New laws and new resources on wind and solar development in Ohio

BY  | OCTOBER 13, 2021 · 3:47 PM

Large-scale wind and solar energy development has generated both opportunity and conflict across Ohio in recent years.  For several months, we monitored the progress of Senate Bill 52, a proposal intended to address community and landowner concerns about wind and solar facilities.  This past Monday marked the effective date for Senate Bill 52, passed by the Ohio Legislature in June, and we’ve been busy developing new resources to help explain the laws that are now effective.

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Poison Hemlock Control

Source: Mark Loux, Curtis Young, OSU Extension

Poison hemlock remains one of the more persistent and prevalent poisonous weeds that we deal with in Ohio.  It’s most typically a biennial plant (sometimes perennial), emerging from seed in year one and developing into a low-growing rosette by late fall.  The rosette overwinters and then resumes growth in the spring of year two.  Stem elongation initiates sooner in spring than many other biennials, and this is followed by continued growth and development into the often very tall plant with substantial overall size.  Flowering and seed production occur in summer.

Failure to control poison hemlock occurs partly because, while it often grows in edges and fencerows around crop fields, no one really pays much attention to it until it does reach this large size when it’s less susceptible to herbicides.  And everyone is busy getting crops planted  in spring anyway so control of hemlock gets low priority.  Stages in the poison hemlock life cycle when it is most susceptible to control with herbicides are:  1) fall, when in the low-growing rosette stage; and 2) early spring before stem elongation occurs.  It’s most easily controlled in fall, but several products can work well in spring.  Herbicide effectiveness ratings for poison hemlock can be found in Table 21 of the current Weed Control Guide for Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois.  Herbicides rated 8 or 9 on poison hemlock include the following:  9 – Crossbow, Remedy Ultra; 8 – Cimarron Max, Curtail, dicamba, glyphosate.  Mixing glyphosate and dicamba can improve control compared with either applied alone.

Several online resources cover poison hemlock more comprehensively than this article does, including this one from the University of Missouri.  Information on toxicity can also be found via an internet search or by contacting OSU Extension if help is needed to resolve a specific concern.

OSU Extension Virtual Programming: Week of March 8

The following virtual programs are available next week.

 

MONDAY, MARCH 8

Farm Bill Webinar: 2021 Corn and Soybean Crop Insurance Considerations

10:00 am to 12:00 pm

2021 Virtual Ohio AgritourismReady Conference

6:30 pm to 8:30 pm

 

TUESDAY, MARCH 9

Virtual Conservation Tillage Conference

8:00 am to 3:00 pm

 

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 10

Virtual Conservation Tillage Conference

8:00 am to 3:00 pm

Southern Ohio Farm Show (Virtual)

10:00 am to 11:00 am

Beef Sire Selection for the Dairy Herd (Virtual)

12:00 pm to 1:00 pm

Farm Office Live

7:00 pm to 8:30 pm

 

THURSDAY, MARCH 11

Virtual Conservation Tillage Conference

8:00 am to 3:00 pm

The Dirt on Soil Health: Investing Below the Surface (Virtual)

8:00 am to 8:30 am

 

Wood Destroying Insect Inspection Training Webinar

8:30 am to 3:30 pm

Midwest Women in Ag Community Education Series

9:00 am to 11:00 am

County Outlook Meeting (Virtual)

10:00 am to 11:30 am

East Ohio Women In Agriculture Program Series

12:00 pm to 1:00 pm

Butler Innovative Farm Forum (Virtual)

7:00 pm to 8:30 pm

 

FRIDAY, MARCH 12

Virtual Conservation Tillage Conference

8:00 am to 3:00 pm

A DAY in the WOODS (Virtual)

10:00 am to 11:30 am

Escape to the Forest Webinar

10:00 am to 12:00 pm

Farm Office Live

 

Considerations of a Flexible Lease Arrangement

Source: Chris Zoller, Barry Ward, Mike Estadt, OSU Extension

Thousands of Ohio crop acres are rented from landowners by farmers.  While the most common is likely a cash agreement, the flexible lease may be worthy of consideration for some farmers.  This article will provide a broad overview of the flexible lease option, including advantages, disadvantages, and strucutre.

