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Research Shows Advantage of “Farm-Tuning” Cover Crop Mixes

Mon, 08/24/2020 - 16:50

Related ATTRA Video: Increasing Diversity and Enhancing Stewardship with Cover Crops Penn State research on eight organic dairy farms in Pennsylvania and New York and on research plots at Penn State’s Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center showed that cover crop mixes perform very differently in different locations. Participating farmers seeded a standard pre-formulated commercial cover crop mixture of canola, Austrian winter pea, triticale, red clover, and crimson clover, as well as a “farm-tuned” mixture of the same five species that adjusted seeding rates to achieve that farmer’s particular goals. Researchers found that cover crop mixture expression varied greatly across...

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Categories: Ag News

Rewarding Farmers Who Provide Bee Habitat Could Increase Shared Benefit

Mon, 08/24/2020 - 16:39

Related ATTRA Publication: Alternative Pollinators: Native Bees Researchers from the University of Minnesota and the University of Vermont worked together on a project in California’s Central Valley that revealed the value of pollination benefits that neighboring farmers share when some farmers provide bee habitat. “Bees don’t pay attention to land boundaries,” said the study’s lead author Eric Lonsdorf. “In the current system, farmers who choose to conserve habitat for bees on their lands are rarely recognized for the pollination benefits that they’re also providing to their neighbors.” This study proposes that farmers providing bee habitat be compensated for the pollination...

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Categories: Ag News

Competition to Launch Innovative Dairy Start-ups in New York

Mon, 08/24/2020 - 16:21

The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, the New York Dairy Promotion Order (DPO) Advisory Board, and VentureFuel have announced MilkLaunch, a new startup competition focused on accelerating product innovation for dairy products in New York State. MilkLaunch will encourage entrepreneurs to introduce exciting new dairy products with the ultimate goal of boosting dairy sales in New York State. The competition includes more than $200,000 in awards, including providing $15,000 to support four finalists in perfecting their product via lab time, customer insights, research, and elite mentorship from global experts across the consumer products, retail and dairy industries....

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Categories: Ag News

Low Stress Cattle Handling Publication Online

Fri, 08/21/2020 - 18:02

A new four-page publication available free online in PDF from Iowa Beef Center explains positive aspects of low stress cattle handling systems as a way to improve performance, animal welfare, and handling efficiency. The publication offers an overview of the natural behavior of cattle and describes general principles of handling cattle. It explains how low stress handling can be properly utilized in an operation. A section on facilities includes two simple designs used most commonly for low stress cattle handing. The information and awareness are helpful for all ages of cattle and types of operation.

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Categories: Ag News

California Invites Input on Priorities for Specialty Crop Block Grant Program

Fri, 08/21/2020 - 17:55

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is seeking public comments on the program priorities for the state’s 2021 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP). The SCBGP program priorities are intended to address the current needs of California’s specialty crop industry and help guide prospective applicants to submit projects that address the most significant issues affecting the industry. For 2021, CDFA is proposing changes to the priorities to respond to challenges related to COVID-19 and address issues of farmer equity Interested parties should review the Proposed Program Priorities and may attend a web based public listening session or submit...

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Categories: Ag News

Montana Organic Association Annual Farm Tour Posted as YouTube Video

Fri, 08/21/2020 - 16:57

Montana Organic Association (MOA) held its annual farm tour in 2020 with just 11 participants, including a video crew that documented the event for posting online. Mark and Jane Smith hosted the 2020 MOA farm tour at their Aspen Island Ranch, a small-scale operation with 65 certified organic grass-fed cow-calf pairs and long yearlings awaiting harvest. The tour is posted on YouTube as a series of nine 3-minute to 39-minute videos dealing with specific management topics.

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Categories: Ag News

California Grant Funds Low-Risk Pest Control Demonstration for Walnut Industry

Thu, 08/20/2020 - 14:04

The California Department of Food and Agriculture has awarded $1 million in Biologically Integrated Farming Systems (BIFS) grant funding for a project led by Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF) that will expand the use of low-risk pest control practices in California’s walnut industry. “Promoting Biologically Integrated Orchard Systems in Walnuts in Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys” will establish six 40-acre demonstration sites over the next three years, where pheromone mating disruption and biological control programs will be used to manage a suite of major walnut pests.

