WAUSEON, Ohio – Understanding soil health and biology is critical to maximizing plant healthy and productivity, according to Ohio State University Extension educators, and will be the focus of two field days later this month.
“What we’re really looking at, in terms of soil health, is ideals to build organic matter and improve soil biology through the use of cover crops and alternative tillage methods,” said Greg LaBarge, and OSU Extension agriculture and natural resources educator in Fulton County. “These are things that will also help improve water quality from the standpoint of nutrient cycling and trying to hold those nutrients along with the soil itself.”
The first of two field days is Aug. 17 in Fairfield County at the Dave Brandt farm outside Carroll, Ohio. Focused on cropping systems that improve soil health, the program takes advantage of several field examples through a series of morning tours.
The afternoon sessions will then focus on application, and how farmers can use the tools and systems observed on the Brandt farm in their own operations.
In addition to the field tours, the program features OSU Extension educator Jim Hoorman discussing nutrient recycling and soil compaction, as well as Natural Resources Conservation Service agronomists and soil scientists.
Both the event at the Brandt farm, and the second field day Aug. 18 at the Ohio Agriculture Research and Development Center’s Northwest Agricultural Research Station near Hoytville feature Ray Archuleta, NRCS conservation agronomist from the East National Technology Support Center in Greensboro, N.C.
“Ray has gained a national reputation as an expert on soil quality factors and cover crop utilization,” LaBarge said.
At the Hoytville field day, farmers will evaluate a variety of crop rotation and tillage studies conducted by OSU Extension and OARDC researchers at the station.
In addition to the plot tours, attendees will hear from speakers highlighting economics, water quality, nutrient cycling, as well as the concept of increasing water-holding capacity in soils.
“The Hoytville field day is really interesting, because we’ll visit some data and go out to the long-term tillage and rotation plots we have established there dating back to the 1960s,” LaBarge said. “There, we can look at some significant differences in tillage and crop rotation systems.”
Both events are open to the public, but registration is required by Aug. 12. Registration for the Aug. 17 event at the Dave Brandt farm is $23 and includes lunch on site. For the Aug. 18 event in Western Wood County, registration is $15.