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OHIO STATE ANNOUNCES ITS COVER CROP, SOIL HEALTH FIELD DAY
Source: Ohio State University news release

Farmers can learn how cover crop blends can improve their income and soil health at a July 8 field day sponsored by Ohio State University's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

The workshop will also feature information on a joint project with Battelle Memorial Institute researching organic materials that can bind soluble reactive phosphorus and reduce phosphorus runoff from drainage tiles into Ohio waters, said Rafiq Islam. He is the soil, water and bioenergy resources program leader at Ohio State University's South Centers in Piketon.

The project uses an organic-based pellet material made from crop residue developed by Battelle, which is specialized to absorb soluble reactive phosphorus, said Islam, who holds joint appointments with Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center.

OSU Extension, OARDC and South Centers are all part of the college. Battelle is a private, nonprofit applied science and technology development company based in Columbus.

The workshop is being held in conjunction with Battelle and Pike County Soil and Water Conservation District. It will be held from 5:30 to 9 p.m. at the OSU South Centers, 1864 Shyville Road, in Piketon. There is no cost to attend the event, which includes dinner. The deadline to register is July 3.

The pellet material, which is being piloted in trials at OSU South Centers using specially designed runoff and leaching field plots, can be a significant economic boost to farmers by reducing the current rates of phosphorus fertilization and improving water quality, Islam said.

The material binds soluble reactive phosphorus, preventing phosphorus from leaching, becoming surface runoff or entering drainage ditches. That way, less of the phosphorus enters waterways, and more is kept on the field, Islam said. "

"This material, when saturated with phosphorus, can then be recycled to use the retained phosphorus back on the field for the crop's benefit," he said.

The workshop will also focus on several cover crop blends to demonstrate how they can benefit growers by reducing operating costs (such as nitrogen fertilization and nutrient recycling), increasing farm income, and building healthier soils, Islam said.

Dave Brandt, a Carroll, Ohio, corn and soybean farmer, will also speak during the workshop. Brandt is nationally known for his work in farming with cover crops, Islam said.

The cover crop discussion will look at about five different varieties of cover crop blends, including mixtures of shorter, medium and taller species to improve soil health and maximize farm benefits, he said.

"Cover crop blends contribute to a lot of diverse quality to organic matter in the soil as residue and will suppress weeds and diseases, and diversify the soil biology," he said. "Cover crops also recycle nutrients and control soil erosion by increasing water infiltration."

Cover crops can also provide an additional source of income if growers choose oilseed radish, Islam said.

"Growers can sell the radishes they produce to farmers markets or ethnic markets," he said, noting that radishes can sell for 99 cents per pound. Diversification of flower-based cover crops in blends can also improve bee pollination and honey production.

For more information on the workshop or to register, contact Charissa McGlothin at 740-289-2071, ext. 132, or mcglothin.4@osu.edu.


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