*This story first appeared in The Budget’s July 11, 2018, Local Edition.
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 the matter: “Valuing Manure.”
Manure’s benefits to soil
Ohio State University Extension’s Glen Arnold, a member of the event’s planning committee, said Lemke’s talk will include “information on soil quality benefits, such as improved organic matter and improved soil bacteria activity, not just the value of the nitrogen, phosphorus and potash nutrients.”
Arnold, who is a state field spe- cialist for manure nutrient manage- ment systems for OSU Extension, will give a talk at the event called “Avoiding Manure Spills.”
OSU Extension, which is the outreach arm of The Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES), is one of the event’s collaborators.
How to keep weed seeds in check
Another talk at the event will look at ways to reduce the impact of weed seeds in manure, including waterhemp. A species of pigweed, waterhemp has been spreading in Ohio and become increasingly resistant to herbicides.
Ohio’s waterhemp appears to have come from eastern Indiana, said Stachler, an educator in the Auglaize County office of OSU Extension, who will give the talk.
“Today it’s present in nearly every county in western Ohio,” he said, its seeds dispersed by birds, water, farm equipment such as combines, and livestock feed that’s turned into manure and ends up spread on fields.
In Darke, Mercer, Shelby and Auglaize counties, Stachler said, waterhemp is “spreading at alarming rates.” He said his talk will share ways to limit such problems and re- duce the estimated $5 to 25 per acre it costs a farmer to manage resistant weeds.
Other talks scheduled are:
- “Manure Applications: Rules and Liability” by Peggy Hall, agricultural and resource law field specialist with OSU Extension.
- “Reducing Phosphorus Runoff” by Greg LaBarge, agronomic systems field specialist with OSU Extension. Phosphorus runoff is a cause of the harmful algal blooms plaguing Lake Erie and other water bodies in recent years.
- “Regulations Update” by Matt Lane of the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s (ODA) Division of Soil and Water Conservation and Sam Mullins of ODA’s Division of Environmental Livestock Permitting. ODA is also an event collaborator.
Also at the event, Sandra Springer, western Lake Erie Basin nutrient technician with the Allen, Hardin and Putnam county soil and water conservation districts, will show why — yes — you should #SoilYourUndies. The districts, too, are collaborators on the event.
Soil educators in the United States and other countries are using the #SoilYourUndies hashtag — and actually buried undergarments — as a fun way to show how crops and practices affect the activity of microbes in the soil.
“Soil microorganisms increase plant residue decomposition, which releases plant nutrients,” Springer said. “We want farmers to be checking their soil health in fields,” even if it costs them their skivvies to do it.
Springer, for her part, will be displaying undies she buried in May in five fields around Hardin County: ones growing conventional corn, no-till soybeans, no-till wheat, alfalfa and hay.
They definitely won’t be clean. Which is good.
“The hashtag is just something that other soil and water conservation districts are using to promote soil health,” especially with kids, she said. “As far as education goes, this is our first demonstration of it on the adult end.”
Field demonstrations, indoor exhibits
Other demonstrations will look at preferential flow (the uneven movement of water through media such as soils), calibrating manure spreaders, shallow tillage for applying manure, seeding cover crops using a converted high-clearance “highboy” tractor, side dressing corn with manure, center pivot irrigation and composting dead farm animals.
Indoor exhibits will share details about a rainwater and runoff simulation with cover crops; a demonstration farm showcasing best practices for reducing nutrient runoff, which includes the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF) as a partner; and a demonstration farm testing the Ohio Nutrient Management Record Keeper, or ONMRK, a record-keeping app for smartphones or tablets that lets farmers record their manure and nutrient applications while still in the field.
Register early and save
Hours for the event are 8:45 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Watkins Farm is at 18361 Township Road 90 in Forest, about 70 miles south of Toledo and 80 miles north of Columbus.
Registration, which includes coffee, doughnuts and lunch, is $25 by July 16 and $30 after that date. Participants can register online at go.osu.edu/msr2018 through July 16, or they can fill out and mail the registration form available at go.osu.edu/msr2018flier.
For more information on the event, contact CFAES’s Mary Wicks at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-202- 3533.
SUBMITTED BY OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY