Bryant Spivey
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Physical Address:
Johnston County
Agricultural Center

2736 NC Highway 210
Smithfield, NC 27577
Mailing Address:
2736 NC 210 Hwy
Smithfield, NC 27577
Phone: 919-989-5380
Fax: 919-934-2698
Frequently Asked Questions
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Q: How should I fertilize my pasture/hayfield?
A: The first step in determining the nutrient requirements for your soil is to collect a sample of the soil and have it analyzed. Make sure you specify what type of grass or legume you are trying to grow before sending the sample to the lab. The test will indicate how much fertilizer and/or lime if needed is required to improve the fertility of your soil. Contact your local extension office, Natural Resource Conservation Services (NRCS), or your local Soil and Water Conservation Office to find out where to send the sample.

Q: I hear that it is a great time to buy a house. Can I afford to be a homeowner? What do they look at when I apply for a loan?
A: Buying a house is a big financial step and a decision that should not be made quickly. Income, debt, assets and credit score are all important factors that are considered before you can get a loan. Johnston County Extension Center offers Homebuyer Workshops each month that are taught by a Certified Housing Counselor. For information on the next workshop, or to pre-register, contact the Extension Office at 919-989-5380.

Q: Where can I get a credit report?
A: is approved by the Federal Government to offer credit reports. On this site, you can request a credit report from each of the three reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. You may receive one report from each of these agencies in a 12-month period.

Q: What educational opportunities are offered to senior Johnston County residents?
A: Johnston County Cooperative Extension is the coordinating site for the Senior Health Insurance Information Program also known as SHIIP. Medicare recipients can receive help when making Medicare decisions such as choosing the best Medicare Supplement, Advantage and/or Prescription Drug Plan. Appointments are available on Wednesday mornings throughout the year, daily Nov 15 – Dec 20 in addition to special appointments. Call 919-989-5380 to make an appointment.

Q: What is 4-H?
A: 4-H is a fun program where you get to "Learn by Doing." All youth between the ages of 5 and 19 are invited to join! In 4-H, you can go to camp, start a business, ride in a bike rodeo, take part in an international exchange, raise an animal, create a blog, give a presentation, participate in a community service project, develop your resume, practice interview skills, learn about healthy eating habits, build lifelong friendships. Best of all, membership is FREE! 4-H costs nothing to join, and you are not required to purchase a uniform. Member expenses are minimal and determined by the club itself.

Q: What is a 4-H Club?
A: 4-H Clubs are groups of 5 or more young people led by trained adult volunteers. They meet monthly in a convenient location and discuss subjects that interest the youth, such as GIS/GPS, Livestock, Horses, Rabbits, Dogs, or Community Service. In Johnston County there are 25 4-H Clubs that meet across the county.

Q: How do I join 4-H?
A: Call the Johnston County 4-H Office at 989-5380 to find out if there is a club in your area that will need your needs

Q: What kind of grass can I plant for my horses?
A: There are several questions to consider. In what part of the county do you reside, and what type of soil is under foot? How many horses and how many acres are in your plan? Are the horses breeding animals, recreation or performance show type animals? Will you supplement with feed and/or hay? Fescue and Bermuda grass are the 2 predominate types of grass that can be easily grown in the county. Both are easy to establish and maintain. Horses can consume a large amount of forage (2% to 2 ½% of their body weight per day). So, plan on about 1 horse per 2 acres of pasture. A higher stocking rate will create a pasture or paddock with little grass growth, and supplemental feeding will be needed. For more information, ask for publication AG-524, Managing Pastures to Feed Your Horse, from the Johnston County Extension Center.

Q: What are the zoning laws for chicken houses?
A: The County is generally zoned agriculture/residential in the rural areas. If you are referring to a large commercial operation, the only law is to stay off of the property line the same distance as with any structure. The chicken producers are usually under a contract agreement that specifies how much land is needed for waste disposal and mortality disposal. Producers follow a waste management plans designed by NRCS. If you are referring to a backyard flock, town ordinances are the only concern for hobbyists.

Q: Where can I buy goat milk in the county?
A: Only grade A dairies can sell fluid milk. Grade B dairies can make and sell cheese. In Johnston County, we do not have any of these type facilities. We have a few goat dairy herds that produce milk for their own use. You can buy canned milk at some of the area grocery stores.

Q: Do I need a license to buy or spray pesticides or chemicals?
A: THAT DEPENDS. Pesticides labeled “RESTRICTED USE” require a Pesticide License in order to purchase or apply the product. A license is not required to purchase or apply general use type pesticides onto property that is owned, rented, or leased by the applicator. However, a COMMERCIAL APPLICATOR’S LICENSE is required to apply pesticides or any type of chemical on someone else’s property. Contact Cooperative Extension Service at 989-5380 or visit the NCSU Pesticide Safety Program website for more information.

Q: Is my timber ready to sell and who will pay the most for it?
A: Selling timber can be complicated and done only once or twice in a lifetime, which makes learning from experience very expensive. Forest and woodland owners should seek advice from professional foresters regarding selling or managing trees. Cooperative Extension can assist land and forest owners in selecting Consulting Foresters who will secure buyers for, oversee harvesting, and maximize the price received for timber sales, or provide management assistance that will increase the value and productivity of forested acreage. For more information, contact Cooperative Extension at 989-5380.

Q: What was Johnston County’s main field crop?
A: Soybeans account for the largest acreage of any field crop planted in Johnston County. Although, tobacco is the leading income producer in the county. Soybean acreage out numbers tobacco acreage 6:1.

