Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Agriculture News Briefs - January 17, 2007
Weekly sustainable agriculture news and resources gleaned from the Internet by NCAT staff for the ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service Web site. The Weekly Harvest Newsletter is also available online.
News & Resources
* New Research Project Focusing on Fungi as Biofertilizers
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* EU Research Looks at Organic Options for Treating Parasites
* Prairie Grasses Show Biofuel Potential
* High Prices Prompt Many Farmers to Plant "Corn-After-Corn"
* Farm Aid Provides Funds to Help Local Good Food Movement in Delaware Valley
* Oklahoma-grown Food Co-op Marks Third Year
* Strategic Agricultural Initiative Supplemental Grant Program to Foster Transition, EPA Region III
* Wisconsin Landowner Grant Program
* Below-Market Loans to Beginning Farmer/Ranchers in Washington
* Understanding Organics: Livestock Management and Health
* The Home Grown Economy: Foods from Local Farms as an Economic Development Tool
* Sustainable Farming Conference: Standing on Common Ground
News & Resources
New Research Project Focusing on Fungi as Biofertilizers
Rutgers University has received funding for a research project that could help revolutionize agriculture, reports Huliq.com. The project will study the of use fungi as "biofertilizers" that could reduce the farming phosphate and nitrogen fertilizers heavily used in agriculture. Farmers frequently over-apply more fertilizer nutrients, which can lead to polluted groundwater. According to Heike Bücking, the project's leader, mycorrhizal fungi are more efficient in the uptake of specific nutrients, and more resistant to soil-borne pathogens. By promoting mycorrhizal fungi through reduced fertilizer input, farmers could make more efficient use of the nitrogen stores in the soils. The three-year project is funded through a grant of more than $419,000 from the National Science Foundation.
EU Research Looks at Organic Options for Treating Parasites
An EU-funded project has investigated ways of treating worms organically, providing much needed aid to the burgeoning organic farming industry. WORM Control in Organic Production Systems, or WORMCOPS, sought a solution to the problem of gastrointestinal nematodes, or roundworms, through the use of bioactive plants or forages. Plants with naturally high levels of condensed tannins, the same beneficial compounds found in wine, were found to possess anti-parasitic activity against common gastrointestinal nematodes in small ruminants. In addition to treating infected animals, researchers sought ways to reduce parasite levels of the fields in which susceptible animals graze, such as use of a nematode-destroying fungus. Consortium participants also instituted a regime of evasive grazing. The WORMCOPS consortium did not expect to find a single cure-all, but rather surmised that the solution lay in a combination of the three approaches.
Related ATTRA Publication:
Managing Internal Parasites in Sheep and Goats
Prairie Grasses Show Biofuel Potential
University of Minnesota researchers recently announced the results of a 10-year study, says UMNnews, showing that mixed native prairies grasses yield more net energy as a biofuel than biodiesel from soybeans or ethanol from corn. The study appeared in the journal Science in December. The prairie grasses have such a high net energy yield because they take so little fossil fuel energy and fertilizer to produce. The researchers point out that the mixed native grasses can be grown on marginal or degraded land, don't need supplemental water and can even store carbon in their root systems.
High Prices Prompt Many Farmers to Plant "Corn-After-Corn"
Another downside to the recent high commodity prices for U.S. corn is the temptation by many growers to plant "corn-after-corn," rather than in rotation with soy or a cover crop. Consequently, corn pests and diseases in these settings are an emerging concern, reports Agriculture Online. Corn residue and the insects harbored within can create a real challenge for continuous corn growers—including corn rootworm, corn borer, and western bean cutworm. In addition, other common corn pests include black cutworms, wireworm, white grub, grape colaspis and seedcorn maggot. The news service reports that many growers will turn to increased use of transgenic seed varieties, insecticide seed treatment, and higher nitrogen inputs. The news service cites growing demand for ethanol feedstock for current high prices for corn.
Related ATTRA Publication: Sustainable Corn and Soybean Production
Farm Aid Provides Funds to Help Local Good Food Movement in Delaware Valley
Farm Aid has granted $57,000 to organizations that promote family farm agriculture and the good food movement in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The funds will support innovative programs that help farm families stay on their land, increase production of family farm food and expand local markets. Funds will also support efforts to increase on-farm renewable energy production, confront the threat of increasing corporate control of agriculture, as well as maintain a hotline and a national resource directory that helps farm families transition to sustainable practices and direct markets, recover from disasters and financial hardships.
