Alayna DeMartini

Technical Editor
Focus Areas: 
Production Agriculture, Farm Science Review.
  1. Congress has begun discussing the 2018 farm bill; the current bill expires Sept. 30. (Photo:Thinkstock)

    New Farm Bill Likely Won’t Surprise Corn and Soybean Farmers

    COLUMBUS, Oh — Ohio corn and soybean farmers likely won’t see a lot of changes in the next federal farm bill, according to an expert from the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) at The Ohio State University. “There’s momentum for minimal changes, but there are some key issues that have to be resolved,” said Carl Zulauf, an agricultural economist and professor emeritus with CFAES. Among those issues are funding to support cotton and dairy farmers, research, and water quality. The current farm bill is scheduled to expire on Sept. 30, 2018. This legislation affects the livelihood of farmers and others because it funds a host of programs including crop revenue and price support programs that provide assistance when farm...
  2. Ohio State University Extension hosts several courses for farmers to become certified or re-certified in applying fertilizer. (Photo: Thinkstock)

    More Fertilizer Certification Opportunities in 2018

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — The new year brings more courses to become certified in a skill farmers will probably need in 2018: spreading fertilizer. Fertilizer certification and recertification courses are about to start up again and are offered across the state through Ohio State University Extension, the outreach arm of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University. The certification is aimed at teaching ways to spread fertilizer that minimize the risk that the fertilizer runs off the land with rainwater and into nearby waters, especially Lake Erie, which has been plagued by high levels of algal blooms. Since Sept. 30, 2017, certification has been required for anyone who applies fertilizer on 50 or more acres of land. So far, 18,600...
  3. OSU Extension offers a number of programs supporting women farmers in running their farms. (Photo: Thinkstock)

    Ohio State Offers Programs to Support Ohio Women Farmers

    COLUMBUS, Ohio – Rarely is the image of a farmer a woman. And yet, among all of Ohio’s farms, 40 percent are managed or partly managed by women. Nationally, women made up almost one third of all farmers, according to 2012 census data, the most recent year available. With women playing such a significant part in running or helping to run farms across the state, Ohio State University Extension connects women farmers and provides support for them to thrive and continue the healthy growth of women in the field. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University. The number of female farm operators in the state has been rising since 1978 when it was first tracked. “It’s surprising...
  4. Photovoltaic (PV) panels are an increasingly common sight on rural properties nationwide. (Photo: Thinkstock)

    Webinar Series to Advise on Whether Solar Panels are a Smart Investment

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ever consider solar panels to power your farm? Beginning in January, a six-part series of webinars will inform participants about Photovoltaic (PV) panels that convert sunlight into electricity and are installed on a roof or placed on the ground. The price of installing a PV solar system on a farm ranges from $22,900 for a small 10-kilowatt system to $114,500 for a large 50-kilowatt system. “This has the potential to work for your farm,” said Eric Romich, statewide energy specialist for Ohio State University Extension, the outreach arm of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) at The Ohio State University. Romich will be teaching the webinars with John Hay, an educator with University of Nebraska Extension. The...
  5. One method for accurate nutrient placement is placing phosphorous below the soil surface via strip-till. (Photo: John Fulton, CFAES)

    Conference Offers Advice on Nutrient Management

    LONDON, Ohio — With so much focus on fertilizer these days, where and when it’s applied, a conference will be held in January to inform people about the many approaches and technological advances that can make it easier. The 2nd annual Precision University Jan. 11 in London, Ohio, will feature presentations about technology that can help farmers apply fertilizer in a way that prevents it from running off the land and ending up in Lake Erie or other waterways. The conference is being hosted by Ohio State University Extension and the Digital Agriculture program team in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) at The Ohio State University. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of CFAES. Starting in September 2017, those who apply fertilizer on...
  6. Soybean breeders and plant pathologists in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences collaborate to create new and improved varieties of soybeans. (Photo: Thinkstock)

    Creating Better Soybeans

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — In rows of petri dishes, soybean roots bathe in fluorescent light, an unremarkable site unless you work in the laboratory where they grow. The simplicity of the setup belies the complexity of the research that went into creating the roots. For decades, the genes of the seeds that produced these roots have been tinkered with to create a plant that resists a common and highly destructive soybean disease: Phytophthora root and stem rot. Statewide, the disease accounts for $50 million in losses every year, ranking it as one of the top three most vexing soybean diseases for Ohio farmers. Phytophthora sojae thrives in wet, warm soil, particularly poorly draining soil, which is common in northwest Ohio. The soybean roots growing in Leah McHale’s lab at The...
  7. (Photo: Thinkstock)

