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Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - March 2, 2016

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

  • USDA to Offer Land-Rental Payments for Organic Field Buffer
  • ERS Examines Economic Issues in Organic and GE Coexistence
  • Phosphorus Management Could Improve Food Production from Grasslands
  • In-Species Diversity in Switchgrass Plots More Productive
  • National Conference for Women in Sustainable Agriculture Invites Workshop Proposals
  • Southern SARE Awards Grants for On-Farm Research

Funding Opportunities

  • North Central Region SARE Graduate Student Grant Program
  • Food Sovereignty Assessment Grant Program
  • Arkansas Farmers Market Promotion Grant

Coming Events

  • Farm Foundations: Planning for Success
  • Regional Small Farms and Alternative Enterprises Conference
  • Sustainable Cropping Systems Symposium

News & Resources

USDA to Offer Land-Rental Payments for Organic Field Buffer
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition reports that USDA will offer Continuous Conservation Reserve Program (CCRP) payments for field border buffers on organic farms. Starting in March, organic farmers will be eligible to enroll windbreaks, filter strips, pollinator strips, and field borders planted to native grasses, shrubs, and trees in the program. CCRP contracts include an annual rental payment, certain incentive payments, and cost-share payments to install practices.

ERS Examines Economic Issues of Organic and GE Coexistence
A USDA Economic Research Service bulletin titled Economic Issues in the Coexistence of Organic, Genetically Engineered (GE), and Non-GE Crops synthesizes data on three GE-differentiated sectors, examines practices used to avoid the unintended presence of GE material, and discusses economic impacts when GE material is detected in organic crops. GE crop production can increase costs for organic and non-GE producers via accidental pollination or commingling of materials.

Phosphorus Management Could Improve Food Production from Grasslands
An article in Nature Communications says that better nutrient management of grasslands, particularly phosphorus management, could help those grasslands produce significantly more food. The authors recommend increased mineral and organic fertilization of grasslands to allow livestock to be raised without additional grain feeds.
Related ATTRA Publication: A Brief Overview of Nutrient Cycling in Pastures

In-Species Diversity in Switchgrass Plots More Productive
A team of researchers led by the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory has published results of a study that explored more productive ways for farmers to grow switchgrass. Researchers mixed different genetic varieties of switchgrass, hypothesizing this could increase yield by extending the growing season, varying the size of the plants, and potentially reducing vulnerability to weather fluctuations. The cultivar mix produced greater yields than any of the single-variety plots.
Related ATTRA Publication: Switchgrass as a Bioenergy Crop

National Conference for Women in Sustainable Agriculture Invites Workshop Proposals
The 5th National Conference for Women in Sustainable Agriculture will take place November 30 - December 2, 2016, in Portland, Oregon. The program committee is soliciting proposals for 60- or 90-minute workshops on production, business, policy, and farm-sustainability topics. Proposals must be submitted electronically by March 31, 2016.

Southern SARE Awards Grants for On-Farm Research
The Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SSARE) program has awarded $117,772 in On-Farm Research Grants. Cover crop influence on soil water availability, using flowering plants on strawberry field edges, and testing how bagging peaches can reduce pesticide use are some of the projects funded this fiscal year.
Related ATTRA Publication: Peaches: Organic and Low-Spray Production

>> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

North Central Region SARE Graduate Student Grant Program
Graduate students enrolled at colleges or universities in the North Central region can submit proposals for up to $12,000 to fund sustainable agriculture projects that will be part of their educational programs. NCR-SARE expects to fund about 15 projects in the twelve-state region.
Proposals are due by April 14, 2016.

Food Sovereignty Assessment Grant Program
First Nations Development Institute is accepting proposals from Native communities interested in conducting food sovereignty or community food assessments. First Nations plans to award up to 10 grants of up to $10,000 each.
Applications are due by March 15, 2016.

Arkansas Farmers Market Promotion Grant
The Arkansas Agriculture Department and Farm Credit of Arkansas are offering grants to established farmers market organizations to help fund promotional items designed to build awareness of farmers market locations and offerings.
Applications will be accepted through April 1, 2016.

>> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Farm Foundations: Planning for Success
April 5-7, 2016
Montgomery, Alabama
The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) is partnering with the USDA Farm Service Agency to host a workshop for military veterans. The workshop will focus on whole-farm planning, business management, and starting a sustainable farming operation, and it will include business-planning activities and tours of area farms. There is no cost, but space is limited.

Regional Small Farms and Alternative Enterprises Conference
April 1-2, 2016
Fort Myers, Florida

The University of Florida IFAS Small Farms and Alternative Enterprises Extension Team presents "Strengthening Local Food Systems with Diversity." The agenda includes a pre-conference tour, field workshops, and educational sessions for beginning and experienced fruit and vegetable farmers in both urban and rural settings.

Sustainable Cropping Systems Symposium
April 1, 2016
State College, Pennsylvania

Penn State University's symposium, "Farmer-led and On-farm Research," features keynote speaker Sarah Carlson and three hours of invited talks, breakout discussion groups, and presentation of cropping-systems research posters.

>> More Events

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