Produce Safety Alliance Offers Training for Food Safety Modernization Act

The Ohio Department of Agriculture, Division of Food Safety is announcing a Produce Safety Alliance (PSA) Grower Training on February 20, 2018 to be held at the OSU Extension and Research Station (aka Vegetable Crops Branch or North Central Ag Research Station) office building meeting room, 1165 County Road 43, Fremont, OH 43420. The training will be one day, 8:30AM-4:30PM (with an hour lunch, not provided).

The Produce Safety Alliance (PSA) is a collaboration between Cornell University, FDA, and USDA to prepare fresh produce growers to meet the regulatory requirements included in the United States Food and Drug Administration’s proposed Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule.

There is no cost for the training or training manual. Class size is limited to 30 and first priority will be given to growers that must comply with the Produce Safety Rules (§ 112 Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption). Regulation exempt growers are also welcome to apply for the training. The regulations are being phased in from 2015 to 2024.

The PSA Grower Training Course is one way to satisfy the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule requirement outlined in § 112.22(c) which states ‘At least one supervisor or responsible party for your farm must have successfully completed food safety training at least equivalent to that received under standardized curriculum recognized as adequate by the Food and Drug Administration.’

Here are the key points to know about the training:

ODA Announcement Letter

Grower Training Registration Form

FSMA Produce Safety Exemption Flow Chart

Overview of Food Safety Modernization Act


For more information, contact 

Matt Fout (614-600-4272)

Produce Safety Manager, Division of Food Safety

Ohio Department of Agriculture

There’s Still Time to Manage Pastures


– Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

It seems that we try and crowd way too much into some months, especially December, when we probably should be slowing down and enjoying family and friends and the reason for the season. I have a hard time accomplishing that.

What percent of this pasture is clover?

I just spent a week on the Tennessee-Kentucky line with a national work team revising the NRCS pasture condition scoresheet. Pasture regions across the nation were represented, including Alaska. Our charge was basically to build a better mousetrap; well, rather a better pasture condition scoresheet, which would work anywhere tame pasture exists, cover all grazing systems, use simple visual indicators, and include some soil regenerative features.

After revising, rewriting, testing, and repeating that process several times we were all mentally and physically exhausted. Remarkably, we came to a consensus and I look forward for the release of this revised tool in the near future. I mention this because all of the people in this group are somewhat like-minded when it comes to pasture management, but we all do not “see” things the same way.

The amount of clover present in a field can be somewhat difficult to estimate. Clover, or any leguminous plant are important sources of nitrogen for pastures and also certainly improve the forage quality for the grazing livestock. This time of year, most legumes have really slowed down or have already gone dormant. I hope that you have observed the amount of clover you have in each field so you know if it is sufficient or not as we start preparing for the 2018 forage season. Pastures that have little or no legumes present often lack sufficient nitrogen unless an alternative means is used.

Ideally, about 30 to 40 percent of the pasture sward should be legumes by dry weight to maintain forage quality and to provide sufficient nitrogen. Without getting too far off subject, legumes vary on the amount of nitrogen they provide, their forage quality, and also positive and negative attributes.

Legumes fix nitrogen in root nodules. Rhizobia bacteria in the soil enter the root. The correct rhizobium bacteria must be present for the species present, thus the reason for making sure that you inoculate seed prior to planting legumes. Those nodules if you cut them open will turn from a white or gray to a nice pink over time, which indicates nitrogen fixation is occurring. That reddish color comes from leghemoglobin that is the controlling factor for oxygen flow for the bacteria. Note the “globin” on the end, very similar to hemoglobin in your blood.

Dried clipping of above picture. Clover is 22% of the sward by dry weight.

Generally, improved white clovers provide the most nitrogen. Red clover also can provide a good amount, plus it has added benefits when used in tall fescue fields, but I’ll revisit that subject another time. When estimating the amount of clover, visual estimates are precarious at best, especially if done by windshield. If you stand in the field during the normal growing season and look down, you can get a somewhat decent estimate by observing what amount of occupied canopy is the legume. Sticking to clovers for now, that visual estimate is generally about half what the actual dry matter weight is going to be. In other words, if it appears that the clover is about fifty percent of the canopy cover, then the dry matter percentage is generally about 25 percent.

If you want to see this illustrated, take a clipping from a represented site, separate out the legumes, weeds and forbs from the grass, and then dry them down and weigh each when dry. For most of cool season legumes, you’ll find that that visual estimate will hold true at about 50 percent at dry weight. If the pastures contain less than 20 percent by dry weight, then it would be advantageous to add more legumes to the pasture. I actually prefer an amount greater than that, 30 to 40 percent by dry weight.

