Plant power: Ohio naturalist, author to speak July 8

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The next monthly breakfast program by the Environmental Professionals Network, “Plants Make the World Go ’Round: Why We Must Protect Our Native Ecosystems,” is July 8 at the Grange Insurance Audubon Center in Columbus. The speaker will be the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Jim McCormac, who writes the Ohio Birds and Biodiversity blog and is the author of Birds of Ohio, Great Lakes Nature Guide and Wild Ohio: The Best of Our Natural HeritageAfter his talk and the breakfast, he’ll lead a nature walk in the surrounding Scioto Audubon Metro Park on the Scioto River. For details and a link to online registration, click here. (Photo: iStock.)

CFAES scientists get grant to study biocontrol of deadly bat disease

white nose syndrome in little brown batA team including CFAES scientists has received a $223,000 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grant to study possible biocontrol agents for white-nose syndrome in bats. The grant was one of eight awarded last week by the agency for studying the disease. White-nose syndrome is a fungal infection that has killed millions of hibernating bats in eastern North America. It was first found in New York in 2006 and since then has spread, including to Ohio. Bats eat massive amounts of night-flying insects, including food crop pests and mosquitoes. Fewer bats would mean more of these pests. (Photo: Infected little brown bat by Al Hicks, N.Y. Department of Environmental Conservation.)

Certainly getting his feet wet

CFAES student Ben Rubinoff, a junior in the School of Environment and Natural Resources’ Environmental Science Honors Program, is interning this summer with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center on Chesapeake Bay. From a story called “Seeking Life in the Mud” on the center’s website:

Once the math is done, they head to the field. Either from inside a jon boat or up to their knees in murky water along the shore, they use a tool called a “petite ponar” to snatch sediment from the bottom surface. “It’s like big salad tongs,” said Rubinoff.

So you want to know more about naked oats …

image of man looking curiousSo, “naked oats” are really a thing. And a CFAES scientist is studying them. Can growing them benefit organic farmers (as part of their crop rotation), organic chickens (as lower-cost organic feed) and, yes, organic oatmeal eaters (as, well, oatmeal)? You can learn more about them at a CFAES-sponsored event next week. And also in a previous press release.

Wrong kind of green

Lake Erie may see major algal blooms again this summer, Jeff Reutter, director of Ohio State’s Stone Lab and Ohio Sea Grant programs, said last month at a university symposium on climate change. And that’s bad. The blooms threaten, among other things, fish such as walleye, the lake’s $10 billion-a-year tourism industry, and drinking water safety for 3 million Ohioans and 12 million people overall. The Toledo BladeColumbus Dispatch and Crain’s Cleveland Business all reported on the story.

Phosphorus runoff serves as the blooms’ main fuel. Much of Lake Erie’s phosphorus comes from the Maumee River, which enters the lake at Toledo. Much of the river’s phosphorus, meanwhile, comes from fertilizers washed off of farm fields by rain, Reutter said.

CFAES scientists — through the On-Field Ohio project and the big annual Conservation Tillage Conference, for example — continue to work on ways to reduce and prevent this runoff.

Toronto’s trees score big. How do yours rate?

sugar maple leafThere’s money in those maple leafs leaves, says a story today in The Globe and Mail. Toronto’s 10 million trees are worth about $7 billion Canadian ($6.4 billion U.S.), and their benefits — including reducing stormwater runoff and lowering summer cooling bills — far outweigh their costs. Here’s how to put a dollar (U.S.) on your own trees’ benefits. (Photo: Sugar maple by Paul Wray, Iowa State University,

Nominations sought for bioproduct award

bioproduct imageOhio State’s Bioproducts Innovation Center is seeking nominations for its inaugural Bioproduct Innovation of the Year award. The award will recognize leadership from within the emerging biobased products industry. It will be presented as part of the first-ever Bioproducts World Showcase and Conference, Oct. 5-8 in Columbus, which OBIC is organizing.

Can biochar boost soils, food security while cutting carbon too?

Ghana’s Kwame Frimpong, a USDA Borlaug fellow and visiting scholar with OARDC, CFAES’s research arm, presents “Biochar as a Soil Amendment for Highly Weathered Tropical Soils: Prospects and Challenges” from 2-3 p.m. June 10 in 123 Williams Hall on OARDC’s Wooster campus, 1680 Madison Ave. “The recalcitrance of biochar to microbial decomposition guarantees long-term storage of carbon in the biochar-amended soil, thereby lowering carbon dioxide emissions,” the seminar flier says. “Previous research has also indicated the ability of biochar to improve soil water retention, making the soils productive even under erratic rainfall conditions due to climate change.”