Posts filed under ‘sustainable’

Who Pays for Dead and Dying Ash Tree Removal?

The below article is a repost from the July 29, 2010 OSU BYGL Newsletter available at: m

As more and more ash (Fraxinus spp.) trees succumb to the EMERALD ASH BORER (EAB), some tree owners are asking who will pay for the removal of these infested trees.

In 2002, the EAB was first discovered in Michigan, and then in 2003 it was first found in Ohio. Early on in the program, there were eradication efforts in place. Ash trees were identified, marked, removed and chipped, as part of the eradication efforts and was done at no cost to the property owners. The goal was to eliminate the insect, thus saving ash trees outside of the core of the infestation. Additional finds keep popping up in several states, and eradication efforts were halted as the insect was more wide spread than anticipated.

With this change in the program came some options for individuals managing ash trees. Chemical treatments to protect trees became a tool for those wanting to “save” their tree(s) from EAB, but with that also came the responsibility to deal with dead and dying ash trees, especially those with adherent risk to people and property if they were to fall. Since that time, communities, businesses, woodland owners, and homeowners are responsible for the management of their own ash trees, which includes the removal costs; costs that can often range from several hundred to several thousands of dollars.

Wood utilization is an opportunity that some may have not thought much about before EAB. Ash trees from infested areas have been transformed into beautiful furniture; carved into walking sticks, bowls and other pieces; sculpted by chainsaw artist into unique pieces; used for railroad ties, mulch, firewood, and more. Michigan has led the way in the ash wood utilization, and Ohio is hoping to learn some valuable lessons. Check out some of the great work folks working with the Southeastern Michigan RC&D at


August 5, 2010 at 9:41 am 4 comments

Wind Turbine Public Hearing for Iberdrola Renewables in Ohio — Pros and Cons

On July 8, 2010, approximately 120 attended a public hearing for Heartland Wind Energy project in rural Van Wert County.  This was a legal hearing, and anyone wishing to give testimony had to raise their right hand and swear that the testimony given will be the truth. Prior to giving testimony, individuals also had to state whether there residence is or is not in the project area.
Iberdrola Renewables
According to Iberdrola Renewables, the company financing this wind project, the project in Van Wert and Paulding County has a scope of 159 wind turbines, which will provide about 80,000 houses with electricity.

Iberdrola Renewables public hearing


According to the official records on file with the Ohio Siting Board:

Heartland Wind, LLC is proposing to construct, own and operate up to 350 MW of wind-powered electric generation in Van Wert and Paulding counties.  Heartland Wind, LLC is managed by Iberdrola renewable, Inc.  The facility would require up to 175 wind turbine generators that would be located within a 40,500-acre project area.  Approximately 140 participating landowners would provide about 17,000 acres of leased land.  The application was filed on December 21, 2009.

All the official documents are available at


Why wind energy? Well, one reason is that Ohio has a mandate (ORC 4928.64):

  • 25% of electricity shall be provided from Alternative Energy Resources by 2025
  • Half of the 25% may be advanced energy resources (improved process or equipment, or clean coal technology)
  • At least half of the 25% renewable energy resources including 0.5% solar
Random fact: In Ohio, the wind turbine must be a minimum 750 feet from horizontal extended blade tip to nearest residence.
Testimony was polarized, and fell into two categories. The numbers I present below aren’t official; they may or may not be accurate (they should be fairly close, though). The bullet points below are recorded as I recall from the given testimony.

