ATTRA's COVID-19 statement

Update: You can now download any of our technical materials for FREE!

Question of the Week

Answer: Managing manure can be a challenge, especially in large-scale operations. However, if you view manure as a free, plentiful, and valuable resource, you begin to look at it as a commodity in its own right. Marketing manure can be a beneficial,…...

Answer: The establishment of a pecan orchard by planting trees in rows is how most new growers enter the pecan industry. Trees can be purchased with the cultivar already budded to the top, or planted as a seedling and grafted in the field. (To be "true…...

Answer: Symptoms of brown rot in peaches include the following: ? Two to three weeks before harvest, earlier infection (as early as bloom and petal fall) of the fruit by the fungus Monilinia fructicola becomes apparent as the fruit softens,…...

Answer: Vertical farms come in different shapes and sizes, from simple two-level or wall-mounted systems to large warehouses several stories tall. But all vertical farms use one of three soil-free systems for providing nutrients to plants?hydroponic,…...

Answer: Over the past decade, direct marketing has become highly visible and popular among consumers in the United States. Consumer campaigns such as USDA's Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food have succeeded in bringing awareness to the importance of the…...

Answer: The nutritional concern for ruminants centers around energy (i.e., carbohydrates), protein, minerals, vitamins, and water. Energy (carbohydrates) is responsible for maintenance and growth functions of the animal and for the generation of heat.…...

Answer: Companion planting can be described as establishing two or more plant species in close proximity for some cultural benefit (such as pest control or higher yield). The concept embraces a number of strategies that increase the biodiversity of…...

Answer: Tilapia have historically been considered a very disease-resistant, or resilient, species. However, researchers and practitioners are beginning to dispel this notion, as there are some diseases that occur in tilapia populations that can…...

Answer: Contract grazing is a livestock-production system that decouples land ownership, livestock ownership, and land (and livestock) management. The arrangement may involve as many as three separate entities carrying out distinct roles: a landowner, a…...

Answer: The nutritional concern for ruminants centers around energy (i.e., carbohydrates), protein, minerals, vitamins, and water. Energy is responsible for maintenance and growth functions of the animal, and for the generation of heat. Protein grows…...

Answer: Peach leaf curl, caused by the fungal organism Taphrina deformans, is a common disorder in peach and nectarine orchards, especially during wet springs. Infected leaves become misshapen, deformed, and necrotic, resulting in premature defoliation…...

Answer: Holistic Management? is a decision-making framework designed to assist you in establishing your goals, creating a financial plan, as well as developing a plan for managing social and environmental sustainability. In short, it is a tool…...

Answer: Vertical farms come in different shapes and sizes, from simple two-level or wall-mounted systems to large warehouses several stories tall. But all vertical farms use one of three soil-free systems for providing nutrients to plants?hydroponic,…...

Answer: The nutritional concern for ruminants centers around energy (i.e., carbohydrates), protein, minerals, vitamins, and water. Energy (carbohydrates) is responsible for maintenance and growth functions of the animal, and for the generation of heat.…...

Answer: No-till systems are a practical way to raise vegetables and improve soil quality at the same time. No-till production involves growing and managing cover crops to provide living and killed mulches, which along with the reduction/elimination of…...

Answer: First, constrain the animal and then put the halter on. Initially, you can tie the calf low to a post to begin the halter-training process. Leave her tied up for about five minutes every day and then gradually increase the time, so that she will…...

Answer: Flea beetles are one of the most difficult to manage pests of eggplant and cole crops. They are also a problem on seedlings of tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, turnips, radishes, and corn. There are various genera and species of flea beetles, all…...

Answer: There are many different funding sources, programs, and grants for agricultural production. You will have to spend some time exploring the many different options and finding a program that matches what you are wanting to do.An excellent place…...

Answer: Biochar was initially linked to the exploration and archeological study of early human settlement and soils. These early studies of soils being enriched from what appears to be the deliberate mixing of burned biomass in soils around human…...

Answer: Wooled sheep, Angora goats, and cashmere goats offer another "crop" in addition to meat. The natural fibers produced by these animals can be used in a variety of ways to add income to the sheep or goat enterprise. Natural fibers are a renewable…...

Answer: The University of Florida has conducted many studies on the best ways to control smutgrass. Their recommendations can be found at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/aa261. A mature forage smutgrass isn't very palatable or all that nutritious, making it…...

Answer: Prairie grass hay should be fine for your sheep to eat. A few points to consider:? The sheep will eat the hay better if it is forages they are used to. If they are grazing native prairie pastures in the growing season, then they should…...

Answer: In addition to growing great food and fiber products and taking care of the land, farmers need to be good financial stewards of their business and household. This requires being organized, keeping track of all income and expenses, and having a…...

Answer: If not controlled, internal parasites can cause illness in animals. Symptoms of parasitism include weight loss, loss of appetite, depression, weakness, lagging behind or separating from the flock, and possibly anemia, bottle jaw, or diarrhea.…...

