Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - April 13, 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
- Scientists Say Climate-Smart Soils Can Reduce Atmospheric Carbon
- USDA Issues Proposed Rule to Amend Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices
- Ruminant Grazing Can Help Reduce Agriculture's Carbon Footprint, Scientists Say
- Farm Health Online Website Supports Livestock Management in Outdoor Systems
- Texas Research Explores High-Value Crops for High Tunnels
- Prairie Cordgrass Offers Biomass Option for Salty Soil
- Value-Added Producer Grant Program
- Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership
- Alabama Specialty Crop Block Grant Program
- From Service to Stewardship
- Soil Basics
- Farm & Fiber Education Days
News & Resources
Scientists Say Climate-Smart Soils Can Reduce Atmospheric Carbon
Researchers writing in the journal Nature say that land-use practices can help mitigate greenhouse-gas emissions. The authors identify practices to minimize emissions that include reducing tillage; improving grazing management, crop rotation, and nutrient management; applying biochar; adding cover crops; and providing perennial vegetation for inactive production fields.
They note that stakeholders must be educated and need decision tools to implement effective practices.
Related ATTRA Publication: Agriculture, Climate Change and Carbon Sequestration
USDA Issues Proposed Rule to Amend Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices
USDA Agricultural Marketing Service has proposed amending the organic livestock and poultry production requirement, based on recommendations by the National Organic Standards Board. The proposal is designed to provide clear guidance for organic producers and handlers to provide for animal welfare. Three major provisions are included. The organic community, stakeholders, and consumers are invited to submit written comments on the proposed rule online or by mail.
Related ATTRA Publication: Guide for Organic Livestock Producers
Ruminant Grazing Can Help Reduce Agriculture's Carbon Footprint, Scientists Say
Writing in the Journal of Soil and Water Conservation, a team of scientists assert that with appropriate regenerative crop and grazing management, ruminants not only reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions, but also facilitate provision of essential ecosystem services, increase soil carbon sequestration, and reduce environmental damage. These researchers conclude that to ensure long-term sustainability and ecological resilience of agroecosystems, agricultural production should be guided by policies and regenerative management protocols that include ruminant grazing.
Related ATTRA Tutorial: Managed Grazing
Farm Health Online Website Supports Livestock Management in Outdoor Systems
A Greener World, working in partnership with the UK's Duchy College Rural Business School, has launched Farm Health Online, an interactive website and database to support high-welfare management of farm animals in outdoor systems. The website features information on more than 100 common livestock diseases and provides immediate access to practical, science-based advice on positive livestock management and sustainable farming practices. Farm Health Online currently covers cattle, sheep, poultry, and pigs.
Related ATTRA Publication: Tips for: Preventing Internal Parasites
Texas Research Explores High-Value Crops for High Tunnels
Texas A&M AgriLife researcher Dr. Charlie Rush is beginning a project on high-value vegetable crop production under high tunnels, starting with tomatoes. He's looking at specialty crops that can be grown in high tunnels as alternatives to high-value field crops that use more water. Rush's team will develop best management practices for irrigation and fertilization of a range of specialty crops. Retailers have already expressed interest in buying more locally grown produce.
Related ATTRA Publication: Organic Specialty Crop Production In Texas: A Grower's Handbook
Prairie Cordgrass Offers Biomass Option for Salty Soil
University of Illinois researchers have found several varieties of perennial grasses that can withstand high salt concentrations, making it possible to use marginal lands for biofuel production. Researchers subjected six prairie cordgrass accessions and three switchgrass cultivars to different levels of sodicity and salinity over two years. Although both produced less biomass under high-salt conditions, the prairie cordgrass still produced up to nine tons per acre even in high-salt conditions.
>> More Breaking News
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Value-Added Producer Grant Program
USDA is making up to $44 million in matching funds available to farmers, ranchers, and businesses to develop new bio-based products and expand markets through the Value-Added Producer Grant program. Priority is given to veterans, members of socially disadvantaged groups, beginning farmers and ranchers, and operators of small- and medium-sized family farms and ranches. The maximum grant is $75,000 for planning and $250,000 for working capital.
The deadline to submit paper applications is July 1, 2016. Electronic applications are due June 24, 2016.
Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership
NRCS is making $15 million in financial and technical assistance available to help eligible conservation partners leverage local resources to voluntarily protect, restore, and enhance critical wetlands on private and tribal agricultural land nationwide. The funding is provided through the Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership, a special enrollment option under the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program.
Proposals are due to NRCS State Offices by May 16, 2016.
Alabama Specialty Crop Block Grant Program
The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries is accepting grant applications for projects that enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops in foreign and domestic markets. Commodity groups, agricultural organizations, colleges and universities, municipalities, state agencies, and agricultural nonprofits are eligible. Awards range from $5,000 to $25,000.
Application deadline is May 13, 2016.
>> More Funding Opportunities
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From Service to Stewardship
May 20-21, 2016
Join The Livestock Conservancy, Virginia Cooperative Extension, and Lakota Ranch for a workshop to help educate military service veterans about rare-breed animal and poultry options for farming enterprises. The workshop includes classroom and in-depth instruction, as well as heritage farm visits.
May 12, 2016
This workshop from Penn State Extension is a basic introduction to key soil concepts and management strategies for new and beginning farmers. Learn about soil physical properties, look at soil survey maps, and gain a deeper understanding of soil test interpretation and how to amend soils.
Farm & Fiber Education Days
May 21-22, 2016
Lake Steven, Washington
"On the Edge of Urban" offers a weekend of seminars and hands-on workshops in specialty areas of farming and natural fiber production, for family farms, those that seek to live a more rural life, and folks who would like to purchase or use products and food from local farms.
>> More Events
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ATTRA was developed and is managed by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT). The program is funded through a cooperative agreement with the United States Department of Agriculture's Rural Business-Cooperative Service.
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