Pro testimony (n = 10):

8- residence NOT in wind project zone

2- residence IN wind project zone

  • economic development
  • job creation
  • progress and new industry
  • will benefit county coffers, townships, state
  • environmental impacts negligible
  • stop sending energy dollars overseas (reduce reliance on foreign energy)
  • supports green, clean, renewable energy
  • benefits far outweigh any negative impacts
  • $1.5 million per year to farmers in annual payments
  • can help preserve agricultural ground for agricultural use
  • 215 new construction jobs
  • 20 permanent high paying maintenance jobs created
  • local career center has a wind energy education program
  • our power needs are increasing, wind turbines help meet that power need

Con testimony (n = 8):

3- residence NOT in wind project zone

5- residence IN wind project zone

  • degradation of quality of life
  • obstructed views
  • disruption of bird life, bird migratory patterns
  • several references to scientific studies on the negative health effects (sorry, I don’t have the references — my fingers are too slow)
  • the project was referred to as ‘industrial’, ‘commercial’
  • sleep disturbance
  • shadow flicker, strobing
  • property value declination
  • wind project is highly subsidized
  • local contractors won’t be used
  • poor television reception
  • health effects on children
  • infrasound (below limit of hearing) has a human health effect
  • noise sounds like jet engines
  • ice throw
  • blade shear
  • we’re not reducing foreign energy
  • very inefficient source of energy

July 8, 2010 at 7:18 pm

Tips On Establishing Cover Crops

Cover crops offer many benefits for agriculture that include erosion control; reduced compaction and nutrient leaching; increased water infiltration; improved soil biodiversity; weed control and disease suppression; increased carbon sequestration and maximum nutrient recycling; improved air, soil, and water quality; and wildlife enhancement. Every cover crop species has its own niche and attributes for agricultural production.

So, a common question is ‘what should I use for a cover crop?’ The answer is not straightforward, and can depend on an individuals’ preference. Below are just a few options I have compiled following a wheat crop. For a more robust discussion of options I encourage you to read the OSU Factsheet Sustainable Crop Rotations with Cover Crops.

Following wheat, planned crop soybeans:

Option 1: Cereal rye

  • Drill cereal rye at a rate of 1 bushel/acre
  • Note that cereal rye will not winterkill
  • The cereal rye will get very tall (maybe 2-3’)
  • Drill/plant soybeans into the standing cereal rye. Do not kill the rye prior to planting
  • Chemically kill the rye after the soybeans have emerged.
  • Suppliers:, Burtch Seed, Tama  or Mid Wood Cooperative, Bowling Green
  • Be sure to ask for cereal rye (referred to as winter rye) and not annual rye
  • Plant by 1st week  of August

Option 2: Oats

  • Drill oats at 1.5 bu/acre
  • Oats should winterkill
  • Oats can ‘mat’ down so delay planting until 1st week of September
  • Suppliers: several, any common oats will work

Following wheat, planned crop corn:

Option 1: Cowpeas

  • Drill Cowpeas at 40-50 lb/acre
  • Requires early start, wheat harvest and landleveling need to be done quickly
  • Plant in July- preferably mid-July
  • Cowpeas will winterkill
  • Add additional nitrogen to corn starter (watch salt content)
  • Conduct Pre-Sidedress Nitrate Test (PSNT) on corn to determine how much nitrogen to sidedress
  • Suppliers:, Burtch Seed, Tama  or Mid Wood Cooperative, Bowling Green; Pricing on Austrian Winter peas at the time of this writing are $0.90-$1.15/lb.

Option 2: Oilseed Radish

  • Ideal is to plant on 30” spacing
  • If planting is not an option, broadcast
  • Plant 1-2 lb/acre or broadcast at a low rate of 3-5 lb/acre in August (standard rec is 8-10 lb/acre)
  • Radish will winterkill
  • Plant corn seed 1-2” off the oilseed radish row (if the radish had been planted)
  • Add additional nitrogen to corn starter (watch salt content)
  • Conduct Pre-Sidedress Nitrate Test (PSNT) to determine how much nitrogen to sidedress
  • Suppliers:, Burtch Seed, Tama  or Mid Wood Cooperative, Bowling Green; at time of this article Minowasa Oilseed radishes were $2.14-$2.30/lb.

