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  1. Wheat in demand

    With wheat prices hitting a 14-year high this year, more Ohio farmers plan to plant more of the grain. 

    That’s according to Laura Lindsey, a CFAES field crops expert. Lindsey, a soybean and small grains specialist with OSU Extension, said she’s fielded numerous calls, emails, and Twitter messages from farmers statewide about the feasibility of planting wheat this year. Most of the wheat Ohio farmers grow is soft red winter wheat, which is planted in fall and harvested the next spring. This is the kind of wheat typically used in pastries, cakes, cereals, crackers, and cookies.

    However, while spring wheat can be planted in Ohio, Lindsey said, it doesn’t grow as well as winter wheat. And spring wheat yields are significantly lower than winter wheat yield.

    Laura Lindsey, soybean and small grains specialistWhile in Ohio we usually plant winter wheat, with the commodities market the way it is, more farmers are saying they want to try and capitalize on the record prices. However, although wheat prices are high, spring wheat is probably not the best option in 2022 due to the low yields, high input costs, and uncertainty surrounding selling the grain and its quality.”

    Wheat prices are surging globally in the wake of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, prompting farmers nationwide to consider planting more wheat. About 14% of the global wheat supply is produced in Ukraine and Russia, according to Gro Intelligence. The two countries supply nearly 30% of all wheat exports, according to the agricultural data analytics firm.

    Wheat prices are surging even higher as the conflict raises questions about Russia’s and Ukraine’s ability to continue exporting, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wheat Outlook for March.

    “U.S. prices have been particularly underpinned by this development, with quotes for hard red winter (wheat) and soft red winter (wheat) commanding the largest price increases—up more than 80% from last year—as these classes are the most directly in competition with Russian and Ukrainian wheat,” the USDA said.

    Ohio farmers are on track to harvest 610,000 acres of winter wheat this year, up 5% from the previous year, according to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service’s Ohio Field Office. 

  2. New CFAES technology offers healthier beverage processing

    Food processing companies looking for innovative new ways to preserve clean-label liquid foods without artificial preservatives have a new option thanks to technology developed at CFAES. 

    Researchers in the CFAES departments of Food Science and Technology, as well as Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering have installed and commissioned new manufacturing technology that preserves foods and beverages using wholesome, recognizable ingredients; no artificial preservatives; and reduced heat. They’re seeking food and beverage companies to join a Food Industry Consortium to begin using the technology.

    Called BaroShear MAX ultra-shear technology (UST), this method of high-pressure-based shear technology allows beverage companies to manufacture healthier beverages by reducing thermal exposure through the combined application of elevated pressure, shear technology, and controlled times and temperatures.

    The result? “Healthier beverages that consumers want that aren’t preserved using chemical additives and preservatives with names they can’t pronounce,” said V.M. “Bala” Balasubramaniam, a CFAES professor of food engineering. is laboratory—including microbiologists, chemists, and nutritionists—investigates food manufacturing technologies and works with industry to implement them.

    And it’s not just drinks that could be preserved healthier. UST can be used by food manufacturers for processing sauces, condiments, and other liquid foods, including nutritional drinks, ice cream mixes, juices, and food emulsions.

    “UST enables liquid food and beverage producers to meet the changing dietary desires of health-conscious consumers interested in minimally processed liquid foods and beverages that quench thirst and satisfy their healthy lifestyle,” he said. UST also satisfies liquid food manufacturers’ interest in developing a continuous 
    high-pressure processing method. That’s significant, considering that the batch 
    high-pressure processing industry is now estimated to be a $15 billion per year market. Balasubramaniam partnered with Pressure BioSciences Inc., a Massachusetts-based manufacturer of high-pressure-based equipment and laboratory instrumentation, on the project. They plan to create a consortium of interested food processors on industrially relevant questions before scaling up the UST into industrial practice.

    Food processors can learn about UST through a pilot-scale system at Ohio State’s Center for Clean Food Process Technology Development. Consortium members will also have first rights to nonexclusively license all new applications for commercial utilization in their own products, worldwide. To learn more about this initiative, contact Balasubramaniam at 614-292-1732 or balasubramaniam.1@osu.edu

  3. Science in 60 seconds

    Ever wonder what the difference is between baking soda and baking powder?  

