Certified weed-free forage and mulch

Oil and gas pipeline construction is increasing demand for weed-free products

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Noxious Weed Free Forage and Mulch

SALEM, Ohio — The region’s pipeline construction brings an increased demand for noxious weed-free forage and mulch, and that demand could mean an additional revenue stream for some farmers.

Noxious, or invasive, weeds are weeds, including weed seed and propagative plant parts, designated as noxious by the North American Invasive Species Management Association and the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

A national certification program has been designed to assure hay, mulch and straw meet minimum standards to limit the spread of these weeds.

Regulation

The Ohio Seed Improvement Association has been designated as the regulatory agency for Noxious Weed Free Forage and Mulch in Ohio for nine years.

Forage and mulch certified under the OSIA certification program, with proper certification documents or markings attached, are eligible to be shipped into areas in the United States and Canada where the certification is honored.

The association does not get involved in selling or pricing the products. The market has to be found and pursued by the producer, said John Armstrong, association manager.

Learn more about weed-free certification

Agri-Lunch and Learn April 12, 11:30 a.m.-1:15 p.m., Massillon, Ohio.

Find program details at http://ohseed1.org/noxious-weed-free-forage-mulch/.

Register by contacting Heather Neikirk, 330-832-9856, ext. 3476 or neikirk.2@osu.edu.

The first step to being certified is to become a member of the association.

“We want to know who we are dealing with and build a relationship with them, as we work with members to fill out paperwork, communicate throughout the season and collect fees,” Armstrong said. “It’s all about quality for us.”

“Historically, the market has been driven by oil and gas pipeline land renewal efforts in eastern Ohio,” he said.

A lot of drilling companies originate out West, where weed-free straw is well known and sold for a premium, he said.

“The market is in federal property and pipeline contracts,” agrees Dan Needs, owner of Why Not Acres, Lancaster, Ohio. “We started with certified straw because our customers requested it.”

His customers include anyone doing work in Wayne National Forest, as well as others. Federal contractors and inspectors know to ask for it and make sure it is certified when it arrives, Needs said, who has been selling weed-free straw for several years.

Each load is in a box trailer and travels with its own certificate.

Quality

OSIA inspectors are subject to rigorous training and education on compliance so the products meet the national program standards, Armstrong said.

Buyers are provided assurance that forage and mulch certified through this program meets these minimum standards.

“We take weed-free seriously; we don’t want to convey and seeds in forage or mulch that could be problematic,” Armstrong said.

“It is not difficult at all to produce certified straw,” Needs said.

Typically best practices and good husbandry will pass the certification inspection process, said Needs who manages www.strawforsaleohio.com, where he markets producers’ weed-free and traditional straw.

Costs

In addition to the membership fee, members pay $3 an acre and pay for the inspector’s travel, Needs said, which usually isn’t much. OSIA has inspectors all over the state, and often, the inspector is a neighbor, he said.

“There is added value and it is worth doing the paperwork,” said Needs. “It’s not a ton, but I’d say 10-20 percent added value in a typical year.”

Learn more

Find the listing of noxious weeds at www.ohseed1.org.

The OSIA Farm Bureau and OSU Extension are sponsoring an Agri-Lunch and Learn April 12, from 11:30 a.m.-1:15 p.m., in Massillon.

The presentation will explain the Ohio Noxious Weed Free Forage and Mulch Certification Program, and how local farmers can participate. Applications for the certification program are due May 1.

Program details can be found at http://ohseed1.org/noxious-weed-free-forage-mulch/.

Register by contacting Heather Neikirk 330-832-9856, ext. 3476 or neikirk.2@osu.edu.

(Reporter Katy Mumaw welcomes feedback by phone at 330-337-3419 or by email at katym@farmanddairy.com.)

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