Agricultural Community Review
A Whole Community Food Project Comes to Life Local CAUV Reform Discussions: Openness is Key As Agricultural Practices Change, So Does Instruction at ATI
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Summer 2017, Volume 04, Issue 03
06 24 28
AS AGRICULTURAL PRACTICES CHANGE,
SCIENCE AND ART
FINDING GOOD FARM WORKERS
MANAGING DAIRY COW HEAT STRESS
So Does Instruction At ATI
Behind Wine & Grape Industry Growth in Ohio
Is A Challenge
IN EVERY ISSUE
05 17 22
CAN YOU NAME THIS TOOL? WALK DOWN MEMORY LANE SUBSCRIBE TO HARVEST
On The Cover: Photo by Emily Rumes, Taken near Maysville, Ohio
© 2017 Spectrum Publications – A Division of GateHouse Media Find us on facebook.com/OhioHarvest 212 E. Liberty St., Wooster, OH 44691 | 330-264-1125 | 800-686-2958 | email@example.com Group Publisher – Bill Albrecht Spectrum Director – Kelly Gearhart | Advertising/Production Coordinator – Amanda Nixon | Content Coordinator – Emily Rumes | Designer – Adam Arditi HARVEST magazine is a quarterly publication centered in some of the most agriculturally rich counties in Ohio. We will bring you the latest in farming technologies, industry practices and hot topics in agriculture from industry experts in our area. If you wish to submit an article or offer a suggestion, please feel free to contact us. We look forward to hearing from you.
2 | SUMMER 2017
ORGANIC DAIRY PRODUCTION To Be Featured at June 29th Field Day
A WHOLE COMMUNITY Food Project Comes to Life
NATIONAL DAIRY MONTH
LOCAL CAUV REFORM DISCUSSION
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
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Reach Out To Your Legislator
Making An Impact
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Openness is Key
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NATIONAL DAIRY MONTH Column by | John Fitzpatrick HARVEST CONTRIBUTOR
Reach Out To Your Legislator
THE SUCCESSFUL SALESPERSON is one who effectively “paints pictures with words”. The reason for this success is that the decision to buy is an emotional decision, not a rational one. We may be in the market for a car and we may have listed the features that we need such as seating capacity, fuel economy, towing capacity, etc. but, in the final analysis, our decision as to which make, model and color has been based on how effectively the salesperson has made us picture ourselves driving that vehicle down a scenic roadway and liking ‘the way we look’ in it. Often this decision outweighs the very limits we have originally set as to how much we are willing to pay. Every company that produces or packages a product for retail sales is keenly aware that a buying decision is an emotional decision. This is especially true in food retailing. Every product in the store is encased in colorful, pretty packaging to appeal to our emotions. (Remember the 1980’s failure of generic, black and white labeling?) Every product marketing manager analyzes store lighting, shelf placement, display opportunities, and other features to most effectively draw your eyes to their product rather than the competition. Then they rely on carefully engineered labeling to appeal to your senses rather than your logic to purchase their product. Recently companies have expanded their efforts toward competitive edge by asserting certain claims about their product. Their assertions may be true (organic, gluten-free, no GMOs, etc.) but the implication is that other products contain these things or are not raised properly and, therefore, they are bad. In reality, a rational review of the science will show the consumer that these products are not harmful to people and, in fact, are helpful to our ecology and to the necessary production to feed a hungry world. Nowhere is this deceptive marketing more prominent than in the promotion of non-dairy products being pushed as preferable alternatives
4 | SUMMER 2017
to real dairy! The original comfort food (emotion) is milk! It is the first food we consume in life and each meal is given in swaddling comfort. We have always associated milk and other dairy products with wholesome nutrition, cool/comfortable taste, and visual appeal. Other manufacturers have looked on this strong emotional appeal and have decided to invade this strong market with visually similar products made from nuts and grains and chemicals and have taken the liberty to name these products milk, yogurt, etc. To further entice consumers they have convinced retailers to display these products in their dairy departments. Then they have artistically packaged the products for utmost eye appeal (something pure dairy cannot afford due to the very competitive pricing structure of real milk and products). Amateur publicists have utilized social media to spread falsehoods concerning dairy farming practices, medical treatment of dairy animals, and harm to humans through consumption of real dairy products. Companies promoting the sale of fake ‘milk’, ‘yogurt’ and other products print statements on their labels implying that consumers reject real dairy and make the ‘healthy’ or ‘moral’ decision to purchase their alternative product (appealing to customer emotion rather than factual science. The national dairy producers have tried, and continue to try, to get the federal government to promulgate regulations specifying that only true dairy products (made from the milk of mammals) can call their product milk, yogurt, cheese, etc. This would be a most effective way to eliminate this deceptive promotion by profiteering companies. June is National Dairy Month. Use these last few days of the month dedicated to a truly healthy industry to contact your legislator and ask his/her support in regulating the use of correct terms for America’s real comfort food.
Can You Name This
TOOL? Story & Photos by | Paul Locher GATEHOUSE MEDIA
Can you name this odd-looking iron tool once commonplace on the farms of our region? Visit page 23 for the answer and a brief explanation.
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AS AGRICULTURAL PRACTICES CHANGE
Story & Photos by | Linda Hall DAILY RECORD STAFF WRITER
So Does Instruction at ATI
AS AGRIC ULT URAL PRACT ICES CHANGE and evolve, so do its study and pract ic al, hands-on app lic ation at The Ohio State Univers ity Agric ult ural Technical In stitute, where instruct ors Ryan Haden and Jonathan Witter demonstrate just a coup le of exa mp les. Technology has adv anced to the point in which farmers have the opp ort un ity to treat one field, not as a whole, but in grids, usi ng GPS, in ord er to man age differing soil cont ent within the same field with a variety of applicat ions. After taking soil bori ngs with up-to-date equip ment — a hydraulic soil samp ler — soil samples are
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sent to the lab and “data is compiled with geo g raph ical information,” said Haden, assistant prof ess or of soils and agronomy. “We have vari ous software,” he said, to mana ge that data and to “develop an input program” whereby, de pending upon the levels of nitrogen, phosp hor ous, potassium and other elements within a field, a farmer can apply “more or less” of certain treatm ents. Not only does it save money, it’s easier on the env i ronment when an over application of a subs tance is not put on the field. This technique is “gradually getting more wide spread and has developed more over the last 15 years,” Haden said. While GPS has been used since the 1970s, said Witter, who teaches classes in precision agric ult ure, it has become increasingly available to the publ ic at large since the 1990s. “Now it is economical for the average pers on,” Witter said.
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ABOVE: ATI instructor Jonathan Witter and his students check out software that is monitoring the performance of a planter unit.
