COLUMBUS, Ohio — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) awarded $150,000 through the Ohio Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program to Osler Ortez, an assistant professor for Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. With this funding, Ortez will test the effectiveness of Beauveria bassiana, a soil-borne fungus, in enhancing cover crop establishment and growth.
“The Conservation Innovation Grants program strives to support cutting-edge solutions for production and conservation in Ohio,” said John Wilson, NRCS Ohio State Conservationist. “Dr. Ortez’s project will help producers get more benefits out of crop system rotations – building soil organic matter, retaining nutrients and soil moisture, and ultimately improving cash crop yields.”
Beauveria bassiana is traditionally used for its ability to control a wide variety of insect species. It has also been found to serve as a growth enhancement in several crop species. The project will strive to apply those benefits to cover crop seeds to enhance cover crop establishment success in corn-soybean systems in Ohio.
“Our work with biological alternatives will shed light on new strategies and agronomic recommendations for the better establishment of cover crops in cropping systems,” said Ortez. “Our findings will inform practices that can be deployed to improve and develop sustainable crop systems, with direct positive effects on soil health and water quality. Successful results would contribute to crop diversity, productivity, and profitability.”
CIG is a competitive program designed to support the development of innovative solutions to address the state’s natural resource concerns and improve agricultural operations. More information can be found on the Ohio NRCS CIG webpage.
— USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service