The information provided here is only a summary from the Fixed and Flexible Cash Rental Arrangements for Your Farm published by the North Central Extension Farm Management Committee.  Anyone interested in learning more about flexible leasing arrangements is encouraged to read more about this topic at this site: https://aglease101.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/NCFMEC-01.pdf.

What is a Flexible Lease?

Because of uncertainties with prices, yields, and input costs, some farmers and landowners are apprehensive about entering into a fixed long-term cash rental arrangement.  From the perspective of the farmer, the concerns include poor yields, commodity price declines, or sharp increases to input prices might impact cash flow if there is a long-term fixed arrangement.  In times like we are experiencing now, landowners want to capitalize on high commodity prices or high yields.

Therefore, the operator and landowner may turn to the use of a flexible cash rent of one kind or another. The idea of a flexible cash rent usually pertains only to the rent charged for cropland.

Advantage of Flexible Leases

  • Flexible cash rent enables the landowner to share in the additional income that results from unexpected increases in the prices of crops considered in the rent-adjustment clause. If the cash rent also is flexed for changes in yields, the landowner will benefit from above-normal yields regardless of the cause.
  • For the operator, risk is reduced. Cash-rent expense is lower if crop prices or yields are less than normal.
  • Calculating flexible cash rent requires more communication from both parties.

Disadvantages of Flexible Leases

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What to do about trespassing snowmobilers on the farm?

Source:  Peggy Hall, OSU Extension

Ohio landowners have seen it before:  when the snow flies, so do the snowmobilers.   Landowners are forced to watch snowmobilers crossing their fields and driveways and cutting through woods and homesteads, without permission and apparently without concern for property damage.   Two common questions from landowners arise at this time:  what can I do about them, and will I be liable if there’s an accident?   While the answers aren’t always satisfactory to landowners, several Ohio laws try to address these two questions.

What can you do about snowmobilers on your land?

One possibility for dealing with unwanted snowmobilers is to call local law enforcement.  That might not get the results you’d like, given the difficulty of identifying and catching snowmobilers and limited law enforcement resources in rural areas.  Trail cameras, pictures, or other ways of verifying the sleds and riders might be helpful.  Look for the registration decal on the front of the sled, which allows tracking it to its owner.   Despite these challenges, there are two sections of Ohio law that provide for criminal actions against trespassing snowmobilers if you can apprehend them:

  • Ohio criminal trespass laws make it a fourth degree misdemeanor to knowingly or recklessly be on another’s land without permission or to fail to leave after seeing “no trespass” or similar signs of restricted access or being notified by an owner.  Committing this type of trespass while on a snowmobile doubles the fine to up to $500, and up to 30 days in jail is also possible.  The court could also award damages for harm to the landowner victim of the criminal trespass.   A second offense can result in impoundment of the title to the snowmobile.
  • Ohio motor vehicle laws also address snowmobilers specifically.  The law prohibits a snowmobiler from operating on any private property or in a nursery or planting area without the permission of the landowner or tenant of the property.  The penalty for doing so is a fine of $50 to $500 and potential jail time of three to 30 days. Note that snowmobilers are also not allowed to operate on state highways, railroad tracks and railroad rights of way, and anywhere after sunset without required lighting.  The law does allow snowmobilers to drive on berms and shoulders of roads, across highways if done safely, and on county and township roads if permitted to do so by the county or township.

Another potential legal strategy is to bring a civil action against trespassing snowmobilers.  Again, that requires knowing who they are and proving that they were on your property.  A few laws that could apply are:

  • Ohio’s law on civil trespass is a court made law, and it requires showing that a person intentionally entered another’s land without permission and caused harm to the land.  If a snowmobiler harmed the property while trespassing, this type of claim allows a landowner to seek compensation for that harm.  Examples of harm that might arise include damaged fences, culverts, drives, and crops.
  • If the snowmobiler behaved recklessly and caused damage, another law comes into play.  Ohio law prohibits a person from recklessly destroying or injuring vegetation on another’s land, which includes crops, trees, saplings, vines, and bushes.  “Recklessly” means with heedless indifference to the consequences of an act.    To punish the reckless behavior, the law awards compensation to the landowner for three times the value of the destroyed vegetation.  This law can be particularly helpful when the ground is not frozen and snowmobiling damages the crop beneath the snow.