“There will continue to be job opportunities in these areas,” he said, particularly based on the “merging of technology with traditional agronomics. – Jonathan D. Witter | Research Assistant Professor | The Ohio State University ATI
Haden said, are planning to support the fami ly farm, look for a job in the agricultural industry, bec ome a crop consultant, or work in feed sales or a co-op, for example. “There are a huge number of opportun it ies,” Wit ter said. “There will continue to be job opport un it ies in these areas,” he said, particu larly based on the “merg ing of technology with traditional agronomics.” “What we’re always looking to do (at ATI) is proved hands-on learning,” Witter said. Even sprayers are being made with advanced tech nology, and ATI, through partnerships and other funding, makes as much of this new equipm ent, such as a top-of-the-line manure spreader, as poss ib le ATI Instruction continues on pg. 8
It affords farmers greater eff ic iency and optimum yields, said Haden. Just as importantly, “since (they) are not over-ap plying (chemicals), they are not inc reasi ng the risk of losses to surface wat er” through eros ion and drainage, ultimately into the Miss iss ippi River and Lake Erie, he said. They just use enough to grow the crop, Witter said, adding, “I don’t know any farmer who wants to pol lute their neighbor’s (land).” There are higher costs ass oc ia ted with this plan, but the savings can be est im ated over the long run. If the soil content is the same overa ll in a particular field, there is not adv ant age to this method, Witter pointed out. “But when we start to get a lot of vari ability,” it makes sense to use it. Students who take cours es from Haden and Witter,
ATI Instruction continued from pg. 7 BELOW: Ryan Haden, a professor at ATI, talks with his students at one of his research plots about his research in the use of a specialized planter to interseed a cover crop between rows of corn that are already about a foot high.
available to students. Reporter Linda Hall can be reached at lhall@the“We just piece these things tog ether. We do focus daily-record.com or 330-264-1125, ext. 2230. She is on hands-on,” he said, and “try to keep curr ent.” @lindahallTDR on Twitter. “We’re working on ins truct ional videos (as well), Haden said.
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FOR THE FIRST TIME, the Organic Food and Farming Education and Research (OFFER) program will include organic dairy production in its annual field day. The June 29 field day from 2 to 6 p.m. will include new findings and discuss.. important issues related to certified organic research and production for vegetables, crops and dairy. “This year will include a major focus on dairy, a first for the OFFER program, in support of the rapidly expanding organic dairy industry,” said Douglas Doohan, director of the OFFER program. “The addition of dairy to our annual field day is in
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response to requests we have received from organic dairy farmers for research based information, especially in the areas of mastitis care and prevention, and feed rations,” said Kathy Bielek, program assistant for the OFFER program. “Our goals are to provide networking opportunities for researchers and dairy farmers, and to respond to the desire for information in the organic dairy community.” According to the United States Department of Agriculture, for a dairy to be certified organic, farmers may either transition an existing non-organic herd to organic production or purchase an organic herd. The herd transition is a one-year process and the land transition is a three-year process, during which time the producer must manage the herd and land following the organic standards. For a complete list of standards for organic certification of dairy livestock, visit www.ams.usda.gov. The event will begin at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center’s (OARDC) West Badger Farm, 1501 S. Apple Creek Road, Wooster. OARDC is the research arm of The Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.
From 2-3:30 p.m., participants will have the option to participate in a vegetable production tour of OARDC organic research plots located at Horticulture Unit 1, or attend two consecutive sessions focused on dairy farms at West Badger Farm. The first session at West Badger Farm will be led by Luciana DaCosta and will feature mastitis prevention in organic dairy systems. The second session will be led by Maurice Eastridge and will feature ration balancing and nutrition in organic dairy systems. The two groups will come together for the second half of the event, which will run from 3:30-5 p.m. and will feature a session on soil management, including weed control and soil balancing, and a session on organic forages, grazing and hay production taught by Mark Sulc. The OFFER program team consists of Ohio State University researchers, farmers and other stakeholders who share a goal of enhancing the vitality of organic agriculture in Ohio. For more information, contact OFFER’s Kathy Bielek at 330-202-3528 or email@example.com.
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Press Release | Monsanto
Making An Impact Photo courtesy of Monsanto
FOR HUNDREDS OF YEARS, women have been a key pillar of the agriculture industry, accounting for onethird of the country’s farmers according to the 2012 Census of Agriculture. While not always thought of in a traditional “farmer” role, women make an impact in the industry and in helping feed the rapidly growing global population. These “farm moms” play vital and integral roles on the farm, with their families and in their communities. Susan Brocksmith -- named the 2017 America’s Farmers Mom of the Year, sponsored by Monsanto
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-- has been involved in supporting Helping His Hands and both the North Knox and South Knox County FFA chapters for many years, and while she finds the experience incredibly rewarding, she also recognizes juggling these responsibilities on top of work and family can be difficult. She offers these tips to other women who are looking for simple ways to get involved in their communities: 1. START SMALL. It’s easy to want to take on a lot of responsibilities to help nonprofit organizations in your community, but starting small can help prevent you from becoming overwhelmed. Start by looking for small volunteer opportunities, such as volunteering to staff a local event, and then look for opportunities to take on a larger role. 2. INVOLVE THE WHOLE FAMILY. Volunteering should be a family affair. Bringing the kids along not only allows you to spend time with them, but also sets the example that giving back is an important responsibility for all. 3. FIND AN IMPACTFUL CAUSE. Everyone brings a unique set of skills and perspectives to the table. Find an opportunity that fits you and values your contributions.
“Farm moms like Susan are not only respected leaders in the agriculture industry, but also a critical part of the ecosystem that supports rural communities across America.” – Jessica Lane Rommel | Monsanto Business Communications Manager “I am humbled and blessed to be named the 2017 America’s Farmers Mom of Year,” Brocksmith said. “I was raised on a family farm and was able to raise my daughters on our family farm. I have strived to instill the core values of faith, family and agriculture into my daughters, as well as my college students. Thanks to the support I received from family, friends and the community, I was able to receive this award. This outpouring of support proves anything is possible. Thank you Monsanto for providing this outreach opportunity.” Brocksmith’s America’s Farmers Mom of the Year
award, which honors the significant contributions women make on their farms and in their families, communities and beyond, gifted $4,000 to be divided among the three organizations she is involved with Helping His Hands is a disaster relief organization and local food pantry. Both North Knox FFA and South Knox FFA are long-standing chapters that make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. “Farm moms like Susan are not only respected leaders in the agriculture industry, but also a critical part of the ecosystem that supports rural communities across America,” said Jessica Lane Rommel, Monsanto business communications manager. “We’re excited to celebrate Susan and all of the women who play such a vital role in rural communities.” Since the program began in 2010, America’s Farmers Mom of the Year program has recognized 40 individuals for their roles in American farms, families, rural communities and the agriculture industry. To learn more about the program, visit AmericasFarmers.com.