Answer: The following ATTRA resources should be of interest to you:Sustainable Soil Management https://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/summaries/summary.php?pub=183Drought Resistant Soil https://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/summaries/summary.php?pub=118…...

Answer: The fungus that causes this disease moves back and forth between eastern red cedars (actually junipers, not true cedars) and apples, so it can be a major problem where eastern red cedars are endemic. In order to complete its life cycle, this…...

Answer: Bermudagrass is one of the hardest grasses to control organically. The best thing I've read about organic control of Bermudagrass is based around an intense, one-year, series of smother crops strategy worked out by George Kuepper at the Kerr…...

Answer: Interest in local and regional food systems is increasing as their health benefits and contributions to economic, environmental, and social sustainability are recognized. Statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) show growth in…...

Answer: Foot problems are often hard to diagnose, and sometimes they are very easy to misdiagnose. In sheep, the most common and definitely the most feared type of foot rot is sheep foot rot. This is different than cattle foot rot. Its main diagnostic…...

Answer: Commercial organic cherry production presents many challenges. The cherry fruit fly, bacterial canker, phytophthora root rot, leaf spot, fruit cracking, late frosts, and brown rot of the blossom and fruit are all serious obstacles to the…...

Answer: Local foods purchasing has moved beyond farmers markets to mainstream grocery stores. As consumers become more interested in purchasing local foods, chain grocery stores from Walmart to Safeway tout their support of local farmers. At the same…...

Answer: For the direct-market producer, shipping melons is probably not a good bet, as per-unit costs of production make them uncompetitive in price in small quantities. This condition, of course, is shared by producers of all stripe. It's hard for a…...

Answer: Blackberries are exceedingly easy to propagate from root cuttings. First, you have to get to the roots, so you can either come out from your mother plants 12 to 18 inches or so with a shovel or tractor-driven plow and turn up some roots. Or you…...

Answer: I'd say your chances for growing tart cherries successfully are good to very good. The tart cherry, Prunus cerasus, is much better adapted to the upper South than is the sweet cherry, P. avium. Note that sweets and tarts are separate and…...

Answer: A good place to start is ATTRA's internship database, one of the most utilized farm internship sites in the country. You can narrow a search by location or by enterprise. It is available at https://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/internships/. It is…...

Answer: Drying your cow up is probably the easiest and most reliable treatment. The action of the milking machine or hand milking will irritate the scab and delay its healing. However, if you do not want to dry her up, and I don't blame you, this is…...

Answer: Bradford pear belongs to the "wild" species Pyrus calleryana. Bradford is simply a selection from that species, chosen for ornamental purposes. Bradford is actually budded or grafted onto seedlings of P. calleryana, which may or may not (due to…...

Answer: When you are purchasing a used manure spreader, look for these things:1. General appearance. Is it beat up from misuse? Look at the sides. Are they rusted? Is the bottom made of wood with a poly cover? Avoid metal beds, even the Cor?Ten steel…...

Answer: Harvesting your animals at exactly the right time is very important. Lambs that are over- or under-finished will produce meat that is less desirable to consumers. Mastering the ability to determine when your lambs are correctly finished at 0.20…...

Answer: Threshing?the act of physically breaking the grain kernel out of the plants seed head?is done by some form of beating. With small amounts of grain, it can be done by beating the grain heads against the inside of a clean container such as a…...

Answer: Llamas or alpacas can be a good addition to a farm or ranch?alpacas as an alternative livestock enterprise and llamas as guard animals or recreational animals. They fit well into a diversified farming operation. Marginal pastureland is suitable…...

Answer: There are many different funding sources, programs, and grants for agricultural production. Finding a program that matches your project will require that you spend some time exploring the many different options.An excellent place to start is…...

Answer: Increased soil salinity levels can greatly effect plant growth and production. Some soils are naturally high in salinity but most salinity problems on farms are increased by farm practices. In arid regions of the country, irrigation water can…...

Answer: In starting an aquaponic garden, one of the most important things to do is a fishless cycle with pure ammonia to build up the nitrifying bacteria. This step requires patience and should not be rushed. Some resources mention the use of feeder…...

Answer: Weed control is a huge challenge for organic growers in any system, but perennial fruits are particularly problematic because it's difficult to use weed-control techniques like rotations and smother crops without some danger of damaging roots…...

Answer: There are several indicators of ripeness or impending ripeness, including the following:1) The abscission "scar" on the stem breaks cleanly when you push up and away on the fruit. This is a spot on the stem that is bigger than the rest of the…...

Answer: Mushroom production is completely different from growing green plants. Mushrooms do not contain chlorophyll and, therefore, depend on other plant material (the "substrate") for their food. The part of the organism that we see and call a mushroom…...

Answer: Desirable genetic traits for pastured hogs are very different than those for confinement operations. The large confinement operations have actually bred out a stress gene that was causing an average 14% mortality from crowding and shipping…...

Answer: I would spread lime as soon as you can get onto the soil. However, do not spread the lime on wet soil, as going over the soil when it's wet will create compaction layers that will take a long time to get rid of. That being said, the longer the…...

