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Updated: 12 hours 51 min ago

Ecosystem Services Market Research Consortium Seeks Science Advisors

Fri, 08/23/2019 - 15:30
The Ecosystem Services Market Research Consortium (ESMRC) seeks nominations to form an inaugural team of science advisors to participate in ESMRC Working Groups to provide expert insight and advice on the ESMRC research and implementation agenda and activities to advance soil health through a private, voluntary ecosystem services market. Operating under a three-year grant through a public-private partnership, the Ecosystem Services Market Consortium LLC is working with partners and collaborators across the agricultural supply chain to invest in critical research to build a technologically advanced ecosystem services market to reward and incentivize beneficial impacts of sustainable agricultural practices and systems....
Categories: Ag News

Webinar Series Set for National Farm Safety & Health Week

Fri, 08/23/2019 - 15:21
The National Education Center for Agricultural Safety has announced a special webinar series for National Farm Safety and Health Week, set for September 15-21, 2019. The theme for the week is “Shift Farm Safety into High Gear,” and there are also special themes for each day. A free webinar corresponding with the theme will be offered each day during the week, at noon Central, and additional webinars are planned for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, at 2:00pm Central.
Categories: Ag News

Wildflower Strips Attract Pollinators to Watermelon Fields

Fri, 08/23/2019 - 12:42
Related ATTRA Publication: A Pictorial Guide to Hedgerow Plants for Beneficial Insects Growing strips of wildflowers near watermelon fields can help attract pollinators, according to the dissertation of a Clemson University graduate student. Mimi Jenkins published Enhancing Native Pollinators of Watermelon Agroecosystems in South Carolina as an Extension publication. Her research showed that most watermelon pollinators were native bees, and that these tiny sweat bees most often visited fields that included wildflower strips or hedgerows of wild shrubs and trees. Improved pollination led to improved watermelon yield. Jenkins advises growers to increase floral resources by planting wildflower strips of native...
Categories: Ag News

Salt-Tolerant Bacteria Help Crops Grow in Salty Soil

Thu, 08/22/2019 - 20:52
Researchers from Brigham Young University have found that bacteria occurring in the roots of salt-tolerant plants can be used as an innoculant to help crop seeds grow in salty soil. Bacteria isolates from halophytes were applied to alfalfa seed in solution, and the alfalfa could then grow in soil with 1% sodium chloride content. The research team is beginning to conduct lab and greenhouse results on a range of vegetable crops and carry out field trials. The discovery could make increasingly saline cropland in the American Southwest and elsewhere in the world usable again.
Categories: Ag News

Genesee River Demonstration Farms Network Launches in New York

Thu, 08/22/2019 - 12:22
American Farmland Trust and USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service have announced the launch of the Genesee River Demonstration Farms Network, a project using real New York farms to highlight practical and innovative conservation practices that benefit farm viability, water quality, and other natural resources. Farmers can visit the Genesee River Demonstration Farms Network webpage to find upcoming field days and events hosted by demonstration farms in the network and gain access to farm case studies, resources, and more. Participating farms include Gary Swede Farms LLC, a 4,500-acre crop and vegetable farm with a partnership with a 2,000-cow dairy, and Har-Go...
Categories: Ag News

Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship Launches New Platform for Linking Apprentices with Masters

Thu, 08/22/2019 - 12:14
Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship (DGA) has launched a new online platform designed to showcase Master farms and attract more qualified candidates to the Apprenticeship opportunities. DGA is a nonprofit organization with a federally recognized National Apprenticeship in managed-grazing dairy production. A Featured Farms section on the DGA website now offers visitors and potential Apprentices a view of farms approved as training sites. Linked job openings, which appear on a new public Job Board, provide a description of the position, qualification requirements, and compensation available for an Apprentice.
Categories: Ag News

Organic Trade Association Expands Support for Organic Agronomy Training Service Project

