Open burning restrictions lift December 1, but don’t get burned by the laws

Source: Peggy Hall, OSU Extension

With the warm, dry, and windy months of October and November behind us, Ohio farmers will soon have legal clearance to conduct open burning during the daylight hours. Ohio law prohibits all open burning from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. during October and November. That’s because ground cover and weather conditions create high fire risk and volunteer firefighters with daytime jobs aren’t readily available to fight the fires.

December 1 marks the end of the daytime burn restriction, but other open burning laws remain in effect. Farmers can burn “agricultural waste,” but must follow conditions in the open burning laws. Burning wastes that aren’t agricultural waste might require prior permission or notification, and it is illegal to burn some wastes due to the environmental harms they cause. Don’t get burned by failing to know and follow the open burning laws. Here’s a summary of important provisions that affect farmers and farmland owners.

What you can burn. Ohio law allows the burning of “agricultural wastes” under certain conditions. Ohio law defines what is and is not “agricultural waste” as follows:

Agricultural waste is any waste material generated by crop, horticultural, or livestock production practices, and includes such items as woody debris and plant matter from stream flooding, bags, cartons, structural materials, and landscape wastes that are generated in agricultural activities.
Agricultural waste does not include buildings; dismantled or fallen barns; garbage; dead animals; animal waste; motor vehicles and parts thereof; or “economic poisons and containers,” unless the manufacturer has identified open burning as a safe disposal procedure.
Agricultural waste does not include”land clearing waste,” which is debris resulting from the clearing of land for new development for agricultural, residential, commercial or industrial purposes. Burning of “land clearing waste” requires prior written notification to Ohio EPA.
If an agricultural waste pile is greater than 20 ft. wide x 10 ft. high (4,000 cubic feet), permission from Ohio EPA is necessary.
Where you can burn. Laws that affect the burning location relate to where the waste is generated and whether the burn is in or near a village, city, or buildings:

It is legal to burn agricultural waste only if it is generated on the property where the burn occurs. It is illegal to take agricultural waste to a different property for burning and to receive and burn agricultural waste from another property.
Burning inside a “restricted area” requires providing a ten day written notice to Ohio EPA. A restricted area is any area inside city or village limits, within 1,000-feet of a city or village with a population of 1,000 to 10,000, or within one-mile of a city or village with a population of more than 10,000.
A burn must be located more than 1,000 feet from any neighboring inhabited building.
How to manage the burn. Ohio laws impose practices a person must follow when conducting open burning, which includes:

Remove all leaves, grass, wood, and inflammable materials around the burn to a safe distance.
Stack waste to provide the best practicable condition for efficient burning.
Don’t burn in weather conditions that prevent dispersion of smoke and emissions.
Take reasonable precautions to keep the fire under control.
Extinguish or safely cover an open fire before leaving the area.
Local laws matter too. A local government can also have laws that regulate burning activities, so it’s important to check with the local fire department to know whether any additional regulations apply to a burn.

A bad burn can burn you. Violation of state and local open burning laws creates several risks for farmers and farmland owners. First is the risk of enforcement by the Ohio EPA, which has the authority to issue fines of up to $1,000 per day per offense for an illegal burn. According to the EPA, the most common violations by farmers include burning substances that are not “agricultural wastes,” such as tires and plastics, failing to meet the 1,000 foot setback requirement, and burning waste from another property. EPA enforcement officers regularly patrol their districts, investigate fires they see, and investigate complaints from neighbors or others who report burning activities, so “getting caught” is quite possible.

An illegal burn might also bring in the Ohio Division of Forestry or local law enforcement. Beyond the environmental provisions, other violations of the open burning laws can result in third degree misdemeanor charges. Penalties of up to $500 and 60 days of jail time per violation could result.

A final risk to consider is liability for harm to yourself, other people, or other property if a burn goes wrong. It’s possible for a fire to escape and burn unintended property, to reduce roadway visibility and cause an accident, or to interfere with people, animals, crops, or buildings. These situations can cause personal injuries, property harm, and could result in insurance claims or a negligence or nuisance lawsuit. Using common sense and taking reasonable safety precautions when conducting a burn can go a long way toward reducing the risk of harm and resulting liability for harm.

To learn more about Ohio’s open burning laws, visit the Ohio EPA website at

Harvest Delays – Light vs. Temperature

There has been a lot of discussion about the crop yields from 2023 in Ohio, from early reports of crop stress in May and June to greater than anticipated yield values for many producers this fall. Yield reports of >110 bu/ac wheat harvested in July were reported in parts of Ohio, and better than anticipated yields in some corn and soybean fields. Harvest progress of corn has been delayed from normal for many farmers.