Answer: The two primary diseases that I would recommend vaccinating for are overeating and tetanus. Overeating disease is caused by Clostridium perfringens, types C and D. Vaccinating for tetanus is recommended if you are banding tails or testicles. The…...

Answer:The good news is that only the leaves are infected. Unfortunately, this disease progresses quite rapidly, and can reduce crop yield. Because there is less leaf protection, sun scald on the pumpkin can become a problem. Symptoms appear four to 12…...

Answer: The biggest variable in whether this endeavor will be successful is the duration of cold. For example, three fig growers in northwest Arkansas have had the same experience the last three years. They all achieved whole-plant survival and fruit in…...

Answer: Adult fungus gnats don't damage plants or bite people; their presence is primarily considered a nuisance. Larvae, however, when present in large numbers, can damage roots and stunt plant growth, particularly in seedlings and young plants.…...

Answer: Frothy bloat refers to a condition when a ruminant consumes forages that produce a frothy gas in the rumen and the animal cannot pass the gas. The rumen gets so full of gas that it eventually presses against the heart or lungs and the animal…...

Answer: There are several things you can do to reduce the need for deworming. Providing your cows with excellent nutrition, practicing rotational grazing, and breeding for parasite resistance can reduce your dependence on deworming medications. All…...

Answer: Wild onion is a difficult weed to control because the hollow leaves are very waxy and repel spray materials very well. A combination of strategies may work best to help manage wild onion on your land.Hand pulling is an option if there are only…...

Answer: A bio-heated greenhouse most often refers to the practice of generating heat in a greenhouse from animals, but it can also refer to using compost. The following information focuses on the use of animals in a greenhouse as a heat source. For…...

Answer: The ATTRA publication Organic Asparagus Production addresses some of the research that has been done in this area. From the following information excerpted from that publication, however, doing so appears to be quite management-intensive.Cover…...

Answer: It depends on the species of grass, but always leave a minimum of 4 to 5 inches. If you have 1,500 to 1,800 pounds of grass per acre that you are grazing, I would suggest leaving about 8 to 10 inches. You do not want to graze the grass down to…...

Answer: The blooms of all orchids are considered safe for consumption, but some species can irritate the stomach. The vanilla bean or pod is considered the world's only edible fruit-bearing orchid. The genus Dendrobia is also commonly used as a food…...

Answer: As with almost any lease situation, there are rarely any guarantees and both parties must keep their end of the agreement. Despite the best planning and efforts on both sides, unforeseen circumstances can arise that will have to be dealt with as…...

Answer: The University of Wisconsin has written about this in the publication Planning and Establishing a Commercial Apple Orchard in Wisconsin. That publication states: "The exposure of the slope is also important. South-facing slopes experience more…...

Answer: There are several non-chemical options available. Commercial formulations of Bacillus thuringiensis var israelensis (also known as "Bti") are available in pellet or powder form that can be applied to rice paddy water. The Bti product is made up…...

Answer: All the answers you are looking for are contained in the ATTRA publication Peaches: Organic and Low-Spray Production, available at https://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/summaries/summary.php?pub=6. This publication covers all major (and most of the…...

Answer: Farm hydropower projects have existed for many years, from waterwheels used for grinding grain and forging to modern hydroelectric turbines designed to run compressors and motors. Micro-hydro systems ? those that produce less than 100 kilowatts…...

Answer: The type of tomato plant that you are producing can dictate the need for pruning. Determinate varieties often are early and have a short but concentrated production season. These plants are staked or caged but are not adapted to trellising.…...

Answer: There is no simple answer for your correct stocking rate. The number of animals your land can support depends on many factors, including forage type and density, climate (temperature, rainfall), soils, grazing management, livestock species, and…...

Answer: These insects, sometimes called "children of the earth" because their oversized, round head with two, bead-like black eyes gives them a fancied resemblance to a miniature child. They are pale yellow to brown in color. These crickets are wingless…...

Answer: Drip irrigation, often referred to as micro or trickle irrigation, slowly and precisely delivers water (and sometimes nutrients) directly to a plant's root zone, making it a very efficient method of irrigation. With a drip system, water moves…...

The buffer requirements in section 205.202 of the National Organic Standards are vague. The exact wording is as follows: "Have distinct, defined boundaries and buffer zones such as runoff diversions to prevent the unintended application of a prohibited…...

Answer: The presence of weeds in an established forage crop or pasture is usually a sign of a management problem. Fertility, proper planting procedure, and harvest management are the most effective ways to maintain dense, productive pastures. Ensure…...

Answer: Materials that are used to produce and handle organic crops under the USDA's National Organic Program (NOP) must be selected for compliance and used in the context of organic principles for farming and handling practices. For more information,…...

Answer: There are at least two baking soda products that are registered with the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) as "certified organic"?Milstop? and Green Light?. Milstop is aptly named because it is used primarily for mildew control in…...

Answer: The answer to this question depends on whether you are asking about seeds in general or about different seed varieties of the same fruit.Regarding seeds in general, there is much literature about the fact that plants with larger seeds emerge…...