Other than legal action, a few management practices might be helpful in deterring snowmobilers.  We’ve removed many of the old fences that used to fence in our farms, but fencing is an obvious although costly solution.   If you put up a fence, it should be noticeable and not just a thin wire or two.  Consider flagging the fence with neon markers.  Beyond fences, other actions can help mark property boundaries clearly.  No trespassing signs serve this purpose, but make sure they are easy to see when there’s snow, are visible from a distance, and are placed where snowmobilers might enter the property.  You may have other ways to restrict access to the area where snowmobilers enter, but be aware that you could be liable if you set up a “trap” or dangerous situation that harms a snowmobiler, discussed in the next section.

Will you be liable if there’s a snowmobile accident on your land?

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Farm Office Live Returns on February 10 & 12

Source: Peggy Hall, OSU Extension

Wondering what’s happening with CFAP, the Paycheck Protection Program, and Executive Orders?  So is the Farm Office team, and we’re ready to provide you with updates.  Join us this month for Farm Office Live on Wednesday, February 10 from 7–8:30 p.m. and again on Friday, February 12 from 10–11:30 a.m., when we’ll cover economic and legal issues affecting Ohio agriculture, including:

Status of the Coranivirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP)

Update on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

Tax credits information

Executive Orders that may impact agriculture

Legal update on small refinery exemptions

Farm Business Analysis program results

Legislative update

Your questions

To register for the free event, visit this link:  go.osu.edu/farmofficelive

 

Noxious weeds on your property: what is your responsibility?

Source: Ellen Essman, OSU

Despite the fact that “pumpkin spice” everything is back in stores, it is still summer, and if you’re anything like me, you’re still dealing with weeds. In fact, we have been receiving many questions about noxious weeds lately.  This blog post is meant to be a refresher about what you should do if noxious weeds sprout up on your property.

What are noxious weeds?

The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) is in charge of designating “prohibited noxious weeds.”  The list may change from time to time, but currently, noxious weeds include:

  • Shatter cane (Sorghum bicolor)
  •  Russian thistle (Salsola Kali var. tenuifolia).
  • Johnsongrass (Sorghum halepense ).
  •  Wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa).
  • Grapevines (Vitis spp.), when growing in groups of one hundred or more and not pruned, sprayed, cultivated, or otherwise maintained for two consecutive years.
  • Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense ).
  • Poison hemlock (Conium maculatum).
  •  Cressleaf groundsel (Senecio glabellus).
  • Musk thistle (Carduus nutans).
  • Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria).
  • Mile-A-Minute Weed (Polygonum perfoliatum).
  • Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum).
  • Apple of Peru (Nicandra physalodes).
  • Marestail (Conyza canadensis)
  • Kochia (Bassia scoparia).
  • Palmer amaranth (Amaranthus palmeri).
  • Kudzu (Pueraria montana var. lobata).
  • Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum).
  • Yellow Groove Bamboo (Phyllostachys aureasculata), when the plant has spread from its original premise of planting and is not being maintained.
  • Field bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis).
  • Heart-podded hoary cress (Lepidium draba sub. draba).
  • Hairy whitetop or ballcress Lepidium appelianum).
  • Perennial sowthistle (Sonchus arvensis).
  • Russian knapweed (Acroptilon repens).
  • Leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula).
  • Hedge bindweed (Calystegia sepium).
  • Serrated tussock (Nassella trichotoma).
  • Columbus grass (Sorghum x almum).
  • Musk thistle (Carduus nutans).
  • Forage Kochia (Bassia prostrata).
  • Water Hemp (Amaranthus tuberculatus).

