Sustainable Ag News

Kerr Center Reports on Cherry Tomatoes in Self-Wicking Containers

ATTRA - Wed, 10/21/2020 - 21:28

The Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture has released a two-page report on Cherry Tomatoes in Self-Wicking Containers. In 2020, the Kerr Center horticulture program trialed several varieties of cherry tomato from the Sun series indoors in self-wicking containers that provide water and fertilizer from a reservoir. This free report contains the results of that trial.

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California Organic Agriculture Report Shows Continued Expansion

ATTRA - Tue, 10/20/2020 - 17:49

A new University of California report, Statistical Review of California Organic Agriculture, 2013-2016, says that organic agriculture continues to expand in the state and now includes more than 360 commodities. According to the report, the number of organic growers in California jumped from 2,089 in 2013 to 3,108 in 2016, based on data collected from farms that register as organic with the California Department of Food and Agriculture. In 2016, the top-10 organic commodities (by sales value) were cow milk, strawberries, carrots, wine grapes, table grapes, sweet potatoes, almonds, raspberries, salad mix, and chicken eggs. California organic sales were $3.1...

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Agricultural Research Service Introduces New Blackberry Varieties

ATTRA - Tue, 10/20/2020 - 15:15

Related ATTRA Publication: Brambles: Organic Production USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Horticultural Crops Research Laboratory in Corvallis, Oregon, working in cooperation with the Oregon State University Agricultural Experiment Station, has introduced three new blackberry varieties. Eclipse, Galaxy, and Twilight are thornless blackberries that blend desirable traits of eastern erect-cane blackberries and western trailing blackberries. Because the varieties mature at different times, they help cover gaps in the fresh-market harvest season.

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Grants Support Organic Seed Variety Development

ATTRA - Tue, 10/20/2020 - 12:16

The Organic Farming Research Foundation announced that it has awarded four new grants to support researcher/farmer collaborations in the areas of crop breeding and organic seed development, in response to organic producer needs identified in a national survey. The first grant, to Sarah Hargreaves at the Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario, supports three breeding projects focused on providing best practices for adapting to climate change with vegetable varieties that are locally adapted to low-input organic systems for southern Ontario and the northeastern United States. The second grant, to Helen Jensen at Seed Change, supports the evaluation of selection methods and...

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Biochar Can Help Farmers Save Money on Irrigation, Says Research

ATTRA - Mon, 10/19/2020 - 16:14

Related ATTRA Publication: Biochar and Sustainable Agriculture Research from Rice University shows that in some regions, extensive use of biochar could save farmers a little more than 50% of the water they now use to grow crops. This would lead to a monetary savings over and above the acknowledged carbon benefits of biochar application. The study provides formulas to help farmers estimate irrigation cost savings from increased water-holding capacity (WHC) with biochar amendment. Results with biochar depend on the type of soil and the characteristics of the biochar itself. The greatest benefits were found to occur in regions with sandy...

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New Guide Helps Governments Build Better Food Systems

ATTRA - Mon, 10/19/2020 - 06:53

The Global Alliance for the Future of Food has released Systemic Solutions for Healthy Food Systems, a guide for governments to take action for better food systems that promote human, ecological, and animal health and well-being. The 19-page online guide provides 14 recommendations to tackle the interconnectedness of food systems through policy and practice. The recommendations are supported by a set of case studies from different countries, cultures, and contexts, contained in a companion publication, Systemic Solutions for Healthy Food Systems—Approaches to Policy & Practice. The suite of materials calls on national governments to radically change approach to policy and...

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North Carolina Growers Learning about Specialty Vegetable Opportunity

ATTRA - Mon, 10/19/2020 - 06:37

Related ATTRA Publication: Specialty Melon Production for Small and Direct-Market Growers North Carolina A&T professor Chyi Lyi (Kathleen) Liang is heading a project that’s introducing specialty vegetables to North Carolina Growers, reports the Greensboro News & Record. Liang says that specialty vegetables now imported to the state by ethnic groceries and restaurants could be grown locally by small-scale farmers. Her project is identifying crops that grow well in the state and introducing them to farmers, restaurant owners, grocers, and others through workshops, demonstrations, and training. The aim is to help small-scale farmers diversify and earn more profit.