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Categories: Ag News

Organic Trade Association Releases Report on Organic Ag’s Ability to Mitigate Climate Change

Thu, 08/20/2020 - 13:43

The Organic Trade Association released Advancing Organic to Mitigate Climate Change, a major report on organic and its ability to mitigate climate change. The white paper identifies policy opportunities to elevate the role of organic in the climate change discussion, support organic farmers, and encourage transition to organic farming. The 33-page PDF is available free online. The trade association also recently announced the launch of a Climate Task Force, open to all Organic Trade Association members.

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Categories: Ag News

Farm Aid Invites Video Submissions Showcasing Family Farmers

Thu, 08/20/2020 - 08:03

Farm Aid is creating a montage of farmer faces and voices to be part of its annual festival, showcasing how essential family farmers are. Farmers are invited to submit audio or video clips by August 24, 2020, responding to prompts that encourage you to speak about your life on the farm; COVID-19’s impacts on your farm, farmers, and our food system; the connection between food and racial and social justice; and more.

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Categories: Ag News

Hotline Offers Florida Farmworkers Free Legal Assistance

Thu, 08/20/2020 - 07:49

Florida Rural Legal Services (FLRS) is offering free legal assistance to farmworkers across the state through a toll-free hotline, 1-844-443-2769. Callers to the Farmworkers Hotline can access Spanish-, English-, or Creole-speaking migrant unit response team members in person between 8:30 a.m. and 8 p.m. The line specifically caters to the legal needs of Florida farmworkers. Additionally, FLRS offers legal aid designed to support grassroots organizations and promote community-based neighborhood transformations such as revitalization, economic development, and small business growth.

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Categories: Ag News

Resource Hub to Assist Local Food Systems with COVID-19 Response

Thu, 08/20/2020 - 07:35

USDA announced the launch of the Local Food System Response to COVID Resource Hub, developed through a cooperative agreement with the University of Kentucky, Colorado State University, and Pennsylvania State University. The online resource is designed to document and disseminate COVID-19 response innovations and best practices developed by local and regional food systems. It contains insights and educational material from 16 partner organizations to help local and regional food producers and businesses adapt their market strategies in the current environment.

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Categories: Ag News

National Cover Crop Survey Documents Benefits and Expanded Acreage

Wed, 08/19/2020 - 21:27

Results of the sixth National Cover Crop Survey have been released by the Conservation Technology Innovation Center (CTIC), USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, and the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA). More than 90% of farmers participating in the survey reported that cover crops allowed them to plant earlier or at the same time as non-cover-cropped fields. Among those who had “planted green,” seeding cash crops into growing cover crops, 54% said the practice helped them plant earlier than on other fields. Of these farmers who planted green, 71% reported better weed control and 68% said soil moisture...

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Categories: Ag News

The Nature Conservancy Rolls Out Roadmap to Sustainable Beef System

Tue, 08/18/2020 - 15:51

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) has released A Roadmap to a Sustainable Beef System for U.S. companies. According to TNC, “The Roadmap distills scientific evidence related to beef production practices and can help companies identify opportunities and make supply chain improvements, while tracking progress toward their environmental and other sustainability goals.” The 37-page publication serves as a roadmap for corporate action to protect and regenerate nature and climate and to support economic well-being and healthy communities. It’s designed for “downstream companies in the beef supply chain who have set GHG emissions reduction goals, have customer and investor demands to reduce emissions,...

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Categories: Ag News

Penn State Extension Offers Online Course on Starting a Farm

Tue, 08/18/2020 - 15:11

Related ATTRA Resource: Getting Started in Farming: An Introduction to Farm Business Planning Penn State Extension is offering a new, self-paced online course, “Starting a Farm: Is Farming Right for You?” In the 90-minute course available for 60 days, learn to build a successful agricultural business using market research methods to define and refine your business goals. The course uses educational videos, short readings, and a workbook to help students begin to lay the groundwork for a successful agricultural business.

