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Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - March 4, 2015

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

  • National Survey on Cover Crops Seeks Farmer Participation
  • Penn State Issues Organic Crop Production Guide
  • Integrating Sheep with Wheat Diversifies Income, Enhances Sustainability
  • USDA Accepting Comments on Agricultural Conservation Easement Program
  • Grafting Helps Protect Crops from Verticillium Wilt
  • Organic Farming Found to Support Diversity of Beneficial Insects

Funding Opportunities

  • AFRI Agriculture and Natural Resources Science for Climate Variability and Change Challenge Area
  • Integrated Research, Education, and Extension Competitive Grants Program - Organic Transitions
  • Texas Specialty Crop Block Grant Program

Coming Events

  • New England Farm to Institution Summit
  • California Agritourism Summit
  • Growing Farm to School in Iowa Workshop

News & Resources

National Survey on Cover Crops Seeks Farmer Participation
The Conservation Technology Information Center is conducting its third national survey on cover crops. Farmers nationwide are invited to share their thoughts on cover crops, whether or not they use cover crops themselves.

Penn State Issues Organic Crop Production Guide
Penn State has released the Penn State Organic Crop Production Guide, a 243-page field-crop guide tailored to the mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions. The guide provides science-based information on organic practices and ecological processes, and it features case studies from farmers and firsthand producer experience. It also includes Penn State research results.
Related ATTRA Publication: Organic Crop Production Overview

Integrating Sheep with Wheat Diversifies Income, Enhances Sustainability
A Washington State University doctoral student is working with Eastern Washington wheat farmers to document how integrating sheep into their operation contributes to sustainability goals. These include increasing and retaining soil nutrients, adding biodiversity, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and reducing soil erosion. Over three years, an organic approach to integration was most profitable and stored the most soil carbon.
Related ATTRA Publication: Integrating Livestock and Crops: Improving Soil, Solving Problems, Increasing Income

USDA Accepting Comments on Agricultural Conservation Easement Program
USDA is accepting public comments on its interim final rule for the new Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), designed to help producers protect working agricultural lands and wetlands. The official notice of the proposed ACEP interim final rule can be found in the Federal Register. Comments can be submitted electronically or mailed during the 60-day comment period.

Grafting Helps Protect Crops from Verticillium Wilt
Researchers at Washington State University are developing a way to protect watermelon from Verticillium wilt by grafting the plants onto pumpkin, squash, and bottle gourd rootstock. The researchers are looking for combinations that are disease resistant and yield a good quality and quantity of fruit. Grafting may prove a viable solution and an alternative to fumigants for tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, and other crops.

Organic Farming Found to Support Diversity of Beneficial Insects
The Organic Center reports that a recent study published in the journal Landscape Ecology found a greater diversity and amount of beneficial predator insects on organic wheat farms than on conventional. Researchers noted that the assemblage of practices used on organic farms contributed to high habitat quality for beneficial insects.
Related ATTRA Publication: Farmscaping to Enhance Biological Control

>> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

AFRI Agriculture and Natural Resources Science for Climate Variability and Change Challenge Area
The Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Agriculture and Natural Resources Science for Climate Variability and Change Challenge Area Program is open for applications. This program supports research to facilitate the adaptation of agroecosystems and natural resource systems to climate variability. It also supports implementation of mitigation strategies in those systems. This National Institute of Food and Agriculture program is seeking applications in three priority areas for FY 2015.
A letter of intent to apply is due April 2, 2015; full applications are due June 4, 2015.

Integrated Research, Education, and Extension Competitive Grants Program—Organic Transitions
USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture is requesting applications for Organic Transitions (ORG) for FY 2015. ORG supports projects designed to solve critical organic agriculture issues, priorities, or problems through the integration of research, education, and extension activities in program areas. Approximately $4 million is available to colleges and universities under this program.
A letter of intent is due by March 26, 2015; full applications are due April 16, 2015.

Texas Specialty Crop Block Grant Program
Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) is accepting applications for the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. TDA encourages specialty crop projects pertaining to food safety, marketing, nutrition, plant health, and value added/industry development. Responses will only be accepted from producer, industry, or community-based organizations involved with, or that promote, specialty crops.
Submissions are due by March 24, 2015.

>> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

New England Farm to Institution Summit
April 7-9, 2015
Amherst, Massachusetts

This event will convene representatives from institutions, along with their food-supply-chain partners and farm to institution advocates, to maximize collective impact and overcome challenges to buying more local food. The conference will feature sector-specific forums for farm to school, farm to college, and farm to health care, plus a full day of cross-sector workshops, sessions, speakers, and activities.

California Agritourism Summit
April 8, 2015
Woodland, California

This one-day Agritourism Summit will connect agritourism operators, organizers, regulators, educators, and tourism professionals throughout California with each other. Participants will learn from each other and plan the future for California agritourism.

Growing Farm to School in Iowa Workshop
April 6, 2015
Council Bluffs, Iowa

This is one of three workshops that will highlight practical examples of farm to school in action and provide resources tailored to Iowa. Topics will include connecting school gardens to the lunchroom, classroom, and community; working with farmers and food hubs to bring local fresh food to school cafeterias; increasing knowledge of food safety guidelines; and cultivating a strong network of stakeholders in farm to school activities. Space is limited and registration is required.

>> More Events

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