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National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service
Updated: 16 hours 15 min ago

Project to Create Smart Soil-Moisture Sensors Receives Funding

Wed, 03/13/2019 - 17:21
Related ATTRA Publication: Soil Moisture Monitoring: Low-Cost Tools and Methods Researchers at the University of Iowa, partnering with others at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the University of Illinois-Champaign-Urbana, have been awarded a four-year, $1.6 million grant from USDA to design and build smart sensors for irrigation scheduling. The sensors would measure soil moisture and temperature, air temperature, and humidity and transmit that information to the cloud, where farmers could access it via an app. The information could then inform efficient irrigation scheduling.
Categories: Ag News

Growing Grasses with Blueberries Corrects Iron Deficiency

Wed, 03/13/2019 - 17:12
Related ATTRA Publication: Blueberries: Organic Production A study published in Frontiers in Plant Science showed that growing grasses with blueberry plants could correct signs of iron deficiency at less cost and risk than chemical treatment. The grass intercropping also increased yield and antioxidant content of the berries. Senior study author Dr José Covarrubias explained that “Grasses — which are well-adapted to poor soils — can provide a sustainable, natural source of iron chelators via their roots when grown alongside fruiting plants. Intercropping with grass species has been shown to improve plant growth and fruit yield in olives, grapes, citrus varieties...
Categories: Ag News

Organic Trade Association Introduces Organic Fraud Prevention Solutions Program

Tue, 03/12/2019 - 15:16
The Organic Trade Association (OTA) has launched the Organic Fraud Prevention Solutions program, based on its Organic Fraud Prevention Guide that provides businesses engaged in organic trade with a risk-based process for developing and implementing organic fraud mitigation measures. OTA explains that the program is not a certification or verification program, nor is it a product label. Organic Fraud Prevention Solutions establishes a framework and formal process for businesses to create continuously improving internal programs for achieving organic integrity throughout their associated supply chains. The program requires training, an organic fraud vulnerability assessment, and the development of an organic fraud...
Categories: Ag News

Revolving Loan Fund to Support Local Food Systems

Tue, 03/12/2019 - 14:58
Idea Foundry, a Pittsburgh-based economic development organization, has created a pilot revolving loan fund designed to support local entrepreneurs innovating around connecting consumers with local foods, reducing regional food insecurity, increasing on-farm sustainability, and increasing jobs in local farming. The revolving loan fund pilot program is being supported with a grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation and will provide funds to as many as six businesses in year one. The loans will directly address the financial needs of food and agriculture startups and innovative regional farms required to generate profits that contribute back into both the loan fund and...
Categories: Ag News

USDA Reports Results of Beef Life-Cycle Analysis

Tue, 03/12/2019 - 11:35
Related ATTRA Publication: Organic and Grass-finished Beef Cattle Production USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) has published the first results from a five-year beef life-cycle analysis study. The study included seven cattle-producing regions and used data from 2,270 survey responses and site visits. The study revealed that beef cattle production across all seven regions accounted for 3.3% of all U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions. Beef operations in the Northwest and Southern Plains had the highest total water use, but, across all the regions, irrigating crops to produce feed for cattle accounted for 96% of total water use. The study concluded that water use...
Categories: Ag News

NRCS Invites Public Comment on Conservation Practice Standards

Mon, 03/11/2019 - 16:10
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has announced that it is seeking public input on its 150-plus existing national conservation practice standards as part of implementing the 2018 Farm Bill. These standards provide guidelines for planning, designing, installing, operating, and maintaining conservation practices. NRCS is requesting public comments on how to improve conservation practice standards that support programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and Conservation Stewardship Program. The comment period ends April 25, 2019. Comments may be submitted online or by mail.
Categories: Ag News

Organic Artichokes Evaluated as Potential Texas Crop

Mon, 03/11/2019 - 16:04
Researchers at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center are exploring the potential for growing organic artichokes in the state. A number of past studies have evaluated artichoke varieties and management practices; two other studies were recently completed. The first assessed how organic and conventional fertilizing systems affected growth, marketable yield, head quality, and soil chemical properties of globe artichoke. It found significant variation by variety and soil type but noted that organic growing appeared to improve head quality and soil health. The second study assessed the performance of four different organic fertilizers on artichokes. Although an alfalfa-meal fertilizer...
Categories: Ag News

