ADA, Ohio - Amid growing questions about the impact of nematodes on corn yields in Ohio, researchers with Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) are in the midst of a multi-year project to sample soils in Ohio fields to determine whether the tiny, worm-like organisms are indeed damaging corn yields.
Using survey methods and advanced scouting techniques, researchers have spent the last three years conducting corn performance tests for nematodes to determine if the worms are causing problems for Ohio growers and whether seed-treatment nematicides are needed, said Greg LaBarge, field specialist in agronomic systems and one of the leaders of the OSU Agronomic Crops Team.
LaBarge, along with OSU Extension educator Alan Sundermeier, will present the most recent survey findings during the Conservation Tillage and Technology Conference March 5-6, offered by OSU Extension and OARDC. OSU Extension and OARDC are the outreach and research arms, respectively, of Ohio State's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.
The CTC conference will feature some 60 presenters and include information on nutrient management, soil and water, "Corn University," "Soybean School," crop scouting, no-till and seeding technology.
The nematode project is just one example of advanced scouting techniques OSU Extension and OARDC researchers are using to help Ohio growers increase yields statewide, LaBarge said. To that end, researchers will present a daylong track of advanced scouting techniques training for certified crop advisers and growers during the CTC conference March 5, he said.
"The goal is to teach advanced scouting techniques that will help participants continue to become more efficient in scouting and differentiating problems to be able to provide the best recommendations to farm operators in Ohio," LaBarge said.
The advanced scouting techniques track will include sessions on identifying stress in corn, using gypsum to improve soil quality and water infiltration rates, "4R" retailer third party certification, comprehensive nutrient management plans, scouting applications, first detector training and the corn nematode survey, said Harold Watters, an OSU Extension agronomy field specialist and coordinator of the university's Agronomic Crops Team.
Watters, who is one of several researchers moderating the advanced scouting techniques track at CTC, said the topics chosen represent some of the most pressing issues reported by certified crop advisers statewide over the last three months.
"It's an indication of some of the issues that farmers are worried about," he said. "The training is open for farmers, but was created for certified crop advisers' education."
Watters said that because most decisions made on the farm today are made by advisers as often as farmers themselves, the goal is to provide these professionals information to increase and improve yields in an environmentally satisfying and immediate way.
"From the crop production standpoint, if we can train the state's more than 500 certified crop advisers to better understand yield improvement and benefits to the environment, then we can help that many more farmers get access to the information," he said. "Certified crop advisers' clients can range from 20 to 100 farmers, so providing this information to them has a multiple impact on growers statewide."