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The Rodale Institute has announced that it will launch the Southeast Organic Center, a new regional resource center focused on the unique challenges of farmers in the southeast United States. The center open in fall of 2019 at 300-acre Many Fold Farm in Georgia's Chattahoochee Hills. "Scientific research and high-quality farmer education conducted by the Southeast Organic Center will validate and expand truly sustainable agricultural practices in order to save our food system, our planet, and ourselves," says Many Fold Farm's Rebecca Williams. The Southeast Organic Center will focus on increasing the number of farms and acres in organic production in the region; establishing a long-term research trial to determine changes in soil health, yields, economic models, and more; solving challenges for organic farmers in the region, including pests, disease, weed management; and farmer training and pathways to market.

USDA Rural Development is reminding farmers, rural small businesses, and agricultural producers that $400 million is available in loan guarantees through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). REAP funding can be used for renewable-energy systems such as anaerobic digesters, biomass, geothermal, hydropower, wind, and solar. It also can be used to make energy-efficiency improvements to heating, ventilation, and cooling systems; insulation; lighting; and refrigeration. USDA accepts applications for REAP funding year-round. Potential applicants should contact their state USDA Rural Development offices for additional information.

Engineers at Cornell University have developed a predictive model for irrigation that combines plant physiology, real-time soil conditions, and weather forecasts. They predict that using this information to decide how and when to irrigate could save 40% of the water consumed by traditional irrigation practices. In addition, this "smart irrigation" could help improve the quality of specialty crops such as grapes, by ensuring that they receive the right amount of water. Researchers conducted a case study using this model for irrigation of grass crops in Iowa, and they are preparing to test it on apples in New York. The research includes an assessment of the costs and benefits of switching from a model based on human decisions to an automated one.

As part of its annual meeting, the Soil Health Institute has released its comprehensive strategy for enhancing soil health. Dr. Wayne Honeycutt, CEO of the Soil Health Institute, explained, "[A] key component of our strategy is to assess the impacts of soil health adoption on profitability and economic risk. Another is to identify the most effective measurements for soil health because farmers cannot be expected to manage what they cannot measure. We then need to provide workshops on locally-relevant management practices proven by other farmers to work for them." In addition, Honeycutt described how information must be supported by a strong research and development program that producers, policy analysts, and society can trust.

The USDA NRCS Soil Health Division has posted an on-demand webinar titled Soil Health Pays. Join Wayne Fredericks to learn about the economic benefits of using soil health management systems to be profitable farming in Iowa. In this webinar, he explore what he has learned on his farm over the last 26 years and how it has contributed to his bottom line. He also shares some of the lessons he has also learned from others respected in the field regarding soil health, concluding with what he feels are the biggest hurdles that lie ahead in adopting practices that promote soil health.

Five UN agencies, The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Program (WFP), and the World Health Organization (WHO), have released The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World. The report gives an updated estimate of the number of hungry people in the world, including regional and national breakdowns, and the latest data on child stunting and wasting as well as on adult and child obesity. This year's report also goes beyond hunger, providing estimates for the first time of the number of people who face uncertainties about obtaining food and have reduced the quality and quantity of the food they eat to get by. The report also offers analysis of the drivers of hunger, food insecurity, and all forms of malnutrition, and this year includes a special focus on the impact of economic slowdowns and downturns.

Market data and online trading platform Mercaris has released a Spring Planting Special Report detailing how organic field crop acreage has been impacted by unprecedented cold and wet springtime weather this year. Mercaris found that less than 3% of U.S. organic field crop acres were located in areas impacted by this spring's most significant flooding but organic growers were still affected by above-average precipitation. The report analyzes how organic growers are using tools like crop insurance and alternative cropping techniques in order to cope with losses this season. Mercaris also conducted a survey of farmers and found that a significant percentage of organic farmers will be filing a Prevented Planting insurance claim this year.

USDA announced the award of more than $9 million for 126 Farm to School Program grants. The recipients are from 42 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, and these projects are expected to serve more than 3.2 million students in more than 5,400 schools. Grants range from $20,000 to $100,000 and fund equipment purchases and experiential learning activities including planting school gardens, offering taste tests to children, and organizing field trips to local farms and food producers.

A study by Cornell University explored farmers' success with release of natural enemies on cabbage crops in New York. Researchers found that releasing pest predators led to fewer pests, less plant damage, and increased crop biomass on farms that were surrounded by more forest and natural areas and less agricultural land. However, on farms predominantly surrounded by other farms, there were more pests and plant damage and reduced crop biomass, in spite of added predators. In simpler agricultural landscapes, insect predators may prey on other predators, and there can be more competition for prey. The researchers say more study is needed before they can make specific recommendations to growers.

The Organic Association of Kentucky (OAK) is seeking engaging, innovative, and educational presentations relevant to Kentucky's thriving regenerative agriculture community for 60- or 90-minute sessions and half-day short courses for the 9th Annual OAK Conference on March 6-7, 2020, in Louisville, Kentucky. Session topics should address concepts, research, best practices, successes and challenges within organic and regenerative agriculture and pertain to one of the following priority areas: Livestock and Forage, Row Crops, Produce Production, Soil Health, Homestead and Urban Agriculture, or Business of Farming. Proposal submission deadline is July 31, 2019.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports that information on the amount and types of agricultural credit to socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers (SDFR) is limited. Congress directed GAO to study agricultural credit services provided to SDFRs, because minorities and women comprise a disproportionately small share of agricultural producers, and certain minority groups have alleged discrimination in obtaining agricultural credit. GAO identified a number of challenges that reportedly hamper SDFRs' ability to obtain private agricultural credit. However, GAO noted that comprehensive data on SDFRs' outstanding agricultural debt are not available because regulations generally prohibit lenders from collecting data on the personal characteristics of applicants for loans.

A team of researchers writing in Global Change Biology says that global food security is at increased risk from farming trends such as monocultures taking up more agricultural land and more crops relying on insects for pollination. The team analyzed UN FAO data from 1961-2016 and found that despite more land being used for agriculture worldwide, the diversity of the crops being grown has declined. Additionally, 16 of the 20 fastest-increasing crops require pollination by insects or other animals, which are themselves at risk. The researchers point out that although poorer regions of the world are at the greatest risk, the consequences of crop failure would be felt worldwide. The team concludes that care should be taken to diversify agriculture worldwide and make it more ecological, particularly by growing a diversity of crops and providing pollinator habitat.

The Guardian reports on a farm in Portugal that is using silvopasture to create a new montado, or diverse pre-medieval Portuguese system of farming. Alfredo Cunhal was managing his family's land as a monocrop farmer, but then turned to a diverse system that uses herds of animals and productive trees and shrubs to produce numerous products. "This used to be a cork oak farm," says Cunhal. "Now cork is just 5% of the turnover. Four years ago we were 100% dependent on the open market and wholesalers. Now nearly 50% of what we grow is sold directly to consumers. We have a butchery, bakery, olive oil press, smoker." The operation's complexity means that running it creates jobs and involves members of the community, even as the diversity contributes to doubling or even trebling production while improving the production capacity of the land.

A grazing school held in Missouri showcased Grazing Acres Farm, where the Pemberton family has utilized cost share and rotational grazing to renovate pasture and improve animal performance, reports University of Missouri Extension. They renovated toxic fescue pastures with a mix of warm- and cool-season grasses and legumes. Annuals help carry them through the summer slump. Water development and shade trees help further improve animal productivity. Cost-share programs through NRCS's Environmental Quality Incentive Program, the Monroe County Soil and Water Conservation District, and the 2002 Farm Bill's Conservation Security Program helped the Pembertons fund fencing, structures, and watering systems.

A new report from The Organic Center titled The Benefits of Organic Dairy explains new research findings that show that organic is an easy way to avoid contaminants in milk, giving consumers an option that doesn't include even trace amounts of pesticides, antibiotics, or synthetic growth hormones. The report highlights what's special about the way organic dairy is produced, and why those differences are important for the health of the cows, the health and safety of your family, and the environment. The 23-page report is available free online.

The Council of Development Finance Agencies (CDFA) has published a new paper in its Food Finance White Paper Series. Food Systems & Bonds provides a basic overview of bonds and describes specific types that could be relevant to food-related businesses and projects, with example case studies of each. With this series, CDFA aims to offer useful information for those working in the food system about the variety of development finance tools available to support food-related projects, as well as evidence that such financing programs are successful when applied to efforts within the food system. The 16-page publication is available free online.

Researchers at Montana State University are exploring the effect that grazing sheep on vegetable or cover crop plots has on soil health. They are studying how using grazing sheep for weed control might reduce the need for tillage or chemical herbicides. After two years of in-field testing on three cooperating farms, they've found that grazing sheep add fertility to the soil, reduce the need for tillage, and don't appear to cause soil compaction. The third year of the Western SARE-funded project involves outreach to producers in the form of tip sheets, workshops, videos, and write-ups.

