Kurt Knebusch

Technical Editor
Focus Areas: 
Organic farming and gardening; sustainable agriculture; natural resources/ecology; forestry; wildlife; Wooster campus news.
  1. 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...
  2. 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...
  3. 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...
  4. 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...
  5. 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,...
  6. 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...
  7. 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...
  8. From Deer to Bats to Cats, Conference to Focus on Managing Wildlife Conflicts

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — What’s a city to do about deer? Bats? Loose-running cats? Experts will discuss answers at the Ohio Community Wildlife Cooperative’s annual conference, set for Nov. 8 on The Ohio State University’s Columbus campus. The event, geared toward city officials, community leaders and others who manage conflicts between people and wildlife, will have nine sessions on topics including the status of white-tailed deer in Ohio, keeping bats healthy and out of belfries, or at least people’s homes, and the sometimes-heated issue of feral and free-ranging cats. Keynoting the event will be Peter Marra, co-author of Cat Wars: The Devastating Consequences of a Cuddly Killer (2016, Princeton University Press), who will speak on feral cats in Ohio and...
  9. CFAES Researcher Part of New Project Studying Conservation Incentives, Farming Practices

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — An Ohio State University researcher is part of a new $750,000 project to determine whether conservation incentives provided by the federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) are meeting one of their goals: to get more farmers to adopt measures that preserve water quality. Robyn Wilson, associate professor of risk analysis and decision science in Ohio State’s School of Environment and Natural Resources, part of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES), will co-lead the project’s social component along with Stephen Gasteyer of Michigan State University. The overall leader of the two-year project, called Researching Effectiveness of Agricultural Programs, or REAP, is the binational Great Lakes Commission (GLC) based...
  10. ‘State of the Science’ Algal Bloom Conference Is Thursday

    TOLEDO, Ohio — More than a dozen Ohio scientists studying harmful algal blooms — the pea-green, sometimes-toxic outbreaks plaguing Lake Erie and other waters — will discuss their latest findings at the second State of the Science: Understanding Algal Blooms Conference on Thursday in Toledo. The scientists will report, for example, on “fingerprinting” phosphorus sources, a new early warning system for blooms in western Lake Erie, new precision agriculture technology for farmers, removal of bloom toxins by home drinking water filters, and links in the U.S. between bloom toxins and public health. Experts say phosphorus runoff from farm fertilizer, sewage and other sources is a cause of the blooms, which can hurt drinking water, lake ecosystems, recreation...
  11. Gwynne a Green Spot at Farm Science Review: Why You Should Check It Out

    LONDON, Ohio — A short wagon ride away from Farm Science Review’s rows of gleaming tractors, its grounds full of hundreds of exhibitors, its streets packed by thousands of visitors, you’ll see another side of agriculture. Its waters, woods and wildlife. Welcome to the Review’s Gwynne Conservation Area, where Deer Creek flows in the shade of a forest. Bluegill fish dimple the surface of ponds. Killdeer birds call from a wetland mudflat. The wind rustles big bluestem prairie grass. And many of the Review’s expected 100,000-plus visitors will find ideas on caring for their land. The Review, set for Sept. 19-21 in London, Ohio, is one of the largest agricultural trade shows in the U.S. Sponsored by The Ohio State University’s College...
  12. Event to Look at Farming, Water Quality, Ohio’s Efforts for Both

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Agriculture and water quality flow together. So do Ohio’s efforts to improve them. The next Environmental Professionals Network (EPN) breakfast program will look at those ties and at new progress in serving the state’s farmers, food and water. The event, which is open to the public, is Sept. 12 at The Ohio State University. Food and agriculture combined are Ohio’s No. 1 industry, adding more than $105 billion to the state’s economy every year, according to the Ohio Department of Agriculture. But that industry also is a contributor to the harmful algal blooms that have plagued Lake Erie and other Ohio water bodies in recent years. Phosphorus runoff from fertilizer and manure can help fuel the pea-green, sometimes-toxic blooms...
  13. See New Streambank, Prairie Projects in Farm Science Review’s Gwynne Conservation Area

    LONDON, Ohio — Look for new features like wildflowers and a healthy streambank in Farm Science Review’s Gwynne Conservation Area. The nearly 70-acre facility, part of the Review’s host site, the Molly Caren Agricultural Center in London, Ohio, has two new projects underway — one to diversify its prairie plantings; the other, to protect the banks of Deer Creek, which flows through the grounds. Review Manager Nick Zachrich said the projects offer two benefits: They improve the Gwynne itself year round. And they demonstrate practices that farmers — especially the Review’s expected 100,000-plus visitors Sept. 19-21 — can take home and use on their own land, too. Flower power Asters, milkweeds, blazing stars and coneflowers are some of the...
  14. Ohio Composting Industry Tour Is Aug. 24