The list of noxious weeds can be found in the Ohio Administrative Code section 901:5-37-01. In addition to this list, Ohio State has a guidebook that will help you identify noxious weeds in Ohio, which is available here.  It may be helpful to familiarize yourself with the weeds in the book, so you can be on the lookout for noxious weeds on your property.

When am I responsible for noxious weeds?

The Ohio Revised Code addresses noxious weeds in different parts of the code. When it comes to noxious weeds on the property of private individuals, there are two scenarios that may apply: noxious weeds on private property, and noxious weeds in line fence rows.

Noxious weeds on your property

If your property is located outside of a municipality, a neighbor or another member of the public can inform the township trustees in writing that there are noxious weeds on your property. If this happens, the township trustees must then turn around and notify you about the existence of noxious weeds. After receiving a letter from the trustees, you must either destroy the weeds or show the township trustees why there is no need for doing so. If you do not take one of these actions within five days of the trustees’ notice, the township trustees must cause the weeds to be cut or destroyed, and the county auditor will assess the costs for destroying the weeds against your real property taxes.  If your land is in a municipality, similar laws apply, but you would be dealing with the legislative authority, like the city council, instead of township trustees.

What if you rent out your land out to be farmed or otherwise?  Are you responsible for noxious weeds on your property in that situation?  The answer is probably.  The law states that the board of township trustees “shall notify the owner, lessee, agent, or tenant having charge of the land” that they have received information about noxious weeds on the property (emphasis added).  Furthermore, the law says that the “person notified” shall cut or destroy the weeds (or have them cut or destroyed).  In all likelihood, if you own the land, you are going to be the person who is notified by the trustees about the presence of weeds.  If you rent out your property to be farmed or otherwise, you may want to include who is responsible for noxious weeds in the language of the lease.

Noxious weeds in the fence row

The “line fence law” or “partition fence law” in Ohio requires landowners in unincorporated areas to cut all noxious weeds, brush, briers and thistles within four feet and in the corners of a line fence. A line fence (or partition fence) is a fence that is on the boundary line between two properties. If you fail to keep your side of the fence row clear of noxious weeds and other vegetation, Ohio law provides a route for adjacent landowners concerned about the weeds. First, an adjacent landowner must request that you clear the fence row of weeds and must allow you ten days to do so. If the weeds still remain after ten days, the complaining landowner may notify the township trustees of the situation. Then, the township trustees must view the property and determine whether there is sufficient reason to remove weeds and vegetation from the fence row. If they determine that the weeds should be removed, the township trustees may hire someone to clear the fence row.  Once again, if this occurs, the county auditor will assess the costs of destruction on your property taxes.

Being aware of noxious weeds is key. 

As a landowner, it is really important for you to keep an eye out for noxious weeds on your property.  If you keep on top of the weeds, cutting them or otherwise destroying them as they grow, it will certainly make your life a lot easier. You will avoid awkward conversations with neighbors, letters from your township trustees, and extra charges on your property taxes. Additionally, you will help to prevent the harm that noxious weeds may cause to crops, livestock, and ecosystems in general.

To learn more about Ohio’s noxious weed laws, you can access our law bulletin on the subject here.  While the bulletin addresses the responsibilities of landowners, it also goes beyond the scope of this blog post, addressing weeds on roadways, railroads, and public lands, as well as how to respond if your neighbor has noxious weeds on their property.  Additionally, the bulletin has a helpful section of “frequently asked questions” regarding noxious weeds.

Noxious weeds on your property: what is your responsibility?

Written by Ellen Essman

Despite the fact that “pumpkin spice” everything is back in stores, it is still summer, and if you’re anything like me, you’re still dealing with weeds. In fact, we have been receiving many questions about noxious weeds lately.  This blog post is meant to be a refresher about what you should do if noxious weeds sprout up on your property.

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Late-Season Waterhemp – The Goal is Stopping Seed

Source: Mark Loux, OSU

I am seeing an increase in both waterhemp and palmer amaranth in Knox County this year.  These can be devestating weeds and if not properly managed, can increase your herbicide costs dramatically.  Make sure you are scouting for these weeds now!