Integrating sheep with vineyards yields substantial cost savings for farmers, as well as benefits for soil and ecosystems. Researchers from the University of Vermont brought the practice of integrating sheep with a vineyard to the state of Vermont for the first time, and they're working with local vineyards on a study that evaluates "the whole system—the health of the grapes, the animals, the forage and soil, as well as the consumer perceptions, or marketability potential. The existing research on this work has largely looked at these different components in pieces, rather than trying to understand all of these interactions together,” explains researcher and project technical advisor Meredith Niles. In addition to measuring soil quality and animal health and documenting how the vines and grapes respond to the sheep, the research team is surveying winery visitors to determine whether the sheep integration influences buying decisions. In addition, the UVM research team is exploring other types of systems that would be well-suited for sheep in Vermont, like Christmas tree farms, hops fields, cider orchards, or solar panel fields.

A study by the University of Florida, funded by a Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SSARE) On-Farm Research Grant, showed that grafting can help with disease control in tomatoes grown organically in a high tunnel. Specialty tomatoes grafted onto two disease-resistant rootstocks effectively managed Fusarium wilt and were healthier overall than four non-grafted control cultivars. Additionally, fruit yield was considerably higher in the grafted plants. This higher yield meant the grafted tomatoes were more profitable, even though they had a higher production cost.

Farm Aid has announced that its annual music and food festival will return to Wisconsin on September 21, 2019. The event will take place at Alpine Valley Music Theatre in East Troy, Wisconsin, and will include performances by Farm Aid board members Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Neil Young, and Dave Matthews with Tim Reynolds, as well as Bonnie Raitt, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Margo Price, Jamey Johnson, Tanya Tucker, Brothers Osborne, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Yola, and Particle Kid. "At Farm Aid 2019, we'll highlight solutions [to the national farm crisis] and show our support for family farmers' contributions to our health, economy and environment," said Farm Aid President and Founder Willie Nelson. In addition to music, the event includes locally grown concessions; hands-on educational activities about soil, water, energy, food, and farming; and demonstrations of agrarian skills.

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in Hemphill County will offer a course on grazing and animal management over the next 10 months. The class meets monthly for four hours, beginning July 17, 2019, and offering 40 hours of in-depth educational training for ranchers, landowners, and any stakeholders interested in advancing the value of their agricultural endeavors. There are a maximum of 30 spots available on a first-come basis. The course covers grazing economics, ecological processes, animal nutrition, managed grazing, goal setting, and infrastructure development and planning.

Rural Electrification 2.0: The Transition to a Clean Energy Economy, a report from the Center for Rural Affairs, We Own It, and Clean Up the River Environment (CURE), shows that many rural energy cooperatives could save money by retiring existing coal plants and turning to solar and wind energy. Drops in the price per megawatt of wind and solar mean these clean energy sources could be affordable in rural areas with high energy costs. The report notes that rural areas host clean energy infrastructure such as transmission lines, wind turbines, and utility-scale solar, but ironically, little of this energy is used in rural communities. This report concludes that "rural communities could better pursue a clean energy future if current debt on existing coal plant infrastructure could be eliminated in exchange for a requirement to invest in clean energy and energy efficiency."

A study by Indiana and Purdue Universities, published in Hort Technology, reveals farmers' perspectives on the challenges and advantageous opportunities associated with using high tunnels for specialty crops in Indiana. Initial observations revealed that the additional labor and time requirements of high tunnel production, the increased complexity of transforming farming habits to high tunnel usage, soil fertility and management considerations, disease management, and limited winter markets all comprise the greatest challenges facing farmers adopting this technique. In-depth interviews and qualitative research provided a good understanding of specific challenges. In particular, farmers reported difficulty keeping up with the time and labor required to manage their high tunnels. The researchers note that different planting and harvesting schedules from other crops can contribute to this challenge with high tunnels.

The Weed Science Society of America reports that yield loss for dry bean and sugar beet crops in weedy, uncontrolled plots is 70%. The long-term studies of dry beans and sugar beets determined that every dollar invested in weed management produced significant returns: an estimated $12 and $23 for growers of dry beans and sugar beets, respectively. The study found that the most troublesome weeds in those crops include common lambsquarters and kochia, as well as species in the pigweed (Amaranthus) and nightshade (Solanum) genera.

The Land O'Lakes Cooperative Farmer Member Health Plan has announced its further expansion by moving into the state of Kansas for the 2020 Plan year. This self-insured arrangement already offers coverage to farmers of participating co-ops and individual farmers within the Land O'Lakes network in Minnesota and Nebraska. With the expansion into Kansas, more than 60 cooperatives and their farmers are now eligible. Farmers participating in the Land O'Lakes Cooperative Farmer Member Health Plan can choose from several ACA compliant plans that are more affordable than plans offered in the current individual market. Land O'Lakes is working to expand this offering to additional states.

As part of its ongoing video series on organic weed control, Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI) has posted a 20-minute video on cultivator adjustment. In this video, several PFI farmers talk about which adjustments they make to throw more or less soil, including adjustments to the pitch of sweeps, top link adjustments, how close sweeps are to the rows, and differences in adjustments between cultivators. They also discuss how they deal with differing weather conditions, using rolling or tent shields early in the year and using flow shields later in the year, and how speed plays into all of it.

An international team of researchers published a study in Science Advances showing that the genetics of an individual cow strongly influence the make-up of the microorganisms in its rumen. Some cattle produce significantly less methane due to their genetics, so it would be possible to select for those genetics to breed low-methane-producing cattle. The research was done on dairy cattle, but study authors say it should apply to beef cattle, as well. More research will have to be done on how this selection affects other production traits, but the research team has noted a correlation between efficiency of milk production and the microbiome that could indicate higher milk production from low-methane cows.

Siblings Mandie, Brannt, and Garrett Loroff are growing industrial hemp under the Kansas Industrial Hemp Research Program. In a feature in Midwest Messenger they discuss their challenges in creating a research proposal for the program, finding seed, and purchasing the equipment they need. The Loroffs are testing row spacing for industrial hemp grown for cannabidiol oil. Growing hemp for oil is different from growing the crop for seed or fiber, and the Loroffs discuss some of the challenges of the crop, including its labor intensity.

An international research team including a University of British Columbia assistant professor found that farmers in areas with greater biodiversity took less of an income hit from droughts than their peers who farmed amid less biodiversity. The study covered more than 7,500 households across 23 tropical countries. The team also highlighted the importance of biodiversity conservation, projecting that loss of half of the species within a region would double the impact of weather extremes on farmer income and, consequently, that conservation of natural biodiversity could play an important role in alleviating poverty for rural households. Although study results clearly link natural biodiversity to income stabilization during adverse weather, this study didn't identify the mechanisms that form the link. Authors suggest the effect could stem from having multiple alternative pollinators and numerous beneficial insects.

Iowa State University's Food Systems Team helps communities and organizations with participant-led development projects based on community food, Farm to School, and food access. A feature on the Team's work notes that they use a three-year approach to developing and designing community, local, and regional food systems. The process begins with assessing conditions and continues through developing and implementing projects. In particular, the team is involved with coalition development, community food system assessment, and technical assistance.

USDA reminds farmers that cover crops can be planted on fields where they were prevented from planting a cash crop. USDA's Prevented or Delayed Planting website explains: "Many fields that are saturated for a long time face a loss of soil organisms. Cover crop roots re-establish soil health and create pathways for air and water to move through the soil. USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service provides technical and financial assistance to help farmers plant cover crops." The fact sheet Cover Crops and Prevented Planting is available online in PDF. Meanwhile, North Dakota State University Extension suggests that cover crops can help fields that weren't planted this year be ready for next year's planting. Cover crops can help use up extra soil moisture, prevent erosion, and condition soil for next year.

Penn State researchers say that "planting green," or planting into living cover crops, could help farmers prevent soil erosion, reduce nutrient loss, avoid planting delays, and even experience less damage from crop pests. To use this strategy, farmers plant into a living cover crop that is typically terminated using herbicide. In a three-year study, researchers found that the practice appeared to benefit soybeans more than corn. The corn populations were reduced at some sites due to cooler soils and pest damage; soybean yields were not affected.

A paper published in Land Use Policy by a University of California, Berkeley, researcher and a USGS research ecologist warns that land use trends play an important role in bee population declines. They say that land in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) in the Prairie Pothole Region provided prime summer foraging habitat for colonies of honey bees that are trucked around the country in other seasons to pollinate crops. However, the number of acres enrolled in CRP in the region has shrunk by half since 2007, due to policies such as caps on the reserve program, government support for ethanol fuels, and changes to crop insurance programs in 2014. The lack of summer foraging habitat is contributing to declines in bee health and reducing profitability for beekeepers, say the authors.

Reforesting cropland that has poor soil, inadequate water, or steep slopes can create quantifiable environmental benefits that could be tradable, according to a study by scientists at UC Santa Barbara. Marginal croplands replanted with trees can store carbon and reduce the movement of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediments from land to streams and rivers, as well as increase biodiversity and produce revenue in the form of sustainably harvested timber. "Quantifying these effects can now be used to give tradable credits for improving water quality," says lead author Arturo Keller. The study identified 10% of the cropland in the Ohio River Valley as high priority for reforestation.