Certainly, you can get too much clover in some cases, especially with legumes that can cause bloat. Higher percentages need to be managed carefully. Now is the time to be ordering clover seed for frostseeding if you have not done so already. Typically, you will want about six to eight pounds per acre of red clover at pure live seeding rates or one to two pounds of improved white clovers. White clover seed is much smaller seed with a lot more seeds per pound than reds and will cause more bloat issues if there is too much. Coated, inoculated seed is probably ideal for the white clovers. Bulk pounds per acre will be more if using coated seed due to the inert coating which is generally about 33 to 34 percent of the bulk rate. Look closely at germination and purity percentages when buying seed as generally you get what you pay for.

We’ve had some unusually warm spells the last few weeks. Forages that really should’ve been dormant by now have continued to grow some. Could you, should you, graze it? If you need to supplement the pasture with more legumes by frost seeding later this winter, then grazing it will help suppress spring growth some and reduce competition for the clover. If not, then it is best to wait at least until the grass has decided that winter really is here and goes dormant.

Those root reserves will help jumpstart spring growth if not compromised, and it certainly doesn’t hurt to leave a little growth behind. That combined live plant residual and dead plant residue will be valuable over winter for slowing runoff, protecting the soil from erosion, and improving infiltration. The combination of more above-ground residual material and more live roots below ground will also make for quicker growth of a new solar panel of leaves in the spring. Leaving at least one or two pastures with a fair amount of residual to mix with that lush, high moisture spring grass is also beneficial and makes a great place for spring calving.

Keep on grazing!

EPA Delays Hazardous Substance Release Notification Deadline

Late in the day on November 15, 2017, the EPA announced that farms with continuous hazardous substance releases as defined by CERCLA do no thave to submit their initial continuous release notification until the DC Circuit Court of Appeals issues its order, or mandate, enforcing the Court’s opinion of April 11, 2017. While it appears the reports will be required sometime, producers may wait to file after the Court has entered its order, at which time we can expect EPA to provide a filing “deadline.” We also expect that the EPA will  utilize this additional time to bring more clarity to the emissions data and calculations producers should rely upon for determining whether they are subject to CERCLA air emissions reporting.

For more information regarding the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) section 103, visit:

OSU Beef Team post: Requirements of Hazardous Substance Reporting by Livestock Farms are Further Clarified

EPA release: CERCLA and EPCRA Reporting Requirements for Air Releases of Hazardous Substances from Animal Waste at Farms



From the fields, to the classroom, to the offices women are working to improve agriculture.

Often the skills women in agriculture need are the technical and mechanical ones. Through AgricultuHER you will learn the basic parts of an engine, and how they work together; managing the stress of working, farming and being a wife and mother. Practice tack welding and create a welding project. Tractor safety and operations will conclude our workshop. Giving you knowledge to operate a tractor to move hay or pull a grain cart.

All giving you a few basic skills to continue being an AgricultuHER!


Update On Required Dicamba Training for 2018 

Following a summer of many instances of off-target movement of dicamba across the country from use in Xtend soybeans, the labels for Engenia, XtendiMax, and FeXapan were modified in an attempt to reduce future problems. These products became restricted use pesticides, and an additional requirement is that anyone applying these products must attend annual dicamba or group 4 herbicide-specific training, and have proof that they did so. Details are still being worked out on this training for Ohio, but it will not be conducted by OSU Extension, or accomplished through OSU winter agronomy or pesticide recertification meetings. At this point, as far as we know it appears that it will be conducted by Monsanto, BASF, and DuPont at meetings held specifically by them for this purpose, and also possibly through an online training module. Final details and meeting schedules are not likely to be in place until after the first of the year. We will pass on information as we get it from ODA and companies, and applicators will undoubtedly receive this information from multiple other sources as well.

READ MORE … Update on required dicamba training for 2018 | Agronomic Crops Network

Using Goats to Improve Pastures

– Marcus McCartney, OSU Extension AgNR Educator, Washington County (originally published in Farm & Dairy)

Do you have leftover fair goats, or inherited some that did not make weight at the fair?

Perhaps your kids or grandkids have been bugging you for the small ruminant animal for some time. Or by chance, did you come into a small herd recently?

If so, then don’t perceive goat ownership as a chore or inconvenience but rather embrace it, think positive, and start letting the goats work for you.

There are several ways goats can be a useful management tool in almost any farm operation.

For beef producers, goats are incorporated into the operation with the goal of brush and weed management for new or existing pastures.

For establishing new pastures, goats are great at cleaning up brush and unwanted vegetation prior to the initial investment of starting a new pasture (seeding, liming, fertilizing, etc.) and loading with livestock.

For example, let’s look at the role of goats from converting a woodland area (timber) to pasture. Goats can be used to harvest and clear underbrush (including smaller trees) in selected areas before cutting and then sold to recoup money.

They can consume vegetation in steep dangerous terrain where making an herbicide application or clearing with machinery is difficult.

In a recent study of goats grazing in a power line right of way for five years in West Virginia, the brush was reduced from 45 percent down to 15 percent in one year. After five years of grazing, goats reduced brush cover to 2 percent.