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Categories: Ag News

Study Tests Cover Crops as Biodegradable Mulch

Tue, 08/18/2020 - 14:11

Related ATTRA Publication: Cover Crop Options for Hot and Humid Areas Through a Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SSARE) On-Farm Research Grant, Auburn University researchers tested cover crop residue as a biodegradable mulch for weed control in bell pepper and watermelon production. Using the biodegradable mulch from cover crops offered an alternative to chemical weed control and to use of plasticulture. This study involved two years of field testing white clover as a living mulch, and cereal rye and a mixture of cereal rye and crimson clover used as biodegradable mulches once terminated. Researchers found that weed densities for...

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Categories: Ag News

European Research Finds Crop Diversity and Semi-Natural Areas Promote Beneficial Insects

Tue, 08/18/2020 - 13:49

Related ATTRA Publication: Farmscaping to Enhance Biological Control Research published by the British Ecological Society in Journal of Applied Ecology showed that the number of beneficial insects in agricultural land is increased by crop diversity and proximity to semi-natural habitats such as forests and grassland. Research in Sweden showed more pollinating insects and more natural predators among diverse crops adjacent to semi-natural habitats. Ground beetles, hoverflies, and bees were all more plentiful in these settings than in areas with a single crop, even when that crop was a flowering crop known to attract pollinators.

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Categories: Ag News

Study Explores Rancher Motivation for Choosing Regenerative Agriculture

Mon, 08/17/2020 - 21:25

A new study from Oregon State University explored ranchers’ motivations for practicing regenerative agriculture. The study, published in The Royal Society Interface Focus, found that ranchers commonly adopt regenerative practices because they enhance adaptability and resilience, and also because they reduce costly inputs. “What we found is that ranchers manage regeneratively for all these other benefits, and if there’s some measureable soil carbon sequestration and it contributes to climate change mitigation, then that’s icing on the cake,” said lead author Hannah Gosnell. The study also revealed that because regenerative practices require a fundamental paradigm shift, incentive payments alone are not...

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Categories: Ag News

Series Highlights ‘Strengthening Organic Enforcement’ Proposed Rule

Mon, 08/17/2020 - 20:42

USDA Agricultural Marketing Service’s Organic Insider has begun a six-part series that highlights changes outlined in the Strengthening Organic Enforcement (SOE) proposed rule and explains how they apply to members of the organic community. The first installment of the series explains how SOE will limit exemptions to organic certification, meaning that currently exempt businesses like brokers, traders, importers, and exporters may need to be certified organic if they handle organic products. The Strengthening Organic Enforcement Proposed Rule was published in the Federal Register on August 5, 2020, and is open for public comment until October 5, 2020.

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Categories: Ag News

Roots Key to Delivering Cover Crop Benefits

Mon, 08/17/2020 - 18:19

Related ATTRA Video: Mixed Cover Crops—Dr. Clain Jones Penn State researchers working on assessing the benefits of cover crops found that root traits that impact soil carbon storage levels vary widely among cover crop species. In a study published in Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, researchers compared root and shoot production of three monoculture cover crops: triticale, canola, and crimson clover, as well as a five-species mixture including all three of those species. Researcher Jason Kaye explained that the cover crop mix had simultaneously high root and shoot outputs that enabled it to increase total carbon inputs to soil. Among...

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Categories: Ag News

Report Highlights New York Agriculture’s Opportunities to Mitigate Climate Change

Sun, 08/16/2020 - 21:18

Cornell University researchers have completed a report titled New York Agriculture and Climate Change: Key Opportunities for Mitigation, Resilience, and Adaptation that provides a scientific assessment of opportunities and barriers supporting climate adaptation and mitigation practices on New York’s farms. The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets commissioned the 65-page report. The report includes a table with 13 mitigation opportunities, ranked by the scale at which they could be implemented. The top five actions include management of manure, nitrogen, livestock feed, and woodlands, as well as utilization of former farmland and underutilized land for renewable energy production and...

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Categories: Ag News