A study published in the Journal of Applied Ecology by researchers from CNRS, INRA, and the University of La Rochelle shows that bee colonies on organic farms have more bees, more brood, and greater honey production than bee colonies on conventional farms. The study used data spanning six years for 180 hives in west central France. Authors say the bees on organic farms may be benefiting from more pollen, more flowers, and a greater area of flowers, as well as absence of pesticides.

Researchers at Purdue University are investigating the role that pesticides in their milkweed habitat might play in the population decline of the monarch butterfly. The team collected milkweed leaves across Indiana, and found 14 pesticides--four insecticides, four herbicides and six fungicides--of varying concentrations. The contaminants were strongest early in the season, varied annually, and decreased further from farm fields, although some contamination persisted past the 125-foot buffer area from farm fields that is generally considered safe for planting monarch habitat. Next, the researchers will conduct toxicity experiments to determine whether neonicotinoids and other pesticides are harming monarch populations.

USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and Risk Management Agency (RMA) have developed new guidelines and policy on when cover crops must be terminated in order for farmers to remain eligible for crop insurance. Changes mandated by the 2018 Farm Bill will take effect with the 2020 crop year. With the changes, cover crop management practices are covered by Good Farming Practice provisions, and crop insurance will attach at time of planting the insured crop. NRCS is now recognized as an agricultural expert resource for cover crop management systems.

PerennialMap.org is an interactive, online map that features farms raising perennial crops (including pasture for livestock), supply and service providers, food markets, and research and education resources. Those involved and interested in perennial crops can self-list on the map. PerennialMap.org functions as a modern-day phone book to help connect people involved in all aspects of perennial agriculture and help them share ideas. Partners in the effort include the Savanna Institute, University of Wisconsin, University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry, The Greenhorns, Agrarian Trust, and University of Illinois.

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the University of California at Davis Soil Resource Laboratory have released version 2.0 of the free iOS and Android SoilWeb app. SoilWeb provides users with information relating to soil types that are associated with their location, based on information from the National Cooperative Soil Survey. The images are linked to information about the different types of soil profiles, soil taxonomy, land classification, hydraulic and erosion ratings, and soil suitability ratings. The new version has a cleaner and more modern interface, with GPS-location-based links to access detailed digital soil survey data. SoilWeb has been integrated with Google Maps and designed to scale across any device, desktop, tablet, or smart phone.

Conservation Science and Practice has published a paper that makes the case for greater action to curb the global decline in insects, reports The Xerces Society. Research provides compelling evidence of declines in insect abundance, diversity, and biomass, argue the authors. "Although there is a need for greater investment in basic science and further analyses of existing data, our belief is that the severity of reported insect declines is sufficient to warrant immediate action," says author Matt Forister. The paper not only presents the problem, but also provides examples of success stories in insect conservation from three continents. The authors propose actions that can be taken by various societal sectors to address insect declines.

American Farmland Trust (AFT) has launched its eleventh annual Farmers Market Celebration, a national effort to promote the importance of local food and the role that agriculture plays in our communities, while also raising awareness about the challenges facing America's farmland and farmers. Marketgoers and farmers are invited to endorse their favorite markets in several different categories. After the celebration ends on September 23, 2019, AFT will present awards to the top markets in each region of the country and recognize a national "People's Choice" winner. Marketgoers can use #OnMyFork on social media to share experiences from their local market and bolster its chances of winning "People’s Choice."

NCAT's long-term Soil for Water project was featured online by USDA's Southwest Climate Hub. Soil for Water takes a biological approach, working with landowners on increasing the infiltration and water-holding capacity of soils by making them healthier. Activities are guided by five principles of soil health: (1) Keep the soil surface covered; (2) Keep live roots in the ground; (3) Promote biodiversity; (4) Minimize soil disturbance; and (5) Incorporate livestock. The project is building a network of ranchers who are trying regenerative grazing methods and sharing their results. Network members get help setting up grazing demonstrations on their property and conducting long-term rangeland monitoring so they can tell if their soils and vegetation are improving.

Domestic honey bees that share flowers with bumblebees may be spreading diseases that are contributing to bumblebee decline, according to research from the University of Vermont. The research team found that two well-know RNA viruses found in honey bees were higher in bumblebees collected less than 300 meters from commercial beehives. Additionally, the team detected bee viruses on 19% of the flowers they sampled from sites near apiaries. Study leader Samantha Alger notes, "This has implications for how we manage domestic bees and where we locate them."

A study by Emory University tested 69 samples of organic and conventionally produced milk from retailers across the country. Researchers found traces of pesticides and antibiotics in conventionally produced milk but not in milk produced using organic methods. They also found that growth hormone levels were higher in the conventional milk samples than in organic milk samples. Although most samples were within FDA and EPA limits considered safe for these substances, several samples of conventionally produced milk exceeded FDA limits for a few of the antibiotics tested.

A study by the University of Missouri showed that restoration of pine woodlands, through the combined use of intentional, managed fires and strategic thinning of tree density, has a dramatic beneficial effect on bird habitat. The researchers found that the restored pine woodland created an open canopy and a lush ground layer, which was ideal for allowing a balance between species that prefer less tree density and canopy cover with those that prefer more. Several of the birds that were observed thriving in this habitat are in decline elsewhere, including the Red-headed Woodpecker and the Prairie Warbler. "This is a powerful testament to the need to continue restoring these woodlands, which are also rich in plant diversity and likely more sustainable in many cases than closed forests under climate change," commented wildlife biologist Frank Thompson, a study cooperator.

In partnership with the United States Botanic Garden (USBG) and Holden Forests & Gardens, NCAT is bringing the week-long Armed to Farm (ATF) veterans training to Cleveland, Ohio, for a special event focused on urban farming. Armed to Urban Farm will give military veterans an opportunity to see sustainable, profitable small-scale farming enterprises and learn about urban farming as a career. Armed to Urban Farm is scheduled for September 9-13, 2019. The program is available to military veterans who are interested in starting an urban farm or who are beginning urban farmers (less than 10 years). All veterans are welcome to apply, but those from Northern Ohio will receive priority. The event is free for those chosen to attend. Applications are due by July 26, 2019.

The Bee Informed Partnership has released preliminary results from its 13th annual survey of managed honey bee colony losses in the United States. The survey results represent almost 12% of the managed honey bee colonies in the nation. During the 2018-2019 winter, an estimated 37.7% of managed honey bee colonies in the United States were lost. This is an increase of seven percentage points over last year. For the entire, year-long, April-to-April survey period, beekeepers in the U.S. lost an estimated 40.7% of their managed honey bee colonies.

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service has issued the latest edition of its annual late-planting guide, 2019 Alternative Crop Options after Failed Cotton and Late-Season Crop Planting for the Texas South Plains. Weather conditions this year have delayed planting or wiped out crops for some producers. This guide answers questions about replanting and late-planting options, including the last recommended planting dates for several potential crops. The latest edition of the guide includes comments about replant and late-plant options for organic cropping.

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) has posted a summary of revisions to Whole-Farm Revenue Protection crop insurance that are set to take effect in the 2020 crop year, beginning in August 2019. Among the changes are raised coverage caps for livestock and nursery production, exclusion of disaster payments from revenue, and changes in the way that disaster years will be counted in a farm's historic revenue. Also, hemp is being added as a crop eligible for coverage, with restrictions.

Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) reports that testing of six different commercial neem-oil products labeled for organic use showed that all six tested positive for several active ingredients not listed on the label, including the synthetic pesticides Malathion, Chlorpyrifos, and Permethrin, as well as several other non-organic active ingredients. ODA has issued a statewide Stop Sale, Use, and Removal Order (SSURO) for the six neem-oil products. Manufacturers, products, and lot numbers are listed online.

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) announced that the Beehive Distribution Program will begin accepting applications July 1, 2019. The Beehive Distribution Program provides free beehive equipment to Virginia residents. The program provides up to three beehive units directly to Virginia residents who are 18 years of age or older. Individuals who receive equipment will be registered as beekeepers with VDACS and are required to maintain the beehives in Virginia. The 2019 General Assembly approved $125,000 for the Beehive Distribution Program, and when funding for the program has been exhausted, VDACS will suspend accepting applications.

A study published in HortTechnology shared the results of an industry survey of North American specialty cut flower producers. The survey identified current cut flower production and postharvest problems and customer issues. Analysis showed that the main perceived production problem was insect management, with crop timing the second-most important problem, and disease management third. The main postharvest problems were temperature management, hydration, and flower food management. The article provides a guide for how to best address those challenges, using 31 major crop species as a template. An additional 99 cut flower species and categories grown by enterprising local farmers are included in the article.

USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) has announced that farmers and ranchers with expiring Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts may now re-enroll in certain CRP continuous signup practices or, if eligible, select a one-year contract extension. The extension is being offered to existing CRP participants with expiring contracts of 14 years or less that have practices not eligible for re-enrollment under this CRP signup. FSA also is accepting offers from those who want to enroll in CRP for the first time; signup for CRP runs from June 3 to August 23, 2019. This year's CRP continuous signup includes such practices as grass waterways, filter strips, riparian buffers, wetland restoration, and others.

Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has launched a Green Dairy Cohort and Green Brewery Cohort. "Businesses participating in the Cohorts connect and learn with their peers to improve environmental performance. DEC and its partners provide the structure, resources, and support to help businesses develop data-driven solutions that work for their industry and Vermont's environment," said DEC Commissioner Emily Boedecker. Over the course of a year, participants meet for workshops, information-sharing, and networking. Participating businesses have access to funding, in-depth assistance including energy analysis, and training in topics like wastewater pollution prevention. Participation is free and open to any businesses in brewing, dairy products manufacturing, or specialty foods sectors.

A study in the European Union and Africa by the SALSA consortium has found that food production from small farms is frequently underestimated in official statistics. Horizon: The EU Research & Innovation Magazine reports that SALSA identified a gap between actual farm production and the production recorded in official statistics. Researchers believe the gap could stem from food used to feed family, friends, and animals on the farm. In addition to this food production that's not accounted for, researchers point out that farms of less than five hectares can play an important role in local food security and can reduce environmental costs of food transport and production out of season. The study's authors say that because small farm production is undervalued, those small farms often don't receive the governmental support they deserve and need. This means, in turn, that small farms may not be achieving their full food-production potential.

A warming atmosphere combined with larger corn plants means that Midwestern corn growers will need to irrigate by mid-century, according to a study by University of Illinois scientists. Farmers who rely on rainfall to water corn crops today won't have that option as warmer temperatures draw more moisture out of plants, and as plant size increases through efforts to continue improving crop yields. The study leader notes, however, that farmers can use strategies such as minimum tillage and mulches to reduce the rate of water loss from the soil, as well as seeking to supply more water through irrigation. The study was reported in the journal Ecosphere.

Cover Crop Economics, a new report published by the USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, addresses the kinds of economic returns that can be expected from cover crops, both under various management scenarios and as cover crops improve soil health over time. The report finds that planting a cover crop as a livestock grazing opportunity is one of the fastest avenues to profitability. Other management situations can speed up positive returns from cover crops, as well, such as when a farmer is dealing with compacted soils or is transitioning to no-till, or when cover crops are contributing to a commodity crop's nutrient needs. Also, the report notes that receiving federal or state incentive payments while transitioning to cover crop use can make a major contribution to a quick economic return. The report's conclusions are based on an analysis of five years of data from the National Cover Crop Survey, conducted by the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) and SARE in the 2012 through 2016 growing seasons.

Researchers from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health published a study in Public Health Nutrition that tracked eating habits of young adults over the span from adolescence to adulthood. The research found that individuals who are more aware of where and how food is produced tend to select more nutrient-dense food choices. In particular, the study considered practices related to sustainable diets, such as eating food that is organically grown/produced, minimally processed, locally grown, and not genetically modified. In adolescence/early adulthood, 11% of participants reported supporting two or more of these sustainable practices, and 11 years later, in young adulthood, 34% reported supporting two or more. Those participants had higher diet quality. "The results of the study are in line with our hypothesis that supporting sustainable diet practices is related to more frequent preparation of meals with vegetables and multiple markers of better diet quality, such as higher intake of fruits and vegetables," says study co-author Nicole Larson.

Farmers' Legal Action Group (FLAG) has released the second volume in its updated seventh edition of the Farmers Guide to Disaster Assistance. Volume 2: Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program is the second in FLAG's series of guides that describe the rules for federal disaster-assistance programs that aid farmers. The publication is available free online.

A feature from Australia's ABC news looks at examples of a growing number of farmers who are reducing chemical inputs on their operations and increasing biodiversity and soil health. Queensland banana growers and beef producers in New South Wales are some of the producers who have cut their reliance on chemical inputs and seen their finances improve. They warn that making the change successfully takes time, however. It can take years to improve soil health and gain the biodiversity that contributes to a fully functioning ecosystem.

Scientists at Penn State have been looking into supplementing cattle feed with red seaweed, Asparagopsis taxiformis, to reduce methane emissions from ruminants. Studies have shown that adding small amounts of dried seaweed to the rations of lactating dairy cows decreased methane emission by 80% with no effect on feed intake or milk yield. However, researchers caution that it would be impossible to harvest enough wild seaweed to feed 94 million cattle in the United States, let alone the world's 1.5 billion cattle. Producing enough seaweed through aquaculture would be a huge undertaking, as well, and distributing it to cattle would add to the challenge. Penn State's Alexander Hristov also points out that methane from animal agriculture is just 5% of the total greenhouse gases produced in the United States, so the benefits of reducing this methane source are limited. However, he notes that reducing enteric methane emissions could increase the efficiency of animal production.

The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) and the National Farm to School Network (NFSN) are pleased to announce their partnership with the USDA Food and Nutrition Service's Office of Community Food Systems (OCFS) to develop farm to school trainings for agricultural producers. The goal of the partnership is to help agricultural producers build their capacity to launch or expand efforts to market to schools. To assist producers in entering this market, NCAT and NSFN will conduct a needs assessment among agricultural producers in collaboration with state agencies and then develop curricula. They will promote and execute trainings that use a tiered, train-the-trainer approach. This national three-year, $1.8 million project will be co-managed by NCAT and NFSN.

A prairie restoration movement is growing in the Great Plains, reports The Christian Science Monitor. Ranchers are finding value in the diversity of native prairie that increases soil health, allows them to grow healthy feed for cattle, and offers ecotourism opportunities. Reversing conversion of grassland to cropland means management changes for producers, such as rotating grazing and removing invasive species, as well as encouraging diversity.

Scientists with USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) have found that pollination by native blueberry bees or managed honey bees increases fruit set in rabbiteye blueberries in Mississippi and Louisiana from 0-30% without bee pollination to 70% or more. The bee-pollinated berries also are bigger and mature earlier. Researchers found the southern blueberry bee was the best pollinator, and they say a small grower with one to three acres of blueberries can probably get by solely with pollination by native bees, especially if they provide attractive habitat. However, a grower with 25 acres or more should probably consider supplementing pollination with honey bee colonies. The researchers say blueberry growers can promote pollination by providing woodland habitat on the edges of their fields that encourages native blueberry bee populations to grow. "They are ground-dwelling bees that like shade and leaf litter but don't like wet [soil] or soil heavy with organic material," explained research entomologist Blair Sampson.

Oregon State University (OSU) announced that it is launching the Global Hemp Innovation Center, the nation's largest research center devoted to the study of hemp. Lead researcher Jay Noller explains the Center's aim as follows: "We want to understand how to efficiently and sustainably grow hemp for seeds, for hemp fiber materials that can be used in textiles and construction materials, including as an alternate to gravel in concrete, for hemp essential oils that have popular health and wellness uses, and for hemp grain for use in foods and feed. Multi-use hemp is what we are excited about globally." Researchers are not only planting hemp for research purposes in Oregon, but are also working with international university faculty to learn more about the propagation and uses of hemp. Additionally, OSU announced that it is launching seed certification services for hemp seeds to be used by farmers registered in Oregon.

FoodShot Global has awarded funding to four entries in its Innovating Soil 3.0 competition, reports Whole Foods Magazine. Trace Genomics, a startup developing an AI-enabled diagnostic tool for farmers that increases yields and reduces costs, received an undisclosed investment. Awards of $250,000 were given to Keith Paustian in support of global adaptation of his COMET tool systems that provide farmers with metrics and information on regenerative farming and to Gerlinde De Deyn, for her work connecting plant biodiversity in space and time. Additionally Dr. Dorn Cox was awarded $35,000 in support of an Open Technology Ecosystem for Agricultural Management (OpenTEAM) to democratize access to environmental data and provide universal access to site-specific global agricultural knowledge.

Organic Seed Alliance is asking for proposals for the agenda of the 10th Organic Seed Growers Conference, set for February 12-15, 2020, in Corvallis, Oregon. The biennial conference is the largest event focused solely on organic seed in North America. Organizers are particularly interested in proposals that include farmers and underrepresented groups. Organic Seed Alliance is also accepting proposals for the scientific-research poster session at the conference. The call for proposals will be open through July 28, 2019.

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has put together six checklists that help agritourism operators be aware of the liability risks they face. The checklists cover bio-security, emergency preparedness, food safety, pesticide safety, play area safety, and negligence mitigation. "The checklists serve as a measurement tool to help guide agritourism operators through best practice techniques to use on their farm, to alleviate the risks that arise once employees and visitors come onto their farm," compiler Kendra Meyer said. Topics include employee and visitor health and hygiene, employee training, recordkeeping, food preparation and storage, legal risks and much more. The checklists are available online.

Scientists at the University of Illinois have documented waterhemp as the first non-grass plant that is resistant to Group 15s herbicides. Waterhemp is a common and problematic weed in corn and soybean fields in the Midwest. A news story from University of Illinois explains that herbicides are divided into 16 different Mode of Action (MOA) classes. Historically, nine classes of herbicide worked on waterhemp, but the plant has developed resistance to seven of those classes. "In some areas, we're one or two MOAs away from completely losing chemical control of waterhemp and other multiple-herbicide-resistant weeds," says Adam Davis, head of the Department of Crop Sciences at Illinois and co-author on the study. In this study, the waterhemp showed resistance even when herbicide was applied at four times the label rate.

