JULY- OSU/WVU Extension Radio Shows:

Catch us on 1170 WWVA, Sunday mornings at 5:00 AM




7/5/2015: Livestock Graded Sales, and Water Drainage

7/12/2015: Stormwaters, Nutrient Management, and Soil Compaction

7/19/2015: Toxic Plants to Livestock

7/26/2015: Soil Health and Cucurbits

OSU/WVU Extension Radio Programs for the Month of June…

Weekly Programs from Dan Lima in Belmont County (OSU Extension) and Karen Cox from Ohio County (WVU Extension) discussing agricultural topics and trends for the week.

Right of Ways and leases, what should the land owner know?

Yellow Poplar Tulip Weevil, Black rot, and other insect pests after a wet season.

Flood safety and disease trends during wet seasons.

Pasture Stability and Resiliency

Plants are biochemical factories that are at the base of the food pyramid for nearly all animals on earth (surface). The raw materials plants utilize for synthesizing essentially all components for life are found in the air, water, and in the soil.

To break it down further, 96% of plant requirements are CO2 and water.   If you include Nitrogen, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, and Phosphorous, you arrive at 99.4% of all plant requirements. (Taiz and Zeiger, 2002) Proper soil health and environmental conditions such as sunlight, water and soil nutrients are essential for plant health and resiliency from pests and diseases.

Even though 99.4% is close to 100%, it isn’t quite there. It is very important to understand that amending the soil is a major part of plant nutrient needs, but it does not achieve 100% of a plant’s requirement. Having plant diversity and microbe life in the soil will increase the availability of micro-nutrients and increase plant stability in an ecosystem. Whether it be a garden, pasture, or forest; the resiliency of that ecosystem increases with diversity to both biological and abiotic stresses (pests and environmental factors).

One way to increase ecosystem diversity is to incorporate legumes in a pasture field. Legume incorporation in a pasture field has been shown to increase output with decreased monetary input in many experiments across the nation. Things to consider when incorporating legumes in a field are:

  • Could there by residual effects from a pesticide?
    • Products like Milestone can have up to 2 years of broadleaf residual effects on broadleaf plants
  • Did I inoculate the legume seed with the proper bacterial inoculant?
    • Nodules are a symbiotic relationship between the legume plant and different types of Rhizobia bacteria. If the Inoculate spores are not compatible to that plant, expired or non-viable due to improper storage, nodules will not appear and Nitrogen fixation will not occur.
  • Have I recently applied Nitrogen to the soil?
    • A legume will not establish the symbiotic relationship with the Rhizobium bacteria unless there is a need for more N. When Nitrogen is plenty the plant will not make nodules or very few.  


There are many ways to increase bio diversity; including: forbs, a variety of grasses, and legumes in a pasture field are some examples.  Doing so will create a balance in nutrient uptake and availability resulting in stability. Remember that plants are the foundation of the food pyramid, creating a stable foundation will only increase output above that!


A quote from Bill Murphy:

“If you do not find any legumes, a soil fertility or pH problem most likely exists. It’s absolutely essential to have 30 to 50% legume content in your pasture to obtain the excellent quality forage needed to achieve high livestock production levels at low cost.”

Bill Murphy, Greener Pastures On Your Side Of The Fence, 1998

Hay Moisture Levels

We have had a very wet June this year and baling hay has been a tough thing for most farmers in the state.  Moisture levels have a direct effect on hay quality.  What I have found to be a consistent number in the literature is 20% moisture maximum.  To be more specific:

  1. Small squares to be 20% or less,
  2. Large round, 18% or less and
  3. Large squares, 16%

Hay baled at 20% moisture or higher has a high probability of developing mold, which will decrease the quality of hay by decreasing both protein and total nonstructural carbohydrates (TNC) AKA energy!  The mold will also make the hay less palatable to livestock and could potentially be toxic, especially for horses.  Even hay baled between 15%-20% moisture will experience what is known as “sweating”.  Sweating, in regard to hay bales, refers to microbial respiration, which will create heat and result in dry matter (DM) loss.  A good rule of thumb is that you should expect a 1% DM loss per 1% decrease of moisture after baling.  As an example, hay baled at 20% moisture that is stored and dried down to 12%; will result in 8% DM loss.

Understandably, this month has been a double edged sword in regards to losing quality by not baling, or losing quality by baling with moisture levels that are too high.  Therefore, my recommendation to ensure adequate livestock nutrition this winter is to have a forage analysis done on the hay baled this year.  Once you have those results, develop a corresponding supplemental feed program, if necessary, based on the nutritional requirements of your livestock.  Remember that grains are doing exceptionally well this year, so far.  This could possibly result in reasonable grain prices for the winter months…

Bird Flu

Agriculture is a very dynamic and inter-woven industry mainly due to the fact that it deals with plant and animal life across many different environments.  This is something farmers have to deal with on day to day bases.  At times however, there are major events that can cause major impacts.  One such impact that has caused a major concern in the poultry industry is the avian influenza.  The avian influenza, also known as the bird flu, is a flu virus that has been killing birds at a rapid rate all over the country since December 2014.  The Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza strain H5 (HPAV H5) is believed to be spreading to various poultry operations all over the country by contact with infected wild birds.  The strain is easily spread from bird species and is highly lethal.  To date, over forty five million birds have been euthanized to prevent the further spread of the disease. (USDA, 2015) This strain is not pathogenic to people but sick birds (or any animal) should never be consumed.

For a list of bio security protocols please see the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) link:


Sick birds or unusual bird deaths should also be immediately reported to the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Division of Animal Health at 1-614-728-6220 or through USDA APHIS’s toll-free number at 1-866-536-7593.