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Study Shows Environmental, Economic Value in Crop Rotation

Thu, 09/03/2020 - 07:37

A new study from researchers at the University of Minnesota and Iowa State University found in a large-scale, long-term field experiment at Iowa State University’s Marsden Farm that diversifying crop rotations can greatly reduce negative environmental and health impacts, while maintaining profitability for farmers. The experiment, initiated in 2001, compares the performance characteristics of a two-year corn-soy rotation with those of a three-year corn-soybean-oat rotation and a four-year corn-soybean-oat-alfalfa rotation. Adding small grains and forages to the conventional corn-soybean rotation resulted in less fertilizer use, less fossil fuel use, and lower greenhouse-gas emissions.

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Categories: Ag News

USDA Announces Award of Grants to Support Organic Agriculture

Wed, 09/02/2020 - 23:39

USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture announced the award of grants through the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) and Organic Transitions Program (ORG). A list of 20 recipients of OREI grants totaling $17 million is available online. This program helps fund research, education, and extension projects to improve yields, quality, and profitability for producers and processors who have adopted organic standards. Additionally, 12 ORG grants totaling $5.6 million were awarded to support research, education, and extension efforts to help existing and transitioning organic livestock and crop producers adopt organic practices and improve their market competitiveness.

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Categories: Ag News

Study Finds Clear Strategies for Carbon-Negative Advanced Biofuels

Tue, 09/01/2020 - 15:50

A new study led by Colorado State University predicted significant climate benefits stemming from the use of current and future advanced biofuel technologies. Accounting for all of the carbon flows in biofuel systems and comparing them to those in grasslands and forests, the team found that there are clear strategies for biofuels to have a net carbon benefit. In one model in particular, switchgrass can be processed by cellulosic biofuel refinery, and the remaining byproduct, representing half the carbon, is available for carbon capture and storage. “This analysis shows a quantitatively reasoned case as to why the biofuel industry should...

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Categories: Ag News

Feature Film on Soil Health Stars Gabe Brown, Ray Archuleta, and Hollywood Names

Tue, 09/01/2020 - 15:28

Kiss the Ground, an 85-minute movie that explores key soil health and regenerative agricultural principles, will stream September 22, 2020, on Netflix. Directed by Josh and Rebecca Tickell, the film features soil-health practitioners Gabe Brown and Ray Archuleta, along with Woody Harrelson, Gisele Bundchen, Jason Mraz, and Ian Somerhalder, and interviews with a wide range of authors, researchers, and scientists. The movie’s thesis proposes that by regenerating the world’s soils, humans can rapidly stabilize Earth’s climate, restore lost ecosystems, and create abundant food supplies. The film uses creative graphics and visuals, along with NASA and NOAA footage, to illustrate how,...

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Categories: Ag News

Research Shows Moisture Timing Key to Nitrogen-Fixing Cover Crop

Tue, 09/01/2020 - 15:16

Related ATTRA Video: Iron & Clay Cowpea and Cover Crop Inoculation University of Texas Rio Grande Valley graduate student Stephanie Kasper conducted research under a Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SSARE) grant on how moisture and nutrient availability affect the ability of the cover crop Iron and Clay Cowpea to fix nitrogen. Although soil moisture and micronutrients have an impact on a plant’s ability to produce nodules, this research showed that timing of moisture has an even larger impact on nodulation. “During the course of the plant’s lifetime, it is most important that it has moisture during the beginning...

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Categories: Ag News

Farm Aid Schedules Virtual Festival for 2020

Tue, 09/01/2020 - 07:12

Farm Aid 2020 will be a virtual festival available online at farmaid.org and on AXS TV on Saturday, September 26 from 8-11 p.m. EDT. The 35th anniversary festival will showcase the diversity and strength of family farmers with stories from across the country, as well as performances by Willie Nelson and The Boys, Neil Young, John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews, and many other artists. “This pandemic and so many other challenges have revealed how essential family farmers and ranchers are to the future of our planet. Farm Aid 2020 is going to give the whole country a chance to learn about...

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Categories: Ag News

Minnesota Seeks Members for Emerging Farmers’ Working Group

Mon, 08/31/2020 - 17:16

Minnesotans interested in making it easier for new and emerging farmers to create or sustain an agricultural business are encouraged to apply to join a legislatively created Emerging Farmers’ Working Group through the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. Interested people can apply by October 2, 2020, to serve on the working group, which will have 15 to 20 members and meet on a regular basis. Anyone is eligible to apply, and application materials are available online.

