GREENVILLE — Andy Londo, Ph.D., assistant director of Ag/Natural Resources for Ohio State University Extension (OSUE), presented an overview of Ohio agriculture at the monthly ag breakfast Thursday morning.
“I have been in Darke County a handful of times and feel so welcome,” he said. “I grew up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan on the south shore of Lake Superior.”
Londo presented the history of Ohio agriculture in his presentation and pointed out the early industries, which he said included Cincinnati-Porkpolis because of its pork production; Obed Hussey’s Reaper, which he said is the first mechanical reaper; hemp; tobacco; and timber.
“During the Civil War, Ohio was the maple syrup capitol in the United States,” he reported. “There have been a wide range of ag products in Ohio. there are 75,000 farms statewide, averaging 187 acres in size. One of every seven jobs are ag-related.”
Top crops, he said, are soybeans, corn, dairy products and milk, hogs, cattle and calves, chickens and eggs, greenhouses and nurseries, wheat, broilers, turkeys and forest products.
“We are first in Swiss Cheese products; second in eggs; third in sour cream; and sixth in corn products and soybeans…,” he told the crowd. “We’re high producers in the nation of such products as cucumbers and maple syrup. We are in the top 5 nationally; second in fruit and vegetables products, third in bakery, fourth in production of animal foods and dairy products and fifth in offerings of seasonings, sauces, dressings, syrups, snacks and roasted nuts.”
He went on to name the major food companies in Ohio, which included Wendy’s, White Castle, Bob Evans and Skyline Chili.
“Organic production is on the increase,” according to Londo. “There are 703 certified organic enterprises in Ohio, in and around Wayne County mostly. We have 584 crop producers, 281 livestock producers, 129 handling nurseries, and 12 wild crop foragers.”
The speaker said that a GMO team has been established around the state to develop materials in those areas.
He went on to say that there are environmental concerns of farmers and noted that his department is looking into these. They include phosphorous and nitrogen that has been entering Lake Erie; HAB composed of cyanobacteria and microceptis which producers microcystin.
Londo proceeded to tell what OSUE is doing about it.
“The Fertilizer Applicator Certification is conducted by OSU with the support from the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) to meet SB 50 and HB1 guidelines,” he said. “It is required that anybody apply fertilizing 50 or more acres to be certified. . FACT was to start in 2015, but because of what happened in Toledo, it was started in September 2014.”
He also reported that the Nutrient Stewardship for Cleaner Water has been started.
“To date, we have had upwards of 400 training sessions conducted for nearly 12,000 participants statewide,” he said. “People have until Sept. 30, 2017, to become certified free of charge. We’re working with the ODA on what happens after Sept. 30.”
What’s in the future for agriculture in the state?
Londo said they are the use of drones, continual advances in technology and efforts to manage on-site nutrients to reduce environmental impacts.
“Organic ag will also grow and become a larger component for Ohio ag products,” he said. “Ohio will continue to reduce costs and enhance environmental quality in organic products.”
He concluded, “OSUE is working with the agricultural industry. Our goal is to keep Ohio farms sustainable and productive while enhancing the environment in where we live for years to come.”
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