The ATTRA Blog




Posted on April 30, 2021
While many people make conscious decisions about what foods they eat for health reasons, the same considerations are not often made for livestock. We rarely discuss how the variety of plants they eat affects their health, wellness, and nutrient density…





Posted on April 16, 2021
Better Than I Feared but Worse Than It Looks By Guy K. Ames, NCAT Horticulture Specialist Photo at right: Peach flowers from a previous spring, a sight we won’t be seeing much of this year because of the deep freeze.…



Posted on April 9, 2021
I’m still trying to wrap my head around the polar vortex that hit the United States in mid-February: leaving people in Texas without power for up to two weeks, coming within five minutes of crashing the entire Texas power grid,…





Posted on March 29, 2021
Before I get into another blog post on farm marketing, I need to tell you that I am a dreamer. I was the high school kid who participated in mock government and wrote bills to solve all the county’s issues.…



Posted on March 22, 2021
So many of our projects on the farm require building structures out of wood. I’m always building a new raised bed or chicken coop or fences to keep the chickens from messing with my vegetables, but a recent trip to…



Posted on March 12, 2021
This blog will cover a short set of key questions you should ask yourself when considering starting a farm. Your answers will help you think about whether farming is right for you and help get you started in your planning…





Posted on March 1, 2021
Weather events bring all sorts of challenges to livestock producers, but perhaps none more than severe winter weather. The bitterly cold temperatures in February 2021 sparked a conversation among NCAT Livestock Specialists about how we provide water to stock during…



Posted on February 19, 2021
Dr. Bianca Moebius-Clune sees soil as a living ecosystem whose critters need attention, just like the animals in any agriculture operation. "Every one of you who's a farmer or even a gardener has livestock, because your livestock are in the…



Posted on February 12, 2021
In 2013, Montana Highland Lamb had finally come to the conclusion that we were spending way too much on fertilizer for our irrigated pastures. Sure, they were producing more than six tons of grass dry matter per acre, but for…



Posted on February 4, 2021
In 2014, my colleagues and I held an evening reception at our office in San Antonio for the members of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB). We wanted to show our appreciation to these volunteers and organic champions who do…



Posted on January 28, 2021
Dr. Provenza will be among the featured speakers at NCAT’s first Soil Health Innovations Conference in March. He will be discussing “How Palates Link the Health of Soil and Plants with Livestock and Humans.” By Rich Myers, Outreach Specialist



Posted on January 22, 2021
Designed and patented by Dr. Dan Pote, the Subsurfer inserts dry poultry litter a few inches into the soil profile without disturbing the soil. It’s kind of like a combination of a no-till seed drill and a manure spreader. It…



Posted on January 13, 2021
While in Washington, DC, last spring, just as the rising tide of COVID-19 began, I had the pleasure of visiting with Senator John Boozman of Arkansas during a chance encounter outside the Capitol. A warm and friendly man by temperament,…





Posted on January 4, 2021
NCAT Southeast Regional Director and Livestock Specialist Margo Hale and I are doing a series on getting started in livestock: see blog posts 41 and 42, and listen to podcast episodes 179 and 182 to read or hear our discussions.…



Posted on December 21, 2020
Because our farm brand is your farm story, here are some ways that will spice up your farm brand and give you new ways to connect to your customers that you can explore. The point of all this is to…



Posted on December 11, 2020
I want to share with you a few pieces of infrastructure and equipment we have on our farm, why they work for us, and ways they don’t work. I always find it helpful to see how other farmers feed and…



Posted on December 4, 2020
My day begins with a hot cup of coffee and a quick check of our farm. What a thrill to find a new baby calf from our Belted Galloways, to watch the antics of our pig, to have my girls…



Posted on November 20, 2020
Like many, during these challenging times, I’ve turned to home gardening! I’ve used gardening as an opportunity to reconnect with nature and clear my head, all while staying close to home during the quarantine. By Jamie Fanous, Sustainable Agriculture Specialist



Posted on November 13, 2020
All across the South and as far north as USDA Climate Zone 5, fall planting of fruit trees can help get fruit trees off to a big head-start compared to fruit trees planted in spring. Why? The answer is a…





Posted on October 29, 2020
In my work on NCAT’s Soil for Water Project, I’ve tried a lot of different ways of monitoring land and soil health. For years, I’ve been hearing about LandPKS (Land Potential Knowledge System), a mobile app that has been under…





Posted on October 16, 2020
What is not so much fun is when you have an animal that does not feel well. An animal that is lethargic, disinterested in grazing or in being with the flock, is depressed and slow-moving or having trouble standing is…



Posted on October 8, 2020
Part of my role as an NCAT Agriculture Specialist is to connect farmers to the resources that they need, so I always include USDA agencies in our Armed to Farm trainings for military veterans and other educational events we organize.…