    Or how about the difference between shelf-stable and refrigerated juice? Have you ever questioned why foods and beverages come in different colored bottles?

    In 60 seconds or less, food scientist Brittany Towers Lewis takes complex scientific information and boils it down into understandable terms. She then posts the resulting videos on TikTok and Instagram, where 63,300 followers now learn about science from her, The Black Food Scientist.

    A graduate of CFAES, Towers Lewis started posting food science videos in 2021 to get science information out to the public in quick, relatable ways to lessen the mystery of science and to make learning about it fun.

    "Science is often perceived of as a bunch of words that most people can’t understand, but using common language makes it more approachable,” she said. “Plus, food is a great way to get the word out about science because food is relatable to everyone.”

    Brittany Towers TikTokAnother goal of her TikTok and Instagram videos is to promote the idea of careers in food science to younger people, including those in minority groups generally underrepresented in science-related careers. Food science as a career isn’t well known to many people,”

    Towers Lewis said. “I love working with middle school and high school students and seeing their eyes spark when they realize you can be in the science field and work with food at the same time.” Towers Lewis didn’t even know about food science as a career until she attended Ohio State. In fact, it was CFAES food science classes that made her realize that “food science was the career for me.” She now works as a senior manager of product development for Vital Proteins, a Chicago-based health and wellness company.

    “In the first CFAES class that I took, we made ice cream—and then got to eat it,” she said with a laugh. “Being able to translate science concepts into something that you can see, feel, and eat helps to understand the science better. You can see the scientific reaction happening while a loaf of bread is baking.” 

    Brittany TowersIt’s that excitement that Towers Lewis strives to recreate in each video she posts. And it seems to be working because she went viral on her fourth post.

    “I was surprised because I didn’t think so many people would be interested,” she said. “One of my mom’s friends is a teacher and shows the videos to her students, which I really love. Many people message me saying they wish they’d known that food science was a thing, and others send me messages simply thanking me for providing science in a digestible way.”

     

     

  4. CFAES project to improve food safety in Kenya

    The CFAES Center for Foodborne Illness Research and Prevention (CFI) has been awarded a $770,000 grant to improve food safety and prevent foodborne illnesses in Kenya. 

    The initiative is one of four new research projects announced by the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Safety, which is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development as part of Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative.

    The 3.5-year project, “Chakula salama: a risk-based approach to reducing foodborne diseases and increasing production of safe foods in Kenya,” includes researchers from Ohio State, the University of Florida, the Kenya Medical Research Institute, and the University of Nairobi, all of whom will develop and test food safety interventions to support Kenya’s small-scale poultry producers.

    This work is significant considering that foodborne diseases cause an estimated  91 million illnesses and $16.7 billion in human capital losses annually in Africa, said Barbara Kowalcyk, CFI director. She is also a faculty member in the CFAES Department of Food Science and Technology, as well as the Translational Data Analytics Institute at Ohio State.

    “This project will use a systems-based approach to answer important food safety questions and build an enabling environment that fosters the implementation of risk-based approaches to food safety in Kenya and, eventually, other African countries,” she said.

    The project focuses on reducing the risk of illnesses from Salmonella and Campylobacter in poultry produced by women and youth poultry farmers. Kowalcyk, two CFI staffers, and two CFAES students traveled to Kenya in March to work with some 100 Kenyan poultry producers, with a goal of developing a roadmap for allocating resources and building capacity for Kenyans to implement food safety measures recommended by CFI.

    Our goal is to improve access to safe food and improve food security and nutrition,” Kowalcyk said. “This will have a huge impact on food in Kenya.”

    Founded as a nonprofit organization in 2006, CFI brought its 16-year record of protecting public health to CFAES in September 2019. The center has a mission to advance a more scientific, risk-based food safety system that prevents foodborne illnesses and protects public health by translating science into policy and practice. To learn more about CFI, visit  foodsafety.osu.edu.  

  5. How (and why) to make your farm more weather resilient

    Climate change is happening. It’s happening here. It’s happening now. 

    That’s the message Aaron Wilson, OSU Extension climate specialist, is sharing with Ohio farmers. He talks to them about how they can make their farms more resilient to weather extremes—to the warmer-than-average temperatures, unusually heavy rains, flooding, and more that Ohio is seeing from climate change.