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LOCAL CAUV REFORM DISCUSSIONS:
Openness is Key
Story by | Lindsay Shoup OHIO FARM BUREAU
LINDSAY SHOUP Farm Bureau Organization Director
FARMERS ACROSS OHIO are discussing what is happening with the Current Agricultural Use Value (CAUV) formula. Three of my counties- Ashland, Medina and Wayne have discussed CAUV at length at their policy development breakfasts with local officials. Members shared stories of increased
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The bill will change the equity rate in the CAUV formula to be connected to the USDA farm equity rate and increase holding period assumptions to match the farm economy. These changes will ensure all the components of the capitalization rate are connected directly to the farm economy. – Jenna Beadle | Ohio Farm Bureau
farmland property taxes by more than 300 percent in recent years. This tax increase coincides with the second largest drop in farm income since the Great Depression. Ohio Farm Bureau is working tirelessly to answer the call of members to address these issues at the state level. In recent months, some major developments have taken place in both the House and Senate. Both the House and Senate created and approved proposals to address CAUV: HB 49 (State of Ohio’s main operating budget) and SB 36, respectively. These bills are similar but would be implemented differently. House bill 49 would be implemented over two re-evaluation periods (6 years) and SB 36 would be implemented over one re-evaluation period (3 years). The gist of the bills are similar. They advocate for ensuring the CAUV formula is amended to reflect the agricultural economy. Jenna Beadle from Ohio Farm Bureau describes the bill further: “The bill will change the equity rate in the CAUV formula to be connected to the USDA farm equity rate and increase holding period assumptions to match the
CAUV Reform continues on pg. 16
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CAUV Reform continued from pg. 15
farm economy. These changes will ensure all the components of the capitalization rate are connected directly to the farm economy. The bill also places year-round conservation lands at the minimum value ensuring farmers are not penalized for adopting conservation practices that protect water quality.” As I discuss CAUV reform with most Farm Bureau members, it’s not about getting a tax break. It’s about survival. One Ashland County dairy farmer shared that the formula accounted poorly for the massive drop in milk prices. The result was that half of the farm’s very low profit was spent on property taxes for the year. A different member who owns woodland in northeast Ohio is concerned that his heirs won’t be able to afford to inherit his land because of taxes.
There are these and many more stories being shared throughout Ohio. The goal is to make the formula relevant to today’s economy and re-evaluate a system that was created in the 1970s. The grassroots nature of the county Farm Bureaus has made this a top priority for the Ohio Farm Bureau for this year. The local county Farm Bureaus and I appreciate the openness of members to share their struggles and our legislators who are taking the time to listen. So what’s the next step? It is now up to the House and Senate to decide on which proposal will be the vehicle for this bill. This proposal will then go on for evaluation by Governor Kasich. The deadline for a decision is June 30, which is when the state budget must be signed. So stay tuned!
The local county Farm Bureaus and I appreciate the openness of members to share their struggles and our legislators who are taking the time to listen.
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THE TYPES OF TICKS FOUND IN OHIO can transmit a • Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Do not variety of diseases, including Lyme disease, and 160 twist or jerk the tick, which can cause the mouth cases were reported in the state last year. parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this “If you find a tick attached to your body, remove happens, remove the mouth parts with tweezers. If it and monitor your health to watch for a fever, you are unable to remove the mouth easily, leave rash, muscle or joint aches or other symptoms,” it alone and let the skin heal. said Sietske de Fijter, ODH State Epidemiologist • After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite and Bureau Chief of Infectious Diseases. “If you area and your hands with rubbing experience any of these symptoms, contact your • alcohol, an iodine scrub or soap and water. healthcare provider.” • Dispose of a live tick by submersing it in alcohol, Here are some tips to avoid tick bites and prevent placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tick-borne diseases: tightly in tape or flushing it down the toilet. Never Avoid direct contact with ticks by avoiding wooded crush a tick with your fingers. and bushy areas with high grass and leaf litter, and by • Avoid folklore remedies such as “painting” a tick walking in the center of trails. with nail polish or petroleum jelly or using heat to Wear clothing and gear treated with permethrin, make the tick detach from your skin. an insecticide (do not apply permethrin directly to skin). Go to the ODH website at odh.ohio.gov for more Use EPA-registered tick repellent and follow the information about how to prevent tick-borne diseases label directions. and other information and resources. Here are some tips for finding and removing ticks attached to your body: • Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.
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ODA RELEASES NEW NUTRIENT MANAGEMENT TOOLS
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Press Release | The Ohio Department of Agriculture Communications Office
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Ohio Applicator Forecast and Agricultural Stewardship Verification Program Will Help All Ohioans Work to Improve Water Quality THE OHIO DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE (ODA) has introduced two new nutrient management tools. The Ohio Applicator Forecast is a new online tool designed to help nutrient applicators identify times when the potential nutrient loss from a fertilizer or manure application is low. The Ohio Agricultural Stewardship Verification -XQH
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LEFT: 590 Application Map has been developed utilizing the nutrient application standards from the 2012 Ohio NRCS 590 Nutrient Management Practice Standard.
Program is a pilot certification for farmers who protect farmland and natural resources by implementing best management practices on their farms. ODA announced these developments at an event at Drewes Farms in Custar, Ohio on May 17th, 2017. “ODA firmly believes science and technology must be at the forefront of all water quality issues and these new and innovative tools are impactful steps that will merge the ideas of precision farming and precision conservation,” said ODA Director David T. Daniels. “The agricultural community continues to take the necessary steps to maintain agricultural productivity, while protecting our natural resources and reducing nutrient runoff to improve water quality in Lake Erie and surrounding waterways.” The Ohio Applicator Forecast takes data from the National Weather Service, predicting potential for runoff to occur in a given area. The forecast takes snow accumulation and melt, soil moisture content
and forecast precipitation and temperatures into account, giving farmers substantial information when they are making nutrient application decisions. “The National Weather Service is excited to work with Ohio in their efforts to help farmers reduce nutrient runoff across the Midwest,” said Brian Astifan, the Development and Operations Hydrologist with the National Weather Service Ohio River Forecast Center in Wilmington, Ohio. “We believe Ohio’s partnership with several federal agencies and educational institutions to develop this decision-support tool will benefit farmers and ultimately work towards improving Ohio’s water quality.” The Ohio Agricultural Stewardship Verification Program will certify farmers in targeted watersheds in Henry and Wood counties who apply and meet criteria developed by ODA’s Division of Soil and Water Conservation. Criteria for the certification include developed nutrient management plans, accurate soil tests and documented best management practices, among others. The program will begin as a pilot with an intention to expand the program to all of Ohio.
