For being one of the larger Urban counties in the State of Ohio, Hamilton County has many equine operations, both large and small. Any size operation has one major obstacle to overcome, what to do with the manure? What goes in must come out. On average, one horse generates about 50 pounds of waste per day. That’s a lot of poo!
It is important for all equine operations, from 1 horse to 100+ horses, to have a manure management plan. This is site specific and describes how you plan to handle the manure. Here are some questions to ask yourself when thinking about your manure management plan:
- What are your going to do with the manure? Spread it or have it hauled away?
- How often do you plan on spreading it or having the manure hauled out?
- How are you storing the manure? Are you storing it in a covered area that prevents rain from washing it away, causing it to leach into the ground or surface waters?
- How far is your manure pile from a property line? Current regulations say that the pile must be 500 feet from neighboring residences.
These questions, along with many others are important to discuss to make sure your operation is compliant with statewide standards. The Ohio Department of Agriculture Division of Soil and Water Conservation has developed standards for the conservation and management of farming operations. The purpose of these standards is to reduce pollution in waters of the state by soil sediment, animal manure, and residual farm products. Violating these standards could lead to hefty fines.
So how do you know that you are doing it right? Give our office a call. We would rather come out and give you assistance and suggestions, over having to come inspect a reported violation. If you would like to have a member of our staff come out and look at how your operation manages your manure send Aaron Habig an email or give him a phone call (513) 772-7645.
By: Adam Lehmann
The Cooper Creek Collaborative (a group of organizations working to restore the Cooper Creek) and Green Umbrella (a regional sustainability alliance for the Greater Cincinnati area) have teamed up to install a rain garden at Deer Park Jr/Sr High School. The rain garden will reduce the impact of the School’s footprint on Cooper Creek and serve as an educational tool to teach students about hydrology, ecology, and how human activities can impact our local environment. The rain garden was funded with a grant Green Umbrella received from the Duke Energy Foundation. It was installed by staff from OKI Regional Council of Governments, Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati, Mill Creek Alliance, and Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD).
The rain garden was designed by the SWCD’s Stream Specialist and Coordinator of the Cooper Creek Collaborative. The rain garden is located between the tennis courts and the back-parking lot of the school. It captures stormwater runoff coming from three tennis courts and allows the rainwater to slowly soak into the ground, rather than flowing straight into the storm sewer system which would quickly route the water to Cooper Creek, contributing to highly erosive flashy urban flows in the creek (to learn more about this problem visit www.CooperCreek.org). The native plants in the rain garden were carefully selected to maximize the proportion of the year when flowers and fruit are available to pollinators and other wildlife.
One of the SWCD’s educators will work with Deer Park science teachers to develop lesson plans that utilize the rain garden to make abstract concepts observable and relatable. The rain garden will serve as a reminder of these lessons as students continue to see it from day-to-day and year-to-year. Students can recreate aspects of the design process for applied lessons in hydrology and geometry. The native vegetation in the rain garden will create opportunities for lessons in ecology and how human alteration of the landscape impacts the wildlife who are able to survive in these landscapes (e.g. birds and insects). Additionally, Green Umbrella is working on creating a permanent educational sign to be installed beside the rain garden, so the education component can extend beyond the classroom and into the community.
5/26/2020 – final day of installation
6/4/2020 – Collecting rainwater – doing its job…
It’s not too late to have your soil tested! We partner with Penn State Extension to provide soil testing services to Hamilton County Residents. For the convenience and safety of our residents, we are temporarily mailing a maximum of two (2) soil test kits to any individual, that is a resident of Hamilton County, at no additional cost. A fee of $9 per test kit is paid directly to Penn State for a standard soil test. The standard soil test will give you levels of pH, P, K, Ca, and Mg. Additional tests, such as lead and arsenic, are available for an additional fee.
It will take approximately 2 weeks to get your results back. You will receive a copy of the results and so will our office. The results will include fertilizer recommendations, as well as how much lime or sulfur your soil may needed. If you have any questions regarding your results you are able to give our office a call. Aaron Habig can go over the results with you in detail.
For more information about this program and to request your kits please visit our website https://www.hcswcd.org/soil-fertility.html.
The United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is in its inaugural year offering a new opportunity to those interested in growing urban and rural produce in the Greater Cincinnati area. The Cincinnati High Tunnel Initiative allows growers to apply for financial and technical assistance for high tunnel systems, commonly referred to as hoop houses.
