or stillborn calves and of not being able to produce enough milk for their offspring, Grimes said. “When...
  14. (Photo: CFAES)

    Ohio State researcher creates innovative medical gloves

    CORRECTION: Due to incorrect information provided, the Jan. 17 version of this release incorrectly stated two things: that a medical glove produced by an Italian company contains Hevea, and that the medical glove produced by Katrina Cornish and her research team is the first Radiation Attenuation (RA) medical glove that can fend off radiation and pathogens, does not require double-gloving, and does not cause allergies. The Italian company’s RA medical glove does not contain Hevea and it can fend off radiation and pathogens, does not require double-gloving, and does not cause life-threatening allergies. It is made of synthetic rubber compared to Cornish’s glove, which is made of natural rubber. A corrected version of the press release is below. WOOSTER, Ohio—An Ohio...
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    News tips and events for the week of Jan. 14

    Tip 1: Soybean Prices Rebounding? Soybean prices showed early strength at the start of the New Year, in part because of lower estimates of soybean production in Brazil, the world’s top supplier. The rise may also be because of optimism over a potential trade deal with China, the leading soybean consumer in the world, said Ben Brown, manager of the farm management program in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University (CFAES). The recent price increases are a welcome change in a market that has contended with a dip in prices over the past six months. Brown is available to discuss the price trends and provide future projections. He can be reached at brown.6888@osu.edu, 614-688-8686, or 660-492-7574 (cell). Brown and others from CFAES...
  16. The fungal disease that contaminated corn in Ohio and across the Corn Belt in 2018 can survive through the winter, so it could impact next year's crop.  (Photo: CFAES)

    Extensive Spread of Corn Toxin Could Affect 2019 Crop

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—A wetter than normal summer and fall in Ohio led to the worst spread of a toxin on corn in at least a decade, according to a grain disease expert with The Ohio State University. And next year’s crop may be at risk as well. The fungus that produces the toxin can survive the winter, particularly if stalks or other plant material from the 2018 corn crop are left on the surface of the soil, said Pierce Paul, an Ohio State University Extension specialist in corn and small grain diseases. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). The extent of vomitoxin across Ohio and the rest of the Corn Belt led some farmers to receive a lower price for their crop, Paul said. High moisture levels spur the...
  17. (Photo: CFAES)

    New Chair to Lead Plant Pathology at Ohio State

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) has appointed a professor with additional experience leading a local government as the new chair of the Department of Plant Pathology. Along with an extensive academic career, Tom Mitchell, a professor of fungal biology and molecular genetics in the department, led and served on the board of trustees of Liberty Township in Delaware County, north of Ohio State’s Columbus campus. In that role, Mitchell served a population of nearly 20,000 residents, managed a budget of over $11 million, oversaw 72 employees, and led negotiations on union contracts. “The experiences I had as a township trustee are far different than any I would normally encounter as an...
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    Raindrops Kept Falling on Our Heads

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — The soggy truth? Ohio had a really wet year. After an exceptionally rainy fall in Ohio, the state is on track to have its third wettest year ever, said Aaron Wilson, climate specialist with Ohio State University Extension and the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). Early September the remnants of Hurricane Gordon moved across Ohio triggering upward of 8 inches of rain in southern Ohio. While October rainfall was closer to average, in November, umbrellas came out again – and often. With a high rainfall count heading into winter, even if December winds up with average or even below average rain, total rainfall for 2018 likely will be the...
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    Farm Bill Could Help Farmers Weather Low Milk, Other Commodity Prices

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Dairy farmers have a stronger safety net against low milk prices and high feed costs under the new federal farm bill, and more federal dollars will be spent to spur international trade of American agricultural products. Both changes could help farmers at a time when revenues from selling milk, corn and soybeans have dipped and markets have shrunk.   Under the new farm bill, dairy farmers will pay lower premiums for a federal program that provides them payments when the margin between milk prices and feed costs dips below a certain level set by the government. The top level of coverage was raised from $8 to $9.50 per hundred pounds of milk, which will increase payments to dairy farmers. “This is not a trivial change,” said Carl Zulauf, an...
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    Real vs. Artificial: Which Tree Is More Sustainable?

