Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - June 11, 2008
Weekly sustainable agriculture news and resources gleaned from the Internet by NCAT staff for the ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service Web site. The Weekly Harvest Newsletter is also available online.
News & Resources
* UNH to Study Organic Dairy as Agroecosystem
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* New Study Finds Consumers Will Pay More for Local Foods
* Webcast to Address Manure Management for Small Farms
* Large Farm Adapts to Organic Techniques
* Extension Publication Addresses Nutrient Management in No-till Systems
* Vegetative Systems Treat Livestock Runoff
* Strategic Agricultural Initiative Grant Program, EPA Region 3
* Targeted Watersheds Grants to Reduce the Hypoxic Zone in the Northern Gulf of Mexico
* Georgia Resource Conservation & Development Projects
* Future Farms 2008: Planning for Change
* Grazefest Minnesota
* Farm Walk: Diversified Production, Transitioning to Cooperative Ownership
News & Resources
UNH to Study Organic Dairy as Agroecosystem
University of New Hampshire researchers have received a significant grant to study UNH's organic dairy research farm as a sustainable closed agroecosystem, exploring viable strategies for becoming energy independent. The $380,000 three-year grant, from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Sustainable Agricultural Research and Education (SARE) program, aims to explore whether closing energy and nutrient cycles could help small family dairy farms in the Northeast survive economic vulnerabilities. "In a closed system, the only thing leaving the farm is the milk," says John Aber, professor of natural resources at UNH and the principal investigator on the grant. "The goal is to see whether we can have a closed-nutrient-cycle and energy-independent organic dairy." Preliminary research this spring on nitrogen flows and energy inputs indicated that both energy independence and a closed nitrogen system could be achieved.
New Study Finds Consumers Will Pay More for Local Foods
New research suggests that the average supermarket shopper is willing to pay a premium price for locally produced foods. The study also showed that shoppers at farm markets are willing to pay almost twice as much extra as retail grocery shoppers for the same locally produced foods. Both kinds of shoppers also will pay more for guaranteed fresh produce and tend to favor buying food produced by small farms over what they perceive as corporate operations, according to the study. The study, conducted by Ohio State University researchers, is published in the May issue of the American Journal of Agricultural Economics.
Webcast to Address Manure Management for Small Farms
The Livestock and Poultry Environmental Learning Center announces "Managing Manure on Small Farms," the latest in its free Educational Webcast Series, scheduled for June 20. During the webcast, speakers will give a guided tour of resources available to help minimize environmental impact. They will discuss how to develop a manure nutrient plan for small farms. The webcast will also be archived for later viewing.
Large Farm Adapts to Organic Techniques
A study appearing in the July 2008 issue of Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment documents how one large grower made the transition to organic production, says a story on Mongabay.com. Study author Sean Smukler of UC Davis tracked a Salinas Valley farmer's efforts to convert 215 acres of vegetable fields to organic production over three years. While small-scale organic producers typically grow small plots of each crop and use local or on-farm organic fertilizer sources, larger growers rely on different approaches. The grower in the study evolved a system using mid-size plots, a factory-made organic fish fertilizer, and plantings designed to attract beneficial insects, as well as crop rotations and hoeing.
Extension Publication Addresses Nutrient Management in No-till Systems
A new Montana State University Extension bulletin is available on nutrient management practices for no-till and minimum till systems. Details on similarities and differences in recommended fertilizer management practices among tillage systems are described in Nutrient Management in No-till and Minimum Till Systems. (PDF/2.4MB) "Research has shown that no-till and minimum till systems affect water infiltration, soil moisture, soil temperature, nutrient accumulation in certain areas of the soil profile, soil aeration and microbial populations and activity," says Kent McVay, the MSU Extension cropping systems specialist at the Southern Agricultural Research Center. Because these factors all affect soil fertility, "understanding differences among tillage systems should assist in optimizing fertilizer use and crop yields," he adds. The publication is available free online in PDF.
