Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Agriculture News Briefs - August 10, 2005
sustainable agriculture news and resources gleaned from the
Internet by NCAT staff for the ATTRA - National Sustainable
Agriculture Information Service Web site.
* Organic Farmer Praises the Benefits of Solar Solarization
* Testing Finds Genetically Engineered Corn Absent from Mexico
* Scientists Find Roundup Kills Frogs and Tadpoles
* Journal Article Provides Background on GM Crops
* Dine Fresh Dine Local Event Set for Twin Cities
* Arsenic in U.S. Rice May Stem from Pesticide in Soil
* Seventh Generation Fund Grants
* Regional Integrated Pest Management Competitive Grants Program - North Central Region
* Private Stewardship Grants Program: Ivory-billed Woodpecker
* Marshfield Agricultural Research Station's Summer Field Day
* Organic Food and Farming Education and Research Field Day
* 2005 Women in Sustainable Agriculture Conference
News & Resources
Organic Farmer Praises the Benefits of Solar Solarization
Soil solarization is an inexpensive, chemical-free approach to killing weeds. Solarization works like a greenhouse to trap the sun's heat to temperatures that kill insects, plant diseases, weed seeds, nematodes, and soil pathogens. Tom Willey, an organic farmer in California's Central Joaquin Valley, has put solarization into practice to control cheeseweed and other weeds on his 75-acre farm and recently shared his experiences at a workshop on solarization sponsored by University of California Cooperative Extension. Willey used to spend $2,000 to $3,000 an acre hand weeding his acreage but, using solarization, has reduced that cost to just $400 an acre, including labor and the cost of the plastic. For more on solarization, see the International Workgroup on Soil Solarization and Integrated Management of Soilborne Pests' Web site.
Related ATTRA Publication: Alternative Nematode Control
Testing Finds Genetically Engineered Corn Absent from Mexico
Extensive testing in Oaxaca, Mexico, during 2003 and 2004 failed to turn up any evidence of genetically modified corn, says a Reuters news story on Planet Ark. Genetically modified corn had been found in a remote mountainous region in 2001, raising fears that the native gene pool in this area where corn originated had been contaminated. According to the story, an education campaign in the area has urged farmers not to plant corn of unknown origin, because it could be imported modified corn. This education is credited with helping quickly stop the spread of the modified corn in the region.
Scientists Find Roundup Kills Frogs and Tadpoles
As amphibians continue to mysteriously disappear worldwide, a University of Pittsburgh researcher may have found more pieces of the puzzle, says a Pitt press release. Elaborating on his previous research, Pitt assistant professor of biological sciences Rick Relyea has discovered that Roundup®, the most commonly used herbicide in the world, is deadly to tadpoles at lower concentrations than previously tested; that the presence of soil does not mitigate the chemical's effects; and that the product kills frogs in addition to tadpoles. In two articles published in the August 1 issue of the journal Ecological Applications, Relyea and his doctoral students Nancy Schoeppner and Jason Hoverman found that even when applied at concentrations that are one-third of the maximum concentrations expected in nature, Roundup still killed up to 71 percent of tadpoles raised in outdoor tanks. Although Roundup is not approved for use in water, scientists have found that the herbicide can wind up in small wetlands where tadpoles live due to inadvertent spraying during the application of Roundup.
Journal Article Provides Background on GM Crops
Since first appearing on the market in the 1990s, genetically modified (GM) crops have spread to 17 countries and are now planted on 200 million acres. However, along with the impressive growth of GM crops there has been an equally impressive backlash against GM agriculture. An article by Charles W. Schmidt in the August 2005 issue of the journal Environmental Health Perspectives examines some of the issues and arguments, both pro and con, surrounding GM foods. Schmidt examines the backlash, which is particularly strong in Europe, and briefly addresses the question of health risks, the U.S. regulatory system, labeling schemes, and the future of GM crops.