Imagine the delicious taste of baby spinach freshly harvested from your own garden – in Cincinnati – all winter long. Impossible, right? Not anymore. High tunnels make growing vegetables possible long after the first frost, and quite possibly, year around.
A high tunnel sits over top of the garden. Arch shaped aluminum poles, anchored in the ground, support removable heavy plastic sheets that trap heat from the sun, warming the air. They look similar to greenhouses, except plants grow in the ground instead of in pots. They have a peak height of at least six feet, and are typically much taller to maximize air flow. Raised beds no higher than 12 inches above the natural soil profile can be created within the tunnel.
High Tunnels usually cost a few thousand dollars, making them unaffordable for most people who don’t grow food for profit. The Natural Resources Conservation Service created the Cincinnati Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative so that more people can grow fresh vegetables throughout all seasons, while managing water and pests effectively. High tunnels most often utilize drip irrigation to efficiently distribute water to plants, while reducing fungal diseases that would often be seen during wet periods of the year.
With this new assistance from NRCS, urban and rural area farmers can build high tunnels, many in or near community gardens in residential areas. With 25 percent of Cincinnati’s population living in a food desert, high tunnels provide a source of nutritious food closer to where people live, and for some, making fresh produce an option that would never have been accessible. High tunnel systems will allow growers to cultivate and harvest fresh produce in larger quantities, by extending the growing season.
High tunnels not only benefit people, they protect the environment too. The plants grown in a high tunnel reduce pesticide and fertilizer loss, while improving plant health and soil quality. Growing and purchasing food locally also improves air quality by decreasing fuel use for transportation.
Cincinnati is on the forefront of providing opportunities for diversified farming operations by offering more flexibility in allowing farming practices within the city limits. Applicants approved for a high tunnel must adhere to local zoning and building requirements. Applicants must also have control of the land where the high tunnel will be installed.
While the NRCS application period has ended for 2020 funding, applications will be accepted at any point for the 2021 funding cycle. To apply for a high tunnel, contact Lori Lenhart, NRCS Urban Conservationist, at 614-653-3460, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Ms. Lenhart will assess proposed high tunnel sites and assist growers through the application process.
To learn more about NRCS or other technical and financial assistance available through NRCS conservation programs, visit Get Started with NRCS or visit your local USDA Service Center.
The safety of the residents of Hamilton County and our staff is our highest priority. The District office will remain open and will continue to offer our services. However, we are modifying some of our protocols and events to best benefit the safety of our residents and staff.
Plan Review and Inspections: The earthwork permitting processes will continue uninterrupted. We will limit the number of our onsite meetings to a minimum and practice “social distancing” when we inspect sites.
Caring for Our Watersheds: Caring for Our Watersheds is still being evaluated. It is highly unlikely that we will have an in-person final competition. We are still working out details with our sponsor Nutrien. All the participants will be notified about the process via email.
The Rain Barrel Art Project: The rain barrel art project has been postponed indefinitely. Artists are urged to continue working on the barrels. We will do our best to work out the logistics of dropping off the barrels and orchestrating an online auction as soon as we have more clarity surrounding the situation.
Live Staking Event: The Live Staking Event scheduled on April 4, 2020, has canceled and may be rescheduled on a future date. The Live Staking event scheduled for May 16, 2020, is still on our calendar and will be evaluated as we have more clarity surrounding the situation.
Soil Test Kits: The District will continue to distribute the Soil Test Kits from Penn State University. For the convenience and safety of our patrons and staff, we will temporarily mail a maximum of two (2) soil test kits to any individual that is a resident of Hamilton County at no additional cost. Residents may request soil test kits via mail until April 30 by using the "contact" tab on our website.
Library Programs, Classroom Programs, and Meetings: All meetings and programs will be evaluated on a case-by-case situation by our staff and will be rescheduled if necessary.
We look forward to servicing your conservation needs. Please feel free to contact the District office with your questions or concerns.
The Board of Supervisors & Staff
Hamilton County Soil & Water Conservation District.
Hamilton County SWCD will once again be a drop off location for milkweed seed pods. The statewide program, organized by the Ohio Pollinator Habitat Initiative, is designed to get local citizens involved in habitat restoration to help the Monarch Butterfly. The program started in 2015 and since then, Ohio residents have collected 5,000 gallons of seed pods totaling over 22 million seeds. These seeds are used in restoration projects throughout the state. Milkweed is a host plant for monarch butterflies, which means the species cannot survive without milkweed plant.
Some tips for seed pod collection:
For more information go to https://education.hcswcd.org/monarch.html or contact Gwen Roth.