By Rafiq Islam, PhD, Soil Program Director
The Soil, Water and Bioenergy Resources (SWBR) Program of the OSU South Centers, in conjunction with International Programs in Agriculture (IPA) and USDA-Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA-FAS), hosted six delegates from the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture under the Crop Rotation and Soil Quality Monitoring and Detection sector of the US-China Scientific and Cooperative Exchange Program (SCEP). Dr. Rafiq Islam was the primary trainer and principal investigator of the Crop Rotation and Soil Quality Monitoring and Detection project. The program was coordinated by Beau Ingle, Program Manager of the OSU International Programs in Agriculture. The SCEP delegation was led by Dr. Yuguo Liu, Deputy Director-General of the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture’s Farmland Quality Monitoring and Protection Center.
As maintaining a healthy and productive soil is the foundation of sustainable agriculture, the goal of the project was to expose senior officials from the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture to the layered cross-sectors of the U.S. agricultural system for interaction and understanding, supporting and strengthening the Chinese agricultural sector in preserving and improving farmlands.
As part of the SCEP, the delegates visited the U.S. Capitol Building, Supreme Court Building, Library of Congress, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). They met officials from USDA-Foreign Agricultural Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Washington, DC. In addition, they visited several national labs and programs at the USDA-Agricultural Research Service facilities in Beltsville, Maryland to understand the importance of publicly funded agricultural research in priority areas of crop production, soil quality monitoring, and sustainable agriculture.
At OSU, the SCEP participants had a series of meetings with the Vice President for Agricultural Administration and Dean, College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, and leadership from Ohio State University Extension to learn more about the land-grant university system, Ohio agriculture, and OSU Extension services. Mike Estadt, Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Educator in Pickaway County, led a very productive meeting between the Chinese delegation and Pickaway County Extension, Soil and Water Conservation District, NRCS personnel, and representatives from local farm and banking communities. They were really impressed with the mission and vision of the OSU and the national 4-H programs.
To know and learn more about state agricultural programs, the SCEP fellows visited the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) to meet Director David Daniels and ODA administrators from the Division of Soil and Water Conservation, Division of Plant Health, and Office of Farmland Preservation.
The SCEP delegates visited OSU South Centers to learn about nationally and internationally collaborative applied research and Extension programs of Soil, Water and Bioenergy Resources, especially with the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Heilongjiang Province (Jiamusi branch). As part of the SCEP schedule, the delegates toured several showcase farms in Ohio, including the Brandt Family Farm (Fairfield County), John Fulton farm (Pickaway County), and Aaron Lemaster farm (Jackson County) to discuss and learn more on sustainable agricultural practices such as no-till, crop rotation, cover crop blends, soil health and field test, compaction and drainage.
We believe that the Chinese SCEP participants had a good understanding of how OSU Extension facilitates and delivers the exchange of science-based knowledge and tools between agricultural producers and other agricultural and natural resources stakeholders as it pertains to the promotion of conservation and the protection of farmlands.