Thu, 08/22/2019 - 07:56
The Organic Trade Association has announced that it will become the fiscal sponsor of the Organic Agronomy Training Service (OATS) Project. OATS is a train-the-trainer program for agricultural professionals working with organic or transitioning farmers. OATS is a national consortium of independent regional non-profits, universities, businesses, and farmer networks who each work to promote and support domestic certified organic crop production. This year, OATS held three successful pilot trainings across the Midwest focused on organic row crop production. Organic agricultural expert, educator, and farmer Mallory Krieger has been selected as National Program Director of OATS and a steering committee has...
Categories: Ag News

Publication Helps California Farms and Ranches Thrive in the Face of Climate Change

Wed, 08/21/2019 - 18:01
Related ATTRA Publication: Climate Change and Perennial Fruit and Nut Production: Investing in Resilience in Uncertain Times California Climate & Agriculture Network (CalCAN) has released Cultivating Climate Resilience in Farming, an eight-page report that provides a science-based review of some of the most significant impacts of climate change on California agriculture and what is predicted in the coming decades. The report also includes “stories of California farmers and ranchers coping with climate impacts, some strategies they are using, and recommendations for needed resources and tools to keep California producers viable and thriving in the face of the sobering challenges ahead.”
Categories: Ag News

Research Grants Support Viability of Small and Medium-Sized Farms

Wed, 08/21/2019 - 16:56
USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has announced the award of $5.8 million for 16 research projects through the Agriculture Economics and Rural Communities program area of the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative’s (AFRI) 2018 Foundational program. According to the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, the grants to universities across the country will support research on the continued viability and profitability of small and medium-sized farms. Many of the projects focus on under-served groups of farmers.
Categories: Ag News

Compost Key to Carbon Storage in Soil, Long-Term Study Shows

Tue, 08/20/2019 - 15:01
Related ATTRA Publication: How to Add Compost on Your Small Farm A 19-year study by scientists at the University of California, Davis, found that adding compost is key to storing carbon deep in semi-arid soils. The study compared soil carbon changes at 6-foot depth in conventional, cover-cropped, and compost-added plots of corn-tomato and wheat-fallow cropping systems. This research found that conventionally managed soils neither release nor store much carbon. Cover-cropped soils stored carbon only in the 12 inches nearest the surface, and they actually lost carbon at lower depths. However, when both compost and cover crops were added in an...
Categories: Ag News

Video Compares Summer Lettuce Varieties

Tue, 08/20/2019 - 14:20
Related ATTRA Publication: Scheduling Vegetable Plantings for Continuous Harvest Practical Farmers of Iowa has released a video on the results of a research project in which six farmer-cooperators compared four lettuce varieties to determine which grow and taste best during summer in Iowa. In this 5-minute video, PFI horticulture and habitat programs manager Liz Kolbe explains the research project testing Concept, Cherokee, Magenta, and Nevada lettuce varieties. Also, Jordan Scheibel, of Middle Way Farm in Grinnell, talks about what he’s looking for in a heat-tolerant lettuce variety and how it can help benefit his operation.
Categories: Ag News

Grants for Texas Urban and Rural Conservation Projects Awarded

Tue, 08/20/2019 - 14:02
The USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Texas has announced that 32 projects will receive more than $262,000 in grants awarded through Texas Urban and Rural Conservation Projects (TURCP). To address food deserts and educate urban citizens and youth on the benefits of locally grown fresh produce and greening of the urban landscape, NRCS awarded competitive TURCP grants to establish community and pollinator gardens and construct high tunnel systems and rainwater harvesting systems. TURCP project grants are available up to $4,000 for a community garden, $3,000 for pollinator gardens, $6,500 for a high tunnel and $5,000 for a rainwater harvesting...
Categories: Ag News

Study Explores Soil Compaction in Fields with Grazed Cover Crops

Mon, 08/19/2019 - 10:44
Related ATTRA Publication: Livestock as a Tool: Improving Soil Health, Boosting Crops The Pasture Project, Practical Farmers of Iowa, Sustainable Farming Association, and Land Stewardship Project partnered on a four-year NRCS-USDA Conservation Innovation Grant to demonstrate the economic and soil health benefits of livestock grazing on cover crops. Practical Farmers of Iowa reports on the experience of three Iowa farmers who participated in a study that compared soil compaction in conventionally managed row crop fields where no cover crops were planted and no grazing occurred with fields where grazing of cover crops occurred. The cover crop was a six-species mix...
Categories: Ag News