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — When it comes to Christmas trees, a real tree, surprisingly, isn’t always the greenest choice. If you buy and use an artificial tree at least four years, its environmental impact equals that of a fresh-cut tree purchased every year for the same number of years, said Elizabeth Myers Toman, an assistant professor in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) at The Ohio State University. That’s because each year’s drive to buy a real tree adds to the amount of carbon dioxide and other climate change-causing carbon compounds entering the atmosphere. Buying a plastic tree typically involves one trip to a store, which is usually a nearby retailer, then only annual trips by foot to the attic or basement to retrieve...
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    News Tips and Events for the Week of Dec. 3

    Tip 1: No-Till Conference: Growing crops without plowing the soil has a lot of environmental benefits, including reducing erosion. However, nutrients placed on the surface of a field that’s not plowed has the potential to run off with rainwater. Techniques that minimize disturbing the soil while also incorporating nutrients into the soil will be discussed among other topics on Dec. 11 at the Ohio NoTill Conference in Plain City, Ohio. The event gathers experts on no-till techniques who will discuss the benefits and challenges of no-till farming. Harold Watters, an agronomy field specialist with Ohio State University Extension, the outreach arm of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University (CFAES), will discuss considerations that need...
  22. (Photo: Getty Images)

    Media Advisory: CFAES Experts Can Address Climate Change Report

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Experts from the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences are available to discuss with the media the effects of climate change on the environment in light of the recently released national climate report. The Fourth National Climate Assessment, which the White House released Nov. 23, states Earth’s climate is “changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization” and that the primary cause is human activity. For agriculture, the impact of rising temperatures is significant, according to the report. “Increases in temperatures during the growing season in the Midwest are projected to be the largest contributing factor to declines in the productivity of U.S. agriculture,” the report...
  23. Dicamba can damage soybean plants that aren't resistant to it, causing cupped leaves. (Photo: OSU Extension)

    New Tips To Try To Prevent Weed Killer’s Spread

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — New restrictions a federal agency has put on using a controversial weed killer aren’t enough to prevent it from spreading onto nearby plants, according to an Ohio State University weed expert. As a result, Mark Loux, a weed specialist with Ohio State University Extension, and colleagues from Purdue University and the University of Illinois have created a list of additional precautions that farmers should try to follow whenever they use dicamba. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). The additional recommendations from Loux and his colleagues include not applying dicamba if  the temperature is warmer than 80 degrees or if the forecast indicates wind gusts over 10...
  24. American beech leaf disease is killing trees in northeast Ohio as well as in Pennsylvania, New York and Ontario. (Photo: CFAES)

    The Search for What’s Killing Beech Trees

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — American beech trees are dying in northeast Ohio and beyond. An Ohio State University study aims to figure out why. The study is looking into the cause of beech leaf disease, which was first found in Lake County in 2012 and has since spread to nine other counties in Ohio, eight in Pennsylvania, one in New York and five in Ontario. Young trees seem to be particularly susceptible to the disease, which initially causes dark stripes to appear on leaves, then deforms the leaves. Eventually the disease can kill the trees. “There’s no similar forest tree disease that we are aware of anywhere,” said Enrico Bonello, a professor of plant pathology in Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES), who oversees...
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    Tips and Events for the Week of Nov. 12

    Tip 1: Smarter Commuting: Getting to work does not have to be an angst-producing slog behind a line of brake lights. Consider a cheaper, albeit colder, option: biking. “Let’s Make Biking Work,” a Nov. 15 breakfast program hosted by the Environmental Professionals Network at The Ohio State University, will discuss a regional strategy to assist the growing number of Columbus-area bike commuters and encourage more of them. Representatives from the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission will discuss a regional strategy to help link biking with other transit options to allow more people to get to and from work without having to drive. The program will be from 7:15 to 9:30 a.m. at the Nationwide and Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center, 2201 Fred Taylor Drive, Ohio State, Columbus....

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