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ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture

Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - May 3, 2017

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

  • Study Examines Potential of Grassfed Beef Industry
  • Guide Advises on Combining Solar Installations with Active Farming
  • Cotton Farmers Can Kill Cover Crops and Plant in Single Pass
  • Orchard Cultivator Helps Protect Trees from Armillaria Root Rot
  • New MIT Design Cuts Cost of Drip Irrigation
  • Teff Hay a Drought-Tolerant Option for Dairy Cows

Funding Opportunities

  • Rural Cooperative Development Grant Program
  • Conservation Collaboration Grants in South Dakota
  • Delaware Specialty Crop Block Grant Program

Coming Events

  • Changing Lands, Changing Hands
  • Midwest Farm Energy Conference
  • Mother Earth News Fair

News & Resources

Study Examines Potential of Grassfed Beef Industry
Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture has released Back to Grass: the Market Potential for U.S. Grassfed Beef. This study found that grassfed beef is inaccessible to many consumers due to price premiums, but that the price of grassfed beef could come down significantly if the industry were to establish well-managed grass-finishing operations that take advantage of economies of scale in processing, distribution, and marketing. The study found that a number of labels and standards confuse the marketplace and the consumer. The complete 58-page report is available online.
Related ATTRA Publication: Organic and Grass-finished Beef Cattle Production

Guide Advises on Combining Solar Installations with Active Farming
The UVM Extension Center for Sustainable Agriculture is offering a free, online Guide to Farming-Friendly Solar. The publication explores considerations that go into combining solar installations with active farming. The authors found potential to support locally produced food and preserve the working landscape, while addressing energy needs and improving farms' financial viability. The authors offer suggestions on how to achieve balance in preserving the most productive farmland and producing energy.
Related ATTRA Publication: Renewable Energy Opportunities on the Farm

Cotton Farmers Can Kill Cover Crops and Plant in Single Pass
Research by USDA Agricultural Research Service scientists showed that rolling rye cover crops and planting cotton in a single pass not only saved labor and fuel, but also improved cotton yields by 2.5% over the three-year study. The single-pass method would save more than $2,000 a year in fuel and labor costs for a typical 600-acre cotton farm.
Related ATTRA Publication: Sustainable Cotton Production for the Humid South

Orchard Cultivator Helps Protect Trees from Armillaria Root Rot
Clemson University scientists are developing a hydraulic tillage tool called an In-Row Orchard Bed Cultivator to help expose peach tree roots and protect root crowns from Armillaria root rot. The device, mounted to a repurposed pull-behind cultivator frame, is powered with a tractor's PTO. A three-pronged, hydraulically driven rotary tillage head excavates soil between trees.
Related ATTRA Publication: Peaches: Organic and Low-Spray Production

New MIT Design Cuts Cost of Drip Irrigation
By optimizing the design of drippers, engineers at MIT have reduced the pressure required to pump water through a drip irrigation system, while still delivering the same amount of water. The redesign would cut the cost of solar-powered drip irrigation systems by half, as well as reduce the amount of energy needed for pumping by half. The research team intends to optimize tubing, filters, pumps, and the solar power system to further reduce costs.

Teff Hay a Drought-Tolerant Option for Dairy Cows
Researchers at Kansas State University have found that teff hay has the potential to replace alfalfa and corn silage in the diets of lactating dairy cows. Teff is a warm-season grass native to Ethiopia, well-suited to drought conditions, and also used for human consumption. In study trials, intake, milk yield, and milk-fat percentage were no different when cows were fed teff diets versus a control diet, although milk-protein levels were higher for cows on the teff diets.

>>More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Rural Cooperative Development Grant Program
This program improves the economic condition of rural areas by helping non-profit corporations or higher-education institutions in the startup, expansion, or operational improvement of rural cooperatives and other mutually owned businesses. Grant and matching funds can be used for developing and operating a Rural Cooperative Development Center. Nonprofit corporations and institutions of higher education are eligible to apply for up to $200,000.
Applications are due June 2, 2017; electronic applications are due May 26, 2017.

Conservation Collaboration Grants in South Dakota
USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service serving South Dakota is seeking proposals for Conservation Collaboration Grants to help address the state's most pressing natural resource concerns. Projects should improve soil health or water quality in South Dakota, provide habitat for local wildlife species of concern, improve the environmental and economic performance of working agricultural lands, or assist communities and groups to build and strengthen local food projects that provide healthy food and economic opportunities.
Proposals are due May 26, 2017.

Delaware Specialty Crop Block Grant Program
The Delaware Department of Agriculture is accepting applications for nearly $300,000 in federal funding through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. Grants between $5,000 and $50,000 are available. Applications may be submitted by agricultural producers, nonprofit organizations, government entities, for-profit companies, or educational institutions based in Delaware.
Applications must be received by May 15, 2017.

>>More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Changing Lands, Changing Hands
June 13-15, 2017
Denver, Colorado

Land for Good and USDA host this national conference on farm and ranch land access, tenure, and transfer. This conference is a forum to share and discuss best and emerging practices, policies, and programs, and to advance workable strategies.

Midwest Farm Energy Conference
June 13-14, 2017
Morris, Minnesota
University of Minnesota West Central Research and Outreach Center hosts a conference that will address energy technologies for Midwest farms, energy-optimized systems for dairy production, and energy conservation and generation in swine facilities. Renewable energy tours will also be offered.

Mother Earth News Fair
June 10-11, 2017
Burlington, Vermont

This event features dozens of practical workshops, keynote speakers Howard Garrett, Dan Chiras, and Jean-Martin Fortier, and regional and national vendors.

>>More Events

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New ATTRA Podcast
Where's My Beef?
Specific Risk Material: How It Affects Cuts and Boxed Yield

Question of the Week
How do I go about setting prices for my organic crops?

Ask an Agriculture Expert
Submit questions to our professional staff online or by calling 1-800-346-9140

Planning for Success for Vegetable Producers
Two consecutive day-long, free workshops in Perryville, Arkansas on May 10 and 11, 2017. Register now!

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