ADA, Ohio — As Ohio farmers look to the challenge of controlling nutrients and runoff, they might also want to look to the wealth of experts available to help.
Tina Lust, chairman of the Ohio Certified Crop Adviser board, recognized the top three crop adviser finalists March 6 at the Conservation Tillage and Technology Conference, and also encouraged farmers to seek the help of accredited crop advisers.
She said farmers need to “face the facts” about water quality and nutrient issues, and make a “team” approach with a nutrient expert.
“You get with the smartest person you can, and you work with them and they can help you,” she said. “Lets be proactive, let’s not wait for someone to tell us what to do.”
The finalists were Greg LaBarge of Wauseon, an Ohio State University Extension agronomic crops specialist; Mike Dailey, an independent consultant from Mount Vernon; and Tom Bacome of Pandora, a crop specialist with Blanchard Valley Farmers Co-op.
The adviser of the year honor went to Dailey, who received a plaque and $1,500 in cash from Pioneer.
“Mike has contributed to the growth and development of countless CCA’s over the years, as well as helping his farmer clients to thrive and prosper with their businesses by making his recommendations based on science and fact,” Lust said.
He is a volunteer educator at Kenyon College Environmental Center and has served as former chairman of the CCA board. The award recognizes crop advisers who are motivated, deliver exceptional customer service, and contribute to the exchange of agronomic ideas and information that help the industry.
In an afternoon session, Larry Antosch, director of environmental policy for Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, discussed the “social license” today’s farmers need in order to farm.
By social license, he was referring to “the freedom that society allows owners of a resource to do what they want with that resource,” including plant and harvest crops.
When it comes to water quality, Antosch said “the public wants to see blue water, green pastures — they want plentiful, affordable safe food.”
The challenge, he said, is providing those things while also balancing the needs of agriculture and food production.
He reviewed the work of the state’s Phosphorus Task Force, and Gov. John Kasich’s water quality work group — which recently pieced together 35-pages of farmer and farm-related recommendations for controlling nutrients.
But Antosch said the water quality problem is much bigger than agriculture — showing a map of algal bloom outbreaks in places where farming and intensive farming doesn’t even occur, but the water in those places is polluted.
“This is not (just) an agricultural issue, it’s a state nutrient management issue,” he said.
In addition to working with crop advisers, farmers might also consider OSU’s nutrient workbook, which provides an expert-reviewed, standard form for keeping track of the types of nutrients applied to a farm, and where exactly they get applied.
Amanda Meddles, OSU Extension coordinator for environmental management, said the workbook is now available in an electronic draft version, with the intent it will soon be fully electronic.
About 1,000 copies of the paper version have been sold over the last couple years, and each printed workbook is about 25 pages, she said.
The book was released in 2009 and includes popular guides like the Tri-State Fertilizer Recommendations, and is useful for both crop and livestock farmers.
Meddles said it was geared toward the mid-size farmer, and has become a popular tool for county soil and water conservation districts, and many Amish farmers. She demonstrated how to enter data on the electronic version, which performs computerized calculations of nutrient needs, relative to different fields on the farm.
The book costs just $3. Meddles said it also serves as a record of defense against claims of nutrient misuse, should those arise.
“One of the big advantages of the paper version, and hopefully soon the electronic version, is that it can be approved by soil and water districts, as a defense against that claim,” she said.
The tillage conference — which draws more than 900 to Ohio Northern University each year — also recognized the “Ohio Master Farmer” winners.
Tim White, editor of Ohio Farmer Magazine, coordinates that program and presented the awards to three nominees. They included Bill Richards of Circleville, Terry Lee Swaisgood of Ashland, and Brian H. Watkins of Kenton.
Maxine Swaisgood received the plaque on her husband’s behalf, who died in August from injuries sustained from a tragic painting accident at his local church.
Richards is a longtime farmer, conservationist and “the grandfather of no-till.” Richards also served as chief of the U.S. Soil Conservation Service from 1990-1993. The agency is now known as Natural Resources Conservation Service.
The nomination form can be found at FarmProgress.com. Or send an email to Tim at email@example.com, or call him at 740-654-6500.