Q: How do I remove mold and mildew from the walls in my house?
A: Clean mold and mildew growth from walls with water mixed with chlorine bleach, diluted three parts water to one-part bleach. Commercial products can also remove mildew and mold. Follow product instructions carefully. Very moldy items should be replaced. Use gloves to protect your hands, and test the solution in a spot that will not be noticeable, before cleaning a large area. What is most important is to try to determine the source of the moisture that is causing the mold or mildew. In a bathroom, check for leaks and make sure that the room is properly ventilated. Ventilation fans should be installed to remove excess moisture in the bathroom. Also, make sure that your home is properly ventilated. Be aware that your soffits and ventilation of crawl spaces are clear from plant and landscaping.

Q: How can I clean the underarm areas of shirts to remove antiperspirant build up?
A: Rub the area with undiluted liquid dishwashing detergent and launder. If the stain remains, use hydrogen peroxide.

Q: Someone is calling, asking for my personal information. Is it a scam? Who do I call to find out?
A: Consumer issues/Identity Theft: State Attorney General’s Office 1-877-5NOSCAM, 1-877-566-7226, Investments: Secretary of State Investor Protection: 1-800-688-4507, Health Insurance Medicare: Senior’ Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) 1-800-443-9354, If you are ever in doubt about if it is legitimate, do not give the person your personal information. It is far better to be safe than sorry.

Q: What type of grass will do best for my lawn?
A: This will depend on the type of area where it is planted and the intended use. Johnston County is located on the line between Piedmont and Coastal Plain. This location makes it difficult to name one grass that will outperform all others. In the north and west part of the county, it is possible to grow a fescue lawn with the addition of supplemental irrigation and some shade. For the rest of the county, warm season lawns such as Bermuda grass, Zoysia grass, Centipede grass and St. Augustine grass will be better suited to the sandy soils. More information on each of these lawn grasses can be found in the Carolina Lawns publication, which can be picked up at the NC Cooperative Extension office or accessed on the internet by going to and clicking on the picture of the publication on the left side of the screen.

Q: How do I take a soil sample to test my soil pH and nutrient levels?
A: When submitting a soil sample for analysis, it is recommended to take 8 to 12 cores (a cylinder of soil going straight down) six to eight inches deep and mix them together in a plastic bucket. Then place a sub-sample of the soil into one of the boxes that are available at the Johnston County Extension Center. The box only holds about 1.5 cups of soil, so any excess can be returned to any holes made while collecting the sample. A small hand trowel can be use to collect the soil cores. The boxes along with the form can be dropped off at the Extension office or mailed to the NCDA&CS Agronomic division at the address provided on the box. For more information, a publication, “A Gardener’s Guide to Soil Testing” is also available at the Cooperative Extension office.

Q: What is the government going to do to get rid of all these fire ants?
A: This may not be the most popular answer, but it is the truthful one. Fire ants are here to stay. Eradication was attempted in Texas with little or no success. Since then, it is a matter of controlling their spread. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), in an effort to slow the spread of fire ants, has set up a quarantine area with regulations on the movement of possible infested materials out of that area. The best way to control fire ants is going to be dependent on the area where they are found. Different products are labeled for different areas such as home grounds, pastures, or vegetable gardens. Bait products that the ants collect off the ground and take back to the mound are often the best method of insuring the death of the mound, but they may take a few days to a few months to fully work.

Q: Where can I get more information to help control the fire ant population?
A: There are several sites on the internet with more information on fire ant control, below are two of those sites. You may also contact the Extension Master Gardeners for more information at (919) 989-5380, Johnston Co. Fire Ant Site or NC State Fire Ant Site.

Q: What educational opportunities are offered in the area of Health & Nutrition?
A: The Johnston County Extension Center offers weight loss/maintenance classes in the Spring and Diabetes Education workshops in the Spring and the Fall. Nutrition & Physical Activity classes are offered to teachers of young children twice a year. Check our website and click on Health & Nutrition.

Q: What educational opportunities are offered in the area of food safety?
A: We offer the ServSafe Manager’s Food Certification Course three times per year. Successful completion of the course and the national certification exam with qualify participants for two additional points added to your sanitation grade when Environmental Health inspects your establishment. This course is appropriate for anyone who works in the food service industry. Home canners workshops are offered in the spring and technical support is offered throughout the year. For these workshops and other food safety information, check out our website and click on Food Safety and Processing

Q: Why is there a large group of bees outside my home, and what can I do about it?
A: The cluster of bees is called a swarm. This is a natural phenomenon, which occurs when a hive of bees is forced to leave their home for one reason or another. Generally speaking, the swarm will not harm humans or animals if left alone. The bees are searching for a new home and typically will only stay in one spot from a few hours to three days. The best advice is to leave the bees alone and call a local beekeeper to come and pick them up. You can obtain a list of local beekeepers by contacting Cooperative Extension at 919-989-5380 or email Amie Newsome at

Q: What can be done to solve the problems I am having with my pond? (Problems can include dead fish, weeds, algae, or unusual water coloration.)
A: The first step is to take water and soil samples from the pond. The samples will help determine the health of the pond, and possibly some underlying problems. Chemicals are only a short-term solution. If the major cause is not corrected then the problems will continue. Soil samples are free to NC residents. Water samples cost only $5.00 per sample. For more information, contact and Agricultural Extension Agent with the Cooperative Extension at 919-989-5380.

Q: How do farms acquire organic certification?
A: It is a long process for farmers to obtain organic certification. There are many steps in the process and growers must adhere to important precautions prior to certification. It can take up to three years to complete documentation and to ensure that soils have not been contaminated. Information on certification can be found on the NC Cooperative Extension – Chatham County Center’s website, Growing Small Farms.