Multicultural Scholars Program for Agroecology Offers UC Santa Cruz Scholarships

Mon, 03/11/2019 - 15:52
A new scholarship program for students interested in agroecology, sustainable food systems, and food justice is now available at University of California Santa Cruz through funding from USDA’s Multicultural Scholars Program. To qualify, students must be accepted to start at UC Santa Cruz in Fall 2019 as a transfer or first-year student, and intend to declare a major in Environmental Studies or a related field. Students must have an interest in agroecology, food systems, or food justice, be a member of a historically under-represented group in academia, and be a U.S. citizen. Support includes $6,500 in funding a year for...
Categories: Ag News

Thriving Farmer Podcast Series Introduced

Fri, 03/08/2019 - 15:48
Related ATTRA Resource: Podcasts A new podcast series called Thriving Farmer will feature interviews with farmers from around the world by host Michael Kilpatrick. Learn the latest tricks and strategies of successful farmers, strategize with in-depth interviews with leaders in the industry, and connect with stories of farmers just like you. The first four episodes include an introduction to the series and interviews with Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm, Jenny Quiner of Dogpatch Urban Gardens, and Ben Beichler of Creambrook Farm. A new episode will be added each week.
Categories: Ag News

Cost Study of Primocane-bearing Blackberries Published

Fri, 03/08/2019 - 11:25
Related ATTRA Publication: Brambles: Organic Production University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources’ Agricultural Issues Center and UC Cooperative Extension have published the first cost study of primocane-bearing blackberries in California. With primocane-bearing blackberries, growers can extend the blackberry production season because the plants bear fruit in their first year. The study presents sample costs to establish, produce, and harvest primocane-bearing blackberries in the Central Coast Region of Santa Cruz, Monterey, and San Benito counties. The analysis is based on a hypothetical well-managed farming operation using practices common to the region. The authors describe assumptions in detail and present a...
Categories: Ag News

‘Farmer’s Footprint’ Documentary Series Launches

Fri, 03/08/2019 - 11:09
A documentary series from the grassroots regenerative agriculture movement Farmer’s Footprint, powered by Seraphic Group, has launched with a 20-minute film that was named a Vimeo “Staff Pick.” Each short film in the series visits a farming family that is transitioning into a future of renewed food independence and economic viability through regenerative agriculture. The inaugural film in the series, Farmer’s Footprint: The Beginning, showcases the trials, lessons learned, and gratifying victories of the four-generation Breitkreutz family of Stoney Creek Farm in Redwood Falls, Minnesota, as they navigate away from conventional practices to regenerative agriculture. Over decades of using conventional...
Categories: Ag News

Report from FAO Warns of Biodiversity Loss in Agriculture

Thu, 03/07/2019 - 16:48
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has released a report showing that the biodiversity that underpins our food systems is disappearing–putting the future of our food, livelihoods, health, and environment under severe threat. State of the World’s Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture warns that when agricultural biodiversity is lost, it cannot be recovered. The report points to decreasing plant diversity in farmers’ fields, rising numbers of livestock breeds at risk of extinction, and increases in the proportion of overfished fish stocks. Of some 6,000 plant species cultivated for food, fewer than 200 contribute substantially to global food...
Categories: Ag News

New Framework for Economic Impact Analysis Captures Agricultural Contribution

Thu, 03/07/2019 - 16:36
A team from Cornell University has unveiled a framework for economic impact analysis that uses locally sourced data to accurately capture spending related to the agriculture industry. Traditional economic analyses using state and local data can distort the impact of agriculture in a local economy. The Cornell researchers used New York’s apple industry as a case study for the new framework and found that the state’s apple industry has a 21% larger economic impact than traditional models suggest. The team found every $1 of New York apples or apple products sold generates an additional 58 cents of spending, such as...
Categories: Ag News

