Sign up for the
Weekly Harvest Newsletter!

Published every Wednesday, the Weekly Harvest e-newsletter is a free Web digest of sustainable agriculture news, resources, events and funding opportunities gleaned from the Internet. See past issues of the Weekly Harvest.
Sign up here

Sign up for the Weekly Harvest Newsletter

What Is Sustainable Agriculture?

Master Publication List

Search Our Databases

Urban Agriculture

Energy Alternatives

Beginning Farmer

Field Crops

Horticultural Crops

Livestock & Pasture

Local Food Systems

Food Safety

Marketing, Business & Risk Management

Organic Farming

Pest Management

Soils & Compost

Water Management

Ecological Fisheries and Ocean Farming

Other Resources

Sign Up for The Dirt E-News

Home Page

Contribute to NCAT


Newsletter sign up button

· Privacy Policy · Newsletter Archives

RSS Icon XML Feeds

RSS 2.0: Events, Breaking News, Funding Opportunities Atom: Events, Breaking News, Funding Opportunities


NCAT strives to make our information available to everyone who needs it. If you are a limited-access or low-income farmer and find that one of our publications is just not in your budget, please call 800-346-9140.


How are we doing?


Home  > Breaking News

Breaking News

Permalink FFAR Grant Funds Study of Adaptive Multi-Paddock Grazing

The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) has awarded a $1.25 million grant to ASU Foundation for A New American University for study of Adaptive Multi-Paddock (AMP) grazing. The FFAR grant has been matched with funding from McDonald's USA. Researchers will analyze how this grazing technique increases farm resiliency, contributes to carbon sequestration, improves soil biodiversity, and impacts animal wellbeing and productivity. Researchers will collaborate with cattle ranchers to study farming operations in the Southeast and Great Plains regions in the U.S. to understand producer perceptions about AMP grazing and evaluate real-world applications of the practice. The research is being led by Principal Investigator Peter Byck at Arizona State University and involves an interdisciplinary team of scientists from several institutions and organizations.

Send feedback » Permalink


Permalink Appalachian Farmer and Rancher Mentorship Program Launched

Appalachian Sustainable Development, Appalachian RC&D Council, and Rural Resources have launched Farmer and Rancher Mentorship (F.A.R.M.), a 200-hour, on-the-farm program to prepare interns for successful careers in farming and food production, reports The Tomahawk. Beginning farmers who are unemployed, underemployed, or who do not plan to attend college can enroll in the program and receive direct learning experience from a local mentor. Those who complete the program receive a stipend and certificate.

Send feedback » Permalink


Permalink PhenoCam Network Documenting Seasonal Changes

A network of more than 400 cameras installed at sites across North America is documenting seasonal rhythms of vegetation in a wide range of ecosystems on a daily basis. Though the PhenoCam network was developed for phenological model validation and development, data on the PhenoCam site is being made publicly available and can help users in a variety of industries, including farmers planning planting or irrigation. The PhenoCam team is actively seeking new collaborators from the research community and tech-savvy citizen scientists who can deploy standard cameras and collect data.

Send feedback » Permalink


Permalink Farm Commons Releases Additional New Tip Sheets

Farm Commons has six new tip sheets available free online to help farmers and their advocates get up to speed on common farm law issues. Titles include Succession Planning, Why Form an LLC?, The Lease: Who Is Responsible for What?, Farm Insurance, Dealing with Regulators, and Value-Added Agritourism and Taxes. These titles join Farm Commons' collection of free tip sheets for farmers and farm advocates on a wide range of farm legal issues.

Send feedback » Permalink


Permalink Water Troughs a Conduit for Spread of E.Coli

Research led by Cornell University has identified water troughs on farms as a conduit for spread of E. coli. Cattle that drink from troughs infected with E. coli carry the bacteria without becoming sick but spread the bacteria in their feces. The researchers note that people commonly acquire infections from shiga toxin-producing E. coli through cow feces-contaminated beef and salad greens. This study looked at ways to reduce the bacteria's prevalence in cattle. The researchers found that water in a trough, especially in summer months, could heat and promote pathogen replication, causing more cows to acquire the bacteria when they drink. The researchers hypothesized that frequently changing the water in the summer could keep the water colder, limiting bacterial growth. They also found that troughs with less water increased the spread of E. coli.