    Corn Farmers Thrilled, Soybean Farmers Disheartened By This Year’s Yields

    COLUMBUS, Ohio— Despite the gush of rain in the early part of the season, corn made a comeback and led to surprisingly high yields in Ohio this year. The state’s soybean farmers were not so fortunate: yields were down an average of four bushels compared to a year ago. Though the U.S. Department of Agriculture had estimated Ohio’s average corn yield would be 173 bushels per acre, many farmers harvested 200 plus bushels per acre, said Allen Geyer, a research associate with Ohio State University Extension. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University. “Everyone has been pleasantly surprised about yields. Price-wise, that’s a whole different story,” Geyer said. On...
  8. Leaf cupping is one of the signs of dicamba damage to soybeans. (Photo: Thinkstock)

    Dicamba Restrictions Added

    COLUMBUS, Ohio —After statewide bans, multiple lawsuits and countless disgruntled farmers nationwide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has required the makers of dicamba, a controversial weed killer, to revise its label. The label changes and new training requirements shift more responsibility into the hands of farmers to ensure if they apply dicamba, the herbicide does not spread to neighboring fields. The problem is the weed killer has been shown to easily go airborne and move far from its intended area, harming or killing plants and other crops along the way. “You can do everything right on the day you apply it, then later that day or the next morning, it can still move,” said Mark Loux, an Ohio State University Extension weed specialist. OSU Extension...
  9. (Photo:Thinkstock)

    Barley for Beer: New Guide Promotes Additional Revenue Stream

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Farmers who want to tap into the state’s surging craft brew industry now have a guidebook to help them grow a key ingredient: barley for malting. Since raising barley for beer is considerably different from growing it to feed animals, grain experts from the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) at The Ohio State University have just published a guide on growing it for malting. In Ohio, winter barley is planted in early fall and harvested in late June, typically avoiding high temperatures that can increase protein content in the grain. Barley for beer needs to be low in protein and high in carbohydrates. Barley for feed animals, which is what most of the barley grown in Ohio is used for, is the opposite: high in protein and low...
  10. (Photo:Thinkstock)

    Sheep Blog Offers Advice on Keeping the Flock Healthy and Profitable

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — If you’re seeking the latest tips on when to give your sheep haircuts and what to feed lambs to be sold for someone’s dinner table, you can consult a newly-revived Ohio sheep blog. The Ohio State University Sheep Team blog offers easily digestible doses of research findings on raising sheep, keeping them safe and healthy, and the business profitable. After a six-year run ending in 2014, the sheep blog was relaunched in August 2017. Brady Campbell, sheep team program coordinator with Ohio State’s College of Food Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES), manages the site and includes contributions from the more than 25 Ohio State faculty and staff interested in sustaining Ohio’s sheep industry. “Ohio State has done a lot...
  11. (Photo: Thinkstock)

    New Report Shows Agriculture Productivity Consistently Up

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio farmers have been producing more and, on average, earning slightly more too. Improved technology, rising crop yields, farmer ingenuity and lower prices for farm inputs have led to higher agricultural productivity, specifically annual increases of 1.6 percent since the 1950s, according to a report produced by a team of agricultural economists from the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) at The Ohio State University. The just-released report examines trends in Ohio’s agricultural and food production sectors, analyzing data from 2015, the most recent statistics available. Farm incomes too have steadily improved, having increased an average of 2.2 percent a year since 2005. Combined, Ohio’s agricultural and food...
  12. (Photo:Thinkstock)

    Ohio State Opens New Research Center on Animal-Human Interaction

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — We love how our dogs, our cats, our horses make us feel. But why? That's part of Kelly George’s job, to understand the animal-human bond, why each can benefit each other’s emotional and even physical health. Stroking a pet can release serotonin, prolactin and oxytocin, feel-good hormones known to reduce stress in both the person and the pet, said George, an assistant professor of animal sciences in The Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). George led the effort to start the college’s new Center for Human-Animal Interactions Research and Education (CHAIRE) to encourage research into the human-animal bond. CHAIRE faculty from various disciplines at Ohio State and the community will...
  13. (Photo: Thinkstock)

    Farm Income Expected to Rise

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Even amid lagging profits from corn and soybeans, Ohio farmers have a reason to be optimistic, according to an agricultural economist from the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). Farm incomes are forecasted to increase this year nationally for the first time in four years, said Ani Katchova, an associate professor and Farm Income Enhancement chair in the Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics at The Ohio State University. Prices for corn, soybeans wheat and other agricultural commodities started to decline after their peak in 2012, triggering an agricultural economic downturn beginning in 2014. Part of the expected increase in farm income this year stems from national gains in sales of cattle,...
  14. (Photo:Thinkstock)