    “It’s not a future issue,” Wilson says. “The time to prepare is right now.”

    Improving weather resilience requires adaptation, Wilson says—determining your farm’s impacts from weather extremes, then deciding what to do about them. He suggests a process from the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science’s 
    (NIACS) Adaptation Workbook:

    1.    Define your management objectives.

    2.     Assess your weather impacts and vulnerabilities.

    3.     Evaluate your management objectives, given your vulnerabilities.

    4.    Identify your adaptation tactics.

    5.     Monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of your actions.

    6.     Then, based on your evaluation, return to Step 1 and repeat.

    “Adaptation is site-specific. There’s no single answer for everyone,” Wilson says. Farms will all experience weather impacts differently, depending on factors such as location, crops, and topography. So, you should base your adaptation changes on what you’re seeing at the farm level.”

    It’s a real personal thing,” Wilson says.

    Adaptation can involve practices such as drainage, irrigation, or switching to a more disease-resistant crop variety. It’s affected by finances—Can you afford to change the practice? Can you afford not to?—and by factors such as crop insurance. But a key to much of it is soil health, Wilson says. Practices such as no-till and cover crops, implemented to boost soil health, also improve weather resilience. They make crop plants hardier, reduce erosion, and slow down runoff, for instance.

    At the same time, soil health practices also improve water quality and sequester carbon, the latter helping fight climate change.

    All these things are good for crops, which can ultimately be good for profit as well, so finding those environmentally sustainable practices that are also economically profitable is a key area of building a weather-resilient farm,” Wilson says.

    “We’re trying to maintain profitability or farmers in light of, or in spite of, these increasing challenges they have throughout the year.”

    To learn more, contact Wilson at wilson.1010@osu.edu or 614-292-7930.

    Use the free NIACS Adaptation Workbook available at adaptationworkbook.org.

    Check out the Midwest Climate Hub at climatehubs.usda.gov/hubs/Midwest and its adaptation tools at climatehubs.usda.gov/hubs/northern-forests/adaptation-tools.

  6. CFAES nearing completion of new greenhouse research complex

    CFAES’ new Controlled Environment Agriculture Research Complex (CEARC) is 75% complete. It’s expected to open this fall. And while that’s good news for CFAES and the scientists who’ll be working there, it’s even better news for Ohio’s big-and-getting-bigger greenhouse industry. 

    Inside the complex, research will take place in settings like those of the most advanced commercial greenhouses, says CFAES’ Chieri Kubota. That means findings from the studies will be relevant to, and can be used directly by, industry growers. Kubota is professor of controlled environment agriculture in the CFAES Department of Horticulture and Crop Science. She’s also director of CFAES’ Ohio Controlled Environment Agriculture Center.

    The state-of-the-art complex will “eliminate the technological gap between academia and industry” when it comes to performing greenhouse research, Kubota says. It will support new partnerships among CFAES, greenhouse growers, and other colleges and universities, she notes, and will give CFAES students the most up-to-date training possible for jobs in a growing industry.

    Chieri Kubota That technology will include, for instance, the most advanced type of roofing system—one that transmits the full spectrum of sunlight—energy-efficient LED lighting, carbon dioxide enrichment, microclimate heating “grow pipes,” and precision nutrient management.

    The design of the complex’s two greenhouses follows the industry standard, the Venlo type, with 23-foot-high sidewalls to ensure good light transmission and effective natural ventilation.

    Research compartments within the greenhouses will be able to support experiments on tall crops, such as tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and hemp; short-stature crops, such as strawberries, bedding plants, and potted ornamental plants; and crops grown by hydroponics, or water culture, such as leafy greens.

    The facility owes much of its cutting edge to greenhouse-related companies including GE Current, Priva, the Hawthorne G Controlled Environment Agriculture Research Complexardening Company, and Ludvig Svensson, which gifted equipment and technology to the project. Support from these partners made the “installation of modern technologies possible,” Kubota says.

    Located at CFAES’ 261-acre Waterman Agricultural and Natural Resources Laboratory on the Ohio State Columbus campus, the complex is part of a major revamping that also includes the Kunz-Brundige Franklin County Extension Building, which opened in 2019, and the Multispecies Animal Learning Center, now in planning and fundraising stages.

