Over 30 Years of Conservation Innovation

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Field Leader, a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and Soybean Check-off

The Conservation Action Project (C.A.P.) was started over 30 years ago by a group of Northwest Ohio Farmers, OSU Extension Personnel, USDA, Soil and Water, and Natural Resources Conservation Staff along with local Agricultural Retailers, with the goal of studying and promoting new innovative concepts and agronomic production practices to farmer. C.A.P. geographically encompasses Paulding, Defiance, Williams, Henry, Fulton, Lucas and Wood Counties in the Maumee River Watershed. “C.A.P. focuses on a specific area and good practices that can help farmers and the environment,” said Alan Sundermeier, Executive Director of C.A.P.

An advantage that C.A.P has is that it can be adaptive and innovative and respond quickly to new opportunities. “We have gotten grants for local research and have outreach efforts that are ongoing. We are not trying to duplicate any existing programs. We want to be adaptive and look for new angles to solve local issues,” said Sundermeire. “One of the recent things we have seen is the need for information on biological testing. This is a complement to the current soil testing we do and looks more at the biological soil health and how we can use that to complement our existing data. Hopefully we can gain a better understanding of what the plant and soil are doing biologically.”  

C.A.P. has an upcoming program open to all farmers and agricultural businesses that will share information from the local research that has been conducted. “Local farmers with local research will share their stories and the scientific data we have collected from scientific randomized and replicated trials,” said Sundermeier. “It’s important that we use good scientific methods and share the data as we try to move the needle of understanding of all the variables farmers deal with on a daily basis. We are advocating for good soil health based on the practices we have been studying.”

The program will take place on Tuesday, February 14th at Northwest State Community College in Archbold, Ohio. It starts at 9:00 a.m. and continues through 2:30 p.m. It is free and open to the public.

The agenda includes a number of local farmers and Extension personnel. Eric Richer, Assistant Professor and Field Specialist with OSU Extension will share the results of his local Phosphorus research. Les Seiler, a Fulton County Farmer will discuss his on-farm research with Phosphorus fertility and how his practices have changed over the years. Alan Sundermeier, C.A.P Coordinator will share the results from this past summer’s Nitrogen rate trials, and using the Haney Soil Health Test and the nitrogen availability from that test compared to a standard PSNT test and a dozen on farms looking at what the right rate of nitrogen is.

 Todd Smith, Defiance County Farmer, and Gary Pennell, Agronomist with Farmers Elevator, will discuss using a home-grown biological extract on fields. “The biological extract study was really interesting,” said Sundermeier. “They took livestock manure and straw and added worms to it and some native soil and let it ferment and then ran it through a water extraction process with a product that can be applied to the corn crop. The name of the product is My Johnson Su Bioreactor. The idea is that it gets the microbes out of the extract and into the soil to stimulate natural microbial action and helps with nutrient conversion.”

There will also be a farmer panel made up of participants from The Nature Conservancy’s Farmer Advocate for Conservation Program. They will share their individual farm’s soil health journey and the lessons learned from the successes and challenges they faced along the way.

To register for the program visit: www.capofohio.org for details and more information about future C.A.P. research projects.

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