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22 | SUMMER 2017
GRAFTING FROE Story & Photos by | Paul Locher GATEHOUSE MEDIA
DURING THE 19TH CENTURY, when almost every farmstead boasted an apple orchard, it was a tool most farmers possessed. In early America – especially among the Pennsylvania Germans – apples were a staple of life and were incorporated into a vast number of foods. Because of their dietary importance, farmers were always attempting to improve upon apples. The most efficient mean of doing this was through grafting. In this process a scion (small branch) from one apple tree was removed and grafted onto the rootstock of a more mature tree of a different species. When the vascular tissues of the two parts grew together, the result might be a new and better apple which could be cultivated. The grafting froe has two blades. The first, a curved
Collection of Paul Locher
blade in the center of the tool, was used to cut off the scion to be grafted. The second small blade, at the tip of the tool, was used to chisel open the pocket on the host tree into which the scion would be inserted. After it was inserted, the graft was sealed with hot wax and wrapped tightly with string to prevent infection. Note the unusual texturing on the froe. This has resulted from the fact that a blacksmith shaped it from a worn-out file or rasp. File iron was always of exceptional quality, and so used-up files were never discarded. Instead they were taken to the local blacksmith who forged them into some other kind of useful tool. And we think that recycling is some newfangled idea …
SCIENCE AND ART
Story & Photo by | Tami Mosser DR STAFF WRITER
Behind Wine and Grape Industry’s Growth in Ohio
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THERE WAS A TIME in American history when Ohio produced more grapes than any other state in the union. Then came two events that very nearly cleared out the state’s vineyards: the Civil War and Prohibition. Nicholas Longworth planted the state’s first vineyards in the early 19th century in the hills outside his Cincinnati home and his Catawba sparkling wines were an international sensation, spurring the first wave of Ohio wineries. But when the Civil War began, the state’s vineyards went untended and succumbed to disease and neglect, according to Dave Scurlock, who recently retired from his position as viticulture outreach specialist at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. There was a slight resurgence, then Prohibition came. By the mid-20th century, vineyards were being planted again in the Lake Erie region, but it wasn’t until the last 20 years that the grape and wine culture exploded onto the scene and continues to grow, creating an economic boomlet in both Wayne and Holmes counties and across the state. There are currently 267 wineries in the state, according to the Ohio Department of Liquor
“I don’t think you can separate the science from the art.” David Scurlock | Former Viticulture Outreach Specialist | OARDC LEFT: The vineyards at the Doughty Glen Winery at the Blue Barn Winery south of Wooster, French Ridge Guggisberg Swiss Inn are prime examples of good growing Vineyards outside Killbuck and the Doughty Glen conditions. They are on a hillside where there is good drainage Winery at the Guggisberg Swiss Inn just west of and plenty of ventilations. And for visitors, the view is hard to beat.
WINE continues on pg. 26
Control, and applications for licenses for another 26 are pending. In Wayne County, Bent Ladder Cider and Wine is expected to start selling its wines this summer. By next year, Lincoln Way Vineyards will follow suit. And in Holmes County, less than a mile from the Ashland County line, Marsh Vineyards at Mohican will begin selling its wines under the Ugly Bunny label this summer. Those wines will be available at about the same time as Sunny Slope General Store on Ohio 39 in western Holmes County begins bottling its own. Those new operations join the growing number of wineries in a two-county area: Silver Run Vineyard and Winery in Doylestown, Troutman Vineyards and
Berlin. There are a few reasons for that growth in the vineand-wine industry, said Todd Steiner, the OARDC’s enology program management and outreach specialist. “I think the locavore thing is a good thing,” he said, as consumers who already populate local farmers’ markets are doing the same with local wineries. In addition, research at places like Cornell University and the University of Minnesota is resulting in the creation of grape varieties that are more cold-hearty and disease-resistant than ever. And because vines do not rely on the greatest, most fertile soils, they can be started and grown practically
WINE continued from pg. 25
anywhere in the state. “Some European soils are not that great,” Steiner said. “They’re dry; they’re limestone-y,” and yet for centuries they have produced grapes that were used in some of the continent’s best wines. What they do have is good drainage, which is why the oldest vineyards are typically found on a hill. Now, Scurlock said, tiling can be put into fields to increase drainage, though higher locations with good air flows are optimal. While finding a location for a vineyard may not be all that difficult in Ohio, tending a vineyard is, Steiner said, “challenging.” Grapes are an agricultural product, though different from corn, wheat or soybeans. As a perennial crop, Scurlock said, “we don’t rotate our vineyards out. It takes three years to grow a crop and (the vines) are out there all year.” That means through the polar vortex of 2014, which killed buds before they even appeared and, in many cases, killed entire vines. Couple the ever-changing Ohio weather conditions with the grape-loving bird and
deer and the burrowing groundhogs, and it’s easy to understand why grape growers spend practically every month of the year among the vines — netting, training, pruning, watching. It’s important, Scurlock said, because while good grapes on occasion still result in bad wine, bad grapes will always result in a poor product. Increasingly in Ohio, growers are choosing to grow wine grapes, in which a smaller crop can still result in a decent income. And most often, it is the higher-maintenance grapes that bring the highest price. So, what are the choices for Ohio’s grape producers? Typically, there are three, in varying degrees: AMERICAN — Concord, Catawba, Delaware, Norton and Niagara. According to Scurlock, these would fetch the lowest price per ton and in the past have been sold for grape juice as well. VINIFERA — the European varieties, including Merlot, Pinot gris, Pinot noir, Riesling, Cabernet franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. These are the most challenging for growers, but they also bring some of the highest prices. According to Steiner, Pinot noir grapes may fetch $1,800-$2,100 per ton, while an acre of Riesling may bring in $1,600. These are varieties that can be grown locally, but do better in Ohio’s Region 3, the warmest areas along the Lake Erie shores and the Ohio River Valley.
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“It would be good to have even more (Ohio farmers) growing grapes” Todd Steiner | Enology Program Management & Outreach Specialist | OARDC
and what might have gone right or wrong in the process. “But there is that art in finding that new blend that is a winery’s persona.” “I don’t think you can separate the science from the art,” Scurlock added. The science goes back to the vineyards. Four acres of grapes grow at the OARDC’s Wooster campus, another four acres in Ashtabula and two acres in Piketon in southern Ohio. While hybrids are not created at those sites, they are grown there and evaluated. “If they can grow well,” Steiner said. “I’ll follow it through with wine quality.” “Todd makes an awesome rose,” Scurlock said, “and also some cryogenic wines.” And while there is competition in the industry, it is friendly. “It’s a little unlike a private business, where they’re competitors,” Steiner said, because there also is a common goal. “We need more wineries to drive tourism.” And locally, he said, “I hope we’ll start to see more of a wine trail.”
