Kurt Knebusch

Technical Editor
Focus Areas: 
Organic farming and gardening; sustainable agriculture; natural resources/ecology; forestry; wildlife; Wooster campus news.
  1. Night event WANTS lots of bugs (and kids)

    WOOSTER, Ohio—Swarms of bugs will be out in the darkness—buzzing, flying, bioluminescing—on July 13 in Wooster. And that’s good news for curious kids and their hopefully equally eager families. The Ohio State University’s annual Insect Night is set for that evening at Secrest Arboretum. The event will celebrate the many-legged creatures that call our planet home—especially the creepy-crawlies for whom the nighttime is the right time. “Insects are the most diverse animals on Earth. They affect our ecosystems, agriculture, and health,” said event co-organizer Kendall King, an Ohio State graduate student in entomology, or insect science. “This is our way of sharing our passion for insects with our local communities.”...
  2. A day for making the most of manure

    STRASBURG, Ohio—Expect plenty of fertile conversation at Manure Science Review. Designed to share ways to put manure to good use, and to do it while protecting the environment and water quality, the annual event is on Aug. 7 at JIMITA Holsteins, a 400-plus-acre family dairy farm in Strasburg. Strasburg is about 20 miles south of Canton in northeast Ohio. Manure offers nutrients that crops need to grow and can reduce a farmer’s commercial fertilizer costs, said event co-organizer Chris Zoller, educator, agriculture and natural resources, Tuscarawas County office of Ohio State University Extension. “That’s especially important as the margins in agriculture, especially in the dairy economy, have been very tight,” Zoller said. OSU...
  3. Secrest Arboretum to host plant sale, open house

    Update, May 2, 2019: Secrest Arboretum has posted hyperlinks to the plant sale lists at go.osu.edu/CuGg.  WOOSTER, Ohio—A cardinal has been pecking at the windows of the new but not yet open Secrest Arboretum Welcome and Education Center. “It wants to be the first one in,” Jason Veil, curator of the arboretum in Wooster, said with a laugh. With spring unfolding around them, Veil, his staff, and arboretum volunteers are preparing for two big events on May 11. There’s an open house slated at the welcome center, which is the public’s first chance to tour the $2 million facility. And there’s the annual Plant Discovery Day plant sale, which will be at the center, too. The open house is a “chance...
  4. Noted ‘green’ polymer scientist joins CFAES

    WOOSTER, Ohio—Polymer scientist Judit E. Puskas, who coinvented the coating on a heart stent implanted in millions of Americans, has joined The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). Puskas, who is also developing an innovative way to improve breast reconstruction after cancer surgery, was appointed a professor in CFAES’ Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering at the start of the year. A native of Hungary, she worked most recently at The University of Akron. She will be based at the CFAES Wooster campus, where she will specialize in green polymer chemistry and biomaterials. She will also be a member of Ohio State’s newly created Sustainability Institute....
  5. Dig into soil health at Feb. 14 workshop

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—The answers to growing better crops are under your feet if you look. So says Steve Culman, soil fertility specialist at The Ohio State University, who is helping lead an upcoming workshop on how to test your soil. “Soil testing provides a window into the soil, revealing if a plant is likely to see the nutrients it needs to grow and thrive,” said Culman, based at the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). The workshop, called “Digging Into Soil Health: What Tests Can Tell Us About Our Soil,” will be Feb. 14 in Dayton. It’s part of the annual conference of the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA), which runs from Feb. 14–16. Now celebrating its 40th year, the OEFFA conference is...
  6. Japan Prize goes to CFAES soil scientist Rattan Lal

    TOKYO—Rattan Lal, a soil scientist at The Ohio State University, has been awarded the 2019 Japan Prize, considered one of the most prestigious honors in science and technology. Lal is the first Ohio State scientist and the first soil scientist to ever receive the prize. He is Distinguished University Professor of Soil Science at the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). The Japan Prize recognizes scientists and engineers from around the world for original and outstanding achievements that “not only contribute to the advancement of science and technology, but also promote peace and prosperity for all mankind,” the Japan Prize Foundation said today (Jan. 16) in announcing the award. Lal, whose career in science spans five decades...
  7. Ohio Maple Days are coming, a chance to prep for syrup season

