The soils of the world are diverse and allow us to produce a plethora of crops and food to support the global population. World Soil Day, celebrated annually on December 5th, was established by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations to celebrate one of our most vital resources. Soil is essential for filtering pollutants from our water, storing carbon, and providing the foundation for an estimated 95 percent of the world’s food supply. The theme for the 2021 World Soil Day is Halt soil salinization, boost soil productivity.
According to the FAO, soil salinization and sodification are major soil degradation processes threatening ecosystems and are recognized as being among the most important problems at a global level for agricultural production, food security and sustainability in arid and semi-arid regions. The goal of World Soil Day aims to raise awareness of the importance of maintaining healthy ecosystems and human well-being by addressing the growing challenges in soil management, fighting soil salinization, increasing soil awareness and encouraging societies to improve soil health.
Soil is a non-renewable resource that we must conserve and care for in order to continue thriving in this world. However soils are subjected to pollution and loss, especially due to erosion. Soil particles can be detached and moved out of a field by both wind and water. Wind can pick up small soil particles, transporting them long distances. Water moving along the ground surface can remove a thin sheet of soil, create small channels, or wash out large gullies.
Factors that contribute to erosion:
1. Rainfall — soil erosion increases as length or intensity of rainfall increases
2. Slope length/grade — soil erosion is worse on longer/steeper slopes because water moves faster across the soil
3. Vegetation/residue — growing plants and residue protect the soil from rain impact, slow down flowing water and increase infiltration of water into the soil, as well as protecting the soil from wind erosion.
4. Soil texture/structure — Courser soils (sands) with larger pores allow for faster infiltration (less erosion) of water than soils with finer textures (clays). Soil structure is the arrangement of sand, silt, and clay particles into aggregates. Good structure at the soil surface will also allow for increased infiltration, poor structure leads to more runoff and erosion. Poor structure is associated with low organic matter, equipment traffic on wet soils, and exposure of disturbed soil to adverse weather.
1. Yield Potential — soil erosion removes topsoil, which is high in organic matter and contains the nutrients essential for crop growth. Erosion generally decreases yield potential.
2. Nutrients — nutrients needed for crop growth are located in the topsoil where fertilizers, crop residues, and manure are applied; soil erosion will decrease the nutrient content.
3. Water holding capacity — loss of topsoil organic matter can change the overall texture of a soil and result in lower water holding capacity
4. Organic matter — topsoil is high in organic matter where crop residues and manure have been added to the soil. Erosion usually results in decreased organic matter.
5. The environment — water quality in streams, lakes, etc. can be greatly negatively affected by sediment and nutrients that are brought in by soil erosion. Wind erosion can result in reduced air quality.
Possible Solutions on the Farm:
1. Reduce tillage — tillage exposes soil to the environment and makes it more likely to be eroded by wind or water.
2. Manage crop residue — keeping crop residues on the soil surface helps protect soil from wind, rain, and running water. Residue can protect soil from erosion when crops are not growing in a field
3. Grass waterways — maintaining grass waterways in low areas where a high volume of runoff is possible will slow the speed of running water and allow for sediment to be kept in the field.
4. Cover crops — cover crops allow protection for a field during times of the year when crops are not growing. Cover crops protect the soil from wind, rain, and running water.
5. Row width/direction — narrower crop rows will canopy sooner and allow for better protection of the soil. Crop rows that are planted perpendicular to slopes will decrease runoff and increase infiltration vs. rows that are planted in the same direction as the slope
...And in the Neighborhood:
1. Stabilize soil by mulching with shredded bark, wood chips, leaves, or even pine needles - Look for locally sourced materials and cover bare patches of soil, hill sides, and spaces between plants.
2. Ground Cover - From lawn daisies to clover, keep it covered. The roots of larger perennial plants do the job too of reducing erosion.
3. Rain Gardens & Plant Catchments - Catch and control water when it’s moving downhill by creating a rain garden. A well-positioned rain garden can cut down on erosion and the possibility of pollutants reaching neighboring tributaries by over 30%. To plant a rain garden, select water loving plants adapted to your region and climate, and add stones and other features to direct the water.
Soil erosion has a large number of negative effects to both crops and the environment. It is important to use various management practices to protect the soil’s surface and minimize the likelihood of erosion.
We all have soil to thank for the food on our tables and our ability to thrive on the planet. Recognizing its importance and what steps can be taken to protect this vital resource are critical to that continued existence.