“It would be good to have even more (Ohio farmers) growing grapes,” Steiner said, because a wine must contain at least 90 percent Ohio grapes to be considered an Ohio wine. And the wine, Steiner and Scurlock agreed, is where the money is. To both grow grapes and manufacture wine, they said, is a full-time job. In its mission to increase the quality of both Ohio grapes and wines, the OARDC’s Viticulture and Enology Outreach Program provides assistance to the industry in the form of services that include varietal and vineyard site selection, lab analyses and taste training, as well as presenting the Ohio Wine Competition and the Ohio Grape Wine Conference. “We’re recognizing there’s quite a bit of science in Reporter Tami Mosser can be reached at tmosser@ wine-making,” said Steiner, who will take a product the-daily-record.com or 330-287-1655. She is @ and run it through the lab to determine its chemistry tamimosser on Twitter.
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FINDING GOOD FARM WORKERS
Story by | Kevin Lynch DAILY RECORD STAFF WRITER
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28 | SUMMER 2017
Is A Challenge WHEN IT COMES TO FINDI NG GOOD WORKE RS, this problem is not limited only to farmers. The probl em is exasperated by the fact that farm work is endl ess, tireless and for low pay. Where can I sign up? Kurt Wachtel of Wachtel Farms in weste rn Holmes County said he faces the problem all the time. “I think the biggest problem is, dairy farme rs aren’t able to make enough money to afford to pay the amount a good worker what they can make in a fac tory,” Wachtel said. “We have to go with the money we have, and dairy farmers have been losi ng money for a few years. We need the help, but we can’t aff ord to pay a whole lot.” Aside from being unable to pay a good wage, an other problem is the hours that are required to work on a dairy farm. Wachtels have full-time milkers and they also have some part-time help, but the work and hours are spo radic. “You need to be out in the early morni ng for two to three hours here, and again in the aftern oon for three or four hours,” he said. “Farming’s an eve ryday thing, not just Monday through Friday 9-5.” It wasn’t always hard finding help. “Back three or four years ago when milk and grain
Photo Left: Wachtel’s Farm where Bryce Burgett brings home the cow in the afternoon for their milking.
prices were good, eve ryt hing was OK,” Wachtel said. “I’m not saying farme rs were gett ing rich, but we were at least able to make some money and could afford to pay people a litt le bett er, maki ng it a little more intriguing for someb ody to come work on the farm and make a dec ent pay.” When looking for reas ons why it is hard to find good help, Wachtel noted that he has had problem with employees comi ng to work high and screwing things up on the job. “Just being a little fami ly farm, we don’t drug test,” Wachtel said. “I had a real good emp loyee a few years ago that I had to let go bec ause I found out he was doing drugs. He would come here acti ng half stupid and things would go wrong. Bei ng on drugs, his work quality went to hell.” He said you have to be dilig ent in checking the background of potent ial emp loye es, bec ause if they know they aren’t goi ng to be tested for drugs, it opens doors for potential probl ems down the road. Wachtel said when tradi ng with other countries slowed down, like China for exa mp le, prices began
to go down which has made it harder to to pay higher wages. “I’m not a political person, but foreign trade had something to do with farmers getting rid of exc ess stuff we had,” Wachtel said. “When the fore ign trade went away, so did the profits.” Having a great resource for potential emp loye es in The Ohio State University Agricultural and Techn o logi cal Institute located nearby, doesn’t nece ss ari ly help, because students often only work through the school year and leave for home during the summ er, creating voids. Other problems farmers face is employe es who get into the social welfare system who are unw illi ng to put in a good day’s work for fear they will lose their bene fits from Welfare. One dairy farmer said they had some part time em ployees who didn’t want to work extra hours bec ause it would impact their benefits. Immigrants are finding a lot of the work on farms because they are willing to work the long hours for lower pay. Reporter Kevin Lynch can be reached at 330-6745676 or email@example.com.
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MANAGING DAIRY COW HEAT STRESS
Story by | Rory Lewandoski OSU EXTENSION WAYNE COUNTY
SUMMER TEMPERATURES mean heat stress for dairy cattle. Heat stress has negative impacts on both lactating and dry dairy cows. In addition to decreasing milk production in lactating dairy cows, heat stress causes decreased feed intake, reproductive performance and immune function in cows. DIX Communications Ad Center The amount of heat stress experienced by a dairy cow depends upon the air temperature and the humidity. Research has shown that high producing dairy cows can experience a negative impact on fertility factors such as estrus expression, conception rate and embryo survivability at even lower THI’s in the 55-60 range. In order to minimize the detrimental effects of heat stress, the dairy manager needs to make sure they have an effective heat abatement program in place. Cattle sweat at only 10 percent of human rate so any heat abatement program must include the use of fans and sprinklers to provide evaporative cooling. A June 2016 article on the eXtension Dairy site, “Dairy Feeding and Management Considerations during Heat Stress” listed the following key points regarding the use of fans and sprinklers: • Fans over freestalls, in the housing area, and over feed bunks should be automatically programmed to
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This Summer turn on when the temperature and humidity reach a THI of 68. • In more humid climates, fans should be used in combination with sprinklers (nozzles need to deliver 0.5 gallon/minute of water, 20-40 pounds/square inch of pressure which will wet the hair coat of cows. Sprinklers should generally be on for 1-3 minutes, then off for the remainder of a 15-minute cycle. The length of time sprinklers run increases with increasing temperature. Fans should run continuously. (Janni, University of Minnesota Engineer, Evaporative systems for cooling dairy cows) • Fans and sprinklers (in humid environments) should be used in the holding pen to cool cows waiting to be milked, and time in the holding pen should be kept to a minimum. • Adequate number of fans should be spaced at about 12 feet high along the length of the freestall barn. The recommended distance between fans is 30 feet for 36-inch fans and 40 feet for 48-inch fans (Gay, Virginia Tech Extension Engineer, Pub 442-763). • Check fans to make sure they are angled correctly (20-degree angle) and are operating properly. Fans should be cleaned regularly. Good ventilation is necessary for sprinklers to be an effective cooling option. Water added to a poorly ventilated area will produce a more humid environment and make the heat stress worse. Drinking water is a critical component of heat abatement. A dairy cow’s water consumption will increase by 29 percent as air temperature increases from 64 to 86 degrees F. Cows will drink about 50 percent of their total daily water intake immediately after milking, so having access to plenty of cool, clean water at this time is very important. Clean waterers on a routine basis to encourage water consumption.