    WOOSTER, Ohio—What will Ohio’s recent weather—wet last year, warmish this winter—mean for the coming maple syrup season? It’s one of the topics at this year’s Ohio Maple Days program, an educational event for syrup producers set for three dates in three locations: Jan. 17 in Fulton, Jan. 18 in Fredericksburg, and Jan. 19 in Middlefield. The program will be the same at all three locations. Last year, Ohio ranked eighth nationally in maple syrup production, with a reported yield of 90,000 gallons, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Weather effects, new maple science Featured speaker Tim Perkins, director of the University of Vermont’s Proctor Maple Research Center, will...
  8. News tips and events for the week of Jan. 7

    Tip 1: Hoppy Together: Ohio’s hop industry is growing by leaps and bounds—the crop goes to make craft beer—and this week many of its members are meeting in Columbus. The Ohio Hop Conference (go.osu.edu/Ch5G), set for Jan. 9–10, will have sessions on topics such as maximizing yields, managing pests and diseases, sensory traits, harvesting, and drying. The event’s co-sponsors are the Ohio Hop Growers Guild; Ohio Farm Bureau; and The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). Media members can learn more about the conference, Ohio’s hop industry, and CFAES’ research in support of the industry by talking with Brad Bergefurd, horticulture specialist at The Ohio State University South Centers in Piketon....
  9. Roots at the Root of Greenhouse Management Workshop

    WOOSTER, Ohio — The Ohio State University’s 2019 Greenhouse Management Workshop, set for Jan. 17-18 in Wooster, will dig all around a plant’s roots. The theme is “Root Zone Optimization.” Peter Ling, associate professor in Ohio State’s Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, said this year’s program is unique because it will focus exclusively on the root zone. Ling has organized the annual workshop, which is designed for commercial growers from Ohio and beyond, for each of its now 21 years. Chieri Kubota, professor in Ohio State’s Department of Horticulture and Crop Science, said root zone optimization means surrounding a plant’s roots with the best possible chemical, physical and biological...
  10. CFAES Scientist Honored on World Soil Day

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — The way Ohio State University scientist Rattan Lal sees it, many of Earth’s biggest challenges — from growing enough food to protecting water quality to reversing climate change — have answers in the soil. As Distinguished University Professor of Soil Science in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES), Lal has spent his career working to find those answers. Along the way, he’s gained a global reputation for his research and advocacy on soil-related matters along with multiple honors and awards. His latest recognition, a big one, comes on an appropriate day. Today, Dec. 5 — designated by the United Nations as World Soil Day — Lal received the Glinka World Soil Prize in a ceremony at the...
  11. New Study Will Track Ways to Cut Runoff from Elevated Phosphorus Fields

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Some farm fields in northwest Ohio’s Maumee River watershed have more phosphorus than their crops can use. Called “elevated phosphorus fields,” such fields may be at higher risk of contributing to Lake Erie’s harmful algal blooms. That’s the premise of a new five-year, $5 million study that hopes to learn about those fields and lower that risk by creating new public-private partnerships. Led by Jay Martin, an ecological engineering professor with The Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES), the study plans to monitor and manage more than a dozen elevated phosphorus fields, all in the Maumee River watershed. Public-private partnerships To do the work, the study is...
  12. Ohio State’s Rattan Lal Receives International Agriculture Award

    NANJING, China — Rattan Lal, Distinguished University Professor of Soil Science at The Ohio State University, yesterday (Oct. 28) received the 2018 World Agriculture Prize from the Global Confederation of Higher Education Associations for Agricultural and Life Sciences (GCHERA). His work focuses on the ability of soil to address such global challenges as climate change, food security and water quality. The award honors Lal’s “exceptional and significant lifetime achievements” in the agricultural and life sciences, GCHERA officials said. It was presented in a ceremony at China’s Nanjing Agricultural University. Lal is a faculty member in Ohio State’s School of Environment and Natural Resources (SENR), part of the College of...
  13. Like Good Neighbors, Frogs and Toads Are There

