CFAES Impact: May/June 2023
Using nanobubbles to kill harmful algal blooms
CFAES researchers are testing a new method to kill harmful algal blooms—using ozone nanobubbles.
The results from recent trials at Lake Sylvan in South Vienna, Ohio, and at Grand Lake St. Marys in St. Marys, Ohio—both of which have a history of severe algal blooms—are promising.
The technology being tested creates ozone and injects it into a waterway in the form of microscopic bubbles. Once in the water, the ozone can kill unwanted algae, destroy toxins, and boost oxygen levels, said Heather Raymond, director of CFAES’ Water Quality Initiative.
“The 2021 trial at Lake Sylvan was considered a success by local lake managers since recreational advisories were not needed, as compared to years prior,” Raymond said. “Testing in August 2022 at Grand Lake St. Marys West Beach, which had a more severe bloom than Lake Sylvan, resulted in park managers also not having to issue recreational advisories, while neighboring, untreated beaches required advisories.”
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources was pleased with these results and invited Ohio State to return for follow-up trials at West Beach this summer. Additional testing at the new mesocosm facility at The Ohio State University Stone Laboratory showed that ozone nanobubble treatment has less impact to beneficial zooplankton than traditional algaecides.
The trials are being conducted in partnership with scientists from the University of Florida, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as part of a $1.6 million dollar grant from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The initial one year of funding was extended to three years, based on these initial, successful trials.
The 2023 lake trials and additional experiments will help researchers understand how much ozone is needed, if the nanobubble technology also helps prevent blooms, and if there are any potential negative effects to other forms of life and the environment.
Farm profit and success are goals of new institute
Working on balance sheets and other financial statements might not be the most exciting task for most farmers, but it is crucial to agricultural business success.
Another thing that Ohio farmers might soon find indispensable is the new Farm Financial Management and Policy Institute (FFMPI) recently launched by CFAES.
The institute will address critical farm financial management and policy issues affecting Ohio producers. David Marrison, farm management field specialist with OSU Extension, will serve as the FFMPI interim director.
“I am excited to transition into this role and to work with a team of farm management specialists to help all Ohio farm families and agribusinesses enhance their management, productivity, and profitability,” Marrison said.
Housed within OSU Extension, the institute will tap into departments within CFAES; schools and colleges within the university such as the Moritz College of Law and the Fisher College of Business; and other universities across the country to offer research-informed knowledge and best practices in the areas of agricultural marketing, agricultural finance, agricultural production and risk management, human resources, agricultural policy, and agricultural law.
“Today’s farmers face a multitude of challenges such as adapting to climate change; meeting consumer demands or more, higher quality food; and adjusting to the increasing costs of supplies,” said Cathann A. Kress, Ohio State vice president for agricultural administration and dean of CFAES. “We created the Farm Financial Management and Policy Institute to help Ohio farmers address these challenges and offer guidance into how to make their businesses become more profitable.”
Each year, hundreds of U.S. farm businesses fail; some caused by poor financial management. As the agricultural industry changes and evolves, so too do OSU Extension’s offerings. Extension’s new FFMPI will integrate established programs and will develop new ones responsively to help Ohio farmers meet their business and financial goals.
The OSU Extension Farm Office website (farmoffice.osu.edu) will serve as the landing spot for the new institute as Marrison and team work to establish resources and best practices for a variety of agricultural businesses.
Just a few years ago, Emily Mullen’s family was faced with a difficult decision. It was time to sell the dairy herd or make a hefty financial investment into their almost 125-year-old farm.
Armed with real-world experience, an associate degree in dairy science from Ohio State ATI, and exposure to new ideas, Mullen got to work. Located in Wooster, Ohio, ATI is part of CFAES.
The Mullen Dairy & Creamery, located in Okeana, now provides southwest Ohio with 25 varieties of flavored milk, cow’s milk soap and lotion, and drinkable yogurt.
“When I was at college, I realized I had to be different,” Mullen said. “As a society, we are entering an era where consumers care more about what goes into their food.” Mullen’s story is just one example of how CFAES graduates are putting their degrees to work, many choosing to work for their family’s farm.
In fact, 15% of ATI graduates who entered the workforce returned to a family business, while 88% of ATI associate degree graduates reported employment within the state of Ohio, according to a 2022 CFAES graduation survey.
Sharing about dairy farming is one of Mullen’s favorite things.
The 2019 graduate and former recipient of the Catalpadale Bristol Dairy Scholarship has a robust social media page dedicated to educating her customers.
“I have the opportunity to share a story that so few people have a chance to see firsthand. We have super-cool jobs and take that for granted.”
Her biggest challenge was overcoming doubt.
“Being the third of four daughters of course people told me I couldn’t farm full time. I had to push really hard to overcome that stereotype. I was fortunate my dad believed in me.”
Mullen recently began building a new educational facility on the farm. She’s also updating operational facilities and hopes to produce ice cream soon.
“Average is over,” Mullen said. “If you want to ensure your stakehold in this industry, you have to diversify.”