sodium needs increase as cows sweat. Increasing those minerals while maintaining an adequate cation-anion difference (DCAD) in the diet will require additions of sodium bicarbonate, potassium bicarbonate, or both to the diet. Finally, when implementing a heat abatement program, do not neglect dry cows. An article in the April 2017 University of Kentucky Dairy Notes, â€œHeat Abatement for Dry Dairy Cows,â€? included the following list of detrimental effects: Cows that were heat stressed during the dry period gave birth to calves 13 lbs. lighter. Heifers born to heat stressed dams had lower milk production compared to heifers born from dams not heat stressed. Cows heat stressed during the dry period had lower milk production in the next lactation. Heat abatement is a necessary management practice to maintain cow comfort and keep dairy cows healthy and productive. Rory Lewandowski is an OSU Extension Agriculture & Natural Resources educator and may be reached at 330-264-8722.
Dry matter intake decreases when a cow is heat stressed, a contributing factor to reduced milk production. In addition to the energy requirement for lactation, there is an additional energy requirement due to increased respiration rates and panting associated with heat stress. There may be a 30 percent increase in energy needs during periods of high heat stress. In order to meet those needs when feed intake is declining, dairy managers need to pay attention to diets. According to the eXtension article mentioned previously, consider the following when formulating dairy rations during periods of heat stress: Maintain effective fiber intake to insure rumination and rumen buffering. Decreasing fiber content and increasing the amount of starch in the diet in an attempt to increase the energy content could result in ruminal acidosis. High quality forages are essential during periods of heat stress. Add yeast cultures to the diet. Yeast culture can help improve fiber digestion and stabilize the rumen environment. Several studies have even shown yeast supplementation to increase in milk production of heat stressed cows. Modify the mineral content of the diet. Potassium and
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A DAIRY FARMER WAS TIRED every morning getting out of bed to milk the cows. His wife had to continually wake him up to go to the barn. The cows were slow to walk into the milking area. If you tried to hurry them, they would pant and act as if short of breath. He called a lab and asked if there was something they could test to help the cows. The discussion was about what the cows were eating but it soon turned to what was common between him and the cows. No it was not corn silage, it was water. He said that a spring was the only source of water for the house and barn. The man’s grandfather had developed it. The decision was made to have the bacteria and suitability of the spring water analyzed. Results showed high bacteria contamination and elevated nitrate levels in the water. In the last issue of Harvest from Spring 2017, we discussed the dangers of high water bacteria, now we will discuss nitrate and it’s effect on the health of humans and animals. Nitrate (NO3) is the primary source of Nitrogen (N) for plants. Nitrate fertilizer, or animal manure,
TOP : An excess of Nitrate N03 in drinking water can be equally as dangerous for humans and animals.
When more nitrogen is added to soil than the plants can use, excess nitrate is very soluble and can leach easily through the sod and into groundwater supplies and contaminate wells or springs. is added to fields to replace the levels removed by crops. When more nitrogen is added to soil than the plants can use, excess nitrate is very soluble and can leach easily through the sod and into groundwater supplies and contaminate wells or springs. Rural onlot septic systems can also be sources of nitrate in drinking water. Do not spread manure, fertilizer, agricultural chemicals, or have a barnyard up slope from your well or spring. When this is the case, a serious problem occurs because high levels of nitrate in the drinking water are converted to a very toxic substance in the digestive systems of humans and animals. High nitrate levels in drinking water reacts with hemoglobin (which carries oxygen to all parts of the
body) to form another compound which does not carry oxygen, the greater the nitrate, the less oxygen. When humans or animals experience this, they can become oxygen deprived leading to many health issues or suffocation. The dairy farmer called back about 2 months later for an update and reported that his wife had gone to wake him in the morning but was amazed that he was not in bed. She did not know where he was and began to search. She found him in the barn milking the cows who also had been ready and waiting for him. He explained that he drilled a new well, had it tested and the results showed no bacteria or nitrates. He was feeling better, not as tired and the cows were producing more milk and improving. This new water source, having been tested, was now safe for all others to drink. It’s important to note that drinking water contaminated by nitrate can also affect your family, especially infants. Human babies are very susceptible to acute nitrate poisoning because of certain bacteria NITRATE CONTAMINATION continues on 34
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that may live in their digestive system during the first few months of life. These bacteria change nitrate into toxic nitrite. The nitrite reacts with hemoglobin (which carries oxygen to all parts of the body) to form methemoglobin, which does not carry oxygen. This is commonly called blue-baby syndrome. As the oxygen level decreases, the baby is suffocated. The most obvious symptom of nitrate poisoning is a bluish color of the skin especially around the eyes and mouth. The blood sample of an affected baby is a chocolate brown instead of a healthy red. The infant should be taken immediately for medical care and a blood test will be needed to confirm the condition.
Infants are more sensitive to nitrates because they have a higher intake of water for their body weight and a smaller amount of blood in their bodies.
Infants are more sensitive to nitrates because they have a higher intake of water for their body weight and a smaller amount of blood in their bodies. Pregnant women can pass methemoglobin on to developing fetuses and low birth weights have been attributed to high nitrates in water. Because nitrate in water is tasteless and odorless, water must be analyzed in a laboratory. Nitrate levels in your water system vary according to the time of year. Spring is the best time to test since snow melt and rains will leach any excess nitrate into the groundwater. To protect the health of your family and livestock (which are also affected by nitrate), test your water once per year for bacteria and suitability. If your water analysis shows high nitrate levels, stop using it for baby formula or any water consumption. Also, beware of sinkholes which are a direct route to groundwater contamination even if they are located miles away from a water source you are using. Never throw garbage, dead animals, chemical containers, or
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other forms of waste into a sinkhole or stored where water might drain into a sinkhole. Remember that nitrates are essential for plant growth. Only when there is too much nitrate in the sod do they become a problem in water. A full 16 oz. plastic bottle of water is needed for the suitability analysis that includes nitrate plus many other parameters that determine the quality in your drinking water. If you are interested in analyzing your drinking water, be sure to read all laboratory detailed instructions on how to sanitize, collect and submit a sample of your water or bacteria. This information is available at HolmesLab.com under the resources tab.