    Learn more at go.osu.edu/cearc

     

  7. The Dean’s Charity Steer Show returns to the Ohio State Fair

    We’re excited to be back!

    The Ohio State Fair is back in 2022 and along with it, the Dean’s Charity Steer Show! After a two-year pandemic hiatus, the event on Tuesday, Aug. 2, will once again benefit the Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) of Central Ohio.

    More than 900 spectators attended the inaugural 2019 event, and nearly 8,000 tuned in to watch via livestream on Facebook. Hosted by Cathann A. Kress, vice president for agricultural administration and dean of CFAES, the show raised $152,000 for RMHC.

    Central Ohio celebrity exhibitors team up with experienced 4-H members and their steers to compete in the show for bragging rights. Following the show, an auction “sale” takes place in the show ring. No actual animals trade hands. Instead, all bids and sale proceeds are donated to RMHC.

    For more information, visit deanscharitysteershow.osu.edu.

  8. The Dean’s Charity Steer Show returns to the Ohio State Fair

    Celebrate Ohio agriculture, communities, and children at the 2022 Dean’s Charity Steer Show Aug. 2 at the Ohio Expo Center and State Fair. Celebrity exhibitors will team up with media personalities, experienced Ohio 4-H youth, and a steer in the show ring.

    All proceeds will benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio. For more information, visit deanscharitysteershow. osu.edu.

  9. What’s good for your lawn can be good for the water

    Get tips for keeping lawns green and water blue in a newly revised fact sheet from CFAES.

    Called Efficient Lawn Care Practices to Help Protect Ohio’s Waterways, the fact sheet details exactly that—ways to get the most out of your fertilizer dollar, make your lawn as healthy as it can be, and prevent the runoff of nutrients that can lead to harmful algal blooms.

    What’s the best time of year to apply fertilizer? Why test your soil? What does “N-P-K” mean? Answers are in the fact sheet, whose authors are experts from CFAES and Davey Tree.

    You can read or download the fact sheet for free at go.osu.edu/greenlawncare.

  10. New on YouTube: How to have water for everyone in Ohio

    “Clean water is the backbone to any great society. You’re not going to have healthy humans without it. You’re not going to have a healthy economy without it.”

    So begins …And Water for All, a documentary film that premiered March 22, World Water Day, at a program hosted by CFAES’ Environmental Professionals Network.

    Written and directed by Ramiro Berardo, an associate professor in the CFAES School of Environment and Natural Resources, the film explores issues around water in Ohio including interviews from Toledoans who experienced the city’s 2014 water crisis, and the need to rebuild public water systems and public trust to provide affordable, safe water for Ohioans.

    Watch it at go.osu.edu/waterforall

     

     

     

  11. New publications

    Extension has two new publications of interest to farmers, available for order. Spring Frost Injury of Grapevines and Protection Methods is available in book format for $7.50, and Low-pressure Piping in Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems for Ohio is available in PDF format for download for $4.50.

    Copies of these and other OSU Extension publications are available through local OSU Extension offices and online at extensionpubs.osu.edu. Ohio residents get the best price when they order and pick up their purchases through their local Extension offices.

  12. Farm Science Review

    The 60th Farm Science Review is Sept. 20–22 with the theme, “Embracing Time and Change.” The agricultural trade show offers educational talks from experts with CFAES, which hosts the event at the Molly Caren Agricultural Center near London, Ohio.

    Presale tickets are $10 online and at Extension county offices and participating agribusinesses, or $15 at the gate. Children ages 5 and under are free. The FSR app is available for Apple and Android smartphone and tablet users, and it offers interactive maps, a schedule of events, and show information. It’ll be available by download from the Apple App Store and Google Play by searching for “FSR 2022” or by directing your mobile browser to fsr.osu.edu.

    The show hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 20–21 and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 22.

  13. Bonus Reads

    Learn the latest on crop production research via CFAES’ Knowledge Exchange.

    Discover tips on how to grow food through the Growing Franklin blog.

    Check out how to market fruit crops to Ohio wineries.

  14. Bonus Reads

    Learn tips for improving wellness through Extension’s Live Smart Ohio blog.

    Discover how to live well with arthritis by following this advice from Extension educators.

    Check out how to provide self-care for the caregiver by reading this Extension fact sheet.