    LONDON, Ohio — The calls of gray tree frogs remind Marne Titchenell of “summer evenings spent outside watching lightning bugs.” Her favorite snake is the eastern hognose. “It actually plays dead like an opossum,” she says. But she can’t choose a favorite salamander: “They’re all incredible.” Titchenell is a wildlife specialist with The Ohio State University, and on Sept. 20, she’ll share what she loves about reptiles and amphibians, including why they’re good to have as neighbors, at the annual Farm Science Review trade show near London, Ohio. Get to know them and how they can help you Her talk, called “Common Frogs and Snakes of Ohio,” which will cover turtles, toads...
  14. 2 Green Places to Visit When You Go to Farm Science Review

    LONDON, Ohio — Farm Science Review, the major agricultural trade show set for Sept. 18-20 in London, will share what’s new with trees, fish, wildlife, pastures, ponds and gardening, too. How-to talks scheduled for the Review’s Gwynne Conservation Area and Utzinger Memorial Garden will cover a gamut of green things, from backyard gardening to home landscaping, managing woods to grazing grass, bringing in birds to planting for bees. You’ll find flower gardens, prairie plantings and experts on hand who can answer your questions. Together, the Gwynne and Utzinger sites “help provide a well-rounded experience” at Farm Science Review, said Nick Zachrich, who manages the event. Learning more about natural resources,...
  15. Manure Science Review Set for July 25

    FOREST, Ohio — There are safe, research-tested, beneficial ways to use manure on farm fields — methods that put its nutrients to good use while also protecting water quality — and they’re the focus of an upcoming event in northwest Ohio. On July 25, Watkins Farm in Hardin County will host Manure Science Review, an annual event showcasing new findings, practices, equipment and technology. The expected 250 attendees will see field and indoor demonstrations and hear six expert talks. One of the talks, by Tom Menke of Greenville-based Menke Consulting Inc., will get to the heart of matter: “Valuing Manure.” Manure’s benefits to soil Ohio State University Extension’s Glen Arnold, a member of the event’s planning...
  16. Fragrant Madagascan Plant Holds Promise as a Mosquito Fighter

    WOOSTER, Ohio — Scientists at The Ohio State University have successfully tested a new chemical to control mosquitoes, including the ones that spread Zika, and it comes from a traditional medicinal plant found only in Madagascar. Peter Piermarini and Liva Rakotondraibe said a bark extract from Cinnamosma fragrans, a small tree commonly called mandravasarotra, made the mosquitoes in their study buzz off. It repelled the flying adults from a distance, which kept them from landing and feeding on blood. And it killed the larvae and adults upon contact. “What’s exciting is that it’s a natural product,” said Piermarini, an associate professor of entomology in Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES)....
  17. What the ‘Quiet Crisis’ of Soil Loss Does to Crop Yields, Greenhouse Gases

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — At the west end of The Ohio State University’s Columbus campus, within eyeshot of Ohio Stadium and the Columbus city skyline, passed by thousands of commuters daily, lies a soil study site about the size of a basketball court that could help change the planet, or at least about 4 billion acres of it. In a recent study done at the site, a team led by Ohio State soil scientist Rattan Lal found that topsoil erosion, in addition to reducing crop productivity, causes the release of greenhouse gases. However, the study also suggests that topsoil can be rebuilt, and the harmful effects of its loss reversed, faster than had been previously thought. Speeding up building an inch “The general statement is that forming 1 inch of topsoil may...
  18. CFAES Research Conference Is Friday, Will Focus on Water Quality

    WOOSTER, Ohio — The 2018 Annual Research Conference of The Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) will dive into water, including Lake Erie and agriculture’s role in protecting it. The event, set for Friday, April 27, in Wooster, will feature 16 speakers on the theme “Meeting the Water Quality Challenge: Collaborative and Interdisciplinary Science to Improve Water Quality in Ohio.” The conference is from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Shisler Conference Center at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC), 1680 Madison Ave. OARDC is part of CFAES’s Wooster campus. Keynote speakers from Arkansas, Iowa The speakers will be from CFAES and Ohio’s...
  19. 8th Scarlet, Gray and Green Fair Set for Thursday in Wooster

    WOOSTER, Ohio — The Scarlet, Gray and Green Fair, a festival celebrating sustainability and green living, will take place on Thursday, April 26, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in and around Fisher Auditorium at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC), 1680 Madison Ave., Wooster. Admission is free and open to the public. Visitors will find more than 50 exhibitors and vendors featuring alternative energy, composting, gardening, local foods, green homes, farming, nature and more. There will be food trucks, a green car cruise-in, a free Renewable Energy Workshop and the return of the fair’s popular drive-through recycling station. This is the eighth time the event is being held, dating back to 2008, said organizer Gwen Zimmerly of OARDC’s Secrest...
  20. Bugged by Bugs in Your Home This Winter? Take Steps in Spring and Summer