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SLUGS LIKELY TO THRIVE
Story by | Alayna DeMartini THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY CFAES NEWS
SOMETHING VERY SMALL has benefited from the heavy rainfall that has played havoc with field crops statewide: the slimy and frequently hungry gray garden slug. Planting corns and soybeans early sometimes helps reduce the amount of damage from slugs because the crop has a chance to outpace the growth of the slug, whose appetite increases as it matures, said Kelley Tilmon, a field crop entomologist with Ohio State University Extension, the outreach arm of The Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. But with above average rainfall across the state and Stock up Now! Order your furnished beef or hog - cut & packaged specifically for
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some late-season frosts, a significant number of farmers are planting — or replanting — corn and soybeans later in the growing season. And those emerging plants are tasty meals for the slithering bandits. This spring and summer might just offer the perfect conditions for slugs, including the gray garden slug, the species that typically creates the biggest problem for growers of field crops, Tilmon said. “We get the worst problems when we have very small plants combined with large slugs because they’re out there happily feeding on them,” Tilmon said. “That’s a bad combination.” Slugs tend to build up in fields that aren’t tilled, where they’re protected by the leftover remains of past years’ crops, Tilmon said. During the day, slugs can seek cover under past crop residue, taking advantage of the shade and extra layer of moisture. At night, they feast. Not only are the emerging plants vulnerable to slugs, but slugs can chomp away at seeds as well. They are not picky eaters and are willing to devour pretty much anything they can crawl onto: corn, soybeans, grain, forages and even weeds if a field does not have any crops growing on it. One of the more significant pests for Ohio’s soybean and corn growers, slugs can be easily overlooked in a field, said Andy Michel, an OSU Extension pest expert.
Photo Left: Gray garden slugs could flourish this spring and summer given the above average rainfall statewide and the late planting of corn and soybeans; the seeds and young plants can become tasty meals for the slugs.
Their eggs are slightly smaller than a BB and blend in well with the soil, Michel said. After hatching, they hide during the day, venturing out at night to seek food. As a result, a farmer may not be aware of the number of slugs in a field until after the damage is done. “I’ve seen holes in soybeans, gaps in rows and fields that needed to be replanted because of slugs,” Michel said. They do the most damage in late spring and early summer. “If you go out at dusk or after sunset with a flashlight, you might find them in the act,” Tilmon said. Besides holes in leaves, slugs can leave behind their trace, a trail of clear slime that shines when it dries. Like uninvited guests, slugs can be tough to get rid of. Growers should scout for slugs, particularly in areas where weeds thrive or where there are a lot of remnants of past years’ crops.
“We get the worst problems when we have very small plants combined with large slugs because they’re out there happily feeding on them...That’s a bad combination.” Kelley Tilmon | Field Crop Entomologist Ohio State University Extension A farmer with a serious slug problem can either till the soil to disrupt the slugs’ shelter or apply a pesticide with an active ingredient of either metaldehyde or chelated iron, Tilmon said. Insecticides do not kill them because slugs aren’t insects — they’re mollusks. One way to tell if a field has a slug problem is by leaving asphalt shingles in various parts of the field — ideally white ones that won’t attract the heat as much during the day — but will draw slugs if they’re around, Tilmon said. A grower can flip over the shingles and get an idea of how many slugs are hiding out in their field, then decide what to do about them. For more information, visit: go.osu.edu/slugsoncrops
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EXPERTS HAVE CALLED IT “the grocery gap,” a complex and often invisible space between those who have easy, affordable access to fresh, local produce and those who do not. Finally being made visible by national policy debate and by groups and organizations at the local level, work is being done to close the gap right here in Wooster. For 10 years, Karen Potter worked at the Mental Health & Recovery Board of Wayne & Holmes Counties as Project Director, overseeing various projects of the Ohio Department of Health’s Child & Family Health Services grant (CFHS). Mon-Fri 8 am to 5 pm Sat 9 am to 12 pm
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One component of her role was overseeing Community Health Assessments and their corresponding strategic planning, in first Wayne County, and then the last two years for Wayne, Holmes, and Ashland Counties. Potter experienced first-hand the positive impact that bringing together many people and agencies to work on complex issues can have. The concept of the Community Food Project first came about in 2011, when Potter met with Betsy Anderson and Jessica Eikleberry from Local Roots Wooster and with Clarence Stutzman of the People’s Garden to create a project that would be part of a federal Community Transformation grant proposal. The group explored the possibility of taking donated produce (creating less food waste) and getting the produce into local schools, preschools, summer programs, and food pantries, resulting in improved nutrition for the area. The grant proposal was approved by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, but it remained unfunded. During the time that the grant proposal spent waiting on the list of those being considered, the federal funding was ended for that initiative. Fast forward to 2017, Potter is now the Executive
needs and create additional projects in the future. Having been a single mother of four sons (her boys are now graduated from high school), Potter understands that the need is real in Wayne County and feels blessed to have the ability to work for change in the community with the support of her family and her husband, Charles Runion. Research for the project was gained through the Wayne County Nutrition and Physical Activity Needs Assessments conducted on behalf of the Wayne County Health Department’s Maternal Child Health Program (ODH grant). Additional information was obtained through the Wayne County Child Nutrition & Fitness Coalition and the Food Insecurity Target Action Group. Needs were determined and a current action plan has been put into place not only for Wayne County but for Ashland County as well, with help from the Ashland County Health and Wellness Committee. For more information or to get involved, visit http://AWCinc.org, or contact Karen Potter, AWC Executive Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Director and Founder of A Whole Community (AWC) which is a Christian-based, non-profit 501c3 organization based out of Wooster. Their mission is to help individuals, families and communities transition to wholeness – physically, emotionally, spiritually, financially and relationally. The AWC’s first project will be the Community Food Project starting this summer. It’s goal is to decrease food waste and increase local produce being used in our schools, preschools, summer programs and food pantries. The project will focus on both Farm to School and Farm to Food Pantry, with Local Roots Wooster as their first base of operations. Imperfect and seconds produce will be donated and then sold at a reduced price to build sustainability into the project. Produce will also be given to local food pantries free of charge when it is available. Most Americans choose produce from the store based upon how perfect and fresh it looks. For produce to be considered “imperfect” this could mean that the fruit or vegetable harvested is not perfectly shaped or there may be a small blemish on it. Several local Amish farmers have committed to donating produce. They grow GAP certified, organic certified produce for wholesale marketing and are willing to donate their seconds to the project. The Community Food Project will begin with fresh produce during the week of June 19th and at the time of this article, they are still awaiting funding for the equipment and supplies needed for flash freezing. “We have not heard back from the USDA about the grant proposal yet,” said Potter. “AWC will be seeking other funding sources and is accepting donations through our website with an online secured giving option or by mail.” Right now the plan is to distribute fresh produce through the beginning of October. “If we don’t have the funding by this Fall,” Potter added. “We hope to have the equipment and supplies purchased for flash freezing in the Summer/Fall 2018.” The Community Food Project is fully managed through AWC, partnering with Local Roots Wooster as a base operation facility. The contact for anyone interested in donating will be Karen Potter at email@example.com “We started with Wayne County, since this is ‘home’ for me and where AWC is based,” said Potter. “The ultimate goal is to create sustainable solutions to meet multiple community needs all within one project.” AWC plans to assess other communities’
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29 OFFER ANNUAL FIELD DAY 2 p.m. - 6 p.m. At OARDC West Badger Farm, 1501 S. Apple Creek Road, Wooster. The Ohio Food & Farming Education & Research Program’s field day will include new findings & discuss issues related to certified organic research and production for vegetables, crops and dairy. Contact OFFER’s Kathy Bielek at 330-202-3528 or email@example.com.