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Categories: Ag News

Increasing Drought and Heat to Change Locations and Dates of Future Crops

Mon, 08/31/2020 - 15:57

Related ATTRA Publication: Climate Change and Perennial Fruit and Nut Production: Investing in Resilience in Uncertain Times Research from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory shows that increasingly hot and dry conditions will change where and when crops can be grown by 2045. Although a third of the vegetables and two-thirds of the fruits and nuts consumed by Americans are currently grown in California, the regions where they are grown may become too hot and dry for continued production in 20 years. The paper “Projected temperature increases may require shifts in the growing season of cool-season crops and the growing locations of...

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Categories: Ag News

Exclusion Netting Helps Prevent Spotted Wing Drosophila in Berries

Sat, 08/29/2020 - 10:11

Related ATTRA Publication: Brambles: Organic Production New York berry growers collaborating with Cornell University researchers are reporting success in using exclusion netting to prevent spotted wing drosophila (SWD) infestations. A paper published in Crop Protection documents that in testing over the past few years, early-season placement of exclusion netting was effective in protecting raspberries from SWD. One grower has avoided pesticide use for six years, with less than 1% incidence of SWD. She notes that the cost of the exclusion netting is lower than the cost of pesticides. The netting is attached to a frame that surrounds the berry crop....

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Categories: Ag News

Composting Bedded Pack Manure Reduces Runoff Losses

Fri, 08/28/2020 - 12:12

A research brief posted by the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems at the University of Wisconsin says that composting dairy manure and bedding pack before spreading it on fields reduces runoff losses. Composting Manure and Bedding Reduces Potential Soil and Phosphorus Loss shows that composting is a viable way to reduce phosphorus runoff losses from livestock operations with bedded pack manure. A composting step eliminates the need to spread manure on frozen ground, and it both reduces the water solubility of phosphorus and adds stable organic matter that results in reduced erosion. The PDF brief is available online.

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Categories: Ag News

Coronavirus Food Assistance Program Application Deadline Approaching

Fri, 08/28/2020 - 11:55

USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) is reminding farmers and ranchers that the deadline to apply for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) is September 11, 2020. This program provides direct relief to producers who faced price declines and additional marketing costs due to COVID-19. More than 160 commodities are eligible for CFAP, including certain non-specialty crops, livestock, dairy, wool, specialty crops, eggs, aquaculture, nursery crops, and cut flowers. A complete list of eligible commodities, payment rates, and calculations can be found on farmers.gov/cfap. FSA operates a call center where employees can answer producers’ questions and help you get started on...

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Categories: Ag News

USDA Extends Deadline for Soil Health and Income Protection Program Signup

Thu, 08/27/2020 - 21:24

USDA is extending the signup deadline for the Soil Health and Income Protection Program (SHIPP) pilot program to November 20, 2020. SHIPP, part of the Conservation Reserve Program, enables producers in Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota to receive payments for planting perennial cover for conservation use for three to five years. This pilot supports producers in planting perennial cover that, among other benefits, will improve soil health and water quality while offering the option to harvest, hay, and graze outside the primary nesting season. Producers can enroll up to 50,000 acres in the program.

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Categories: Ag News

NOSB Fall Meeting Materials Available Online

Thu, 08/27/2020 - 20:38

USDA Agricultural Marketing Service National Organic Program (NOP) has posted meeting materials for the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) Fall 2020 Meeting, to be held virtually on October 20 and 22 and October 28-30, 2020. Available materials include the tentative agenda, proposals, and discussion documents. Proposal documents are available in a single combined PDF, as well as in individual proposals on each corresponding Subcommittee web page.

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Categories: Ag News

New USDA Rule Clarifies Determination of Highly Erodible Land and Wetlands

Thu, 08/27/2020 - 20:35

USDA published a final rule updating the determination of whether land is considered highly erodible or wetland. To be eligible for most USDA programs, producers must be conservation compliant with the highly erodible land and wetland provisions. These provisions aim to reduce soil loss on erosion-prone lands and to protect wetlands for the multiple benefits they provide. This final rule confirms most of the changes made by the December 2018 interim final rule and includes additional clarification on hydrology. USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has recently updated its conservation compliance webpages, adding highly erodible land and wetland determination resources...