Many questions have been raised on the role that haze from Canadian wildfires may have played on seasonal crop growth this year. Ohio experienced three major episodes of wildfire impacts on June 6-7, June 27-29, and July 16-17, with several more days throughout the two-month period of less intense smoke-filled skies. However, looking at 2023 compared to historical trends overall radiation availability was similar to the 10-year historical average for the three CFAES research stations of Northwest, Wooster, and Western (Figure 1). Light availability was higher than normal in May through mid-June, in part due to many clear days and below average rainfall. Light availability approached normal levels throughout June and July in part due to a slight reduction during the short period of haze, but recovered to mimic the 10-year patterns observed in recent past.

Despite the short haze periods, the photons available per heat unit accumulated (PTQ or photothermal quotient) were at or above the 10-year average (0-38% greater) aside from July at Western research station (6% lower) and September at Northwest (2% below normal). Generally, greater PTQ values suggest that more photosynthesis can occur in the same thermal period and could lead to greater yields.

Figure 1. Daily light integral (left) and accumulated growing degree days, base 50°F (right), and the 10-year averages for three Ohio locations of Northwest Agricultural Research Station in Custar (upper row), Western Agricultural Research Station in South Charleston (middle row), and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster (bottom row) in 2023.

Contrastingly, accumulated Growing Degree Days (GDDs) were below the 10-year average for every location this year (Figure 2). The same pattern that brought the frequent spells of wildfire smoke, northerly wind flow out of Canada, kept temperatures below average for the summer (Figure 2 – left). It is possible the cooler temperatures helped crop’s periods of water deficit better this year than in years past, but also can have contributed to the slow drydown experienced by many farmers this year.

Interesting to note, several folks have commented that this summer reminded them of the summer of 1992. Looking at that year’s temperature difference compared to average (Figure 2 – right), temperatures were cooler in 1992 than this past summer. Mt. Pinatubo erupted in June 1991 and is often pointed to as a main reason for cooler global temperatures in the year that followed. Volcanic emissions circled around the globe high in the atmosphere throughout the tropical and sub-tropical regions, reflecting and absorbing solar radiation and cooling the Northern Hemisphere surface temperatures by about 0.9-1°F.

Overall, the cooler temperatures and slower accumulation of GDDs can be the largest contributor to delayed corn harvest this year. Cooler overall conditions could have led to slightly higher than normal PTQ values for the season, which also may help explain the higher than anticipated yields in the wheat crop this summer.

Fall-applied Herbicide Considerations

Harvest is progressing in much of Ohio, though recent rains have slowed field activities in some areas. As crops continue to come off it’s a good time for a reminder about the value of fall-applied herbicides. Rains this past week may stimulate winter annual weed emergence to some extent. This is the best time of year to control winter annuals and some of the more difficult to manage overwintering weed species. Biennial and perennial plants are now sending nutrients down to the root systems in preparation for winter. Systemic herbicides like glyphosate and 2,4-D applied at this time will be translocated down into the roots more effectively than if applied in spring when nutrients are moving upward. This results in better control. In addition, the increasingly unpredictable spring weather patterns we have experienced in recent years can influence the timing and efficacy of spring burndown applications. Fall-applied herbicides can lead to weed free situations going into spring until early emerging annuals begin to appear in April, and are an essential component in the control of marestail and other overwintering species.

Here are some reminders when it comes to fall-applied herbicides:

  • Evaluate weed emergence and growth post-harvest to help determine if an application is necessary.
  • Fall-applied herbicides should primarily target weeds that are emerged at the time of application.
  • Species present in large quantities late-season that would necessitate the application of an herbicide include (but are not limited to): marestail, dandelion, wild carrot, poison hemlock, common chickweed, purple deadnettle, henbit, annual bluegrass, and cressleaf groundsel.
  • OSU research has not found much of a benefit from adding metribuzin or other residual products late in the fall. The exception to this is chlorimuron, which can persist into the spring. The recommendation here has generally been to keep costs low in the fall and save those products for spring when you will get more bang for your buck.
  • Herbicides generally work across a range of conditions, though activity can be slower as temperatures drop. Foliar products are most effective when daytime temperatures are in the 50s or higher and nighttime temperatures remain above 40.

Table 1 in the Weed Control Guide for Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri provides ratings for various overwintering weed species in response to fall-applied herbicides.