Send feedback » Permalink


Permalink Wallace Center Launching Regional Food Economies Fellowship Program

The Wallace Center seeks to accelerate and raise the profile of the efforts of innovators working within development stakeholder audiences as they pilot new approaches, establish new cross-sector partnerships, and build the case for regional food systems as a development priority. The Wallace Center's Regional Food Economies Fellowship Program will establish a cohort whose US-only individual projects and professional expertise will help provide models for successful engagement between regional food systems and community- and economic-development stakeholders. Through this program, The Wallace Center seeks to support a cohort of six to eight Fellows demonstrating innovative approaches to using regional food systems as a driver of community and economic development. Each Fellow will design a 12-month program further developing and communicating the case for United States regional food systems as a development priority based on the interests and values of a particular stakeholder group. Fellows receive financial support in the form of a stipend and travel- and project-related expenses. This Fellowship is available to US-based individuals affiliated with both non-profit and for-profit organizations, businesses, and institutions. Applications must be submitted by April 2, 2018.

Send feedback » Permalink


Permalink Farmland Access Legal Toolkit Launched

The Center for Agriculture and Food Systems (CAFS) at Vermont Law School has launched a new online resource, the Farmland Access Legal Toolkit, to help farmers and landowners affordably access, transfer, and conserve farmland. The free, online toolkit provides a user-friendly guide for farmers who need land to farm, and for farmers who seek to transition their land to another farmer as part of estate planning or for other reasons. The toolkit explains legal arrangements that provide farmers more affordable and equitable farmland access and help landowners balance earning income for retirement with making their land affordable to the next generation of farmers. Tools covered range from creative leasing to affirmative agricultural easements.

Send feedback » Permalink


Permalink Penn State Extension Programs Support Development of a Next Generation of Farmers

Penn State Extension recently reported on progress with two grant-funded projects designed to help develop the next generation of farmers in Pennsylvania. One project, supported by a NIFA Beginning Farmer/Rancher grant, aimed at increasing the success of beginning farmers in terms of profitability, productivity, community engagement, and environmental sustainability. This project includes a range of training, demonstration, and networking activities, as well as educational materials on the Start Farming website. The other project, funded by a specialty crop block grant, focuses on tree fruit and vegetable production educational programming for young and Hispanic under-served growers. The project addresses sustainable production, market innovation, and pest management. Details on project objectives and outcomes are provided online.

Send feedback » Permalink


Permalink Return on Investment a Hurdle to Wider Cover Crop Adoption

A study by Iowa State University compared farmers' costs and revenues from fields where they used cover crops and from fields without cover crops. Researchers found substantial variability in net returns, driven by the costs of planting and terminating cover crops, feed cost savings from grazing cover crops, cost-share program payments, and the difference in yields obtained in fields with and without cover crops. They found that although cost-share payments were critical to support the practice of cover cropping, the cost-share payments were insufficient to cover all costs of cover crops. However, farmers who grazed livestock on cover crops or harvested their cover crops for forage or biomass generated sufficient additional revenue or cost savings to result in overall positive returns when cost-share payments were also utilized. Budgets developed in this study did not account for long-term soil health or water quality benefits associated with cover crop use.

Send feedback » Permalink


Permalink USDA Withdraws Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices Final Rule

USDA logoUSDA has announced its decision to withdraw the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP) final rule published on January 19, 2017. The rule would have increased federal regulation of livestock and poultry for certified organic producers and handlers. The withdrawal becomes effective May 13, 2018.

Send feedback » Permalink


Permalink NOSB Spring Meeting Materials Posted

USDA logoIn advance of its meeting in Tucson, Arizona, April 25-27, 2018, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) has posted the tentative agenda and proposals and discussion documents for the meeting. These include subcommittee proposals. The 2020 Sunset Reviews are also posted as part of the 174-page PDF document.

Send feedback » Permalink


Permalink Survey Identifying Skills Needed in Urban Food System Industry

People working in the field of urban food systems are invited to complete an online survey. This survey will help the Urban Food Systems program at Kansas State University identify what soft skills urban food systems industry (public, private, and nonprofit) employers expect when hiring new employees. The survey takes about 10 minutes to complete.

