Ohio’s farm crisis: Why leaving a field unplanted can hurt it

Some 1.5 million acres of Ohio’s farm fields—an area twice the size of Rhode Island—didn’t have any corn, soybeans, or other cash crops planted on them this year. Reason: Record spring rain made the ground too wet to plant. Now those fields are at risk of problems from something called fallow syndrome, which is caused by the loss of crop-friendly microbes that live—or lived—in the fields’ soils.

Experts from CFAES explain. (Photo: Getty Images.)

Lal to speak at Borlaug Dialogue

Rattan Lal, Distinguished University Professor of Soil Science in CFAES’ School of Environment and Natural Resources, will speak on a panel titled “Facing the Greatest Challenge of Our Time: Agriculture’s Role in Impacting Climate Change” at the World Food Prize’s 2019 Norman E. Borlaug International Symposium.

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Rattan Lal quoted in Wall Street Journal

CFAES’ Rattan Lal, Distinguished University Professor of Soil Science and a 2019 winner of the prestigious Japan Prize, was interviewed for a recent story in the Wall Street Journal. In “How to Get Rid of Carbon Emissions: Pay Farmers to Bury Them,” Lal talks about whether paying farmers to sequester carbon to fight the climate crisis is realistic or not, and what some feasible goals could be. The story is here, but you’ll need a subscription to read it.

Lal founded and directs CFAES’ Carbon Management and Sequestration Center. In the video above, he explains the interconnected reasons for storing organic matter (such as carbon) in the soil.

Ohio’s farm crisis: Flooding-tolerant forages?

A talk set for next week’s Farm Science Review will feature alternative forage plants that tolerate flooding and drought.

Why it’s important: Ohio’s hay supply for livestock is currently extremely low due to spring’s excessive rainfall. Growing flooding-tolerant forages to feed livestock could limit the risk from such rain in the future. (Photo: Tall fescue, James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org.)

Storing energy could help cut climate emissions

From a recent Ohio State press release, details on research involving a Buckeye in the College of Engineering:

“Electricity grids that incorporate storage for power sourced from renewable resources could cut carbon dioxide emissions substantially more than systems that simply increase renewably sourced power, a new study has found.

“The study, published … in the journal Nature Communications, found that storage could help make more efficient use of power generated by sources such as wind and solar and could help power grids move away from relying on fossil fuels for energy.”

Read the full story.

Find helpful renewable-energy resources—videos, fact sheets, and more; for businesses, homes, and farms—on CFAES’ Energize Ohio website. (Photo: Eric Romich, CFAES.)

Ohio’s farm crisis: Disaster aid levels still uncertain

The disaster declaration for nearly half of Ohio’s 88 counties extends low-interest loans to farmers. But CFAES experts say many growers are hoping for changes that could offer more financial help.

Further details on Ohio’s rain-caused farm crisis can be found on CFAES’ frequently updated Addressing 2019 Agricultural Challenges website.

Ohio’s farm crisis: New website gives help

CFAES recently launched a new website for farmers hit by Ohio’s record rain. Called “Addressing 2019 Agricultural Challenges,” the site gives help on topics related to the ongoing rain-caused farming crisis—from prevented planting to crop insurance to managing stress and more.

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Ohio’s farm crisis is visible from space

Ohio’s unplanted, late-planted, and drowned farm fields, along with those present throughout the Midwest, are actually visible from space, according to a July 2 Washington Post story that interviewed, among others, CFAES soybean expert Laura Lindsey. As seen by satellite, the story says, the region’s beleaguered fields are “more brown belt than farm belt.”

“Right now, farmer stress levels are really high,” Lindsey is quoted as saying in the story. “Farmers are worried about losing their farms.”

CFAES’s “Addressing 2019 Agricultural Challenges” website, launched in response to Ohio’s record rain, offers resources to help those farmers.

Ohio’s farm crisis: ‘Climate Smart’ conference is Thursday

A reminder that CFAES’ Climate Smart: Farming with Weather Extremes conference is this Thursday, July 18, in Plain City, northwest of Columbus. The event will look at what farmers can do to adapt to weather and climate changes.

Aaron Wilson, CFAES climate specialist and a speaker at the event, says “the idea is to get people to start thinking about building resilience to the changes we see.”

Admission to the conference is free and open to the public, but the deadline, unfortunately, has passed for reserving lunch.

Read CFAES’ press release about the conference.