Here at Warren County SWCD we are always striving to find the most engaging ways to connect with students of all ages about environmental education and conservation. And what better way to do that than with an awesome animal! Education ambassador animals help to create personal connections with people and increase the retention of information learned. Our newest education team member hopes to share enthusiasm and knowledge across Warren County about all things nature.
ABOUT TUCKER "SPEEDY" TURTLE
Our newest team member is a Woodland Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina a.k.a. Eastern Box Turtle) of unknown age. Woodland box turtles are native to Ohio and are very familiar and identifiable wildlife to students of all ages. Sporting red eyes and a concave plastron (belly side part of shell), our new box turtle is a male that was seized from a private owner who did not have a permit, and released to the care of Brukner Nature Center in Troy, OH. Because he had been under human care for an indeterminate amount of time, he could not be released back into the wild. Taking individual animals from the wild in an unregulated fashion negatively impacts the wild population numbers of these species which is one reason a permit is required to possess such native animals. Because Warren County SWCD holds an education permit from the Ohio Division of Wildlife, we were eligible to become a new home for this little guy.
If you are a teacher or community group leader and would like to have Tucker visit your classroom or meeting with his trove of conservation knowledge, check out our program offerings on our Education Page! For questions or to schedule a program, contact Melissa Proffitt, Education & Communications Specialist, at (513) 695-3086.
Click the image to be taken to the website for full details!
Caring For Our Watersheds empowers high school students to imagine, develop and create solutions in their local watersheds. CFW is both an environmental proposal contest and a project funding opportunity for high school students. The program promotes watershed awareness and stewardship, values student ideas and offers support when turning theoretical ideas into action. Caring For Our Watersheds fits in perfectly with your STEAM curricula and is very compatible with project-based learning.
Students are asked to identify an environmental concern in their local community and write a 1,000-word proposal about how they would fix the problem. Proposals are due January 14th and will be reviewed by a panel of judges to narrow down to a top 10. The top 10 students will then receive money (up to $1,000) and mentorship to implement their idea. After implementation, students will come to the final event to present their solutions to a panel of judges and win cash prizes. Schools also receive matching prize monies.
For more info, please check out www.CaringForOurWatersheds.com and for specific Ohio info, go to www.CaringForOurWatersheds.com/usa/ohio. If you would like to schedule a classroom presentation about the program, please contact our Education Specialist! firstname.lastname@example.org
Water Supports All Life! That is the message from Dagmar the Dragonfly, and she is ready to fly into your classroom or visit your event to help spread the word! Our education team is always looking to expand how we engage with audiences of all ages to teach about the importance of water quality. Check out the video for a sneak peek at what Dagmar has been up to, and contact our Education Specialist Melissa to schedule a Dagmar the Dragonfly program!
Photo credit: Max Saeling, Unsplash
Each year, April 7th is recognized as International Beaver Day! There are two distinct species of beavers; the Eurasian beaver found in Europe and Asia, and the American beaver found across North America, including here in Ohio. April is when our native beavers start to emerge after several months of confinement in their lodges during the winter. These animals are well adapted to life in the water, equipped with webbed feet, a flat tail, clear "third-eyelids", and waterproof fur!
Beavers are also the world’s second largest rodent. The rodent family is known for having those big front teeth. And unlike their famous "wood chuck" cousins, beavers actually put those chompers to use felling trees for food, lodge and dam construction, and to create wetlands. Wetlands are special aquatic ecosystems that work as nature's filtration system, cleaning pollutants out of the water. These traits earn the American beaver the title of nature's best engineer! Want to learn more and do a fun activity with the kids? Check out Warren County SWCD’s program Dress Like a Beaver on YouTube!
The Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District has gained a new team member: Maryann the freshwater mussel. Maryann is very passionate about the water quality of her river because she is a filter feeder! If the water quality in her river is poor, Maryann will be negatively affected by a toxic diet. Freshwater mussels help keep our rivers clean, making them vital to the aquatic ecosystems in Ohio.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 11 freshwater mussel species have become extinct, and 46 more are struggling on the endangered species list. The Ohio river basin, encompassing 14 states and over 25 million people, is home to 41% of freshwater mussel species native to North America. Our streams and rivers empty into the basin, eventually emptying into the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. Freshwater mussels filter feed anything and everything we dump into our rivers, causing mussel species in Ohio to be disproportionately affected due to dense populations of mussel species. More specifically, the Little Miami River holds 36 species of freshwater mussels, including two threatened species.