Biochar Found to Soak Up Nitrogen from Air Pollutant Ammonia

Thu, 03/07/2019 - 16:16
Related ATTRA Resource: Biochar and Sustainable Agriculture A study led by Cornell University shows that biochar has the ability to soak up nitrogen from the air pollutant ammonia through a chemical reaction. Research in Ethiopia proposed to capture the nitrogen that would otherwise be lost from compost by adding biochar, and successfully documented this capture. Professor Johannes Lehmann notes that biochar compost has several potential benefits for farmers: it can conserve nitrogen for use as fertilizer, reduce odors from manure, and protect local water quality. In addition, the study revealed to scientists a process by which nitrogen emitted through mineralization...
Categories: Ag News

CCOF Report Documents Benefits of Organic Agriculture

Wed, 03/06/2019 - 22:07
At its annual conference, CCOF released Roadmap to an Organic California: Benefits Report, which distills the findings of more than 300 peer-reviewed scientific studies. The report details the many benefits that organic production is already generating and could generate on a far larger scale with increased organic acreage. “Organic food production is an opportunity to stimulate the state’s economy, promote public health, and protect our natural resources,” said Kelly Damewood, CEO of CCOF. “The report finds that organic agriculture provides evidence-based solutions to the nation’s complex challenges by promoting healthy, carbon-storing soils while also driving strong economic returns and improving...
Categories: Ag News

Video Highlights Uses for Drones in Berry Production

Wed, 03/06/2019 - 21:21
A three-minute video produced by the Northwest Berry Foundation explores uses for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in Integrated Pest Management for berry production. The video highlights features of UAVs and how they can be used to map fields, revealing outbreaks of insects or diseases. Aerial photos can also provide imaging that helps with irrigation management.
Categories: Ag News

Survey Evaluating Impact of Brown Marmorated Stink Bug on Agriculture

Wed, 03/06/2019 - 21:07
A nationwide survey is underway to gather information from farmers and growers on the economic impact of the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) on agriculture. The survey asks when BMSB became a problem for you, where you currently get information on how to control them, how much damage you have suffered, your use of and interest in various management practices, and your feelings about biological control methods and their potential for your operation. The results of the survey will be used by Extension programs across the United States to fine tune management advice for the BMSB and help prioritize research...
Categories: Ag News

Updated Grazing Charts Available Online

Tue, 03/05/2019 - 14:34
Related ATTRA Resource: ATTRA Grazing Planning Manual and Workbook Grazing advisor Troy Bishopp has updated his popular grazing charts for the 2019-2020 grazing year. The resources are available free online as Excel files that users can print at home, or as PDF files that can be printed in large format. The files serve as templates that can be adapted as needed. Bishopp points out that they can even be customized to help manage a vegetable CSA. The available resources include 10-month (April through January) and 12-month (April through March) grazing charts in versions designed for 10, 20, 30, 40, or...
Categories: Ag News

Seed Internship Program Accepting Student and Farmer Applications

Tue, 03/05/2019 - 14:20
The Seed Internship Program hosted by Organic Seed Alliance and the Multinational Exchange for Sustainable Agriculture (MESA) was created to match future seed growers excited to build their skills with experienced seed producers excited to train the next generation of seed growers. The Seed Internship Program combines online and classroom learning, farm-based independent study, and real-world experience through a diverse network of family farms. The program is accepting applications from potential interns for a six-month program that matches interns with host farms that provide on-farm experience and formal training in seed production. The program is also accepting applications from farms...
Categories: Ag News

Federal Agencies Release Bioeconomy Framework

Tue, 03/05/2019 - 14:14
The federal Biomass Research and Development (BR&D) Board, an interagency collaborative co-chaired by USDA and the U.S. Department of Energy, has released The Bioeconomy Initiative: Implementation Framework. The document articulates a strategy to accelerate innovative technologies that harness the nation’s biomass resources for affordable biofuels, bioproducts, and biopower. The Implementation Framework presents goals and actions for addressing knowledge and technology gaps in advanced algae systems, feedstock improvement, biomass conversion and carbon utilization, and bioeconomy sustainability, among other areas. The Implementation Framework lays out activities to address technology uncertainty; leverage government, academic, and industrial resources and capabilities; stimulate public-private partnerships; and...
Categories: Ag News