Fertilizer Prices Climb; and Injunction for Largest Proposed Fertilizer Mine in Brazil Overturned

Source: Farmdoc, University of Illinois

DTN Farm Business Editor Katie Micik Dehlinger reported yesterday that, “The retail prices of all eight major fertilizers climbed higher in the second week of October, with anhydrousMAP and UAN32 posting the largest gains.

“DTN polls retail  fertilizer sellers each week to compile price estimates and considers a price change of 5% or more to be significant.

Anhydrous prices climbed 16% on average to $804 per ton. MAP and UAN32 each climbed by 7% to $794/ton and $418/ton, respectively.”

Dehlinger explained that, “The prices of the remaining five fertilizers were all higher than last month, but less significantly. DAP cost an average of $711/ton; potash$506/ton; urea$57510-34-0$613/ton; and UAN28$356/ton.”

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Agricultural easements can address farmland preservation and farm transition goals

Questions from farmers and farmland owners about agricultural easements are on the rise at the Farm Office.  Why is that?  From what we’re hearing, the questions are driven by concerns about the loss of farmland to development as well as desires to keep farmland in the family for future generations.  An agricultural easement is a unique tool that can help a farmland owner and farming operation meet goals to protect farmland from development or transition that land to the next generation.  Here are answers to some of the questions we’ve been hearing.

What is an agricultural easement? 

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Weekly Commodity Market Update

Brownfield’s Weekly Commodity update featuring former OSU Extension Ag Economist Ben Brown.

This Week’s Topics:

  • Market recap
  • Corn, soybean production estimates drop
  • Chinese soybean stock changes
  • Wheat exports
  • Record soybean crush
  • Reports to watch

Market recap (Changes on week as of Monday’s close):

  • December 2023 corn up $.02 at $4.90
  • December 2024 corn up $.01 at $5.17
  • November 2023 soybeans up $.22 at $12.86
  • November 2024 soybeans up $.05 at $12.55
  • December soybean oil up 2.97 cents at 55.90 cents/lb
  • December soybean meal up at $390.20/short ton
  • December 2023 wheat up $.05 at $5.77
  • July 2024 wheat down $.06 at $6.34
  • November WTI Crude Oil up $1.10 at $85.70/barrel

Weekly Highlights

  • US crude oil stocks excluding the strategic petroleum reserve increased 427 million gallons on the week while gasoline, distillate, and ethanol stocks all declined.
  • Ethanol production declined just slightly week over week- down 2 million gallons to 295. However, US gasoline consumption was up nearly 7% during the first week over October. With the increase in use and the moderate decline in production ethanol stocks declined 15 million gallons.
  • It was a neutral week for US ag export sales. Corn sales were roughly half what they were the week prior but slightly above all expectations while soybeans also cleared rather low expectations. Soft red winter wheat export sales continue to support the wheat complex on global price competitiveness.
  • USDA cut both US corn and soybeans national average yields in October by 0.8 and 0.5 bushels respectively. For both, the decrease in production was either partially or fully offset with declines in demand categories.
  • The most surprising number in Thursday Supply and Demand Report came from the global soybean balance sheet where a drop in Chinese beginning stocks and an increase in expected feed use helped create a bullish global ending stocks picture.
  • Open interest in Chicago corn and soybean futures and options positions increased week over week. Producer and merchants doubled their short position of corn contracts while slightly selling soybean contracts.
  • Managed money traders bought back 46.7 thousand positions of Chicago corn to shrink their net short- this was someway surprising after daily estimates had estimated they would increase their net short.
  • USDA Ag Export Inspections were bullish for soybeans while bearish for corn. At nearly 74 million bushels, soybean exports were the highest since early January.
  • The National Oilseed Processors Association reported their members crushed 165.5 million bushels of soybeans in September- setting a new record for the month of September. Soybean oil stocks fell to its lowest level since December 2014.
  • Harvest production in the US moved along this week- corn was up 11% to 45% and soybean harvest was up 19% to 43%.

Farm Office Live to be held on October 20 at 10:00 a.m.

The OSU Extension Farm Office Team is pleased to be offering a “Farm Office Live” Zoom webinar on Friday, October 20 from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m.

This month’s webinar will feature the following topics:

  • Federal Farm Program Assistance Update
  • Legislative Update
  • A Look at Upcoming Farm Management Programs
  • Crop Input Outlook for 2024
  • Handing an Insurance Claim
  • Farm Bill Update

Featured Farm Office Team members include Bruce Clevenger, Jeff Lewis, David Marrison, Eric Richer, and Barry Ward.

