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Outdoor Learning - Park Quest - By Chris Coulon, Ohio NRCS Public Affairs Specialist A design team of Ohio University graduate students developed Park Quest as a means to most effectively engage the interest of minority, urbanized youth with unfamiliar natural resource topics. Ultimately, youth engaged in this manner would not only develop relationships and familiarity with natural resources, but consider pursuing careers in related fields.
On a rainy Saturday last September over 100 kids and parents from the greater Columbus metropolitan area gathered at Alum Creek State Park to play outside while learning about natural resources. The annual “Let’s Go Outside” event, sponsored by government, non-profit, and corporate organizations, went on despite the rain, which eventually cleared.
Have you ever thought about getting the most out of your produce garden? Or enjoyed fresh picked vegetables from your garden on Thanksgiving? How about getting an early start on raising produce in the spring? A seasonal high tunnel may be an option for you!
David Brandt started no-till farming 41 years ago. He started experimenting with cover crops - crops grown to cover the soil during dormant periods – 36 years ago. He’s tried new techniques, like intercropping different species of plants, planting oilseed radishes as a cover crop, and modified equipment to accommodate his experiments. Needless to say, he’s learned a lot.
As temperatures finally go UP this spring, take a minute to look DOWN at the ground and investigate the SOIL. What does the soil look like? How does the soil feel? Does rain sink into the ground quickly? Answering these questions during planting can pay off later during harvest.
Over 70 percent of Ohio drains into the Ohio River, which meets up with the Mississippi River, emptying into the Gulf of Mexico. The Gulf of Mexico experiences hypoxia every year. It’s all connected. Ohio farmer, Bill Knapke, understands the relationship between Ohio, the Gulf of Mexico, and ‘dead zones’.
Soil quality is usually not something we often think about, yet if our soil is not healthy crop yields will be suppressed and the environment will suffer. Despite the long list of conservation practices available to producers that reduce erosion and improve water quality, we are seeing a resurgence of nitrates and soluble phosphorous in our lakes and streams.
In a previous article, "Getting Back to Basics," wrote about the benefits of implementing a system of conservation practices that improve soil quality, increase yields, and improve water quality. In this article, I would like to tell you about the opportunity to implement these systems through the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP).
As green leaves turn to bright fall colors and the green grass of spring has been replaced with brown grass from the recent dry weather, I am again reminded that the seasons in Ohio each have their own characteristics. We will soon be affected by the mud and snow of winter.
Traditionally in Ohio, warm and cool season grasses are seeded in early spring through May when soil temperatures and conditions allow. Dormant seedings, on the other hand, are done from December 1 to March 14 for cool season grasses and from November 1 to March 14 for warm season species. When the soil temperature is 50 degrees Fahrenheit or cooler, the seeds will remain dormant and not germinate until the soil warms up again in the spring.
Ron and Jill Osting of Putnam County, Ohio, decided to convert a troublesome agricultural field in a floodplain to a hardwood forest with a little help from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). In the past, the Osting’s battled floods on this 10-acre plot almost annually; losing crops, forage, and even livestock swept away by raging floodwaters.
Franklin County Ohio farmer Val Jorgensen owns Jorgensen Organic Farms growing herbs, flowers, salad mixes, honey, pastured livestock, and many value added products. In the past 10 years she has transformed land that once grew conventional corn and soybeans into a highly diversified organic oasis in an area of rapid suburban development.