Posted on October 1, 2020
You see, people don’t always behave rationally. And certainly not around the things we buy. We buy products not because they make the most economic sense, but because of the meaning around those products. We buy gendered products, products that…



Posted on September 24, 2020
Like many of our favorite movies, the sequel to the Coronavirus Farm Assistance Program (CFAP2) is an expansion and improvement of the original. About $14 billion has been made available to fund this relief effort. By Jeff Schahczenski, NCAT Agricultural…



Posted on September 17, 2020
Back in the day, I learned beekeeping at Prairie View A&M University Greenhouse where I started their apiary. Cecil Fry, one of the university’s electricians, started me off and even gave me a hive. With his training as a launch…







Posted on September 2, 2020
As we round the corner from summer into fall, I always like to look back and assess how we did on our farm during the busy summer months. We did not suffer a bad drought this summer, though it was…



Posted on August 27, 2020
I've spent most of my life working in large-scale crop production. Through this work, I've developed a passion for growing food and feeding people, which feels even more important right now, during the COVID-19 pandemic. By Andrew Coggins, NCAT Rocky…









Posted on July 24, 2020
My passion for working in sustainable agriculture came out of a love of being in nature with friends, whether it was going on back-country backpacking trips, kayaking Texas’s beautiful rivers, mountain biking, or sometimes escaping to nature for my own…





Posted on July 16, 2020
The most amazing thing I have seen come out of the COVID-19 pandemic is our ability to adapt and mobilize into positive action, regardless of the circumstances. By Kara Kroeger, NCAT Agriculture Specialist



Posted on July 10, 2020
Resilience is the latest buzzword in the lexicon of sustainable agriculture... and for good reason. Resilience is the ability to recover or bounce back after a challenge or setback.By Guy Ames, NCAT Horticulture Specialist



Posted on July 2, 2020
While we never have a problem selling what we have available, we also don’t usually have an overwhelming demand. As soon as COVID-19 hit, though, people who have never bought meat from us before began reaching out to see if…



Posted on June 25, 2020
Like all plants, avocados have secrets to share; understanding the plants we grow can unlock their potential and bring a deeper understanding of the ecology in our own back yards. Here are a few considerations for your backyard avocados, as…



Posted on June 22, 2020
I don't grow peaches. That unhappy confession is despite the fact that I grow peach trees. And rot. I grow a lot of brown rot. By Guy Ames, NCAT Horticulture Specialist



Posted on June 18, 2020
This week, I will be sending a young dairy goat named Caramel to a lovely family. The seven-year-old girl who will be in charge of the goat is so excited; she and her parents have planned for shelter, pasture, and…



Posted on
Layered upon the pandemic and a national economic freefall, the murder of George Floyd and so many other Black Americans has sparked frustration, anger and sorrow across the country, not least here at NCAT.



Posted on June 10, 2020
Value-added enterprises are one way to increase the profitability of growing those vegetables. And, in fact, in a recent survey of 400 ATTRA clients, the number one topic they wanted to see covered in more detail on our website was…



Posted on June 4, 2020
I developed a love of plants as a young boy, helping my father in his yard-of-the-month winning front yard. I hated pruning roses, but everything else was so amazing to me. I think the thing that really hooked me was…





Posted on May 22, 2020
We have a livestock farm in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas, but we’re always looking for ways to diversify our operation. Mushrooms seemed like a good fit. We manage over 100 acres of forest, a ready source of both material…



Posted on May 18, 2020
No, the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) is not food for the nation’s hungry, but rather assistance for the nation’s food producers. Details of how U.S. farmers can apply for this assistance are still scarce, but the most important message…





Posted on May 8, 2020
Vegetable growers are hustling to start seeds in order to have transplants ready to go in to the ground once the soil has warmed up and dried out. By Andy Pressman NCAT Northeast Regional Director



Posted on May 1, 2020
Adaptive grazing improves forage availability and ecosystem functioning, and strengthens grazing landscapes with diversity and resilience. ATTRA has brought together a suite of resources for farmers and ranchers, of all scales and for all species of grazing animals, who are…



Posted on April 29, 2020
I’m seeing peach leaf curl in my orchard. It’s April, but the calendar date is not as important as the growth stage of the peaches.By Guy K. Ames NCAT Horticulture Specialist In Northwest Arkansas



Posted on April 22, 2020
When I am faced with a less than ideal growing situation, rather than fight with Nature, I'll build a raised bed. I've built many of them over the years to suit different purposes. By Justin C. DuncanNCAT Sustainable Agriculture Specialist





Posted on March 23, 2020
Here on my farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains of southwest Virginia, I am extremely eager to get my garden started. Due to the uncertain times brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, I am motivated to achieve greater self-sufficiency and…



Posted on March 19, 2020
I can hardly think of a perennial fruit easier to grow than elderberries. And I can hardly think of a food item with a stronger claim to health benefits. Coupling the ease of growing with this fruit’s new popularity as…