Kansas Rural Center will hold five "Future of Farming and Food" Town Hall meetings across Kansas this summer. The free evening events will facilitate discussion on the food system and farming and how these are related to climate and energy issues, as well as rural/urban revitalization. The Town Halls offer opportunities to share information and enable community dialogue on vision for the future and how we get there. Discussion will include issues critical to Kansas, ranging from the impacts of weather extremes and a changing climate on food system and farming to population loss (especially of young people), health care, and present and future economic opportunities. Registration information for the July and August meetings is available online.

USDA has announced 47 rural communities and regions that will receive technical assistance through the Rural Economic Development Innovation (REDI) initiative. Each of the recipients will be paired with one of four partner organizations that will provide free technical assistance for up to two years to help rural towns and regions create and implement economic development plans. The partners are the National Association of Counties Research Foundation, the Rural Community Assistance Partnership, McClure Engineering Company, and Purdue University Extension/Community & Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky. The REDI initiative was developed by the USDA Rural Development Innovation Center to support recommendations identified in the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity.

USDA has announced 58 grants for projects in 17 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Recipients can use REAP funding for energy audits and renewable energy systems such as biomass, geothermal, hydropower, and solar. They also can be used to make energy efficiency improvements to heating, ventilation, and cooling systems; for insulation; and to improve lighting and refrigeration. Congress appropriated $50 million for REAP grants and loan guarantees in fiscal year 2019. USDA is investing $1 million in this round of renewable energy projects and says the department will make additional funding announcements in coming weeks.

The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) is seeking input from organic and sustainable farmers and ranchers on the programs and practices they use to manage risk. Sharing your experiences with risk management practices and programs can provide insight for OFRF and key partners that are working to strengthen federal farm programs for the organic and sustainable agriculture communities. A brief survey is available online.

A feature in Civil Eats highlights Ecotrust's Ag of the Middle Accelerator Program in Portland, Oregon. The program focuses on helping small farmers and fishermen scale up by training them in business, operating a food hub that aids in storage and distribution, and helping the growing enterprises access capital, including value-added grants. The two-year program has already made a difference for its first participants, who began in 2017, and Ecotrust hopes its model can be used in locations across the country, to help additional operations grow to gross between $100,000 and $3 million.

Deborah Reed, a professor of nursing at the University of Kentucky, came up with an effective way to educate farmers about important safety issues. She created a dinner theater that combines a free meal with local farmer-actors performing humorous skits about safety measures ranging from fall protection to emergency planning to hearing protection. Although the events offer entertainment in communities where they take place, they've been an effective way for farmers to learn from other farmers, and have resulted in half of attendees making changes in their operations within two weeks. The performances also offer a venue for immunization clinics that further promote farmer health. The safety skits are publicly available: any group can access an online toolkit to stage its own local production.

Kentucky lamb producer Freedom Run Farm is making an effort to get lamb back on American menus. They are not only supplying East Coast restaurants but have also showcased lamb dishes at venues from the 2019 American Food Fair in Chicago to the Kentucky Proud Lamb Jam they hosted in Louisville in April. Freedom Run Farm is highlighting the versatility of lamb in dishes from barbecue to roast lamb, as well as promoting value-added lamb products such as the lamb ham.

Strolling of the Heifers, a non-profit food advocacy organization based in Brattleboro, Vermont, has released its annual Locavore Index. The Locavore Index indicates which states have the strongest producers and consumers of local food. In 2019, the index showed significantly different results than previous years, due largely to results from the recently released USDA Census of Agriculture. Vermont still tops the list, with local food sales per capita at $166.22, but California has moved up to second place and Hawaii to third place. Several New England states slid out of the top 10, and Montana dropped from third to 28th. "The purpose of the Index is to stimulate conversations and efforts in every state aimed at increasing the amount of local food sold and consumed," explains Orly Munzing, founder of Strolling of the Heifers.

South Dakota Soil Health Coalition has posted a success story from rancher Charlie Totton and his wife Tanya, describing how they use mob grazing on their 4,000 acres. Grazing management has helped them better utilize pastures on challenging terrain, so that the worst areas have the most recovery time, and so that grazing pressure on native grasses is lessened and they can increase. Totton grazes 10 months of the year, and says his new management has resulted in more wildlife, better water infiltration, and more grass.

South Dakota Soil Health Coalition has released a new online portal that connects livestock producers with people who have cropland or forage available to graze. The website is a free, publicly accessible map, developed through a grant agreement with the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service. The site offers a platform for producers to connect throughout the state of South Dakota and the surrounding region. The map overlay shows sites where fields are available for grazing, as well as producers who are willing to move livestock to grazing sites. Additional educational resources on the site include fact sheets on a variety of topics related to livestock integration, crop residue, and cover crops, contracting resources, as well as the contact information or links for organizations that can provide further technical assistance. Integrating livestock onto cropland and managing grassland properly combine to form one of the five basic principles of soil health.

Slow Flowers has announced the 2019 American Flowers Week as July 28 - July 4. Debra Prinzing, Slow Flowers founder and creative director, explains that she created American Flowers Week in 2015 as a week-long celebration of domestic flowers to raise consumer awareness and unite America's flower farmers with the U.S. floral industry. "It's the original, American-grown floral holiday that stimulates interest in beauty, seasonality, local agriculture and sustainable floral design," says Prinzing.

California State University, Chico, has established a new Center for Regenerative Agriculture and Resilient Systems. According to a news story, the Center is an interdisciplinary partnership supported by the College of Agriculture, College of Natural Sciences, and College of Communication and Education. The Center will be offering degrees in the field of regenerative science and agriculture, conducting research at the University Farm, and creating curriculum. It will focus on practices that reduce greenhouse gasses, build topsoil, restore soil resiliency, increase the sustainability of farms and ranches, and address food and water insecurity.

Farmers' Legal Action Group has released Volume 1 of its seventh edition of the Farmers' Guide to Disaster Assistance. Volume 1: Emergency Conservation Program is the first in a series of guides that will describe the rules for programs such as the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP); Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP); Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP); Farm Service Agency Emergency Loans; and other disaster-assistance programs. The publication is available free online in PDF.

Grass-fed beef producers in Iowa cooperated with Practical Farmers of Iowa in a study that looked at carcass characteristics, meat quality and fatty acid composition of 100% grass-fed beef. The research found that that ultrasound was not a viable tool for predicting optimal harvest windows for these farmers, when used on live grass-fed cattle prior to harvest. The project also tested grass-fed ribeyes for omega-6:3 ratio and found that both these producers' products fall within the range of recommendations for healthy diets. Furthermore, the study found that omega ratio and meat quality were not negatively affected by feeding cattle over the winter.

The University of Minnesota is conducting an online survey of farmers regarding opinions toward volunteerism for citizen science programs. The goal of this research is to identify the best communication strategies, channels, and content to explain environmental science research and engage agricultural producers in citizen-science data-collection programs. The survey takes about 20 minutes.

New York, Chicago, Boston, and Washington, D.C. are among cities that are using dry ice as a tool for rat control, reports Marketplace. Exterminators place dry ice pellets in burrow entrances, where they give off carbon dioxide that suffocates rats inside. Although the method is more labor-intensive than using rodenticide, it can be more effective in a network of burrows, and it prevents secondary poisonings of predators.

A feature on C-ville describes how Virginians are working to add the missing link of grain back into the local food economy. Grain growers, millers, and bakers have formed an organization called the Common Grain Alliance to help promote local grain and forge links between members. Some bakers are interested in showcasing bread made from local grains, but they note that it can take time to form a working relationship with farmers and develop a product that works, because local, artisanal flour isn't like commodity products. Brewers interested in local grains face the same types of challenges. Redeveloping a local grain economy involves building demand and processing infrastructure concurrently with supply, to help support the investment in specialty equipment required by farmers.

Carolina Farm Stewardship Association is inviting submission of workshop proposals for its 34th annual Sustainable Agriculture Conference, to be held November 1-3, 2019, in Durham, North Carolina. A listing of priority topics is available online. Most sessions are 75 minutes. Complimentary registration for the full conference, including meals, will be provided for one speaker per workshop. Additional speakers will receive complimentary registration on the day of the scheduled session. The deadline for proposal submissions is June 10, 2019.

American Chemical Society's Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry published a report on a new strategy to determine organic authenticity. Researchers developed a method to analyze the metabolites generated within plants when pesticides break down. The test can determine that organic produce has been fraudulently treated with pesticides, even if the pesticides themselves have degraded. The test can also reveal accidental contamination of organic produce. It can also identify pesticide treatment of organic grapes by testing wine made from those grapes. The researchers say that their methodology, with some refinement, should aid in food regulators' efforts to crack down on illegal practices in organic farming.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the application window is now open for round one of the Grow-NY food and agriculture competition. The competition is focused on growing an enduring food and agriculture innovation cluster in New York's Finger Lakes, Central New York, and Southern Tier regions. The competition, which will run for three rounds, will offer a total of $3 million in funding for each round to innovative high-growth start-ups that are focused on the food and agriculture industry. Applications are open to start-ups from across the globe competing to win a $1 million top prize, two $500,000 prizes, and four $250,000 prizes. The winners will have to commit to operating in the Finger Lakes, Central New York, or Southern Tier regions for at least one year and will have to agree to participate in an equity-share program in which a portion of their profits will be returned back to the program. Applications will be accepted through July 15, 2019.