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Purdue Extension Revamps Organic Agriculture Website

ATTRA - Fri, 10/16/2020 - 21:25

Related ATTRA Resource: Organic Farming Purdue University Extension has updated its organic agriculture website to provide a range of information on organic certification and transition, as well as organic production. Production resources address topics such as weed control, disease and insect management, and roller crimping. The site also includes videos and links to other resources.

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Regenerative Ag Could Sequester Total Annual Carbon Emissions, Says White Paper

ATTRA - Fri, 10/16/2020 - 20:48

Regenerative Agriculture and the Soil Carbon Solution, a new white paper from Rodale Insitute, says that a global switch to regenerative crop and pasture systems could draw down more than 100% of annual CO2 emissions. The full paper, as well as a fact sheet and action toolkit, can be downloaded. According to Rodale Institute, the new publication shows that a global switch to a regenerative food system could not only feed the world while reducing chemical exposure and improving biodiversity and soil health but could also be the key to mitigating the climate crisis. The paper was compiled through extensive...

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Video Demonstrates Alleycropping Results from Berry Farm Trials

ATTRA - Fri, 10/16/2020 - 17:44

The Savanna Institute has posted a five-minute video from Saturn Farm in Illinois, on the results of alleycropping trials in black currant. Saturn Farm received a USDA SARE grant to test alleycropping with asparagus, rhubarb, and native prairie strips. This video demonstrates the results of interplanting these species between rows of machine-harvested black currants and describes the potential for overyielding.

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World Food Day Calls for More Resilient Food Systems

ATTRA - Fri, 10/16/2020 - 07:24

World Food Day, October 16, 2020, is celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The event theme is “Grow, nourish, sustain. Together. Our actions are our future.” World Food Day is calling for global solidarity to help all populations, and especially the most vulnerable, to recover from the COVID-19 global health crisis, and to make food systems more resilient and robust so they can withstand increasing volatility and climate shocks, deliver affordable and sustainable healthy diets for all, and decent livelihoods for food system workers. World Food Day is being observed with...

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Rye Cover Crop Offers Weed Suppression in Edamame

ATTRA - Fri, 10/16/2020 - 06:28

Related ATTRA Publication: Edamame: Vegetable Soybean A study by University of Illinois and USDA Agricultural Research Service demonstrated that early-terminated rye provided weed suppression in edamame without harming crop yield. However, in tests with snap beans, the cover crop reduced weed biomass by about half but also reduced crop yield. In tests with lima beans, the rye cover crop both failed to suppress weeds and led to decreased crop yield, which the researchers attributed to poor crop establishment. The researchers say the rye cover crop alone doesn’t provide adequate weed control for edamame, but it could work well in combination...

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Ecosystem Services Market Pilot Project Launched in Minnesota

ATTRA - Thu, 10/15/2020 - 21:19

Related ATTRA Publication: Payments for Ecosystem Services The Ecosystem Services Market Consortium (ESMC) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) have announced a pilot project in Minnesota to provide financial incentives to encourage more farmers to implement practices that help improve soil health, store carbon in soils, and reduce nutrient run-off from farm fields. The project will test and streamline the creation and sale of environmental credits from farmland. Project partners will work with farmers, at no cost to them, and a number of agricultural businesses and stakeholders to test ESMC’s market protocols on 50,000 acres that have corn and soybean cropping...

