A “Practical Strategies for Your Farm” meeting will be held in Bryan at the Williams Soil & Water Conservation District Office, 1120 West High Street, from 8:00 a.m. till 3:00 p.m. The featured speaker will be Jim Hoorman, Ohio State University Extension Educator, who will be presenting several topics on using cover crops in your cash crop rotation. After lunch, Florian Chirra, Ohio State Extension Williams County Educator, will speak on the value of manure as a fertilizer source. Then Bert Brown, Williams Soil and Water Conservation District Technician, will explain Senate Bill 1 rules on the application of fertilizer and manure.
In the morning, Hoorman will discuss how using cover crops will improve soil health by increasing soil microbes by a factor of 1,000-2,000 in the soil profile, especially around the roots. These soil microbes are simply “soluble bags of fertilizer”, recycling soil nutrients to the plant roots, keeping soil nutrients in the soil organically, rather than allowing these nutrients to move offsite to nearby streams, rivers, and lakes. Using cover crops in a cash crop rotation will increase soil organic matter, which leads to improving water infiltration and water storage capacity of the soil, improve soil structure and ultimately increase yields over time. Hoorman will examine these soil tests: “Solvita Respiration Test and the Haney Test”, and what they are telling you about soils on your farm.
Ending the morning session, Hoorman will present information on how cover crops can be utilized to tie up manure nutrients, especially in the winter, since manure is allowed to legally be applied to living crops. Grass cover crops such as cereal rye, annual ryegrass, triticale, barley, and wheat have fibrous root systems that efficiently tie up nitrogen and phosphorus in the soil profile.
Hoorman says, “Improving soil health with cover crops is an ecological and economic way to efficiently utilize soil nutrients. Our current nitrogen-use efficiency is only 30-40% and our phosphorus-use efficiency is around 10-30%. Utilizing long-term no-till plus cover crops or live growing plants year round improves our soils for the next generation and helps solve many environmental issues by mimicking natural processes in a new way of farming called ECO Farming!” The benefits to the farmers are lower input costs and higher yields over time while the benefits to society are improved air, water, and soil quality.
There is a small registration fee. For more information and to register by February 17, please contact the OSU Extension Office at 419-636-5608 or the Williams SWCD at 419-636-9395 Ext 3.