Send feedback » Permalink


Permalink University of California Study Says Climate Change Threatens State's Major Crops

Researchers from the University of California published a report in Agronomy that predicts the state's climate will no longer be able to support its current major crops by the end of the century, according to KQED. The study looked at climate trends and examined what effect record low snowpack and extreme drought would have on crop yields. The researchers found that if California could no longer support production of fruits and nuts, this could threaten national food security, because the state furnishes nearly 67% of the nation's total value of these products. In particular, climate change could threaten almonds, wine grapes, table grapes, strawberries, hay, walnuts, freestone peaches, and cherries.

Send feedback » Permalink


Permalink Poll Shows Farmers Concerned about Bayer and Monsanto Merger

A national poll fielded by a coalition of farm groups shows that an overwhelming majority of surveyed farmers are concerned about the proposed Bayer-Monsanto merger and believe it will have a negative impact on independent farmers and farming communities. Additionally, 89% of farmers think the merger will result in increased pressure for chemically dependent farming. The poll also found a high level of concern among farmers surveyed that the merged company will control data about farm practices, will increase prices, and will diminish quality, choice, and seed varieties, including the availability of regionally adapted seed, which farmers identified as critical given increasing climate variability. Poll results were released as the U.S. Department of Justice is reviewing the merger between chemical giant Bayer (NYSE:BAYN) and agrochemical giant Monsanto (NYSE: MON). If the Bayer-Monsanto merger is approved, the new company would be the world's largest vegetable seed company, world's largest cottonseed company, world's largest manufacturer and seller of herbicides, and the world's largest owner of intellectual property/patents for herbicide tolerant traits.

Send feedback » Permalink


Permalink Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program Grants Announced

USDA logoUSDA has announced the projects selected for funding in the latest round of the Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program, also known as "Section 2501." Projects in 25 states will receive funding. Descriptions of the projects are available online, sorted by state.

Send feedback » Permalink


Permalink Ag Apprenticeship Toolkit Available

The Ag Apprenticeship Learning Network has released the Ag Apprenticeship Toolkit, a comprehensive guide to establishing or improving an agricultural apprenticeship on your farm or ranch. The resources include tools, suggestions, and external links to supplementary resources. The New Entry Sustainable Farming Project and five core partners—Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, Quivira Coalition, Rogue Farm Corps, and Vilicus Training Institute—have collaborated to create this toolkit. The toolkit will provide you with peer-reviewed guidance for starting an on-farm/ranch agricultural apprenticeship program, and is intended to serve as a resource guide that unites existing ag apprenticeship programs, shares best practices, and outlines the development and maintenance of a successful professional agricultural training program. The toolkit also seeks to coherently outline the state and federal Department of Labor laws surrounding on-farm apprenticeships and the standards that must be met in order to comply with these laws.The 94-page toolkit is available free online in PDF.

Send feedback » Permalink


Permalink Food from Discarded Ingredients Has Strong Potential for Consumer Acceptance

Research led by three Drexel University professors found strong potential for consumer acceptance of foods created from surplus ingredients that would otherwise have been wasted, or "value-added surplus products." They found that consumers distinguished value-added surplus products as a unique category separate from conventional or organic. The researchers also tested different product labels that could be used to brand value-added surplus products. "Upcycled" tested as the most-preferred label. Additionally, participants affirmed that consuming value-added products will generate greater benefits to others than themselves. This study concluded that value-added surplus foods could be promoted as a new category of foods offering benefits to society and, if communicated properly, could even fetch a price premium.

Send feedback » Permalink


Permalink Wind Farms Impact Crops Positively, Research Finds

Iowa State University researchers have found that wind turbines located in agricultural fields appear to have positive overall effects for crops growing around them. Turbines increase wind turbulence in the field, possibly increasing evaporation from the crop or moving carbon dioxide down into the crop. Turbines also bring warmer air down toward the surface. Longer periods without dew help keep fungus and mold from forming amidst the crop. On the negative side, there is a tendency for higher temperatures to occur at night in wind farms, which can become a limiting factor for crop yields. On the whole, however, crops grown in wind farms seem to benefit.