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Organic Integrity Learning Center Offering New Course on Natural Resources and Biodiversity

ATTRA - Thu, 10/15/2020 - 15:24

Related ATTRA Publication: Guide for Organic Livestock Producers The USDA AMS National Organic Program’s Organic Integrity Learning Center is offering a new free online course on Natural Resources and Biodiversity. USDA organic regulations require operations to maintain or improve the natural resources of the operation, including soil and water quality. This course teaches organic certifiers and inspectors how to assess natural resources and biodiversity requirements as indicated in organic system plans (OSPs) and on-site during annual inspections. The course provides tools that help certifiers and inspectors know what to review and what to include in inspection protocols and reports.

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USDA Opens Enrollment for Safety-Net Programs

ATTRA - Thu, 10/15/2020 - 15:13

Related ATTRA Publication: Crop Insurance Options for Specialty, Diversified, and Organic Farmers USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) opened enrollment for the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs for the 2021 crop year. These safety-net programs help producers weather fluctuations in either revenue or price for certain crops. ARC provides income support payments on historical base acres when actual crop revenue declines below a specified guaranteed level. PLC provides income support payments on historical base acres when the effective price for a covered commodity falls below its reference price. Covered commodities include barley, canola, large and small...

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Agrivoltaics Keep Solar Power Sites in Farming

ATTRA - Thu, 10/15/2020 - 14:58

National Public Radio news reported on how solar energy sites are working with farmers to combine energy production and food production on the same land, in a practice known as agrivoltaics. Keeping land in farming production can help solar companies overcome community opposition to new installations, and the two uses can complement one another. Sheep grazing in solar installations prevent the need for mowing, while the panels provide shade for grazing animals. Sites managed through grazing can offer other benefits, as well, such as pollinator habitat. The American Solar Grazing Association is a new industry group organized around the practice....

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White Paper Addresses Financing for Local Food Systems

ATTRA - Tue, 10/13/2020 - 17:29

The Council of Development Finance Agencies (CDFA) has released Advancing Local Food Systems Through Development Finance, the sixth and final publication of its Food Finance White Paper Series. The 20-page online publication presents replicable strategies for reframing food projects and businesses, building the connectivity between players involved in food system restoration, and planning for the financing needed to make developments in the food system happen. Through this work, CDFA says it aims to advance opportunities and leverage existing capital financing streams that scale local and regional food systems and increase access to better food while creating new, living-wage jobs in...

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University of Illinois Launching Regenerative Agriculture Initiative

ATTRA - Tue, 10/13/2020 - 16:19

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign announced that it is launching the Illinois Regenerative Agriculture Initiative (IRAI), a project that will bring together researchers on campus and other stakeholders to create agriculture and food systems resilient to climate change, improve soil and water quality, support healthy communities, and enhance food security. The IRAI will be offering seed grants to interdisciplinary teams composed of Illinois scholars and farming or food-system stakeholders who address key metrics of regenerative agriculture: soil health parameters, on-farm biodiversity, or community health and resilience.

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North Central Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Center Receives Funding

ATTRA - Tue, 10/13/2020 - 16:05

The North Central Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Center (NCFRSAC) is a 12-state collaborative that will create and expand stress management and mental health resources and services to agricultural producers and stakeholders in the North Central region. The program was awarded nearly $7.2 million through the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network grant program administered by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. With this funding, the NCFRSAC network will work with partner organizations to expand programs that provide professional agricultural behavioral health interventions, support farm telephone hotlines and websites, and provide training and resources for producers and those...

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Use of Nitrogen Fertilizers Increasing Nitrous Oxide Emissions

ATTRA - Mon, 10/12/2020 - 21:34

Related ATTRA Resource: Reducing Nitrogen Fertilizer and Indirect Energy Usage An international study led by Auburn University concluded that the significant use of nitrogen fertilizers in the production of food worldwide is increasing concentrations of nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse gas, in the atmosphere. The study by an international consortium of scientists from 48 research institutions in 14 countries quantified global nitrous oxide sources and sinks. Nitrous oxide has risen 20% from pre-industrial level, driven predominantly by agriculture. The study’s co-leader summarized the key implications: “This new analysis calls for a full-scale rethink in the ways we use and abuse...

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