To register for this program (or to access replays of previous programs):

More information about this program can be accessed at

Ohio State University to Provide Resolution Services for Ohio Farms

Ohio has over 76,000 farms and 13 million acres of farmland.  In such a large and diverse industry, conflicts commonly arise that can lead to disputes, litigation, and appeals.  Ultimately, these conflicts can cause harmful effects that threaten the viability of Ohio agriculture.  To address these issues, a new program has been developed – Ohio Farm Resolution Services at The Ohio State University (OFRS).  The goal of OFRS is to cultivate solutions to the conflicts that impact Ohio’s farms and farm families.

OFRS will provide a three-pronged approach to assist farms and farm families in resolving problems and conflicts:

  1. Education resources.  The first approach will be to provide educational resources that may lead to a resolution.  Educational resources may be in the form of bulletins, publications, articles or individual discussions.  For example, OFRS may provide a law bulletin on farm leasing to a tenant and landowner involved in a lease dispute.  Some disputes can be resolved through education alone.
  2. Consultation and informal resolution services.  OSU Extension attorneys and farm management specialists will be available to meet with parties to assist with resolving their issues.  These services will be more informal and may include sitting at the kitchen table with a family struggling with transition planning or perhaps meeting in a pasture to discuss shared fence line concerns between neighboring farmers.
  3. Formal mediation.  Sometimes conflicts escalate to hard feelings and entrenched positions.  When this happens, formal mediation may be appropriate.  This process will involve the intervention of a trained mediator to assist the parties in negotiating jointly acceptable resolution of issues in conflict. The mediator meets with the parties at a neutral location, often shuttling between separate rooms, where the parties can discuss the dispute and explore a variety of solutions.  Formal mediation is often the last step before litigation.

Most consultation and mediation services will be conducted by OFRS’ primary consultants/mediators: Peggy Hall, David Marrison, Jeff Lewis and Robert Moore.  OFRS will also develop a pool of outside mediators who can assist with matters that require special or unique technical knowledge.  OFRS is committed to providing individuals who have both the knowledge and skill to help understand and resolve issues.

OFRS will be able to assist on a wide variety of matters.  The following are issues for which OFRS can provide assistance:

  • Family communication
  • Farm transition planning
  • Business entities
  • Business practices
  • Land use
  • Property issues/neighbor issues
  • Zoning
  • Farm leases
  • Energy leases
  • Farm labor issues
  • Farmland drainage
  • Crops/agronomy/soils disputes
  • USDA administrative appeals
  • ODA administrative appeals
  • Farm lender/creditor negotiations

OFRS is available to provide educational and consultation services now.  Mediation services will be available beginning in January 2024.  For more information or to refer someone to OFRS, contact Robert Moore at or 614-247-8260.  Information is also available at

Is AI Ready to Draft Your Farm Lease?

By: Robert Moore, OSU Extension

In a previous post “Artificial Intelligence – What Is it and How to Use It”, I briefly discussed AI, how it works and some of its potential uses.  There is no doubt that AI will have profound effects on each of us and our society in general.  In this post, I am going to examine how AI works for a specific task related to agricultural law and measure its performance.

Surveys by Ohio State University indicate around 50% of farmland in Ohio is leased.  Therefore, farm leases are an important legal document for many Ohio farmers.  While some farm leases are still only verbal, many tenants and landowners recognize the benefits of a written lease and have at least a basic written lease in place.  Some leases are written by the tenant or landlord while other leases are written by attorneys.  The issue addressed in this article is: is AI ready to draft your farm lease?

The Process

To address the above question, ChatGPT and Google Bard, two of the more prominent AI interfaces, were each tasked with the following: “draft a cash farm lease”.  This command was broad and vague but would likely reflect what a tenant or landowner might request.  This exercise was performed on May 30, 2023 and each AI tool provided a cash farm lease.  The exercise was again performed on October 4, 2023 to assess if AI’s capabilities changed over time.

To measure the effectiveness of AI, the drafted leases were compared to the recommended lease terms provided in OSU Extension’s bulletin “What’s In your Farm Lease?  A Checklist of Farm Lease Provisions”.  This bulletin was written by Peggy Hall and provides 26 key terms that should be included in most farm leases.  Each draft lease was scored based on the number of terms that were included.