Send feedback » Permalink


Permalink Southern SARE Seeks Producer-Member Nominations for Administrative Council

The Administrative Council of the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SSARE) program is seeking nominations of a producer experienced with sustainable agriculture and its impact on the environment and rural communities to replace an outgoing Administrative Council member. One producer seat will be filled. Producer nominations from across the Southern region will be considered, but Southern SARE is particularly interested in nominations from Georgia, Kentucky, Alabama, and South Carolina, and the territories of USVI and Puerto Rico. Special consideration will be made for nominees with experience in fruit production or small ruminants. Administrative Council members serve a three-year term. E-mail nominations must be received by July 8, 2018.

Send feedback » Permalink


Permalink DanoneWave Launches Soil Health Initiative Promoting Regenerative Agriculture

DanoneWave has launched a new soil health initiative, reports Sustainable Brands. The company will work with a team of experts from the Carbon Sequestration Center at Ohio State University and Cornell University, as well as consultants at sustainability platform EcoPractices, over the next 18 months to identify ways to regenerate soils by enhancing organic matter and soil fertility. Ohio State will lead soil sampling across identified farms, analyze samples and identify practices to increase the carbon intake of soil. Cornell will evaluate soil health to make recommendations to be implemented over the next five years at participating farms; and EcoPractices, in partnership with EFC/Ag Solver, will gather information from program partners to analyze and share reports that help create an understanding of what the data means for various stakeholders. DanoneWave will commit up to $6 million for the research program over the next five years.

Send feedback » Permalink


Permalink Southern SARE Announces Producer Grants Funded for 2018

The Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE) program has announced funding for seven Producer Grant projects to further sustainable agriculture production and marketing practices throughout the Southern region. Among the Producer Grants funded for FY2018 are projects on growing upland rice for the local food market, subsoiling, using copper for healthier goats, weed control in brambles, utilizing mushroom mulches, and sweet sorghum and poultry alley cropping in agroforestry. Producer Grants are strictly for farmers and ranchers to conduct research projects on their farm to not only solve production and marketing challenges, but to also share their results with fellow farmers in an education and outreach capacity. The list of recipients is available online.

Send feedback » Permalink


Permalink General Mills Advancing Organic Transition and Regenerative Farming

General Mills has announced a strategic sourcing agreement with Gunsmoke Farms LLC to convert 34,000 acres of conventional farmland in South Dakota to certified organic acreage by 2020. The farm will grow certified organic wheat that General Mills will use in Annie's pasta products and other organic rotational crops. As part of this agreement, General Mills has partnered with Midwestern Bio Ag (MBA) to provide on-the-ground mentorship for the farm operators to advance leading regenerative soil management practices such as no till, crop rotation, and cover cropping. In addition, upwards of 3,000 acres of pollinator habitat will be planted throughout Gunsmoke Farms in cooperation with the Xerces Society. MBA will also offer on-farm skills-based learning programs, which will serve as a regional educational hub for farmers to learn how to implement organic and regenerative agriculture practices.

Send feedback » Permalink


Permalink Wisconsin Accepting Applications for Industrial Hemp Licensing

Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) is accepting applications for the state's Industrial hemp licensing research pilot program. People who want to grow or process industrial hemp in Wisconsin will need to apply for a license and, at the same time, register their intentions to grow or process hemp in the state this year. The deadline to apply for the 2018 growing season is May 1. Growers will pay a one-time licensing fee of $150 to $1,000, depending on how many acres they intend to plant. Growers will have reporting and recordkeeping requirements, and will be required to enter into a research agreement with DATCP.

Send feedback » Permalink


Permalink CSP Renewal Applications Due April 13

USDA logoAgricultural producers with existing Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) contracts expiring on December 31, 2018, can renew their contracts for an additional five years if they agree to adopt additional activities to achieve higher levels of conservation on their lands. Applications to renew expiring contracts are due by April 13, 2018. Through CSP, agricultural producers and forest landowners earn payments for actively managing, maintaining, and expanding conservation activities like cover crops, ecologically based pest management, buffer strips, and pollinator and beneficial insect habitat.