    WOOSTER, Ohio — This year’s Composting in Ohio tour, featuring industry issues and innovative facilities, will center around Lake Erie. The Aug. 24 event is for anyone interested in commercial or large-scale composting, including business owners, compost facility staff, farmers, scientists and public officials. Participants on the tour will visit Barnes Nursery Inc.’s compost facility in Huron, which annually turns 20,000 tons of yard waste, food scraps and other materials into plant-friendly soils and composts; and a new system run by the Port of Cleveland and Cleveland’s Kurtz Bros. Inc. that recycles sediment dredged from the lake and the Cuyahoga River. Huron is about 50 miles west of Cleveland along Lake Erie’s shore. Cleveland’s...
  15. Learn to Diagnose Problems in Your Trees, Including New Beech Disease

    MANSFIELD, Ohio — A mystery illness is hitting northeast Ohio’s American beech trees. Called beech leaf disease, it’s causing striped and curled leaves, weak buds, and sometimes the death of saplings. It seems to be spreading fast, too. “And we really don’t know what’s causing it,” said Kathy Smith, forestry program coordinator at The Ohio State University. The less-bad news: An upcoming event will shed light on the disease, plus many other problems that can bug Ohio’s trees. Diseases, pests and whether you need to treat them Ohio State’s Tree Diagnostic Workshop — subtitled “What’s Wrong With My Tree?” — is Aug. 4 in Mansfield. Smith and others from the university’s College of Food...
  16. First Energy Impacts Symposium Starts Wednesday at Ohio State

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — The first-ever Energy Impacts Symposium is taking place this Wednesday and Thursday at The Ohio State University. The event is an international research conference on the effects of new energy development — including both renewable and fossil fuels — on people, communities and economies. Organizers are expecting about 140 energy-related social science experts from 25 U.S. states, Canada, five continents and 100 universities. The experts will represent fields such as public health, public policy, psychology, sociology, anthropology, political science and community development. How energy development affects people “The amount of energy development in the past decade has been huge, and has transformed communities across the U.S...
  17. How to Be Safe When You’re Using a Chainsaw

    MANSFIELD, Ohio — When it comes to using a chainsaw, there are things you want to cut, like any of Ohio’s millions of still-standing dead ash trees killed by the emerald ash borer pest, and things you don’t want to cut, like … anything not a tree. A class offered Aug. 3 in Mansfield will help you keep them straight. Chainsaw Safety: CSAW Level 1 offers 8 hours of training by experts from the Zanesville-based Ohio Forestry Association. Topics will include personal protective equipment, chainsaw safety features, chainsaw maintenance, and the reaction forces acting on a chainsaw’s chain and guide bar. Those reaction forces, if not accounted for, could cause a chainsaw to kick back and injure the person running it. Learn how to fell a tree, and...
  18. July 27: How Ohio Communities Can Handle Pluses, Minuses of Oil and Gas Work

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — A July 27 event at The Ohio State University will look at how Ohio communities can experience the most benefits — and fewest problems — from oil and gas work in their areas. “Community Development in Energy Host Communities” is a panel discussion on the impacts of oil and gas drilling, hydraulic fracturing and related activities on public services, local government revenue, infrastructure and the environment. Presented by the Environmental Professionals Network, the event is from 7:15 to 9:15 a.m. in the Nationwide and Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center, 2201 Fred Taylor Drive, on Ohio State’s campus in Columbus. The network is a statewide professional group coordinated by Ohio State’s School of Environment and...
  19. NOAA, Partners Predict Significant Summer Harmful Algal Bloom for Western Lake Erie

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and its research partners predict that western Lake Erie will experience a significant harmful algal bloom this summer, potentially reaching levels last seen in 2013 and 2014, though smaller than the record bloom of 2015. This year’s bloom is expected to measure 7.5 on the severity index but could range between 6.5 and nine. An index above five indicates a potentially harmful bloom. The severity index is based on a bloom’s biomass — the amount of its harmful algae — over a sustained period. The largest blooms, in 2011 and 2015, were rated 10 and 10.5, respectively. The size of a bloom isn’t necessarily an indication of how toxic it is. The toxins in a large bloom may not be as...
  20. Ohio Educators: Explore 2 ‘Amazing’ Resources for Teaching About Nature, the Environment