Goats are natural browsers and prefer to graze or browse with their heads up — just like deer if given the opportunity — which makes them ideal for clearing brushy understory.

In this environment, vines constitute a significant portion of a goat’s diet, including poison ivy which they prefer, as well as saplings, young leafy trees, black locust, briars, brambles, sumac, honeysuckle, privet, Virginia trumpet creeper and broadleaf weeds.

They will not eat through the hard bark of mature trees but may girdle younger, thinly barked trees if better forage is unavailable.

Mature trees can remain undamaged as long as the goats have other forage to graze or browse.

Goats can also be used in a post-clearing situation for sprout and weed control. They will eat and remove the little green sprigs which occur on the side of trees, between rocks, and regrowth from roots.

Using goats to clear land before timbering is time-consuming, but allows one to harvest value from undergrowth and reduce debris before trees are removed.

Goats can do this work relatively inexpensively and consistently. Goats do not require a lunch break, are able to work quietly without the negative attention of herbicides and machinery, and lastly, they provide great entertainment.

Most commonly, goats are used in a beef operation to help control unwanted vegetation in existing pastures through a method called co-grazing or better known as multi-species grazing.

Even though multi-species grazing is a very old idea, it is a method that is becoming recognized again.

Multi-species grazing is the practice of using two or more livestock species (together or separately) on the same pasture-land in the same growing season to obtain the benefits of improved pasture quality, increased carrying capacity, more uniform grazing, more total pounds of gain per acre, vegetation control, decrease gastrointestinal parasite load, and more profit potential.

Most studies indicate better pasture use and production when sheep, cattle and goats are grazing and browsing together, as opposed to grazing alone.

The different dietary preferences and grazing behaviors result in greater plant use which means heavier stocking rates and increased production from a unit of land.

The breakdown of plant preferences is as follows for goats and cattle:
• Goats: grass 20 percent, weeds 20 percent, and browse 60 percent.
• Cattle: grass 70 percent, weeds 20 percent and browse 10 percent.

In this respect, goats do not compete much with beef cattle. This is one reason the most noticeable benefit for multi-species grazing for producers is brush and weed management.

Another major benefit which goes sometimes unnoticed is the decreased load of gastrointestinal parasites.

Goat and sheep parasites cannot survive in the stomach of cattle and parasites from cattle cannot survive in the stomach of goats or sheep.

Therefore, multi-species grazing will decrease gastrointestinal parasite loads and slow resistance of gastrointestinal parasites to conventional dewormers.

Finally, before implementing goats into your herd, consider the following factors: an upgrade in fencing may be needed as goats can escape easily, predator control needs to be accounted for, and the costs associated with implementing goats.

Winter and Your Backyard Chickens

– Sabrina Schirtzinger, OSU Extension AgNR Educator, Knox County

Raising chickens during the winter has challenges; decreased egg production, frozen water, and possible frostbite. Winterizing your chicken coop will help to keep your flock healthy, happy and warm. There are several breeds of chickens that winter better than others. These chickens are: Ameraucanas, Ancona, Black Australorps, Black Giant, Brahma, Buff Orpingtons, Cochins, Delaware, Dominique, Langshan, New Hampshire, Plymouth Rocks, Rhode Island Red, Speckled Sussex and Wyandottes. Realizing that not everyone has these breeds; here is a list of possible strategies to be successful.


Block Drafts: Check the doors and windows for drafts. Simply locking the windows can help with drafts. Inspect your coop for holes. Turn the lights when it is dark, walk around the outside of the coop inspecting the structure for visible holes. If you have a store bought coop with several open fenced sides; consider purchasing heavy plastic, or a tarp to cover the fenced sides.

Increase Bedding: Add a large quantity of bedding for the winter. Check the moisture level in the coop daily; when adding large amounts of bedding you find yourself cleaning the coop more often.

Image result for winterizing your chicken coops

Feeding: Chickens eat more in the cold months to keep warm. Egg laying chickens need more carbohydrates for warmth and egg production. Providing cracked corn once a day, or increasing feed protein will help to increase egg production.

Egg Production: A decline or stop in egg production is natural. By providing 12-14 hours of light will help increase egg production. Put a light in your coop on a timer.

Frostbite: Occurs on feet, combs, and wattles. Gray/ blacken and brittle areas are indications of frostbite. Simply remove the snow from the chicken run (if possible), or straw areas to protect their feet when outdoors. Inside the coop make sure that all the chickens are able to roost up at night. Roosting allows the chicken to lie on their feet avoiding standing all night.

Image result for winterizing your chicken coops

Frozen Water: With winter weather frozen water is inevitable. Change the water once a day, be sure to change the water often on colder days to prevent freezing.  Heated water bowls or containers help to keep water from freezing. Be cautious as these devices have the ability to malfunction and cause a fire.

Even though your chickens may not be exposed to the harsh winter conditions with a little preparation they are very hardy animals.

Sources: Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens, Tractor Supply Online Resources