The Lal Carbon Center Goes to the Farm Science Review

The Lal Carbon Center team at their table in the Agricultural Crops tent at the Farm Science Review. Left to right: Yadunath Bajgai, Researcher, Nicholas Johnson, Program Manager,  Klaus Lorenz, Assistant Director, Kyle Sklenka, Lab Manager, Mohammad Adnan, Visiting Scholar, Nancy Loria, Researcher, and Sandya Kharki, Researcher

The Lal Carbon Center team embarked on an enriching journey to the renowned Farm Science Review, a cherished tradition at The Ohio State University since its inception in 1962. This agricultural event serves as a nexus for farmers, environmentalists, educators, and all those invested in the agricultural community to gather, share knowledge, and explore the latest advancements in farming and technology.

This year, the team had the privilege of setting up camp within the Agronomic Crops tent at the Review. They are deeply grateful to their colleagues at OSU Extension, including Grant Davis, Amanda Douridas, and Teresa Funk, for their assistance in organizing space for the center at the Review.

Amidst the buzzing atmosphere of the exhibition, they engaged with a diverse array of visitors, including farmers keen on sustainable practices, environmental enthusiasts, and educators eager to learn and impart knowledge. The Lal Carbon Center team also gained insights into the challenges of introducing no-till techniques to farmers rooted in generations of traditional tillage practices and the sensitivities surrounding the term “carbon” within the farming community. They are thankful for the opportunity for dialogue with and feedback from farming, environmental, and all members of the Ohio agricultural community.

Soil samples from the Lal Carbon Center long term plots One of the key highlights of the team's presence at the Review was the opportunity to showcase the Lal Carbon Center's research findings. The basis for those research findings lies at Waterman Agricultural and Natural Resources Laboratory in the Lal Carbon Center long-term plots. The soil within each of these plots has been treated with a different agricultural practice, ranging from conventional tillage to no-till and mulching, for more than 27 years.  A display, constructed by Lab Manager Kyle Sklenka, clearly demonstrated the stark differences observed in the soils. The samples ranged from a light-brown color with a powdery texture for those treated with conventional tillage techniques and synthetic inputs to the rich, dark, crumbly soils cultivated with no-till practices and organic manure. This hands-on approach to education allowed attendees to literally grasp the tangible impact of tillage versus no-till on soil health and carbon sequestration.

The Lal Carbon Center team also met with OSU Extension colleagues at the event, including Heather Neikirk, a fellow PI on the Stark County Sustainable Soils grant supported by the Herbert W. Hoover Foundation, Asmita Murmukar, a fellow PI on the C-FARM grant supported by the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), and Mike Estadt, who manages the Carbon Central area for OSU Extension. They had a wonderful time brainstorming future projects to improve communication and collaboration on the complex topic of carbon and its impact on agriculture.

In addition to their academic pursuits, the members of the Lal Carbon Center explored all that the Farm Science Review offers. Dr. Yadunath Bajgai, a Research Scientist at the Lal Carbon Center, found himself in a captivating conversation with a local farmer, an interaction later featured on the front page of the OSU website (see Lal Carbon Center in the News). The team relished the Review’s delectable cinnamon buns and popcorn, beloved staples of this venerable event. Their time at the Review left them not only with cherished memories but also with a deeper appreciation for the agricultural community’s resilience and commitment to sustainable practices.