Clemson University researchers held a workshop recently where they shared results from a range of cover crop studies. Demonstration plots highlighted different cover crop mixes designed for fall/winter and spring/summer seasons. The researchers identified a mix of rye, oats, crimson clover, hairy vetch, rape, and radish as the combination that provided the most mulch. One researcher found that cover crops can increase soil moisture by as much as 10% in sandy soils. They also provide a host of other benefits, ranging from suppressing weeds to preventing soil compaction, fixing nitrogen, and adding organic matter. The researchers are also exploring variety choice and seeding rate alternatives that can reduce cover crop costs.

Purdue Extension has appointed its first hemp production specialist, Marguerite Bolt. Bolt's vision for her position is to design an Extension program that provides the groundwork for prospective commercial hemp production through public meetings, field days, and updates to Purdue's hemp website. Bolt plans to educate interested growers on how to get started with hemp, including how to obtain a permit and seeds for the crop, which cultivars are best for the region, and where to find reliable information. When hemp production becomes fully operational in 2020, Bolt plans to work with the State Chemist's Office to provide webinars focusing on the application process to obtain a hemp production permit. Bolt also plans to develop and release a series of webinars to address growers' questions, along with fact sheets and eventually a hemp production guide for Indiana.

USDA Risk Management Agency has announced provisions of the 2018 Farm Bill that will benefit military veterans with farms or ranches who are seeking federal crop insurance coverage. The 2018 Farm Bill provides veterans with an exemption from paying the administrative fee for catastrophic and additional coverage policies; an additional 10% premium subsidy for additional coverage policies that have premium subsidy; the ability to use another person's production history for the specific acreage transferred to veterans who previously were involved in the decision making or physical activities of crop production on the acreage; and an increase in yield adjustment, from 60% to 80% of the applicable transitional yield. These changes will allow veterans who are farming and ranching to have higher insurance coverages than if they relied upon county averages to establish their insurance guarantees or a lower percentage of the county average to substitute low yields because of an insurable cause of loss. For the 2019 crop year, producers can access these benefits for crops with a sales closing date on or after December 20, 2018.

A memo from the USDA National Organic Program summarizes the rules that organic certifiers must follow when determining the eligibility and compliance of container systems for organic crop certification. The letter clarifies that the Organic Food Production Act requirements related to the three-year transition period apply to all container systems built and maintained on land, such as container, hydroponic, and other plant pot-based systems, with or without soil as the growing media. The memo addresses issues of eligibility and compliance that certifiers must consider with regard to container systems.

European researchers have published a study in Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment that shows planting strips of perennial flowers between orchard rows can help with pest control. Trials in seven European countries showed higher numbers of natural enemies in orchards with perennial flower strips, and they also found reduced fruit damage in those orchards. In particular, there were fewer codling moths in the orchards with flowers rather than conventional orchard vegetation. The study also made recommendations for flower-strip composition for different countries.

A study published in Plants, People, Planet explored the success of collaborative initiatives to address "plant blindness," or modern civilization's disconnection from the plant world, through education about food plants. The international team of researchers found that botanic gardens play an important role in both educating the public about the value of plants and in preserving a living seedbank that can contribute to food-plant preservation and development. "In an era confronted by many global problems such as climate change, habitat destruction, plant and animal extinctions, population explosion, hunger and poverty, we cannot afford to ignore plant blindness any longer," said Sarada Krishnan, Director of Horticulture and Center for Global Initiatives at Denver Botanic Gardens and one of the co-authors of the study.

Organic Growers School is accepting applications until September 1, 2019, for its 2019-2020 Farm Beginnings program. Farm Beginnings is a 12-month, farmer-led program that involves more than 200 hours of training. The program begins with 60 hours of Whole-Farm Business Planning Courses from October through March, held in Arden, North Carolina. It continues with a variety of on-farm and other learning opportunities and mentorship with an experienced farmer mentor. A discount is offered for applications received by August 1, 2019.

The Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Produce Safety Team is helping produce growers across the state access free water testing by offering sample collection materials and drop-off sites at farmers markets. Members of the On-Farm Produce Safety Team will receive the samples at the drop-off locations and return them to the Iowa State lab in Ames. Some producers are required to have their water tested, depending on the size of operation and the source of water, in order to comply with the federal Food Safety Modernization Act. Although the compliance deadlines have been pushed to at least 2022, early testing can help producers identify and begin to address water-quality problems.

The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) is accepting applications from military veterans enrolled in a New York State Veteran Affairs medical center (VISN2 Region) who want to attend our week-long Armed to Farm (ATF) training from July 29, 2019, through August 2, 2019. The free training program in the Victor, New York, area allows veterans and their spouses to experience sustainable, profitable small-scale farming enterprises and explore agriculture as a viable career. ATF's engaging blend of farm tours, hands-on experience, and interactive classroom instruction gives participants a strong foundation in the basic principles of operating a sustainable farm. Participants learn about business planning, budgeting, recordkeeping, marketing, livestock production, fruit and vegetable production, and more. Applications are due by June 30, 2019.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has canceled registration for 12 neonicotinoid-based pesticides, including products from Syngenta, Valent, and Bayer, reports Bloomberg Environment. Seven of the products were for seed coating. Farmers will still have access to other neonic-based products for now, although some organizations are pressing for a ban on all neonic products based on their known harm to bees. The entire class of neonicotinoid products is due for re-registration under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act by 2022.

North Central Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE) has selected Barbara James Norman and Jim Stordahl as recipients of the 2019 NCR-SARE Hero Recognition. The award recognizes individuals who have provided 1) service to NCR-SARE and/or national SARE, 2) leadership in sustainable agriculture locally and regionally, and 3) lasting impacts on sustainability in the North Central region. Barbara Norman is a legacy Michigan blueberry farmer who has used and promoted sustainable practices such as cover crops, composting, no till, natural/organic, and innovative marketing strategies. In addition, Norman has also dedicated her career to improving the quality of life for farmers and ranchers, particularly historically underserved producers. Dairy and sheep farmer and educator Jim Stordahl was recognized posthumously for his longtime work with North Central SARE as a grantee and advisor.

Cargill and the Soil Health Institute have announced a new partnership to assess, demonstrate, and communicate the economics of soil health management systems across North America. Supported by an $850,000 grant from Cargill, the Soil Health Institute's Agricultural Economists will develop enterprise budgets to compare profitability of soil health-promoting systems with conventional management systems on approximately 100 farms near 120 research sites across North America.

Three PhD students at Imperial College London have developed an edible biopolymer to wrap hay and silage, reports Farmers Weekly. The project is contending for the Venture Catalyst Challenge that could fund further development, such as lacing the edible plastic with nutrients or probiotics. The developers believe the product could be available to farmers within three to five years, offering a way to reduce the amount of plastic waste generated by agriculture and prevent livestock from consuming dangerous plastic scrap. They also predict that large-scale production would make the product affordable.

The University of California, Santa Cruz is accepting applications for the 2020 Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture. The Apprenticeship is the longest running university-based organic farming training program in the U.S. This year's program will offer a record number of scholarships to participants. The 6-month, full-time residential program takes place at the 30-acre organic farm and 3-acre Alan Chadwick Garden on the UC Santa Cruz campus. Application deadlines for the 2020 program are August 15, 2019, for international applicants, and September 30, 2019, for U.S. applicants.

The Savanna Institute announced that it has released a series of Understanding Agroforestry infographics. These free, downloadable infographics provide descriptions of five common agroforestry practices: riparian buffers, forest farming, alley cropping, silvopasture, and windbreaks. Each two-page PDF infographic includes an illustration of the practice, a summary of its challenges and benefits, and a section of frequently asked questions about implementing the practice.

American Farmland Trust's Farms for the Next Generation initiative has certified its first group of Land Access Trainers. The 25 experienced agricultural educators and service providers will deliver a professionally designed experiential curriculum to teach beginning farmers and ranchers how to lease, purchase, and receive land through inheritance or gift, along with finding and assessing land, and the basic financial skills needed to make informed land-access decisions. Land Access Trainers are spread throughout the country to specialize in their region's unique land issues.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture's Minnesota Grown Program is encouraging consumers to purchase shares in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms while they are still available. Minnesota Grown notes that by joining a CSA farm, you are showing your support for local business, connecting with a local farmer, and providing your family with fresh produce. The Minnesota Grown Directory, available in print or searchable online, includes 87 CSA farms with 142 drop sites around the state.

Researcher Chris Wright, the executive director of Midwest American Mycological Information, has become one of the first to cultivate morel mushrooms outdoors in the United States, reports Lansing State Journal. Wright uses a self-fertilizing strain of morels, grown in nutrient bags. He predicts that Michigan farmers could be profitably growing morels by 2021. Researchers are continuing to advance the production process, under funding from a SARE grant.