The Results

The following is the score for each draft, with the score reflecting the number of recommended terms from the lease bulletin that were included in the lease drafts:

ChatGPT, May 2023                   8

Google Bard, May 2023             10

Chat GPT, October 2023             9

Google Bard, October 2023        7

As the scores show, neither ChatGPT nor Google Bard included even one-half of the recommended terms and the best was 10 out of 26 or 38%. Two important items of note.  First, no drafts included terms to prevent the tenant from assigning the lease to someone else – an extremely important provision to include in farm leases. Second, no drafts addressed landowner or tenant signatures needing notarized.1

I would describe these drafts as “bare minimum” leases.  They are probably better than having no lease at all, but they could be much better and do not include several key terms.  Also, there was no significant improvement of performance over time.  In fact, the Google Bard score was lower in the later draft.  Asking ChatGPT or Google Bard to “draft a farm cash lease” is not going to provide a satisfactory lease.

Providing Input to AI to Improve Output

As I discussed in my prior AI post, one of the benefits of AI is the ability to chat with it.  That is, you can provide feedback to the AI to assist it in providing a better outcome.  So, that’s what I did.  After reviewing the first two rounds of lease drafts, I asked ChatGPT and Google Bard to draft a third cash farm lease and to specifically include the 26 recommended terms from the lease bulletin.  The resulting leases were better and scored as follows:

ChatGPT           16

Google Bard      20

As you can see, the scores increased significantly.  So, the feedback provided to AI was integrated into the resulting drafts and made the leases better.  This is one of the major advancements of AI. It allows someone like me that has little computer proficiency to provide untrained input that causes a significantly better result.

While the scores did increase, there were still some major issues with the drafts.  I was probably generous in the scoring and gave credit if an issue was addressed, even if somewhat incomplete.  For example, in its first two drafts, ChatGPT did not include a term addressing who receives FSA payments, the tenant or landowner.  ChatGPT did address this issue after being prompted but stated that the landowner would receive all FSA payments.  According to FSA rules, the tenant must receive at least some of the program payments and it is customary for the tenant to receive all FSA payments.  So, while ChatGPT included a term about FSA payments, the included term was not completely accurate or correct.

Google Bard also had similar issues.  In its first two drafts, it did not address what happens in the event of eminent domain takes a portion of the leased property.  A typical lease term would say that the tenant is compensated for any crop damage caused by eminent domain and the landowner would keep the acquisition proceeds.  Google Bard included a provision about eminent domain but stated the tenant would receive all eminent domain proceeds.  Allowing the tenant to keep eminent domain proceeds would be very unusual and not something a landowner should agree to.

I would assess these leases as “better but still not good”.  These drafts did include more of the recommended terms but included many of them in an insufficient or incomplete manner.  The third round of leases did show that AI can learn and improve with feedback but also that it has a long way to go.  The craft and nuance of drafting legal documents still seems to belong to the domain of people.


There are some well-known people, such as Elon Musk, who claim that we should have serious concerns about AI eventually taking over the world.  Their concerns may be valid, but as of now I don’t believe AI is going to take over farm lease drafting anytime soon.  An experienced attorney can do a much better job of drafting a farm lease than today’s AI.  For a tenant or landowner who are unwilling to hire an attorney or may not have the resources to pay an attorney, a farm lease drafted by AI may be better than nothing but that’s about it.  The best source of legal services remains to be attorneys and likely will be for the foreseeable future.  AI is not ready to replace your attorney – yet.

1Leases for more than three years must be notarized.

Weekly Commodity Market Update

Brownfield’s Weekly Commodity update featuring former OSU Extension Ag Economist Ben Brown.

This Week’s Topics:

  • Market recap
  • Crude oil price swings
  • USDA report preview
  • Corn ending stocks
  • U.S. export positioning
  • Reports to watch


Market recap (Changes on week as of Monday’s close):

  • December 2023 corn flat at $4.88
  • December 2024 corn down $.01 at $5.16
  • November 2023 soybeans down $.13 at $12.64
  • November 2024 soybeans down $.17 at $12.50
  • December soybean oil down 3.5 cents at 53.93 cents/lb
  • December soybean meal down flat at $374.60/short ton
  • December 2023 wheat up $.08 at $5.72
  • July 2024 wheat up $.09 at $6.40
  • November WTI Crude Oil down $2.64 at $84.60/barrelWeekly Highlights
  • It was announced last week that the Argentina Government will expected their “soy dollar” program through October 25
  • US Crude oil stocks minus the strategic petroleum reserve fell another 93 million gallons this week along with distillate stocks, while gasoline stocks were up 272 million gallons.
  • Ethanol production was flat at 297 million gallons produced on the week using an estimated 99.9 million bushels of corn.
  • It was a solid week for agricultural export sales last week with corn and soybeans at the top end of their respective expectations and highest weekly volumes since April and January, respectively.