    CFAES Assists Military and Veteran Students

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — At 15, Stephanie Dampney left Australia where she had grown up, and boarded a series of planes, ultimately landing in Ohio, a one-way flight. She was alone. Leaving an unstable home life on the other side of the world, she moved to northeast Ohio to live with her aunt and uncle in Massillon. After high school, she was determined to go to college. But where? She didn’t have in-state residency yet. If she hadn’t enrolled in the Ohio Army National Guard, she might still be trying to figure out how to pay for college tuition. Having dual citizenship in the U.S. and Australia, she was able to join the military here. A month after Dampney enlisted, her mother died. While reeling from that loss, she had to prepare for the commitment she had just made...
  15. (Photo: Thinkstock)

    Changes Made to Rules on Applying Fertilizer

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Take a whole class or just take the test, which is better? Farmers will get to decide. Those who apply fertilizer on 50 or more acres now have the option to take an exam or attend a three-hour course to get the required certification aimed at protecting water quality. The exam is a new option the Ohio Department of Agriculture will offer to make it easier for farmers to get certified and yet ensure that those who are applying fertilizer know the safest measures. The exam option was one of the rule changes on fertilizer certification that went into effect Oct. 1. The other changes include the following: Those renewing their fertilizer certificate, which must be done every three years, must either pass a fertilizer exam or take a one-hour class....
  16. (Photo: Thinkstock)

    Migrant Farm Laborers Harder and Harder to Get

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio’s agricultural industry heavily depends on an ever-shrinking number of migrant workers from Mexico and Central America, many of them undocumented. Labor shortages in agriculture are a decades-old issue, but this year stood out. It was the toughest year for staffing farm operations in at least two of the Ohio counties that hire the most migrant workers, Sandusky and Huron, according to Ohio State University Extension educators in those counties. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) at The Ohio State University. In Huron County, the top vegetable producing region in the state, one farming business ran 100 employees short this year; another was down by 60, said Bob Filbrun, manager...
  17. As jobs in agriculture decline and farm incomes wane, the economies in rural areas can be affected. That is one of several topics that will be discussed at the Agricultural Policy and Outlook Conference Nov. 9 in Columbus.  (Photo: Thinkstock)

    Agricultural Policy Conference to Discuss Economic Outlook for Farmers

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Any decline in agricultural income can affect the economy in the areas where farms and agribusinesses exist. So, at a time when the prices farmers are earning for soybeans and corn are low and jobs in agriculture have been on the decline, it’s important to consider how Ohio’s many rural communities can rebound, said Tim Haab, professor and department chair of the Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics. The department is part of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) at The Ohio State University. Ohio’s rural counties are also facing a trend toward younger people leaving for college, then jobs in cities, Haab said.   “You’re seeing the best and brightest of...
  18. Through his doctoral research, Deogracious P. Massawe is determining the genetic makeup of the viruses killing swaths of cornfields in his native country of Tanzania.

    CFAES Increasing Agriculture Productivity in East Africa

    In Tanzania, more than three-quarters of the labor force works in agriculture, most of them farmers with 5 or fewer acres who weed by hand and strap pesticide tanks to their backs to stop the myriad insects from devouring their crops. Dirt roads far outnumber paved ones, and few own a car to bring what they harvest to large markets where they would earn more. In the fields of Tanzania and the classrooms and labs in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES), faculty and graduate students from the college have worked with Tanzanians to help them increase their agricultural productivity and reduce food insecurity. Tanzania’s population is expected to double by 2050, and yet a third of the population already grapples with malnutrition. Since 2011, a $25...
  19. (Photo: Thinkstock)

    Ohio Climbing Up in Wine Production

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio has inched up in its ranking for wine production to the sixth highest state in the nation. The state moved from the seventh highest number of gallons generated in the U.S. up a notch, just above longtime gridiron rival, Michigan. The number of gallons produced in 2016 doubled the total in 2012, according to a recently released report by the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Ohio Grape Industries Committee. The report examined the state’s wine production in 2016. “Everyone has always thought of California, Germany, France and Australia as wine-producing regions. It’s becoming more evident to people that there are Ohio wines,” said Todd Steiner, who leads the science of winemaking program in the College of Food, Agricultural,...
  20. (Photo: Flickr)

