Farmer workshops upcoming

May 29, 2013

Frank Lewis

PDT Staff Writer

If you’re like most of us, you probably don’t have a green thumb. But that may not actually be your problem. Growers wanting to learn how to improve soil health and increase crop yields while reducing operating and input costs may want to consider using multi-functional cover crops, which can also improve water quality, reduce soil erosion and lower greenhouse gas emissions, Rafiq Islam, a soil scientist from Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences said.

Islam, who holds joint appointments with Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, will discuss soil health, no-till and cover crops during a June 8 workshop on those issues at the Ohio State University South Centers in Piketon.

OSU Extension and OARDC are the outreach and research arms, respectively, of the college. The centers are also a part of the college. Islam said planting mixed cover crops such as oilseed radish, cereal rye, cowpea or Austrian winter pea has been proven to supply the required amount of nitrogen to crops, lower inputs, increase crop yields and improve soil health.

“Growers with increased costs associated with crop production, including long-term use of higher amount of herbicides and chemical fertilizers, may degrade soil health,” Islam said. “Improving soil health is necessary to get higher crop yields, to minimize the usage of fertilizer and herbicides, and to better manage the soil without plowing the ground. Cover crops can also provide mulch, recycle nutrients and increase soil organic matter, which can help growers get carbon credit in the future.”

The hands-on workshop is suited for both beginning and veteran farmers and will offer strategies and tips for growers on everything they’ll need to know about cover crops and the benefits to soil, water and air quality, Islam said.

Nationally recognized speakers and experts on soil health, carbon sequestration, conservation tillage and cover crops, including Don Reicosky, a U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service soil scientist emeritus, and David Brandt, president of the Ohio No-Till Council, will speak at the workshop.

Participants are asked to bring samples of what they consider to be good soil and bad soil from their fields to the workshop for testing. The 15-minute soil health test will also determine soil matter accumulation levels and how much nitrogen is needed for field fertilizer.

The workshop will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the OSU South Centers, 1864 Shyville Road, in Piketon. Registration is $10 and includes lunch. The deadline to register is June 1. Attendees will receive a soil health field test kit, with the first 50 registered participants receiving two soil test vouchers from the Scioto and Lawrence county soil and water conservation districts.

“This opportunity is amazing and is heavily funded by grants,” Brad Bergefurd of the Ohio State University Extension Service, said.

The workshop is funded by the North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program. Sponsors include OSU Extension, the OSU South Centers, the Scioto Soil and Water Conservation District, and the Lawrence County Soil and Water Conservation District.

Anyone needing more information or to register, may email scioto@sciotoswcd.org, or call 740-259-9231.

Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at flewis@civitasmedia.com. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.