Dine Fresh Dine Local Event Set for Twin Cities
Restaurants, farmers and diners in the Twin Cities area will have a chance to support local, sustainably-produced food during the second annual "Dine Fresh Dine Local" event on Tuesday, October 11. More than 15 establishments will take part in this special one-day culinary event. Restaurants will donate a portion of the day's or evening's proceeds to Food Alliance Midwest, Minnesota Grown, and the Land Stewardship Project for their work in promoting sustainable farming and healthy local foods. Gift bags containing a 2006 Blue Sky Guide—the Coupon Book for Healthy Living, and a Minnesota Grown Directory, will be given to diners.
Arsenic in U.S. Rice May Stem from Pesticide in Soil
A story appearing on nature.com says that testing of rice from around the world found that rice grown in the United States contained more arsenic than rice grown in Europe, India and Bangladesh. Researchers say that people consuming a subsistence diet of this rice may be consuming more than the maximum of arsenic intake provisionally recommended by the World Health Organization. The researchers are not certain where the arsenic contamination originated, but suspect it may be a legacy of arsenic-based pesticides that were used on cotton fields that later became rice fields.
more news and resources, visit the ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture
Information Service Web site's Breaking News section: http://attra.ncat.org/news/.
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Seventh Generation Fund Grants
The Sustainable Communities component of the Seventh Generation Fund provides seed money, community organizing support, and technical services to community-based projects working for holistic community health and renewal through culturally appropriate strategies and initiatives that revitalize Native lifeways and sovereignty. The Fund provides support for traditional agriculture and gardening and related strategies for sustainable development. Grants range from $500 to $10,000. Applications are accepted quarterly. The next due date for grant applications is September 1, 2005.
Regional Integrated Pest Management Competitive Grants Program - North Central Region
Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service, the Regional Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Competitive Grants Program supports projects that develop individual pest control tactics, integrate individual tactics into an IPM system, and develop and implement extension education programs. In the North Central region, priority will be given to proposals that address one or more of the following topic areas: 1) Economics or risk assessment of IPM systems; 2) Alternative pest management systems; 3) Alternative production systems; 4) Decision and diagnostic tools; 5) Pest detection, identification, and/or monitoring; and 6) IPM adoption. Letters of Intent are due September 16, 2005, and full proposals are due October 21, 2005.
Private Stewardship Grants Program: Ivory-billed Woodpecker
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is soliciting project proposals for Federal assistance under the Private Stewardship Grants Program. Only projects benefiting the Ivory-billed woodpecker will be considered for this second request for proposals in FY 2005. The amount available for projects benefiting the Ivory-billed woodpecker in 2005 is approximately $800,000. Eligible projects include those by landowners and their partners who need technical and financial assistance to improve habitat or implement other activities on private lands to benefit the Ivory-billed woodpecker. Grant proposals are due by
October 4, 2005.
additional funding opportunities, visit: http://attra.ncat.org/funding/.
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Marshfield Agricultural Research Station's Summer Field Day
August 23, 2005
The University of Wisconsin-Madison's Marshfield Research Station hosts a free field day covering topics including crop availability of manure phosphorus, the new Sulfur Availability Index, and alternatives for soybean rust management.
Organic Food and Farming Education and Research Field Day
September 7, 2005
Visit Ohio State University's Ohio Agriculture Research and Development Center to see what researchers are doing in organic agriculture research. Participants will see three research farms where organic work is being conducted. Choose to tour: West Badger Farm, with a focus on organic grain crops, or Fry Farm, with a focus on organic vegetable production. Following these tours, the group will re-join at Snyder Farm, the site of a new modular ecological design experiment, and end with a tasting of the fruits of the harvest.
2005 Women in Sustainable Agriculture Conference
October 21-23, 2005
"A Celebration of Hope and Opportunity" is the theme for this conference for farmers, ranchers, growers, service providers, educators, social and political activists, and those who care about food, fiber and the natural world. The event will honor the role of women in agriculture, celebrate the power of women's networks to create change and plant the seeds for future work.
events at: http://attra.ncat.org/calendar/.
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