VAN WERT - Dealing with the rising cost of fertilizer is one of the main topics at this year's Farm Focus July 29 at the Marsh Foundation Home Farm in Van Wert.
"We picked three of our hot topics," said Gary Prill, Farm Focus program manager. "One of them definitely is input prices - fertilizer, seed and the rest."
Fertilizer is of particular interest.
With the growth of the livestock industry in northwest Ohio and the drastic increase in commercial fertilizer prices, there is a great deal of interest in manure and how it can be applied to crops to reduce the need for buying fertilizers.
"One of our other new things this year is manure application, which really ties right in to fertilizer application," Prill said. "Manure isn't a waste product, a byproduct anymore. It's a commodity.
"It used to be fairly stable, and you could pre-buy a little bit," he said. "Now there's uncertainty. It's as volatile as the grain market anymore."
Barry Ward, an agricultural economist with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, plans to discuss pricing crop inputs in a volatile market environment.
In one of four concurrent sessions, Ward plans to address how farmers may need to change their purchasing of crop inputs to take advantage of price breaks and how to price grain in a market experiencing new price plateaus and unpredictable, day-to-day market swings, Prill said.
"He may not have an answer, but least he'll give them something to think about," he said.
Field demonstrations are planned to show producers new equipment for use in liquid manure application. For example, side dressing corn and top-dressing wheat with liquid manure.
"It's used by the crop right when its applied so it doesn't have as much opportunity to move off site," Prill said.
Demonstrations are to focus on the latest methods of using liquid manure, especially incorporating it into the soil to reduce fly and nuisance problems. Demonstrators are Barnyard Supply (Aerway), Bambauer Equipment, and Jerry Niese, a Putnam County farmer and commercial manure applicator.
Another workshop topic is soil structure and compaction by soil specialists from OARDC, Ohio State University Extension, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
It is centered on soil pits dug in a field equipped with subsurface irrigation capabilities. Soil structure and compaction issues are always relevant and sometimes forgotten by farmers because they are underground out of sight, Prill said. With farmers taking on more acres and often needing to perform field work in less than ideal conditions, this workshop helps to uncover this potentially yield-robbing problem."
The fourth field demonstration focuses on new equipment, showcasing machinery by Archbold Equipment (Case IH), Heritage Farm Equipment Store (Massey Ferguson and Salford), and Kennedy-Kuhn (John Deere).
Prill said 280-300 farmers attended Farm Focus last year.
"It's been growing a little bit every year," he said. "We got some very positive feedback from the forms."
It's different from Ohio State University-sponsored events because the Farm Focus organizers are a volunteers, who also are area farmers and agribusiness people.
"That kind of gives us a hands-on pulse on what their interested in and focusing on," he said. "What are the issues that are being kicked around in the coffee shop on the days they can't be in the field. Those are the issue we try to address at the field day."
Hours are 8 a.m.-3 p.m. When registering, participants will receive a free lunch ticket and will be divided into four smaller groups, each to attend a different, concurrent session. A rotation schedule will let participants attend all four sessions, running every hour starting at 8:45 a.m. Shuttles will transport participants to session locations starting at 8:30 a.m.
Lunch is at 12:35 p.m. After lunch, wagon tours will go to various research plots, or participants can take self-guided tours to plots of specific interest.
OARDC, OSU Extension and Farm Focus Inc. are the sponsors. The Marsh Foundation Home is at 1229 Lincoln Highway, Van Wert, Ohio. The farm is on the northeast side of Van Wert at US 30 and SR 127. Look for the bright-orange signs. The 300-acre farm has hosted Farm Focus since 1994, first as a two-day show, now with on-going research.
Participants can earn four hours of Certified Crop Advisor Continuing Education Units by attending - one hour each in nutrient management, soil and water, crop management and professional development.
For more information, contact Prill at (419) 238-1214 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit farmfocus.osu.edu.