Soil Fertility & Nutrient Management Workshop offered

DARKE COUNTY – As the farm economy becomes tighter and the environmental pressure greater on farmers, understanding your soil fertility and nutrient needs becomes ever so important. The Darke Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) will again be hosting the Soil Fertility & Nutrient Management Workshop Series beginning in November.

This is a four-part workshop that begins with the basics and ends with a farm plan for up to 50 acres on your farm. For a mere $20, you can register, but space is limited.

“Register early to guarantee your spot in this workshop geared toward helping farmers better understand soil needs and efficient nutrient use,” said organizers.

The Darke SWCD along with its partners at Shelby SWCD, OSU Extension, Otte Ag LLC, and Wright State-Lake Campus are excited to announce another round of this workshop series.

The $20 registration includes meals, reference materials, two soil samples and (new for this year) two soil health tests. That’s over a $150 value!

“Thanks to our partners and other funding sources, we are able to offer this at an affordable rate of $20,”’ said organizers.

The workshop series will be held at the Versailles School with a tour of Brookside Lab in New Bremen. Here are the important dates to remember: November 17, December 15, January 12 and January 26. All meetings, except for the December meeting, will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. The lab tour in December will begin at 10 a.m.

“Thanks to a grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, we are able to include the soil health test for participants this year,” said Jared Coppess, District Administrator for Darke SWCD. “This soil health test goes beyond just nutrients, and measures the quality, or soil health as it relates to soil biology, structure and porosity. This test can go a long way in showing the value of cover crops and how they can increase the microorganism activity in your soil.”

The soil health test measures the soil’s carbon dioxide rate, microbial active carbon and water soluble carbon. Each of these is an indicator of the soil’s structure and ability to use nutrients. The soil health test relies on the same kind of core sampling that farmers already know. This test is currently offered in only three locations and one of them is Brookside Laboratories in New Bremen, Ohio. The other two labs are in Maine and Nebraska. The soil health test will not replace standard soil testing, but is meant to compliment the standard nutrient analysis.

“Understanding soil health can help farmers save on unneeded fertilizer which is good for the wallet and the environment,” added Coppess.

Each workshop will begin with a meal followed by presentations related to environmental stewardship, basic agronomy, commercial fertilizers vs. manures, nitrogen testing, Tri-State Fertility Recommendations, the fertilizer value of manure, and development of a farm plan based on the Tri-State Spreadsheet. Participants will be given a binder full of reference materials, record sheets and each speaker’s presentation. The binder is meant to be a tool and reference guide when the workshop is complete.

If you are a Certified Livestock Manager (CLM) or a Certified Crop Advisor (CCA), participation in this workshop will earn you credits toward keeping your certification(s) current. Participants who attend all

four sessions will be eligible to receive their Fertilizer Certification from the Ohio State University. Each session will have a sign-in sheet to verify attendance and proper disbursement of credit hours.

Registrations will be accepted until the class is full, space is limited to 30 people. Registration isn’t complete until you have paid the registration fee. For more information please visit www.darkeswcd.com or call 937-548-1752. Make $20 registration payable to Darke SWCD and mail or drop off at 1117 Southtowne Court, Greenville, Ohio 45331.

Understanding the benefits of proper nutrient management are two-fold, lower input costs and reduce environmental impairments. These are two goals any farmer should have because they relate to money and protecting the land. Given recent water quality events around Ohio and the nation, agriculture is under the microscope when it comes to nutrient use and management. Register today for the Soil Fertility & Nutrient Management Workshop Series to help improve your farms bottom line and impact on the environment.

Staff report