Ohio State Agricultural Risk Analysis Program

IR4 Program – Pest Risk Abatement

Summary:  Horticulture & Crop Science faculty provided leadership and coordination to the IR-4 Program bringing new pest management technology to Ohio’s producers of specialty crops.

Situation:  Production of fruit, vegetables and ornamentals in Ohio has an economic impact well in excess of $6 billion dollars annually.  However, technology to manage pests is lacking for these high-value crops because small acreages do not lead to large sales volumes of pest control products.

Response: OARDC/ OSU scientists participated in the IR-4 Program, a collaboration between USDA, land grant universities and the private sector.  Efficacy and food-use residue projects supported by IR-4 were conducted in ornamental, vegetable and fruit crops.

Impact: For 2010, 219 new pest management registrations were achieved resulting in 786 specific new uses.  New registrations included three bio-pesticides targeted to plant virus control, soil-borne plant disease and weed management.  The estimated impact on the Ohio specialty crop industry is $4.5 million annually. 

Food Safety Education and Curriculum Development

Summary:  Horticulture & Crop Science faculty led the OSUE Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Food Safety Team.  During the year the team developed new educational materials and taught principles and practices of food safety to Ohio farmers.

Situation:  Ohio fruit and vegetable growers are faced with a crisis in customer confidence.  Risks and public concern over the safety of fresh fruits and vegetables threatens the sustained growth of the produce industry.

Response: During 2010 the team developed a new risk-based educational program designed to equip farmers with knowledge, skills and tools needed to prepare farm-specific food safety programs.  The team developed a web-site (, and provided several local educational opportunities in which more than 300 farmers participated.

Impact: Since 2007 the OSUE Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Food Safety Team has provided locally-delivered educational programs and workshops to support the efforts of more than 2500 farmers and gardeners striving to meet the challenge of pathogen-free fruit and vegetable farming.

Risk Assessment of Herbicide Drift from 2,4-D and Dicamba treated Soybean Fields to Specialty Crops

Summary:  Horticulture and Crop Science faculty conducted programming to assess risks to specialty crops from future increased use of 2,4-D and dicamba herbicides on genetically-modified soybean.

Situation:  Sustaining yield and quality of fruits and vegetables is at risk because of the imminent release of soybean varieties that are genetically modified to be resistant to the growth regulator herbicides 2,4-D and dicamba.  Specialty crops are grown in close proximity to fields of soybean where these herbicides will be used.  Many of Ohio’s most important specialty crops are sensitive to both herbicides and the risk associated with accidental spray drift and volatilization is of great concern.

Response: HCS faculty conducted a series of workshops and presentations with sensitive crop industries to explain the new soybean weed control technologies, the potential impact of increased use of 2,4-D and dicamba, and to gather stakeholder input. Field and greenhouse research was conducted to quantify the effect of simulated 2,4-D and dicamba drift on tomato, broccoli, bell pepper and grape.

Impact: Simulated drift studies on specialty crops quantified the potential for yield and crop quality loss. Specialty crop producers were informed about the increased risk of herbicide spray-drift damage to their crops.  Data on specialty crop stakeholder knowledge, perception and attitude regarding hazards associated with the new soybean weed control technologies is being used in risk management negotiations with federal and state regulators, technology registrants and grain farmers. 

Exurban Change Program

Summary:  Increased out-migration from urban and suburban areas, more land consumption per capita, and edge city formation around the periphery of central cities have led to more complicated patterns of settlement in which the distinction between suburban and rural has become increasingly blurred. A new type of development that is neither fully suburban nor fully rural has emerged, sometimes referred to as the "exurbs."

Response:The program provides analysis of economic, social, agricultural, and land use changes of exurban regions and localities across the country, with a focus on exurban areas of Ohio, as well as consulting on individual projects.

Impact: The program performs applied research on these topics and disseminates data and research results to local officials, professionals, and interested citizens to support their planning and decision making.


Farm Animal Welfare in Ohio

Summary: Factors associated with public attitudes and behavior about farm animal welfare were evaluated with a focus on the characteristics of individuals who are more or less concerned with farm animal welfare.

Situation: Not much is known about the U.S. population’s views and behaviors regarding farm animal welfare, which is an issue that concerns animal scientists, social scientists, the food industry, and the public at large

Response: A survey was mailed to 4,800 individuals to collect the data: 3,000 were Ohio residents and 1,800 were residents of other states that allow for comparison with the Ohio findings. The response rate for Ohio was 35% (976 respondents), with a 27% response rate from other states.

Impact:  Investigators were able to develop detailed measures of public concerns related to farm animal welfare, using factor analysis, a statistical technique that groups variables into different sets of domains. Consumer concerns were categorized into eight different dimensions and characteristics relating to the level of concern in an individual were identified. These sets of attitudes/beliefs represent the most comprehensive yet developed from quantitative research on the U.S. population.


Sugar Creek Watershed Project

Alpine Nutrient Trading Program:

Summary:  Ohio's first water quality trading program was written in 2006 by a team of researchers working on the Sugar Creek Watershed headed by Richard Moore, a professor in the School of Environment and Natural Resources.

Situation:  NPDES permit holders are faced with more stringent phosphorus and nitrogen limits by EPA making facility upgrades more expensive.  Small town wastewater treatment plants are particularly effected and the costs for those facility upgrades are passed on to the consumers. 

Response: In January of 2007 the plan was started as part of the factory's 5 year NPDES permit.  The factory had to lower their phosphorus effluent down to 3 mg/l through facility upgrades while water quality trading took care of the difference between 3 mg/l and 1 mg/l which is the regulatory limit.  The Holmes County SWCD was the broker and the factory paid 25 farms to put in a total of over 90 conservation measures.  A trading ratio of 3:1 means that much more conservation is accomplished than if the factory had met EPA regulations through a facility upgrade. 

Impact: Due to the success of the Alpine case, 21 counties in the Muskingum Watershed formed a Joint Board of SWCDs in 2010.  In 2011 the Joint Board approved a draft plan to expand Alpine into their counties subject to OEPA approval. The average wastewater treatment plant for a small town of 5000 can look forward to saving over $1 million.