Send feedback » Permalink


Permalink Revised Ohio Phosphorus Risk Index Helps Prevent Agricultural Runoff

The multiyear On-Field Ohio project has developed a revised Ohio Phosphorus Risk Index that will help farmers calculate the risk of agricultural phosphorus runoff reaching waterways. The On-Field Ohio project collected data on more than 2,000 runoff events from 29 farm fields. Some of the management practices that were evaluated included tillage, soil type, fertilizer placement, soil phosphorus content, field topography, soil infiltration rate, and cover crops. Different crop-management scenarios were input into the index so that farmers can compare scenarios and make informed decisions about how to prioritize time and resources.

Send feedback » Permalink


Permalink Assessment of Weeds on New England's Organic Vegetable Farms Completed

Scientists from Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont have completed the first comprehensive assessment of weeds found on organic vegetable farms in Northern New England, funded by the Northern New England Collaborative Research Funding Program. The results of this study help provide a baseline for organic growers who could face challenges from new, problematic weeds due to environmental change. Participating scientists sampled weed seedbanks and measured soil physical and chemical characteristics on 77 organic farms across the region. They found 113 weed species, though just a handful of these accounted for almost three-quarters of the total number of weeds found. The scientists determined that temperature-related variables were the strongest and most consistent correlates with weed seedbank composition. They also found that some weed species are more genetically diverse than had been previously recognized, and they found that some species may have economic potential.

Send feedback » Permalink


Permalink Research Investigates Terminating Cover Crops with Sheep

Montana State University has completed a five-year project that investigated integrating sheep into organic farming systems, reports The Prairie Star. The sheep were used to terminate cover crops as an alternative to herbicides or tillage. Sheep were also useful for grazing weeds before and after planting and after harvest. The study also compared low-stock-density continuous grazing of sheep with high-stock-density rotational grazing. Sheep were more selective in the continuously grazed trials, and in some rotations they had trouble keeping up with forage growth. However, the researchers found that a system that used no-till planting and sheep to terminate cover crops made it possible to avoid tillage for 36 months before weed pressure grew too great. This would represent a monetary savings for farmers.

Send feedback » Permalink


Permalink Organic Grass and Legume Dairy-Cow Diet Enhances Milk Nutrition

A collaborative international research project including the University of Minnesota found that cows fed a 100% organic grass and legume-based diet produce milk with elevated levels of omega-3 and CLA, providing a healthier balance of fatty acids. The study contrasted milk from organic "grassmilk" cows, cows fed a mixed diet of organic forage and grain, and cows fed a conventional mix of forage and grain. Researchers found that grassmilk provides by far the highest level of omega-3s—0.05 grams per 100 grams of milk, compared to 0.02 g/100 g in conventional milk - a 147% increase in omega-3s. Researchers concluded that daily consumption of grassmilk dairy products could potentially improve U.S. health trends.

Send feedback » Permalink


Permalink Michigan Pollinator Habitat-Designation Program Holding Workshops, Accepting Enrollment

With the goal of quantifying habitat impacts in Michigan of managed, quality grasslands, Michigan Wildlife Cooperatives is partnering with the National Wildlife Federation to create a small-habitat designation program. They hope to collect information from habitat managers who are creating and enhancing grassland complexes on their properties, in order to showcase the impacts land managers are having in Michigan for pollinators. Landowners who complete the enrollment process and meet the criteria will be mailed a Pollinator Habitat Designation sticker. A series of 15 free workshops being held across the state in March, April, and May will provide an overview of the value grasslands provide on a landscape. They will also provide information on where to find seed and how to plant it, as well as what financial and technical resources are available to assist you in creating and managing grassland habitats, and they will also showcase organizations helping to improve habitats.

Send feedback » Permalink


Permalink NCR-SARE Seeking Nominations for Technical Committee Members

North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (NCR-SARE) is seeking applications for Technical Committee members to review proposals submitted to its Research and Education grant program. NCR-SARE especially needs reviewers from Michigan, South Dakota, and Illinois and needs expertise in aquaculture, apiculture, and in innovative education and outreach practices. Reviewers should be from one of the 12 states that comprise the North Central SARE region and have good knowledge of sustainable agriculture systems and practices in the region. The term for Technical Committee member slots is three years. Apply online by March 22, 2018.

Send feedback » Permalink



Breaking News Archives