Not only are mussels threatened by water pollution, they are also fighting for resources with the invasive Zebra Mussel species. Zebra mussels are native to Eurasian freshwater bodies, but spread through dumping ballast water into the Great Lakes by ships from Europe. Zebra mussels thrived in this new environment with no natural predators, allowing them to spread rapidly across the country. Native mussel species are reducing in number due to these invasive mussels, causing a decline in overall biodiversity in our rivers.
Freshwater mussels are vital for our rivers’ ecosystem filtration, but many species are declining in population due harvesting for shiny buttons, and nutrient rich sea food in the past. Human impact on the freshwater mussel population can be greatly reduced by keeping our rivers clean, helping to reverse the negative affects of previous harvesting. According to the Ohio River Foundation, our river is a source of drinking water for more than five million people. Without freshwater mussels digesting harmful bacteria such as E. coli, our rivers would become very dirty.
Article written by WCSWCD Intern Abbey Raison
It is incredibly important that we all do our part to prevent water pollution in our river and consume fewer mussel products to protect the native species of freshwater mussels.
You can adopt a mussel just like Maryann! Visit https://secure.donationpay.org/ohioriverfdn/adopt.php to adopt the mussel of your choice, and help the Ohio River Foundation protect the freshwater mussel population. According to the Ohio River Foundation website, "The donors of the Adopt a Mussel program provide much needed funds for food, aquariums and other supplies needed to care for and house these important conservation ambassadors for our Mussels in the Classroom program." These education initiatives align with those of Warren County SWCD and we are proud to support water quality education!
For questions regarding Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District programs and/or technical assistance on water or soil questions, visit http://warrenswcd.com or call, 513-695-1337.
As 2020 draws to a close, I am so proud of all of the educators across our county and state that have excelled through these unique and challenging times to continue bringing quality education to our students. Bravo! While 2021 will be a chance to continue exploring and using these new remote learning options we have all been trying to master, hopefully we will see a return to some of our in person programming as well! Until then, are you in need of some holiday STEM fun? Then check out some awesome STEM programs from Hooked on Science!
Calling all pre-K readers in training (and their care givers!). The Warren County Imagination Library has a goal to deliver free books to all children from birth to age five across Warren County. The theme of this program is “Every Child Reads Every Day.” Staff at Warren County SWCD can personally attest to the wonders this program has brought some of our own children!
"As of October 5, 2020, there are more than 5,900 children registered for the program in Warren County which is 44.7 percent of the eligible population. More than 45,000 books are projected to be mailed free to the registered children for 2020. This generational change started in early November 2019, when Commissioner Shannon Jones convened a group of Warren County leaders at the Warren County Foundation to learn about the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library. Within a few weeks, the five library districts decided to fund a three-year pilot program. The Warren County Literacy Fund has been established for this purpose."
Children can be registered at www.ohioimaginationlibrary.org/enroll.
The founding partners include: Franklin-Springboro Public Library, Lebanon Public Library, Mary L. Cook Public Library, Mason Public Library, Salem Township Public Library, United Way of Warren County, and Warren County Foundation. Other partners are joining every day.
For more information, direct questions or inquiries to: Warren County Imagination Library (Warren County Foundation), 118 East Main St., Lebanon, OH 45036 – 513-254-1001 or e-mail: email@example.com.
Did you know that we have wild turkeys right here in Ohio? While they have many things in common with their domestic cousins, they also have some unique wild traits!
Learn some fun facts about wild turkeys from what they eat to how they communicate; and what the heck is a dust bath?? Watch this fun, short video to find out!
With over twelve different calls, the Wild Turkey is no stranger to good
communication. From the gobble to the cluck, the sounds of the Wild Turkey let you know exactly what they are doing. Some of the most common turkey calls include:
• Tree Call – This call is typically made from the roost in a tree first thing in the morning.
• Gobble – This call is made primarily by male turkeys in the spring to attract female turkeys for mating.
• Putt – This is a short, one-syllabled alarm call. When used in a series, it indicates that the turkey has seen or heard danger.
• Cluck – This call is usually in a series of short, soft notes. It is used to get the attention of another turkey.
• Purr – A soft, rolling call, the purr is often made by content turkeys mainly when they are feeding.
• Assembly Call – This call is usually made by the adult hen when calling her young poults.
Want to make your own turkey call? Grab a small plastic cup (K-pod cups or small play-dough containers work great!) and some string and follow these easy instructions!