The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets is seeking letters of interest from agricultural cooperatives to participate in the State's Industrial Hemp Agricultural Research Pilot Program. The Department is encouraging all new and existing agricultural cooperatives that have considered entering into the industrial hemp industry to capitalize on this growing agricultural and industrial sector. Letters of interest from agricultural cooperatives wishing to participate in the industrial hemp research program must be submitted by June 6, 2019. New York State is accepting grower applications from individuals and businesses for the Industrial Hemp Agricultural Research Pilot Program. Applications for future research partners can be submitted in the areas of grain, fiber, and Cannabidiol (CBD). Applicants are advised to have firm commitments for the sale of the industrial hemp that they intend to grow and should focus on the 2020 growing season.

University of California, Berkeley researcher and PhD student Aidee Guzman is exploring how small, diverse farms affect soil health, reports High Country News. Guzman's work won't be published for another two years, but she is trying to prove that the small, immigrant farms of the Central Valley are important environmental models, in addition to their economic and cultural contributions to the area. Preliminary results show these diverse farms attract more native pollinators than conventional monocultures, and Guzman points to the importance of recognizing their agroecological model.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture's Minnesota Grown program has recognized Minnesota grocers who promoted locally grown products and farms exceptionally well. Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen announced winners from four regions, as well as the annual People's Choice Award recipient. Scores were based on several factors--including the number of Minnesota Grown products and the number of Minnesota Grown farmers that the grocer carried. Judges also looked at how the grocer used ads, displays, social media, and other events to promote Minnesota Grown items to customers.

A study by researchers from the European Union Joint Research Centre estimated the global cost of soil erosion by water at $8 billion annually, reports Forbes. The erosion causes reduced crop yields and increased water usage, calculated in this study using two models, RUSLE and MAGNET. The study concluded that, as a result of soil erosion, food production is reduced by 33.7 million tons of food worldwide.

Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE) has introduced a new topic room for Sustainable Production and Use of On-Farm Energy. The online resource presents guidebooks, videos, webinars, and other free materials to help farmers pursue sustainable energy strategies on their farms or ranches, realizing reduced costs and increased profits. Topics include growing and using biofuel feedstocks such as oilseeds, fruits, and grass pellets, as well as creating biodiesel, ethanol, and biofuels from anaerobic digestion, and generating affordable and renewable energy from solar and wind power.

Ohio State University is working with a network of micro farms as part of a $2 million project that's aiming to bring healthy food to urban food deserts, reports ideastream. The new model for urban farming connects and supports micro farms so that they're economically and environmentally sustainable. Unlike traditional urban farms, the micro farm model maximizes the number of crops produced in a small space and takes a whole-food-system approach to make farms profitable. The farms are saving space compared to field farms, and because they're organic, they reduce chemical use. Also, because of the micro farms' urban locations, transportation emissions are minimal, meaning that this type of food production could reduce the carbon footprint. Ten growers are participating in this year's pilot project.

The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) will hold its Fall 2019 Meeting October 23-25, 2019, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The NOSB will meet to discuss substances petitioned for addition to or deletion from the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances, substances due to sunset from the National List in 2021, and guidance on organic policies. The NOSB invites public comment on agenda topics and will hear comments in-person at the meeting in Pittsburgh and during one of the webinars leading up to the meeting. Written comments may be submitted via Regulations.gov. Detailed meeting information, including agendas, locations, proposals, and public comments will be posted online as it becomes available.

Penn State has announced that it will host "Research to Action: The Science of Drawdown," the first international conference on climate solutions, in partnership with Project Drawdown. The three-day conference will include analysis and review of individual solutions--ranging from renewable energy and energy efficiency to forests, agriculture, and food systems; provide a forum for documenting and advancing the science of positive climate solutions; and serve as a platform for discussing future research initiatives. The event will be held September 16-18, 2019, in University Park, Pennsylvania.

USDA Food and Nutrition Service Office of Community Food Systems has announced that it will collaborate with the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) to develop farm to school trainings for agricultural producers. NCAT will work with the National Farm to School Network and New York University in a multi-year project that will conduct a needs assessment among agricultural producers in collaboration with State agencies and then develop curricula and promote and execute trainings that use a tiered, train-the-trainer approach. The project will assist producers in entering the large, stable, long-term market offered by the National School Lunch Program.

Farmers looking to increase their bottom lines are looking to a new crop, reports KCET: solar energy. The combination of solar panels and agricultural activity is called "agrivoltaics." In Boulder County, Colorado, farmer Byron Kominek plans to install five acres of solar panels on 24 acres of farmland to generate 1.2 megawatts of electricity. In his model, Jack's Solar Garden will offer customers energy by subscription, the same way that a CSA offers fruit and vegetables. Kominek has partnered with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory Lab, which, along with other research institutions, is testing the potential for agrivoltaics through 20 or so projects across the country.

The American Society of Horticultural Science (ASHS) has announced that open access will become effective January 1, 2020, for its journals Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science and HortScience. This action follows the successful transition of HortTechnology to full open access on January 1, 2019. The move will help to increase the impact of authors' work, and it will reduce limitations on page length and inclusion of images. In addition, the step will reduce publishing delays, because articles can be made available as soon as they are completed. A pricing structure for publishing fees will be announced soon.

The 2019 Organic Industry Survey released by the Organic Trade Association (OTA) shows that organic sales in the United States rose 6.3% in 2018 to reach $52.5 billion. Approximately 5.7% of the food sold in the United States is now organic. OTA notes that the growth rate for organic continued to easily outpace the general market. Fruits and vegetables are a particularly strong organic performer, accounting for 36.3% of all organic food sales and comprising nearly 15% of all the produce sold in the United States. In 2018, the organic non-food category also grew strongly, at a rate of more than 10%, to reach $4.6 billion in sales.

Michigan State University Extension offers online organic grain crop enterprise budgets updated for 2019. Microsoft Excel budgets are available for organic yellow corn, food-grade soybeans, oats, soft white winter wheat, and barley. They provide estimates of returns and selected costs for each crop. Enterprise budgets help farmers with budgeting and planning, record-keeping, and benchmarking.

Maine's Mid Coast Farmers Alliance is conducting an online survey of regional food buyers, to help connect local food buyers to the products they need and inform marketing decisions for local growers. All commercial food buyers, including general stores, restaurants, grocers, schools, and hospitals, are encouraged to participate in the online survey, which is available until June 1, 2019. Mid Coast Farmers Alliance has already completed a preliminary growers survey, which indicated that respondents were interested in expanding their operations and collaborating with other growers to reach a wider range of markets.

Renewing the Countryside has released the second edition of Come & Get It: What you need to know to serve food on your farm. The updated five-part Come & Get It publication offers an industry overview, including how to determine if an on-farm food service business is right for your farm. Case studies of nine farm businesses in Minnesota and Wisconsin offer behind-the-scenes tips and first-hand experiences from farmers already running successful pizza nights and other on-farm food service events. The five downloadable sections include the manual, case studies, specific sections on laws and regulations for Minnesota and Wisconsin, and a customer assessment.

A study by the University of Helsinki found more birds in agricultural environments in proximity to organic livestock farms. The study showed that organic animal farms were particularly beneficial to insectivore birds. The European Union aims to improve biodiversity in agricultural environments, and researchers concluded that increasing support for organic agriculture is an effective environmental subsidy because of its positive impact. The study was published in PLOS One.

The Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development voted to approve Food and Agriculture Investment Fund grants for five food and agriculture projects that will accelerate growth and create jobs by increasing capacity, implementing new technology, and improving efficiency. True Blue Processing Inc. of Grand Junction, Michigan, will receive a $50,000 performance-based grant for the purchase of new machinery and equipment that will enhance their processing capacity of fresh blueberries at their facility. In another project, Berrybrook Enterprises will receive a $75,000 performance-based grant for the construction of a new controlled-atmosphere apple storage facility in Hartford, Michigan. Projects are selected based on their impact to the overall agriculture industry and their impact to food and agriculture growth and investment in Michigan.

The National Farm Viability Conference is seeking proposals for workshop sessions that fit the goals of the conference and provide relevant professional development to the target audience. The peer-to-peer professional development event is set for October 22-24, 2019, in Red Wing, Minnesota. The majority of the workshops will fall into one of the following categories: facilitated discussion with attendees, lecture, or panel presentation. Each time slot will be around 75 minutes long. Conference themes are listed online. Proposals are due June 12, 2019.

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is accepting proposals through July 15, 2019, for On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials, a new sub-program created by the 2018 Farm Bill for the Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program. On-Farm Trials include a Soil Health Demo Trial, also created by the 2018 Farm Bill. Through On-Farm Trials, NRCS and partners will collaborate to encourage the adoption of innovative practices and systems on agricultural lands. On-Farm Trials funding goes directly to partners, which in turn provide technical assistance and incentive payments to EQIP-eligible producers to implement innovative approaches on their lands. On-Farm Trials awards will range from $250,000 to $5 million. Private entities whose primary business is related to agriculture, non-governmental organizations with experience working with agricultural producers, and non-federal government agencies are eligible to apply.