Related ATTRA Publication: Pursuing Conservation Tillage Systems for Organic Crop Production
Vegetative Systems Treat Livestock Runoff
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Livestock Producer Environmental Assistance Project recently held a tour showcasing four Nebraska cattlemen who are using vegetative treatment systems to control and treat runoff from their open livestock lots. The project, funded by a Nebraska Environmental Trust grant, is designed to help small- and medium-sized cattle and cow-calf producers. Vegetative treatment systems are a substitute for the conventional holding pond. Instead of a pond, producers use an area of perennial grass called a vegetative treatment area that drinks up the water and nutrients in the liquid runoff. The tour featured some unique vegetative treatment systems, including a sprinkler system and a feeding area for cow-calf pairs that is surrounded by four grazing paddocks.
Related ATTRA Publication: Constructed Wetlands
> More Breaking News
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Strategic Agricultural Initiative Grant Program, EPA Region 3
EPA Region 3 is soliciting proposals to help implement the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) and to support efforts by the agricultural community to "transition" away from high risk pesticides to the use of less and reduced risk pesticides, alternative methods of pest control and sustainable practices in food production. The program supports grants for education, extension, demonstration, and field projects for FQPA transition and reduced risk practices for pest management in agriculture. EPA Region 3 encompasses Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Proposals are due July 3, 2008.
Targeted Watersheds Grants to Reduce the Hypoxic Zone in the Northern Gulf of Mexico
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is soliciting proposals from eligible entities for the development of market-based water quality programs to improve water quality by reducing nitrogen, phosphorus, sediment loadings, or pollutant loadings that cause low Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) in local waters that enter the Mississippi River system and are ultimately discharged into the Northern Gulf of Mexico. EPA will accept proposals for the following two Priorities: (I) Market Feasibility Assessment; and (II) Program Design and/or Program Implementation. Estimated total program funding is $4,200,000, with awards of up to $1,000,000 available. States, local governments, public and private nonprofit institutions/organizations, federally recognized Indian tribal governments, U.S. territories or possessions, and interstate agencies are eligible to apply.
Proposals are due September 9, 2008.
Georgia Resource Conservation & Development Projects
The NRCS State Office in Georgia is accepting Applications for Federal Assistance to support and stimulate new and on-going conservation activities and wise development of natural resources in support of the Resource Conservation and Development program in Georgia. Applicants are invited to apply for either grants or cooperative agreements. State and local governments and nonprofit organizations are eligible to apply for an estimated $250,000 in project funding, with an award ceiling of $50,000.
Proposals are due July 3, 2008.
> More Funding Opportunities
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Future Farms 2008: Planning for Change
August 5-6, 2008
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
This two-day conference will offer one day of farm and ranch tours and one day of indoor presentations, featuring the best of innovative farm enterprises in Oklahoma. On August 5 buses will be bound for three different parts of the state: the northwest, central and east. Each tour will visit five or six farms. Each will feature at least one livestock operation, one vegetable farm and one winery. On-farm food enterprises and agritourism will be explored as well. On August 6, conference attendees can choose from sessions under three tracks: financial planning, production and marketing. The USDA's Risk Management Agency (RMA) is partnering with the Kerr Center to sponsor the conference.
August 1-2, 2008
Verndale and Bluegrass, Minnesota
Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota sponsors this event, with a dairy grazing focus on low-input dairy, irrigated pasture research and demonstration, and grazing economics. The Grazefest will feature expert speakers, graziers, grazing specialists, guided pasture tours, and an array of delicious pasture-raised foods! The event is hosted by Seven Pines Farm and MiddMinn Dairy, and includes breakout sessions on both farms. The second day offers bus tours of either dairy farms or beef farms in North Central Minnesota.
Farm Walk: Diversified Production, Transitioning to Cooperative Ownership
July 28, 2008
During the tour of Alm Hill Gardens, a 35-year old diversified, fresh-market farm, the Alm Hill Garden team will cover season extension (using greenhouses and high tunnels), crop diversity (annuals and perennials), berry production, and direct marketing strategies. Research taking place on the farm in coordination with WSU will be highlighted, including integrated pest management and field trials of several varieties of fruits and vegetables. A new cooperative agreement being forged between the owners, the farmers, and a new generation of farmers will be discussed. This Farm Walk will be offered in both English and Spanish.
> More Events
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