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ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture

Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - January 31, 2018

Weekly sustainable agriculture news and resources gleaned from the Internet by NCAT staff for the ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture website. The Weekly Harvest Newsletter is also available online.

News & Resources

  • Nutrient Tracking Tool Helps Assess Water-Quality Improvements of Conservation Practices
  • Root Microbiome Helps Plants Survive Drought
  • Live Broadcasts Available from Organic Seed Growers Conference
  • USDA and FDA Agree to Coordinate and Collaborate
  • Freshwater Phosphorus Pollution Reaching Dangerous Levels, Research Finds
  • New York Governor Proposes Farm Meadery License

Funding Opportunities

  • Missouri Conservation Activities Grants
  • Texas Agricultural Water Conservation Grants
  • Michigan Specialty Crop Block Grants

Coming Events

  • Organic Commodities and Livestock Conference
  • Organic Association of Kentucky (OAK) Conference
  • Specialty Crop Workshops

News & Resources

Nutrient Tracking Tool Helps Assess Water-Quality Improvements of Conservation Practices
USDA worked with Tarleton State University to create a new national version of the Nutrient Tracking Tool (NTT). NTT is a field-specific tool to help assess the water-quality improvements of conservation practices on farms. This free, national version of the online tool helps inform conservation decisions on the farm by quantitatively estimating nutrient and sediment losses and yield impacts.

Root Microbiome Helps Plants Survive Drought
Research from the University of Toronto Mississauga shows that plants that are able to recruit particular bacteria to their root microbiomes are much more drought resistant. PhD candidate Connor Fitzpatrick's research also revealed that the more similar the composition of a plant's root microbiome to the plant that preceded it in that soil, the more the second-generation plant suffered from drought: a finding that supports the principle of crop rotation.
Related ATTRA Publication:
Drought Resistant Soil

Live Broadcasts Available from Organic Seed Growers Conference
eOrganic is working with the Organic Seed Alliance to provide free, online coverage of sessions at the Organic Seed Growers Conference in Corvallis, Oregon. The live broadcasts will include the Seed Economics Intensive on February 14, 2018, and selected sessions February 16 -17, 2018. Topics will include crop planning, biodynamic seed, variety trials, organic hybrid case studies, and more.

USDA and FDA Agree to Coordinate and Collaborate
USDA and FDA have signed a formal agreement aimed at making the oversight of food more efficient and effective by bolstering coordination between the two agencies. The agreement tasks both organizations with streamlining regulation and reducing inspection inefficiencies, while upholding safety standards. USDA and FDA will identify ways the agencies can better align and enhance their efforts to develop regulatory approaches to biotechnology. The agreement also calls for FDA and USDA to enhance their collaboration and cooperation on produce-safety activities.

Freshwater Phosphorus Pollution Reaching Dangerous Levels, Research Finds
A new study published in Water Resources Research found that man-made phosphorus pollution is reaching dangerously high levels in freshwater basins around the world. The authors say agriculture accounts for 38% of the global phosphorus load. The authors found that phosphorus load exceeded the assimilation capacity of freshwater bodies on 38% of Earth's land surface, an area housing 90% of the global human population.

New York Governor Proposes Farm Meadery License
New York's governor has proposed authorizing the establishment and licensure of farm meaderies for the manufacture and sale of mead made from New York State-produced honey. The provision also allows farm meaderies to produce "braggot," a malt beverage made from honey. Farm meaderies will also have the privilege of self-distribution.

>>More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Missouri Conservation Activities Grants
The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is offering up to $200,000 in grants for promoting public awareness and implementation of Farm Bill conservation activities. NRCS is looking for Missouri partners to help make farmers, ranchers, and specialty-crop growers aware of NRCS programs. Areas of emphasis are as follows: outreach workshops and conferences, soil health workshops and field days, organic and specialty-crop workshops, and drainage and water-management workshops.
Applications must be received by February 23, 2018.

Texas Agricultural Water Conservation Grants
The Texas Water Development Board is accepting applications for grants up to $150,000. Grant categories include equipment cost share and technology transfer, demonstrations of innovative and alternative production systems, planning and design for irrigation-system improvements, and studying feasibility of irrigating with produced water from the oil and gas sector. Eligible applicants are state agencies and political subdivisions.
Applications are due by February 14, 2018.

Michigan Specialty Crop Block Grants
The Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development Specialty Crop Block Grant Program funds projects that solely enhance the competitiveness of Michigan specialty crops. Funding priorities for this year include market enhancement, research, and training and education. Applications up to $100,000 are accepted from non-profit or for-profit organizations and from local, state, and federal government entities, including tribal governments.
Applications are due by February 15, 2018.

>>More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Organic Commodities and Livestock Conference
March 6, 2018
Mount Olive, North Carolina

Carolina Farm Stewardship Association's Organic Commodities and Livestock Conference is a training event for commercial-scale growers. Network with growers and buyers while learning to improve the productivity and profitability of your larger-scale farm.

Organic Association of Kentucky (OAK) Conference
March 2-3, 2018
Lexington, Kentucky

Local and national speakers spotlight livestock and row crops, dairy, growing produce, finances, life on the farm, and the urban homestead. The program features four short courses, more than 30 educational workshops, an organic farm tour, and more.

Specialty Crop Workshops
March 3, 9, 20, 21, or 31, 2018
Scandia, Leavenworth, South Hutchinson, Dighton, or Erie, Kansas

Kansas Rural Center will host five workshops that focus on conservation, production, and marketing practices for specialty-crop growers. The workshops will provide opportunities for beginning growers to connect with and learn from experienced growers.

>>More Events

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New ATTRA Video
Estabilidad del Agregado del Suelo: Indicador Visual de la Salud del Suelo

Question of the Week
How can I control blossom blast in pears?

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Early Registration until February 22 for Our Farms, Our Future
NCAT and SARE host this once-in-a-decade event April 3-5, 2018, in St. Louis, Missouri. Learn more.

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