15 HORSE FUN DAY 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. At Nickajack Farms, 2955 Manchester Ave, North Lawrence. Join Nickajack Farms for a day of riding, games, trivia, crafts, learning and more. $40 per person ages 6 & up. Event takes place at the Horse Education Center. Phone: 330-323-9714 to register
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JULY 15 OHIO RIVER VALLEY TEXAS LONGHORN CATTLE SHOW 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. At Wayne County Fairgrounds 20th Annual Texas Longhorn Cattle Show
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Public Release | Myles Taylor SOUTHERN METHODIST UNIVERSITY
Why And How Do Plants Tell Time? Study solves mystery of how plants use sunlight to tell time via cell protein signaling
FINDINGS OF A NEW STUDY have solved a key mystery about the chemistry of how plants tell time so they can flower and metabolize nutrients. The process — a subtle chemical event — takes place in the cells of every plant, every second of every day. This new understanding means farmers may someday grow crops under conditions or in climates where they currently can’t grow, said chemist Brian D. Zoltowski, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, who led the study. “We now understand the chemistry allowing plants to maintain a natural 24-hour rhythm in sync with their environment. This allows us to tune
42 | SUMMER 2017
TOP: Scientists at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, say the discovery means plant clocks can be tuned by targeted mutations to plant proteins that may improve resistance to pathogens and crop yields.
This discovery may someday allow farmers to grow crops in climates where they currently won’t grow and allows scientists to make a subtle, targeted mutation to a specific native plant protein. the chemistry, like turning a dimmer switch up or down, to alter the organism’s ability to keep time,” Zoltowski said. “So we can either make the plant’s clock run faster, or make it run slower. By altering these subtle chemical events we might be able to rationally redesign a plant’s photochemistry to allow it to adapt to a new climate.” Specifically, the researchers figured out the chemical nuts and bolts of how a chemical bond in the protein Zeitlupe forms and breaks in reaction to sunlight, and the rate at which it does so, to understand how proteins in a plant’s cells signal the plant when to bloom, metabolize, store energy and perform other functions. Zoltowski’s team, with collaborators at the University of Washington and Ohio State University, have made plant strains with specific changes to the way they are able to respond to blue-light. “With these plants we demonstrate that indeed
we can tune how the organisms respond to their environment in an intelligible manner,” Zoltowski said. Zoltowski and his colleagues made the discovery by mapping the crystal structure of a plant protein whose function is to measure the intensity of sunlight. The protein is able to translate light intensity to a bond formation event that allows the plant to track the time of day and tell the plant when to bloom or metabolize nutrients. A plant uses visual cues to constantly read every aspect of its environment and retune its physiological functions to adapt accordingly. Some of these cues are monitored by plant proteins that absorb and transmit light signals — called photoreceptors. The research team specifically studied two key photoreceptors, Zeitlupe (Zite-LOO-puh) and FKF-1. “Plants have a very complex array of photoreceptors absorbing all different wavelengths of light to
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“Plants have a very complex array of photoreceptors absorbing all different wavelengths of light to recognize every aspect of their environment and adapt accordingly...All their cells and tissue types are working in concert with each other.” Brian D. Zoltowski | Assistant Professor | SMU Department of Chemistry recognize every aspect of their environment and adapt accordingly,” said Zoltowski, an assistant professor in the SMU Department of Chemistry. “All their cells and tissue types are working in concert with each other.” The finding was reported in the article “Kinetics of the LOV domain of Zeitlupe determine its circadian function in Arabidopsis” in the journal eLIFE online in advance of print publication. Co-author and lead author is Ashutosh Pudasaini, a doctoral graduate from the SMU Department of Chemistry who is now a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, Dallas. Other co-authors are Jae Sung Shim, Young Hun Song and Takato Imaizumi, University of Washington, Seattle; Hua Shi and David E. Somers,
Ohio State University; and Takatoshi Kiba, RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science, Japan. The research is funded through a grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health awarded to Zoltowski’s lab. Nighttime is the right time for plants to grow “If you live in the Midwest, people say you hear the corn growing at night,” said Zoltowski, who grew up in rural Wisconsin. “During the day, a plant is storing as much energy as it can by absorbing photons of sunlight, so that during the evening it can do all its metabolism and growth and development. So there’s this separation between day and night.” Plants measure these day and night oscillations as
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well as seasonal changes. Knowledge already existed of the initial chemistry, biology and physiology of that process. In addition, Zoltowski and colleagues published in 2013 the discovery that the amino acids in Zeitlupe — working like a dimmer switch — gradually get more active as daytime turns to evening, thereby managing the 24-hour Circadian rhythm. Additionally, they found that FKF-1 is very different from Zeitlupe. FKF-1 switches on with morning light and measures seasonal changes, otherwise called photoperiodism. But a knowledge gap remained. It was a mystery how the information is integrated by the organism. “Ultimately that has to be related to some kind of chemical event occurring, some kind of chemical timekeeper,” Zoltowski said. “So by following that trail we figured out how the chemistry works.” The discovery gives scientists the ability to rationally interpret environmental information affecting a plant in order to introduce mutations, instead of relying on selective breeding to achieve a targeted mutation to generate phenotypes that potentially allow the plant to grow in a different environment.
What’s next? The research opens a lot of new doors, including new questions about how these proteins are changing their configuration and how other variables, like oxidative stress, couple with the plant’s global sensory networks to also alter proteins and send multiple signals from the environment. “What we’ve learned is that you need to pay careful attention to specific parts of the protein because they’re modulating activity selectively in different categories of this family,” Zoltowski said. “If we look at the whole family of these proteins, there are key amino acids that are evolutionarily selected, so they evolve specific modulations of this activity for their own independent niche in the environment. One of the take-homes is there are areas in the protein we need to look at to see how the amino acids are now different.” Besides the NIH grant, the lab operates with $250,000 from the American Chemical Society’s Herman Frasch Foundation for Chemical Research Grants in Agricultural Chemistry.
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