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — If you spent the winter finding multicolored Asian lady beetles on your lampshades, brown marmorated stink bugs on your toaster, there’s bad news and good news. The bad news, say experts at The Ohio State University, is that Ohio’s colder than normal winter probably didn’t faze the creatures. When the winds blew, snow flew and temperatures fell below zero, they were mostly snug in your attic or walls, sheltered from the storm. That’s why they sneaked in to begin with. The good news is, with warm weather coming, they’ll be leaving your house to go back outside, and you can take steps to keep them out for good. “Spring and summer are a good time to bug-proof your home,” said Joe Boggs, entomologist and educator with...
  21. Learn How to Keep Woods and Wildlife Healthy

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — The emerald ash borer (EAB) has killed millions of ash trees in Ohio, the Midwest and eastern North America, including possibly yours. But there are ways to help your woods bounce back. For starters, you should scout for invasive plants on a regular basis, said Kathy Smith, forestry expert at The Ohio State University. If you find any, you should root them out. With fewer trees in your woods and more gaps in the canopy, “the concern is that non-native invasive species can quickly get out of hand,” Smith said. She named buckthorns, honeysuckles, garlic-mustard and kudzu as a few of the many invaders you should watch for. Woods hit by ash borers also may need selective thinning, seedling planting and changes in the owner’s management...
  22. Ohio State Organic Experts Among OEFFA Conference Speakers

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — How certain natural microbes can help crops grow better and faster. How to make contaminated soils, sometimes present in cities, healthy for urban farming. How a new perennial grain could have double uses, as food for people and forage for livestock, and also double benefits, helping soil and water. Those will be some of the topics when experts from The Ohio State University join the speaker lineup at the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) 39th annual conference, Feb. 15-17 at the Dayton Convention Center. Called Ohio’s largest conference on sustainable food and farming, the event offers nearly 80 hour-and-a-half workshops on organic farming and related topics, including 10 with speakers from Ohio State. One track of...
  23. CFAES Wooster Hosting Greenhouse Hydroponics Workshop

    WOOSTER, Ohio — There’s a way to grow crops that’s all wet, in a good way, and you can learn about it in northeast Ohio soon. Registration is open for The Ohio State University’s 2018 Greenhouse Management Workshop, which this year will focus on hydroponics, a booming Ohio industry that grows crops in water without soil. The event is Feb. 8-9 at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC), part of the Wooster campus of Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES), about 60 miles south of Cleveland. ‘Exponential’ increase in Ohio hydroponics “Ohio has been exponentially increasing its area of hydroponic greenhouses over the past two to three years,” said Chieri Kubota,...
  24. CFAES’s Wooster Campus Sees 2nd Tornado in 7 Years

    WOOSTER, Ohio — Mother Nature, or Lady Luck, might seem to have it in for the historic Barnhart Rice Homestead in northeast Ohio. The restored two-story sandstone block home, built in the 1820s and located on the Wooster campus of The Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES), bore the brunt of the damage when a small tornado briefly touched down on the campus just before 6 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 5. The house, used for campus events and unoccupied at the time, lost half its roof and suffered extensive water damage inside. CFAES officials said several other buildings and greenhouses on the campus suffered moderate to light damage in the storm. Nearly 80 trees are down in the campus’s Secrest Arboretum. No injuries...
  25. Ohio’s Bats Do Scary-Good Work, Face a Real Horror Story

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — This Halloween, give a thought to Ohio’s bats, which are facing something truly scary. A deadly disease called white nose syndrome has killed millions of North American bats, which normally serve as voracious eaters of farm, garden and human pests. It usually hits when the bats are hibernating in caves and mines for the winter. Ohio’s first finding of the disease was in 2011, in hibernating bats in an abandoned mine in southern Ohio’s Lawrence County. Experts now consider the disease present in all 88 of the state’s counties. “It’s one of the worst wildlife diseases of the past century,” said Marne Titchenell, wildlife program specialist in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences...

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