Full podcast here:

February 24, 2010 at 8:15 am

Soil Scientists Quietly Planning a Carbon Dioxide Reduction Revolution: Biochar

From USDA-ARS website on biochar:

When biomass, such as crop residue and wood wastes, are heated in the absence of oxygen in a process known as pyrolysis, the biomass is transformed into a liquid known as bio-oil and a solid known as biochar. Bio-oil is a greenhouse gas neutral renewable energy product that has the potential to replace some petroleum products. Biochar is a type of charcoal. Biochar can be burned as a substitute for coal, but using biochar as a soil amendment may have many benefits for the environment. One of those potential environmental benefits is an improvement in soil quality. Application of biochar to soils reduces the density of soils and this makes the soils a better medium for plant growth.

[picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=soil&iid=230471″ src=”0226/3da57374-5af6-4099-a5f6-ca08f816c954.jpg?adImageId=7632998&imageId=230471″ width=”234″ height=”312″ /]

Biochar amendments add plant nutrients to soils and increase the capacity of soils to retain both plant nutrients and water. These improvements in soil quality can increase crop yields. However, the quality of the biochar is very important. While some types of biochar increase crop yields, other types of biochar can reduce crop yields. This [information] will help farmers and land managers who are considering applying biochar to their fields avoid problems associated with putting the wrong type of biochar on their fields.

Full podcast here:

(Podcast taken from text provided by The Economist, 8/27/09 and University of Florida Extension Chemically Speaking

November 18, 2009 at 8:30 am

NCR-SARE Announces 2009 Farmer Rancher Grant Call for Proposals

I receive more questions on grants than almost any subject.  Below is a call for proposals for the most readily accessible farmer grants that I am aware.

The 2009 North Central Region – Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (NCR-SARE) Farmer Rancher Grant Call for Proposals is now available online at

Farmers and ranchers in the North Central Region are invited to submit grant proposals for projects to explore sustainable agriculture solutions to problems on the farm or ranch. Proposals should show how farmers and ranchers plan to use their own innovative ideas to explore sustainable agriculture options and how they will share project results.

Sustainable agriculture is good for the environment, profitable, and socially responsible.

Projects should emphasize research or education/demonstration. Grants can range from $6,000 for individual farmers up to $18,000 for groups of 3 or more farmers.

NCR-SARE expects to fund about 50 projects in the twelve-state North Central Region with this call.

The deadline for proposals is Thursday, December 3, 2009 at 4:30 p.m.

For more information, contact Joan Benjamin, NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher Grant Program Coordinator, at or 402-472-0809 or (800) 529-1342.

The NCR has funded more than 700 farmer rancher grants worth more than $4,300,000 since the inception of this program.

Each state in SARE’s North Central Region has one or more State Sustainable Agriculture Coordinators who can provide information and assistance to potential grant applicants. Interested applicants can find their State Sustainable Agriculture Coordinator online at

September 1, 2009 at 8:15 am

2009 Ohio Sustainable Farm Tour Series

Ohioans’ taste in food is changing. Conscientious consumers are looking for food grown locally and in a way that protects and conserves our natural resources. Ohio farmers are meeting this growing demand for wholesome food by adopting sustainable farming practices and developing creative marketing solutions. Through this tour series, you are invited to get out in the field and see just how it’s done. Each farmer is prepared to share their extensive experience — both successes and failures — with anyone interested in learning more. Market gardeners, grain and livestock producers, processors, future farmers, educators, and discriminating food lovers are encouraged to attend.

All tours are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted. Events will take place rain or shine.

This series is sponsored by

• Innovative Farmers of Ohio (IFO)

• Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA)

• Ohio Forage and Grasslands Council (OFGC)

• The Ohio State University Organic Food and Farming Education and Research (OFFER) Program

• The Ohio State University Sustainable Agriculture Team

• USDA SARE Program

The brochure with all tour information is available for download in pdf format here: 2009 Ohio Sustainable Farm Tours

June 8, 2009 at 7:30 am 1 comment


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