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ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture

Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - August 1, 2018

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

  • Winter Cover Crops Build Soil Without Using Extra Water
  • Fertilizing Crops May Make Them More Susceptible to Disease
  • USDA Announces Conservation Innovation Grant Awards
  • Rural Event Management Toolkit Available
  • Natural Habitat Surrounding Farm Fields Not Always Pest-Control Tool
  • Research Explores Integrating Chickens with Vegetable Production

Funding Opportunities

  • Conservation Partners Program
  • Small Business Innovation Research Program
  • Funding for Cover Crops to Provide Livestock Drought Relief in Missouri

Coming Events

  • Organic Growers School Harvest Conference
  • Sunfire Ranch: Whole Farm Land Management Workshop
  • Produce Safety Field Day

News & Resources

Winter Cover Crops Build Soil Without Using Extra Water
A study at Texas Tech University, funded by Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education, found that winter cover crops helped build healthy soils while preserving water for summer forage crops. Researchers investigated five cover-crop species as complements to a beef stocker-teff grazing system. The study helped prove that fields with cover crops don't use more moisture than fields left fallow. Rye proved to be the most successful of the cover crops tested.
Related ATTRA Publication: Cover Crop Options for Hot and Humid Areas

Fertilizing Crops May Make Them More Susceptible to Disease
Biologists at the University of California Berkeley found that spraying tomatoes with microbes from healthy tomatoes protected them from disease-causing bacteria, but that fertilizing the tomatoes beforehand led to an increase in the population of pathogenic microbes on the plants' leaves. The study showed that fertilizer throws the community of microbes on the leaves off-balance, and this could allow disease-causing organisms to enter the plant.

USDA Announces Conservation Innovation Grant Awards
USDA has announced the award of more than $10.6 million for 22 new projects under the Conservation Innovation Grants program. This year's projects, in 27 states, focus on three priorities: grazing lands, organic agriculture systems, and soil health. A full list of funded projects is available online.

Rural Event Management Toolkit Available
Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is making a new resource available online, Event Management Training Toolkit for Managers of Rural Iowa Fairs, Festivals, and Events. The free, 15-page toolkit provides resources for solving crises and controversies, security, cross-promotional activities, media relations, and regulations. Additional resources and a list of professional associations are included.

Natural Habitat Surrounding Farm Fields Not Always Pest-Control Tool
A study led by the University of California, Davis found that natural habitat surrounding farm fields is not always an effective pest-control tool. The research team compiled a pest-control dataset encompassing 132 studies in 31 countries. The dataset showed that although surrounding natural habitat helps farmers control pests about half the time, but for the other half, there are negative effects on crop yields from surrounding natural habitat. The researchers have made their dataset publicly available.

Research Explores Integrating Chickens with Vegetable Production
Iowa State University researchers are exploring how the integration of chickens into vegetable-crop rotations may spark environmental and economic benefits for growers. The system must balance a range of concerns, including environmental sustainability, costs, and food and animal safety, but could lead to greater efficiency and healthier soils. Ongoing trials are testing what happens when a flock of broiler chickens in a mobile coop lives on a vegetable field for part of the year.

>>More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Conservation Partners Program
The Conservation Partners Program is a collaborative effort between USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), and other regional/initiative-specific partners. The partnership provides competitive grants for technical assistance capacity to advance NRCS's Landscape Conservation Initiatives, NFWF's Conservation Priorities, and the NRCS-U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service partnership – Working Lands for Wildlife. Approximately $5.1 million will be available. Priorities are Pacific Salmon, Grassland Bird Habitat, Great Lakes, Mississippi River Basin, and Working Lands for Wildlife. Eligible applicants include nonprofit organizations, farmer and commodity-led organizations, educational institutions, tribal governments, and state or local units of government. Typical grant awards range from $50,000 to $300,000.
Proposals are due August 22, 2018.

Small Business Innovation Research Program
USDA's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program offers grants to qualified small businesses to support high-quality research related to important scientific problems and opportunities in agriculture that could lead to significant public benefits. Small Business Concerns can apply for Phase I grants up to $100,000 over eight months to support early or "seed" stage research and development.
Applications are due October 25, 2018.

Funding for Cover Crops to Provide Livestock Drought Relief in Missouri
USDA-NRCS is assisting Missouri livestock producers affected by drought with $2 million to help farmers plant cover crops to address inadequate feed and forage and other natural resource concerns. Cover crops established under this emergency initiative offered through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) may be grazed or hayed. Farmers and ranchers with operations in any of the counties impacted by drought can apply for assistance at local NRCS offices.
Applications are due by August 31, 2018.

>>More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Organic Growers School Harvest Conference
September 7-8, 2018
Swannanoa, North Carolina

Organic Growers School's annual Harvest Conference will feature a selection of in-depth two-day workshops taught by outstanding guest speakers. Topics include sustainable poultry, cultivating a healthy gut, and mushrooms.

Sunfire Ranch: Whole Farm Land Management Workshop
September 7-8 and October 5-7, 2018
Carbondale, Colorado

Holistic Management International is offering this workshop in two multi-day sessions, to help manage land through the practice of Holistic Management for better soil health, bio-diversity, productivity, and profitability.

Produce Safety Field Day
September 7, 2018
Atlantic, Iowa

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and partners are hosting a series of field days focused on the Food Safety Modernization Act and horticulture best practices. This session at Rolling Acres Farm will include presentations on using high tunnels, cover crops, field production of flowers, and organic production.

>>More Events

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New ATTRA Publication
How Fecal Egg Counts Can Help You Fight Parasites

Question of the Week
What herbs are suited to organic greenhouse production?

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

Growing in the City
NCAT presents a free, one-day workshop August 16, 2018, in Gulfport, Mississippi. Register now.

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