From Across the Field – Life Skills and Working Lands

This past weekend I jumped on the invitation to work as a ring man and take bids at a showpig auction for a longtime family friend. While I don’t get to as many pig sales as I used to, I do enjoy watching 4-H youth go through the process of selecting and purchasing their projects. Some of my favorite memories revolve around analyzing and sorting livestock with my father, something we still do today when we get a chance.

If 4-Her’s here in Henry County ever have questions about livestock selection, they should consider participating in the 4-H livestock judging team. This year’s team started practice this past week, and will compete at the state contest on July 26th. In addition, to becoming better stockpersons, team members learn life skills such as decision-making, critical thinking, and public speaking. If interested in the possibility of joining the team contact the office in the next week or so.

I was through my involvement in FFA livestock judging that I had the chance to make a college visit to Ohio State for the first time. After that visit, I knew right away that I was destined to be a Buckeye. It is a safe bet that I would not be where I am today, had I not capitalized on skills learned by being on a livestock judging team.

For the final April “Weed of the Week” poison hemlock (Conium maculatum) is one that you should be aware of. This is a non-native biennial weed that spends its first year as a low-growing basal rosette; the stage that is currently very apparent, especially along banks and ditches on the side of roads. During its second year, plants produce erect, towering stalks and multi-branched stems topped with umbrella-like flowers. Mature plants can measure 6-10′ tall and are prolific seed producers.

Despite its common name, poison hemlock is not a tree; it is a member of the carrot family, Apiaceae. It shares floral characteristics with other non-native members of the carrot family such as Queen Anne’s lace and the wild parsnip, which is notorious for producing sap that causes skin blisters. Poison hemlock is one of the deadliest plants in North America. The plant contains highly toxic compounds, which cause respiratory failure and death in mammals.

Poison hemlock can be managed by mowing and tilling, but the most effective control approach involves properly timed applications of selective or non-selective post-emergent herbicides including glyphosate (e.g. Roundup). Each plant produces hundreds of seeds, so applications of herbicides made now will control both the first season rosette stage and the second season flowering stage before seeds are produced.

Also of note, the Ohio Department of Agriculture recently announced a new conservation program entitled the “Ohio Working Lands Buffer Program” to establish year-round vegetative cover on eligible cropland in the Western Lake Erie Basin Watershed.

Land owners in the Western Lake Erie Basin Watershed can receive annual payments for maintaining and harvesting hay and forage on land that acts as a buffer on cropland to provide another line of defense to filter surface water. Only cropland acres where sediment and nutrients have the potential to be transported from the field and enter environmentally sensitive areas are eligible for the program. To apply for this program, contact the soil and water conservation district office. I’ll end this week with a quote from Warren Buffet: “Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.” Have a great week.

Garth Ruff,
Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Educator
OSU Henry County Extension


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