Oklahoma-grown Food Co-op Marks Third Year
In November the Oklahoma Food Cooperative celebrated its third anniversary, marking nearly $450,000 in sales with 95 percent of proceeds going to local farmers. The co-op acts as an online agent between farmers and customers, offering over a thousand products grown in the state. Member customers order once a month. Products are collected from member farmers at a central distribution point, and sorted for delivery to locations around the state. The co-op almost immediately became a financial success, and now sells more than $22,000 worth of goods per month. It has been a model for similar arrangements in other states.
> More Breaking News
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Strategic Agricultural Initiative Supplemental Grant Program to Foster Transition, EPA Region III
EPA Region III is soliciting proposals to help implement the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) and foster transition by the agricultural community to the use of less and reduced risk pesticides, alternative methods of pest control and sustainable practices in food production. Proposals must promote past successful Strategic Agricultural Initiative (SAI) projects found in the SAI Database to the grower community within Region III. This announcement is seeking proposals to foster the technology transfer of these successful projects in Region III. The program supports grants for education, extension, demonstration, and field projects for FQPA transition and reduced risk practices for pest management in agriculture. The EPA Region III Strategic Agricultural Initiative Supplemental Grant Program to Foster Transition anticipates having approximately $100,000 in 2007 to award to eligible applicants.
Proposals are due February 9, 2007.
Wisconsin Landowner Grant Program
The Wisconsin Landowner Grant Program is a cost-sharing program that provides $1,650,000 annually for stewardship practices on private land. A wide array of practices are eligible for cost sharing including: management plan development, wetland restoration, tree planting, forest improvement and prairie restoration. Up to 50% of the eligible costs can be refunded upon completion of the work. Landowner Grant applications are accepted continuously but processed only four times a year-February 1, May 1, August 1, and November 1.
Below-Market Loans to Beginning Farmer/Ranchers in Washington
The Washington State Housing Finance Commission in partnership with Northwest Farm Credit Services is offering low-interest loans to beginning farmers and ranchers. The loans may be used to purchase land and improvements (up to $250,000), purchase of new, depreciable equipment (up to $125,000), and used depreciable equipment (up to $62,500). Borrowers must directly manage and work the farm/ranch, but off-farm income is okay. Contact Tia Peycheff about the program at: (206) 287-4416 or (800) 767-4663 (toll free within state), or email firstname.lastname@example.org. A printable form can be downloaded by touching the link above.
> More Funding Opportunities
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Understanding Organics: Livestock Management and Health
March 6-8, 2007
Durham, New Hampshire
This comprehensive conference for veterinarians, Extension Educators and agri-service personnel is presented by the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT), in partnership with Quality Milk Production Services (QMPS) of Cornell University. This conference, funded in part through the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (NESARE), will focus on the comprehensive nuts and bolts of organic livestock production and will serve as the platform for future resources and trainings.
The Home Grown Economy: Foods from Local Farms as an Economic Development Tool
February 26, 2007
This conference is sponsored by Congressman Collin Peterson at University of Minnesota Morris campus. It is co-sponsored by West Central and Northwest Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships, University of Minnesota Morris, West Central Research and Outreach Center, and University of Minnesota Extension. The agenda includes keynote speakers and panel discussions on topics such as CSA and value-chain partnerships.
Sustainable Farming Conference: Standing on Common Ground
February 23-25, 2007
Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania
Laurelville Mennonite Church Center hosts its annual sustainable farming conference, Farming with Values that Last, a gathering to inspire and equip those who grow food sustainably and those who support them by buying local, fresh, and wholesome food. "Standing on Common Ground" is the theme for this event at the intersection of Christian faith and innovative farming that builds farms, families and community. The weekend will feature singing, worship, Bible teaching, reflection, practical and inspirational workshops, and ample time for building relationships and hearing stories. The event invites each participant to learn more about sustainability and faith through how they farm, how they eat and how they create connections.
> More Events
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