A study by researchers at the University of Göttingen in Germany concluded in favor of coordinated approaches that combine nature conservation and agricultural production in sustainably managed landscapes. "Many researchers argue that agricultural production on existing land should be intensified to increase yields while reducing agricultural pressure on the last areas of wilderness," explains study author Dr. Ingo Grass. "However, biodiversity and agriculture are often closely intertwined and many species are also beneficial to the farmer." Study authors recommend that protected areas and high-yield food-production areas should be connected by hedges or strips of land in order to create maximum biodiversity and benefits to people.

University of California Cooperative Extension has hired the state's first Extension specialist dedicated to organic agriculture. Long-time UC Santa Cruz researcher Joji Muramoto will lead a statewide program to support organic growers, focused on production of strawberries and vegetables. Muramoto says he plans to address soil fertility and the organic management of soil-borne diseases, coordinating short courses and statewide outreach on these subjects. In the new position, Muramoto will have a joint affiliation with UC's Cooperative Extension and the Environmental Studies Department and the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems at UCSC.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, and the Northern Border Regional Commission have announced assistance through the 2019 Local Foods, Local Places (LFLP) program to help 15 communities with revitalization strategies that boost the local economy, improve health, and protect the environment. LFLP partner communities in 11 states will work with a team of agricultural, environmental, public health, and regional economic-development experts to set goals and identify local assets that can support the local food economy. Communities also develop an action plan and identify potential resources from the participating federal agencies to support implementation. Brief descriptions of the community projects selected are available online.

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences (MANRRS), and Southeastern African American Farmers' Organic Network (SAAFON) recently presented scholarship awards to three students committed to working on issues that affect black farmers. Vanessa Garcia Polanco, Tyneshia Griffin, and Najma Muhammad each received a Cynthia Hayes Memorial Scholarship in the amount of $1,000 to help further their work in sustainable agriculture and with communities of color. The scholarship program, named for SAAFON's former director, a founder of the first network for African American organic farmers in the United States, aims to support students of color within MANRRS who are interested in doing work within sustainable agriculture and are committed to working on issues that impact black farmers.

The National Farm to School Network has released State Farm to School Policy Handbook: 2002-2018, a tool for those working to advance the farm to school movement. The Handbook summarizes and analyzes bills and resolutions introduced in state government. It enables users to search bills by both jurisdiction and topic. The publication also includes case studies on successful farm to school advocacy efforts in Hawai'i, Michigan, New Mexico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Vermont, and provides additional resources for advocates and policymakers to support state farm to school policies. The publication is online in PDF.

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has notified consumers that laboratory testing has shown that "Triple Action Neem Oil Broad Spectrum Fungicide, Insecticide, and Miticide" contains synthetic pesticide active ingredients not listed on the product label. During testing, the presence of malathion, chlorpyrifos, and permethrin were confirmed. The product is manufactured by Southern Agricultural Insecticides Inc. in Palmetto, Florida, lists its only active ingredient as "neem oil," and is approved by the Organic Material Review Institute for use on organically grown commodities. The Department advises consumers, distributors, and pesticide applicators to cease the sale and use of Triple Action Neem Oil.

Farmers Legal Action Group and Minnesota Farmers Union have posted a new, 32-page guide titled Farmers' Guide to Solar and Wind Energy in Minnesota. The resource is intended as a starting point for farmers who are considering large-scale solar or wind projects, and it can be downloaded or viewed free online by farmers, farm advocates, farm attorneys, and others.

University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) will offer a new, weekly, 26-episode video series beginning May 13, 2019, on its YouTube channel. A team of professors from California's public universities with agricultural programs – UC Davis, Chico State, Fresno State, and CalPoly San Luis Obispo - has created a series of 7-minute to 47-minute videos designed to spark interest and begin training future farmers and ag workers in sound agronomic, economic, and environmental stewardship skills. According to a blog post from UC ANR, the "videos depict state-of-the-art technologies and techniques that are in use in many production regions of California today, vegetable farming systems used in other parts of the world, and increasingly popular cottage farming systems that are popping up in urban areas for easy access to healthful foods."

The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University is accepting nominations for the 2019 Spencer Award for Sustainable Agriculture. The Spencer Award honors the beliefs, innovations, and stewardship of Norman and Margaretha Spencer, who farmed near Sioux City for 40 years. It serves as a lasting memorial to the Spencers, who believed that it is the obligation of each generation to leave the world a better and healthier place for the next generation. The winners have shared a desire to improve Iowa’s landscape, albeit in very different ways. Nominations are due June 30, 2019.

The Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources at Washington State University has added video for two new livestock operations to its collection of case studies focusing on increasing resilience among farmers and ranchers in the Pacific Northwest. The case studies address livestock, irrigated, and dryland farming. The two new livestock videos are Grazing for Multiple Use Goals: Russ Stingley and Resilience Through Engagement: Brenda & Tony Richards. Printed case studies on these same livestock operations are forthcoming.

The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy has announced the winners of the eighth annual U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards. The program recognizes dairy farms, businesses and partnerships whose practices improve the well-being of people, animals, and the planet. Winners in the category of Outstanding Dairy Farm Sustainability were Cinnamon Ridge Farms in Iowa, Majestic Crossing Dairy in Wisconsin, and Philip Verwey Farms in California. The Outstanding Dairy Supply Chain Collaboration award went to General Mills and Foremost Farms, a network that is using an on-farm assessment tool to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Gleaners Community Food Bank in Detroit won the Outstanding Community Impact award.

Alabama Sustainable Agriculture Network (ASAN) is requesting proposals for sessions at its 2019 Food & Farm Forum. At this event, approximately 200 diverse participants from across the state convene to swap stories, ideas, and wisdom, in order to together build a more robust local food system in Alabama. The Forum will address a variety of topics related to cultivating a resilient agricultural system in Alabama. Priority will be given to those with ties to the Alabama food system, and to sessions that reflect ASAN priorities as listed online. Proposals are due by June 17, 2019.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is seeking public comment on the draft Request for Proposals and application materials developed for the 2019 Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) Technical Assistance Grant Program. The program provides funds for technical assistance providers from Resource Conservation Districts, the University of California Cooperative Extension, and nonprofit organizations to aid applicants of the Alternative Manure Management Program (AMMP), the Healthy Soils Program (HSP), and the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP). Listening sessions for public comment are scheduled for May 15, 2019, in Sacramento and May 20, 2019, in Salinas. Comments may also be submitted via e-mail until May 24, 2019.

Recently approved regulations will allow the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) to open registration with county agricultural commissioners for industrial hemp cultivation. Registration applications are now available on the CDFA Industrial Hemp webpage. CDFA plans to propose additional regulations for industrial hemp cultivation later this year, including sampling and testing procedures, and the establishment of an agricultural pilot program.

USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA) has announced 2018 Farm Bill updates to Annual Forage insurance for the 2020 Crop Year. The Annual Forage pilot program now offers a Dual Use Option in select counties of six Great Plains states. Producers who select this option can insure their small-grains crops with both an Annual Forage Policy for grazing and a multi-peril Small Grains Policy for grain. The Dual Use Option is ideal for producers who plant a small grain by October 15, 2019, to use as a grazing crop over the winter and to harvest for grain the next summer. The option is available in counties where RMA considers "grain/graze" a good farming practice in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. In addition to the Dual Use Option, RMA announced additional Annual Forage program updates, including offering Catastrophic Risk Protect (CAT) for grazing, restoring the 1.5 productivity factor program-wide, and updating the county base values to account for the varying yield potential within a state.

Dane County, Wisconsin, is providing $750,000 in incentives for farmers to convert land that is currently in an annual crop into perennial cool-season grass mix, native prairie mix, or grazing mix, for a 15-year contract period. Funding is available for approximately 300 acres for the 2019 pilot year, with approximately 100 acres devoted to each of the following goals: wildlife, buffers, and grazing. The total upfront payment is between $1,650 and $2,500 per acre, depending on the type of cover selected. The initiative is designed to help curb agricultural runoff into lakes and streams, and it allows for harvesting and grazing of the cover. Applications for acreage from .5 to 40 acres are being accepted until May 31, 2019.

Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI) has published an enterprise budget for cherry tomato production based on the experiences of Buffalo Ridge Orchard and Echollective Farm in 2018. Each farm reported on yield, revenue, net income, expenses, and labor. Both farms showed that cherry tomatoes were a profitable crop, but the enterprise budget reveals the high labor cost of this crop. It also shows how differences in production methods affect yields per square foot, and how yield and price factors together determine income.

Researchers from the University of Bristol have published study findings that reveal seasonal gaps in the nectar supply on farmland that limit pollinator success. They found that on farmland in the United Kingdom, there are gaps in the nectar supply in early spring (March) and late summer (August to September). Plantings designed for pollinators often make nectar available during the peak summer season, when supplies are already plentiful. Lead study author Tom Timberlake commented, "Early-flowering plants like willows and dandelions, or late-flowering red clover and ivy could all help to fill the hungry gaps, if we allow them to survive and flower on farmland."