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Categories: Ag News

NSAC Delivers Farmer and Rancher Letter on Climate Change to Congress

Thu, 08/27/2020 - 15:24

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) and farmers and ranchers from across the country have delivered a letter to the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, urging Congress to support and invest in farming and rural communities to address the climate crisis. The letter underscores the fundamental threat that the climate crisis poses to the livelihoods of farmers and ranchers and the viability of agriculture. It was signed by 2,130 farmers and ranchers, and it highlights both the impacts of the climate crisis on agriculture and the opportunities for farmers to lead on climate solutions.

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Categories: Ag News

Survey Shows Farmers Who Value Soil Health More Likely to Rotate Crops, Integrate Grazing

Wed, 08/26/2020 - 21:01

Related ATTRA Publication: Integrating Livestock and Crops: Improving Soil, Solving Problems, Increasing Income A survey of producers in South Dakota, North Dakota, and Nebraska examined why some agricultural producers prioritize soil health and how to encourage more producers to adopt conservation practices, reports South Dakota State University. The project is part of a four-year, NIFA-funded project evaluating integrated crop and livestock management systems. Almost 38% of the 672 farmers who responded to this survey reported using diversified crop rotation plans, while 71% were grazing livestock on croplands. However, only 28% of the respondents indicated that they used both methods to...

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Categories: Ag News

Iowa Allocates $100 Million in CARES Act Funding to Support Agriculture

Wed, 08/26/2020 - 20:39

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds allocated approximately $100 million of federal CARES Act relief funds for a range of agricultural programs to offset the impact of COVID-19 on farmers, producers and agricultural industries. The allocations include $60 million for the Iowa Livestock Producer Relief Fund, which will provide grants of up to $10,000 to eligible producers of pork, beef, chicken, turkeys, dairy, fish, or sheep to serve as working capital to stabilize livestock producers. Meanwhile, the Iowa Beginning Farmer Debt Relief Fund received $6 million to provide eligible beginning farmers with a long-term debt service payment of up to $10,000. Two...

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Categories: Ag News

USDA Announces Assistance for Ag Producers Affected by Wildfire

Tue, 08/25/2020 - 19:58

USDA announced the availability of assistance to help eligible farmers and ranchers reestablish their operations, for agricultural producers affected by recent wildfires that have burned more than two million acres, mostly in the western states. USDA partnered with FEMA and other disaster-focused organizations to create the Disaster Resource Center, a searchable knowledge base of disaster-related resources. This website and web tool provide an easy access point to find USDA disaster information and assistance. USDA also developed a disaster assistance discovery tool that walks producers through five questions to generate personalized results identifying which USDA disaster assistance programs can help them...

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Categories: Ag News

Neonicotinoid Insecticide Found to Impact Coastal Aquaculture

Tue, 08/25/2020 - 19:50

Researchers at Australia’s Southern Cross University demonstrated that the neonicotinoid insecticide imidacloprid can impact the feeding behavior of prawns in a laboratory environment, leading to nutritional deficiency and reduced flesh quality. Earlier work with shrimp showed similar risks from neonicotinoid exposure, which is a particular concern given increased detection of the water-soluble pesticide in coastal waters worldwide. “This means prawns and shrimp are highly vulnerable if they become exposed to high levels of neonicotinoids, either through contaminated water or feed, which often contains plant-based material,” noted the study’s co-author, adding, “Our research identifies the need for effective management of pesticide...

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Categories: Ag News

USDA Announces Recipients of First Urban Agriculture Grants and Cooperative Agreements

Tue, 08/25/2020 - 19:37

USDA’s new Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production announced the recipients of its first grants and cooperative agreements. USDA is awarding approximately $1.14 million for three Planning Projects and approximately $1.88 million for seven Implementation Projects. Activities include operating community gardens and nonprofit farms, increasing food production and access in economically distressed communities, providing job training and education, and developing business plans and zoning. Additionally, USDA is investing approximately $1.09 million through Community Compost and Food Waste Reduction (CCFWR) Projects in 13 pilot projects that will develop and test strategies for planning and implementing municipal compost plans and food...

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Categories: Ag News