In our windshield scouting of soybeans this year we have seen a lot of weedfree fields.  This makes sense given the shift toward Xtend, LibertyLink, LLGT27, and Enlist soybeans over the past several years, which provides us with effective POST options for our major weed problems – common and giant ragweed, marestail, and waterhemp (now if we could just get rid of the baggage some of these traits carry).  We are however getting many reports of late-season waterhemp as it grows through the soybeans and becomes evident.  This also makes sense given that statewide we are in the midst of an overall increase in waterhemp, and continue to move up the curve in terms of number of fields infested and the size of the infestations.  Prevention and management of waterhemp and Palmer amaranth has been one of the primary goals of our state and county educational programs for half a decade or more.  And one of the most important points about waterhemp and Palmer that we try to get across is their capacity for prodigious seed production – 500,000 to upwards of a million seeds per plant – and what this means for their ability to rapidly ramp up populations, infest equipment, etc.

The bottom line here is that it’s essential to scout fields this time of the season and kill or remove plants that could produce seed.  Allowing even a few plants to produce seed means an increased population for the next year or two at least.  Running harvest equipment through plants loaded with seed is a primary mechanism of spread from field to field.  Plants can survive into late season because they emerged after herbicide treatments, or survived an improperly timed and less than effective POST treatment.  These plants should produce less seed than plants allowed to grow full season without interruption.  It’s also possible given waterhemp’s propensity to become resistant to any herbicide used against it, that the survivors are resistant to whatever POST herbicide was used.  Resistance to glyphosate, ALS, and PPO inhibitors is widespread in Ohio, and we expect the development of resistance to dicamba, 2,4-D, and glufosinate will occur given their intensity of use (which is why the current period of clean fields makes us nervous).  The only way to ensure that resistance does not develop is to follow herbicide programs with later season scouting and removal of plants to prevent seed.

The most effective way to prevent seed is to cut off waterhemp or Palmer plants just below soil line, remove plants from the field, and burn or compost or bury deep enough.  Plants left in the field can reroot at multiple nodes and regrow.  Another option to at least reduce seed production – use a weedeater to cut the tops of plants off.  Once plants develop mature seed (hard brown or black), most effective strategy may be to cut off and bag up seedheads and remove from field.  The value of herbicides this late in the season is questionable.  PPO herbicides are the only legal option at this point, with following restrictions (DBH = days before harvest; from Table 18 of Weed Control Guide):  Cobra/Phoenix – 45 DBH; fomesafen – 45 DBH; Ultra Blazer – 45 DBH.  Carryover and injury to corn from late-season applications of fomesafen is possible.  None of these herbicides are likely to kill large waterhemp plants although they may reduce suppress smaller plants enough to reduce seed.  Keep in mind that PPO inhibitors would be completely ineffective in waterhemp populations that are resistant to PPO inhibitors.

We suggest taking some time from now into September to scout fields for waterhemp and Palmer amaranth with the goal of preventing seed.  If you are lucky enough to have avoided waterhemp, use scouting to maintain this status and prevent new infestations.  If you are currently managing waterhemp infestations, consider late-season removal of plants as an important component of that management plan, and critical to maintaining POST herbicide utility.  Scouting should include local roadsides and waterways, and areas of fields subject to flooding or near migratory bird or deer paths.  Since combines are an effective dispersal mechanism, check the part of fields first harvested where combines are started up.  If you need to harvest fields with waterhemp or Palmer amaranth, harvest these last followed by thorough cleaning of combines, grain carts, semis, etc.  These efforts can go a long way toward avoiding future headaches and increased production costs.

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Ohio Noxious Weed Law

Its that time of year when some of our ugly weeds begin to make their presence known by rising above crop canopies, appearing along the side of the road, etc.  I typically receive many questions about noxious weed identification, control, legal issues, and more.  Below is the first page of the OSU Law Bulletin on Noxious weeds.  Click here to download the complete bulletin.