OARDC Impacts

OARDC is a premier institution committed to safe, healthy, and affordable food and agricultural products; sustainable food and agricultural systems; strong rural and urban communities; stewardship of natural resources and the environment; keeping Ohio positioned favorably in a global economy.

INVESTIGATOR(S): Brian Hodge, Pierce Paul, Lucy Stewart

TITLE: Viruses in Ohio Wheat 


Ohio is the largest producer of soft red winter wheat in the U.S., with an estimated 500,000-700,000 acres planted yearly. It is primarily used for specialty cookies, crackers and other baked goods. Although most of the modern soft red winter wheat cultivars grown in Ohio have the potential to yield close to 100 bushels/acre, growing conditions, pests, and diseases often prevent most cultivars from reaching their full yield potential. Often, viruses are undetected and yield loss is attributed to other factors, such as nutritional deficiency or adverse weather conditions. Both a lack of information about the prevalence of these viruses and no existing treatment leads to significant reductions in grain quality and yield.

What has been done:

The Ohio State University and United States Department of Agriculture researchers conducted a multi-year survey of Ohio wheat fields, the first comprehensive virus survey of Ohio wheat fields in four decades. The practice involved sampling wheat fields across Ohio, using state-of-the-art molecular and conventional approaches to identify and characterize viruses, and measuring relationships among virus presence, severity, and crop production practices. The findings led to the publication of a comprehensive catalog of sequenced viruses in Ohio wheat, including viruses detected within different counties over time, and statistical analyses of detection patterns within fields, which can provide insight into how the different viruses are spread.


New, critical information for wheat management was discovered, including two viruses not previously reported in Ohio wheat - Cocksfoot mottle virus and Agropyron mosaic virus. A surprising finding is that Brome mosaic virus, or BMV, is a major pathogen of Ohio wheat. This has not historically been considered economically important in wheat, therefore little is known about disease management. Further work in the greenhouse and in-field has demonstrated that BMV infection can cause up to 60% yield loss, cementing this as a high priority issue for farmers and providing a new opportunity for research on disease management. This work impacts virus disease manage management in a global food staple crop and will lead to grower recommendations on monitoring for specific viruses, formulating sanitation procedures, insect vector management guidelines to curb spread, and recommendations on disease-resistant wheat varieties improving growing methods and profitability.

INVESTIGATOR(S): Joy Rumble, Annie Specht, Emily Buck 

TITLE: Understanding the Influence of Communication Techniques


Historically, the agricultural industry has taken a reactive approach to communication which has influenced how industry information is perceived by the public. The industry has found itself in several tough situations, triggering a reevaluation of communication techniques to identify proper, effective methods of communicating to a consumer audience. While much can be learned from the fields of marketing and communication, the agricultural context offers a challenging and unique perspective that complicates communication.

What has been done:

Two studies were conducted in 2018 to compare text-based and visual messaging in agricultural communications. The first study compared communication frames (or an individual’s preconceptions and interpretations used to understand ideas) about biotechnology presented in the form of a social media feed. Only one of the experimental groups received information about the technology before seeing the message. The second study compared a modern and historical picture of livestock production. Results gathered determined how each method affected consumer perception.


This work has helped to inform communication strategies and message design for public messaging related to agricultural communications. While this study was conducted on a limited sample of the population, results revealed that modern agricultural images had a jarring effect on consumers and created confusion. Additionally, research has shown that familiarizing consumers to biotechnology before showing them a message about biotechnology does not change their attitudes or attentiveness. The research also indicated that in biotechnology communications, consumers are more receptive to personal framing (relating the message to the individual), rather than an industry benefit frame (relating the message to the benefits of industry). This is beneficial knowledge because currently, most communications use an industry benefit frame, which is not as effective. These results suggest that the industry should put more thought into public communication strategies. This research is also informing further research on communication strategies in agriculture throughout the nation.

INVESTIGATOR(S): Anthony Parker, Francis Fluharty, Jefferson McCutcheon, Antoinette Marsh, Braden Campbell

TITLE – Managing Parasites in Small Ruminants (name of article in Ohio’s Country Journal)


Globally, parasitic infection is the greatest economic and production-based burden that livestock producers face when raising livestock in a pasture. On a global perspective, according to Roeber et al. (2013), tens of billions of dollars are spent annually on pharmaceutical products to combat the effects of parasitic infection. According to the USDA, internal parasites accounted for 34,782 sheep deaths in 2015, nationally. Anthelmintics kill parasites, but when resistance develops, those genetics are passed on. An improved parasite management process that addresses resistance is critical to the health and economic wellbeing of this industry.