    MANSFIELD, Ohio — A July 18-19 workshop in Mansfield — called A Walk Through Ohio’s Forests: The Good, the Bad and the Invasive — will feature two helpful tools for teaching students about nature and the environment, says co-organizer Kathy Smith of The Ohio State University. The event, which takes place on Ohio State’s Mansfield campus, will explore the campus itself — which covers 600 mostly wooded acres plus has wetlands and a range of plants and wildlife — and the newly revised Project Learning Tree-Ohio, an award-winning environmental education curriculum that includes web-based teaching units. “These are amazing resources for teaching youth about Ohio’s natural resources,” said Smith, who’s forestry program...
  21. Family, Fun, Fireflies: OARDC Insect Night Is July 15

    WOOSTER, Ohio — Certain kinds of creepy crawlers only come out at night. They’ll star at an upcoming event in Wooster. Secrest Arboretum’s annual Insect Night — a free public event for bug-crazy kids, their families and others — is from 8 to 10:30 p.m. July 15. Activities will include a bug zoo, face painting, edible insects — meaning that, yes, you can eat them — coloring table, temporary insect tattoos, and an educational hunt in the dark for beetles, moths, fireflies and their friends. “We’re growing young entomologists,” or insect scientists, said co-organizer Denise Ellsworth of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. The arboretum is part of OARDC, 1680 Madison Ave. in Wooster, which in...
  22. Turn Your Favorite Tree Into Many, by Grafting

    WOOSTER, Ohio — There’s a gardening skill called grafting. It’s used a lot on apple trees. And it can help you turn a favorite tree — whether an apple, a pear, a dogwood or another — into more new trees just like it. When someone grafts a tree, they splice a scion — typically a twig or other cutting — from one tree onto the rootstock — the roots and stump — of another. It turns them into a single new tree that features the best traits of both. “There’s satisfaction in watching a plant you grafted turn into a large tree,” said Paul Snyder, program assistant at Wooster’s Secrest Arboretum, who’s giving an upcoming workshop on the topic. The arboretum, part of the Ohio Agricultural Research...
  23. Don’t Know Which Tree Is Which? There’s Help

    MANSFIELD, Ohio — So you want to know your trees. On July 7, a class offered at The Ohio State University’s Mansfield campus will help you. Called Name That Tree, the class will show you how to identify Ohio trees using common traits like their leaves. About half the class time will be spent outdoors practicing. The 600-acre campus is full of trees. Knowing how to identify trees can help you take care of them, said instructor Kathy Smith. Smith heads Ohio State’s Ohio Woodland Stewards Program, the class’s sponsor. Every tree species has different care needs, she said. The class is from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. starting in 100 Ovalwood Hall at 1760 University Drive on the campus. Register by Friday Registration is $35, includes lunch...
  24. Gardeners: This Class Can Help Win Your War on Weeds

    WOOSTER, Ohio — Secrest Arboretum, like gardens everywhere, has its share of weeds. And Paul Snyder, who works there as a program assistant, has seen their best and worst. Canada thistle, common moonseed and marestail are the toughest to manage, Snyder said. “Moonseed completely smothers everything,” he said. “Marestail has become resistant to glyphosate (a weed killer) and produces thousands of tiny seeds. “Jumpseed and bittersweet are the sneakiest. They have a knack for blending in with other plants.” Canada thistle, however, is the prettiest, Snyder said. It has “wonderful flowers that smell great,” he said. Class is July 6 in Secrest Arboretum On July 6, participants will discover those weeds and others — and...
  25. See How a Tree Grown in Northern Ohio Becomes, Say, an Amish-Made Dining Room Chair

    MANSFIELD, Ohio — A June 20 tour in northern Ohio will show how trees get turned into products, including Amish-made lumber and furniture. “We hope people find it an eye-opening experience,” said co-organizer Kathy Smith, a forestry expert at The Ohio State University. “A lot goes into that process.” From Forests to Furniture starts on Ohio State’s wooded Mansfield campus, where Smith and colleagues Amy Stone and Marne Titchenell, both also with the university, will give talks under the trees on owning woodlands, managing wildlife and dealing with the deadly emerald ash borer pest. Then participants will travel by bus to Millersburg in Holmes County for tours of two Amish-run businesses: HW Chair, which makes hardwood...

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