Niche Meat and Poultry Producers, Processors Participate in Stakeholder Roundtables

Mon, 08/19/2019 - 10:29
Related ATTRA Publication: Meat Plants: Improving Profitability in Small and Very Small Operations The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) reports that it has been working closely with the Niche Meat Processors Assistance Network, the American Grassfed Association, and the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) to ensure that FSIS’ regulatory approach is right-sized for small and very small meat processing plants. Through this effort, niche producers and processors participated in seven regional stakeholder roundtables where attendees held an open dialogue that directly addressed meat and poultry food safety, as well as the negative impacts of a...
Categories: Ag News

USDA Announces Rural Energy for America Program Grants

Mon, 08/19/2019 - 10:16
USDA has announced the award of $9.3 million in grants for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects across the nation through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). REAP supports renewable energy and energy efficiency projects with grants and loan guarantees for farmers, ag producers and rural-based businesses and institutions. These announcements are part of the $50 million Congress appropriated for REAP in fiscal year 2019. Projects selected for funding in all 50 states and Puerto Rico are listed online and include installation of solar arrays to power small and organic farms.
Categories: Ag News

Multimedia Series Explores Sustainable Future for Agriculture

Fri, 08/16/2019 - 15:59
Follow the Food, a multimedia series by BBC Future and BBC World News, investigates how farmers, researchers, and innovators around the world are working to secure a sustainable long-term future for the global food supply chain. Eight episodes available online address topics such as high-tech farming, waste reduction, soil, water, and sustainable food systems. The stories combine text, images, graphics, and video to introduce issues in agricultural production and the research that seeks to address those issues and enable future production.
Categories: Ag News

Multi-Year Purchase Agreements Can Advance Sustainable Agriculture

Fri, 08/16/2019 - 15:19
Multi-year purchase agreements can help to advance adoption of sustainable agriculture practices, says a feature on Conservation Finance Network. For example, Pipeline Foods’ Farm Profit Program enrolls growers in a 10-year agreement to purchase their organic crops. The assurance offered by a long-term agreement can help farmers weather the transitional period to organic production. Some organic producers value long-term contracts because they alleviate the need for marketing crops every year, and having a long-term agreement can motivate banks to lend. The feature points out that long-term contracts can also support expensive conservation measures, or practices that take a long time...
Categories: Ag News

National Food Hub Survey Underway

Fri, 08/16/2019 - 14:58
The National Food Hub Survey is currently underway. It’s a collaborative research effort of Michigan State University’s Center for Regional Food Systems (CRFS) and the Wallace Center at Winrock International, conducted every two years. The survey helps to identify trends in economic growth, services offered, and customers served by food hubs nationwide. Participation in the online survey is voluntary and takes 30 to 60 minutes. Participating in the survey can help improve national understanding of food hubs and inform policy and programming, as well as provide data that can help food hubs.
Categories: Ag News

Perennial Crops Offer Model for Sustainable Food Production

Thu, 08/15/2019 - 15:15
The perennial grain kernza, developed by Wes Jackson at the Land Institute, is an example of a new model for agriculture that’s featured in Yale Environment 360. After 40 years of development, kernza is in commercial production, though still on a small scale as researchers continue to work to improve the plant’s yield. The perennial grain is just part of a conceived food-production model that incorporates a self-sustaining perennial polyculture of diverse edible plants, including lupine to fix nitrogen, several perennial grains, and sunflowers grown for oil. A similar approach in agroforestry is based on a complex, multi-layered edible forest...
Categories: Ag News

NRCS Announces Soil Science Collaborative Research Projects Selected for Funding

Thu, 08/15/2019 - 14:40
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has announced the selection of 15 projects for funding through Soil Science Collaborative Research. Projects focus on soil science and soil survey research, and the information gained from the collaborative research will advance NRCS’ ability to provide scientifically based soil and ecosystem information. Descriptions of the funded projects are available online.
Categories: Ag News