What has been done:

Researchers are investigating several separate and combined management practices. To date, the team has completed 4 grazing trials with a 5th trial currently taking place. The final 2 projects are set for spring and summer of 2020, for a total of 7 trials. A simple management strategy stems from a firm understanding of the parasite life cycle. Known as grazing and forage management, this system utilizes rotational grazing, with a suggested three-day rotation cycle. Other possible management techniques that are being tested include mixing species, delayed weaning, pasture tillage, and natural parasite resistance of some breeds. Another aspect of the research includes using an ear tag that can monitor an animal’s activity and body temperature, allowing for earlier detection of parasitism which could reduce overall loss.


Through these trials we are investigating the use of annual forages, such as grass or hay, in a fall grazing system to decrease loss associated with parasitic infection in growing fall born lambs and the effect of protein supplementation and pasture maintenance on the performance, parasite status, immune response, and carcass characteristics of grass-fed lambs. Results will also determine the effect of weaning age and forage type on the performance and parasite status of pasture-raised lambs and validate the use of electronic biometric and behavioral data loggers to determine the efficacy of measuring animal activity as a method to detect and quantify the level of parasitism in grazing sheep

Past Imact Statements


With agriculture as Ohio’s No. 1 industry, helping farmers, growers and producers stay efficient and productive is an important goal for researchers at The Ohio State University’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Stopping pests — diseases, insects or weeds — is one way Ohio State scientists are continually working to help Ohio farmers increase crop yields and profitability while producing safe, healthy foods and food products.

The environment touches us in many ways: trees in yards, crops in fields, lakes and streams, and so on. Conserving those resources — growing and nurturing them — while also supporting their use by people are goals of The Ohio State University. Ohio State works on what Teddy Roosevelt called “the great central task of leaving this land even a better land for our descendants than it is for us;” and Ohio State specialists share what they learn with the citizens, industries and institutions of Ohio.

Americans spend $3 trillion annually, or an average of more than $9,500 per person, on health care. But a healthy lifestyle — and an environment that promotes healthy living — can significantly reduce the illnesses and frailties that eventually require medical care. In addition, research can provide insights into novel ways to fight new threats such as Zika virus and the age-old menace of cancer. The Ohio State University has the knowledge and expertise to tackle such issues.

Hunger statistics never fail to alarm. In 2014, one in seven U.S. households was food insecure, and Ohio was even worse at one in six households. Families with children are hardest hit. Globally, authorities estimate 11 percent of the world population — nearly 800 million people — are malnourished, and they foresee mass unrest unless farmers find a way to produce 60 percent more food by 2050. Faculty at The Ohio State University tackle the issue from multiple angles by focusing on maximizing efficiencies in food production, examining how to keep food safe, and taking the lead on reducing the billions of pounds of food wasted annually.

As part of The Ohio State University, Ohio State University Extension works with Ohioans young and old to provide job training, workforce skills and education to help residents statewide attain new jobs, retain current jobs or prepare for professional licensing requirements. From offering 4-H leadership and job skills programs to teaching agriculture in urban centers to helping farmers and pesticide applicators meet educational requirements for new licenses or recertifications, the goal is the same: keep Ohioans working.

We need honeybees and other pollinators for the successful growth of about one-third of U.S. food crops. But hard winters, habitat loss, unintended pesticide impacts and other environmental factors have these friends of ours under siege, both in Ohio and around the world. Protecting the state’s pollinators — and in the process, securing farmers’ income and food production — is among the key work being done by The Ohio State University.

Hands-on learning was at the center of A.B. Graham’s first boys’ and girls’ agricultural club in Springfield, Ohio, in 1902. Youngsters planted seeds in experimental plots, tested the soil, and identified weeds and insects. They studied scientific theory and presented findings to their peers. Today, nearly 290,000 young Ohioans participate in 4-H clubs; camps; and school-enrichment, after-school, and special-interest programs. All are provided with ample opportunities for experiential learning. At the same time, by addressing real-world challenges, The Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences prepares students to successfully progress into worthwhile careers.

Experts say soluble phosphorus runoff from farms is one of several contributors to the harmful algal blooms plaguing Lake Erie and other bodies of water in recent years. Researchers at The Ohio State University are working to solve this problem and improve Ohio’s water quality by helping farmers continue to achieve high levels of productivity while reducing input usage and cost. The key is to keep more fertilizer in the soil where crops can use it and to apply only what is needed for growing crops.