    Reducing the Environmental Impact of Cows' Waste

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — No disrespect to cows, but they produce a lot of gas. And while farmers may be unfazed by the smell, the gas is methane, one of the most potent greenhouse gases. Across the globe, livestock spew 14.5 percent of all greenhouse gases (methane, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and fluorinated gases) released in the environment, and over half that comes specifically from cows, according to a United Nations report. With every episode of gas and especially burping, cattle release methane, which is 23 times more harmful than carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas in car emissions. Besides cow’s gas, their manure can be problematic. The phosphorus and nitrogen in cow manure, after it’s applied to farmland as fertilizer, can run off with rainfall into...
  21. (Photo: Thinkstock)

    Cinderella Pumpkins? Yes, That’s A Real Thing

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — The light pink, round seasonal decoration shaped a lot like a pumpkin that sits on your neighbor’s porch just might be one. Pumpkins have really changed. They’re white, red, green, beige, gray, even blue and light pink. They’re warty, striped, monster-sized for county fairs and miniaturized, fitting in the palm of your hand. And to think a decade ago, pumpkins were mostly just — round and orange. “Consumers want these specialty pumpkins: weird, warty, blue, brown, pink pumpkins,” said Brad Bergefurd, a horticulture expert with Ohio State University Extension, the outreach arm of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University. Pumpkins are constantly crossbred, so new colors...
  22. Magnetic bacteria are the focus of a study funded by a $330,000 NSF grant being done by CFAES professors Brian and Steven Lower and Ohio State physics professor Ratnasingham Sooryakumar. (Photo: Flickr)

    Studying Bacteria that Follow the Earth’s Magnetic Field

    Under the microscope, the bacteria are oblong with built-in magnets that appear as dark blocks that line up like a spine. Magnets in bacteria? Brian Lower stumps a lot of people when he first mentions magnetic bacteria. So he’ll take out a pen and draw them. Or he might show a video of them moving about a screen, appearing as ants. When a magnet is placed nearby, they immediately align close to the magnet, like soldiers milling about then suddenly called into a lineup. As intriguing as they may be to watch, magnetic bacteria also have potential for practical use to send cancer-fighting drugs to a particular part of the human body and to store a signficiant amount of data on a small chip. “We would like to be able to control these guys in sophisticated ways,”...
  23. In such dry fields, combines are at increasing risk of catching on fire. (Photo: Flickr)

    Preventing Your Combine From Going Up In Flames

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Dry corn and soybean fields have put farmers at greater risk of their combines catching on fire while harvesting crops. At least three combine fires were sparked across Ohio in one week. Two happened during the recent week-long heatwave: one in Crawford County on Sept. 22, another in Miami County on Sept. 24. A third combine fire happened Sept. 28 in Shelby County leaving a man with serious burns, according to news reports. Combines can catch fire when the dry plant material or grain dust mix with heat generated by the combine’s motor, belts or exhaust system or by the static electricity produced as the combine is driven through a field, said Rory Lewandowski. He is an agricultural and natural resources educator for Ohio State University Extension, the...
  24. Mark Loux, a weed specialist with Ohio State University Extension, has been keeping close watch on Palmer amaranth, which can take over a field faster than any other weed in Ohio. (Photo: Ken Chamberlain)

    Herbicide Rotation Key in the War Against Weeds

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — More weeds, particularly varieties that can withstand some common herbicides, poked out of fields across Ohio this year. Spurring the weeds on was the plentiful rain early in the season and a slow-growing soybean crop that usually creates a canopy over the weeds, shutting out sunlight to them. Many windy days also postponed when farmers could spray weed killers. Meanwhile, the weeds kept growing. Two of Ohio’s more problematic weeds, Palmer amaranth and waterhemp, have become more widespread this year. They’re tricky to fight because they’ve adapted to fend off a few different herbicides that have been used to kill them. “If you don’t have either of those weeds, don’t get them. They’ll make the rest of your farming...
  25. The 55th annual Farm Science Review attracted a record number of exhibitors and a crowd of 113,836 during the three-day farm show. (Photo: Ken Chamberlain, CFAES)

    Rain, Heat and Mud Didn’t Deter Visitors to the 2017 Farm Science Review

    LONDON ­– Despite a daylong drench and the mud that followed, this year’s Farm Science Review drew eager attendees Sept. 19-21 who came to learn about the latest innovations in agriculture and tote home a bag of freebies. A record-number of exhibitors, 642, intrigued attendees with farm machinery, varieties of seeds and fertilizers, weed killers and crop advice at the three-day agricultural trade show sponsored by the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University. “The attendees who visited us, despite the rain and muddy parking lots, were still able to find ways to make their farming operations more efficient,” said Nick Zachrich, manager of the Review. “Exhibitors had new equipment, small and large, for...

Pages