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ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service

Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - August 14, 2013

Weekly sustainable agriculture news and resources gleaned from the Internet by NCAT staff for the ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service website. The Weekly Harvest Newsletter is also available online.

News & Resources

  • Large Farms Increasingly Dominating Crop Production, Says ERS Report
  • Long Island Farmers Reduce Nitrogen Use and Protect Water Quality
  • Michigan's Upper Peninsula Farmers Define Success for Study
  • NRCS Enhances Web Soil Survey in New Version
  • Distributed Wind Turbines Powering Farms, Homes, Businesses
  • Biomass Conversion Project to Produce Biofuel and Biochar

Funding Opportunities

  • Northeast SARE Partnership Grant
  • Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin Grants
  • Missouri Conservation Programs Workshops and Projects

Coming Events

  • Farm Viability Conference
  • ASAP's Farm Tour
  • Harvesting Energy: Wind and Solar Power

News & Resources

Large Farms Increasingly Dominating Crop Production, Says ERS Report
Although most cropland was operated by farms with less than 600 crop acres in the early 1980s, today most cropland is on farms with at least 1,100 acres, says Farm Size and the Organization of U.S. Crop Farming, a new report from USDA Economic Research Service (ERS). Long-term shifts in farm size have been accompanied by greater specialization. Technology also plays an important role in driving increases in farm size.

Long Island Farmers Reduce Nitrogen Use and Protect Water Quality
A program being offered by Cornell Cooperative Extension, American Farmland Trust, and AgFlex is helping 35 family farmers on Long Island reduce their use of nitrogen fertilizers on sweet corn and potato crops. Last year's participants in the program were able to cut fertilizer use by an average of 20% while sustaining farm productivity. The farmers are enrolled in the BMP Challenge, an innovative program that eliminates financial risk as a barrier to farmers' adoption of conservation practices.

Michigan's Upper Peninsula Farmers Define Success
A team of Michigan State University Extension educators from the Upper Peninsula conducted a project to explore what makes beginning farmers successful. The project sought a better understanding of how farming has impacted newer operators in the areas of economics, family relationships, community involvement, and general lifestyle. One of the most common observations was the enthusiasm farmers have about their businesses and how much they love the lifestyle of farming. A full report on the study is available online.

NRCS Enhances Web Soil Survey in New Version
The latest version of the Web Soil Survey was recently launched by USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The application provides free soils information along with soil maps, properties, and interpretations aimed at helping with land use decisions. The new version includes improved map appearance, increased Area of Interest acreage, and upgraded options for changing map properties. Web Soil Survey is now online 24 hours a day.
Related ATTRA Publication: Assessing the Pasture Soil Resource

Distributed Wind Turbines Powering Farms, Homes, Businesses
Americans are increasingly installing wind turbines near their homes, farms, and businesses, according to The 2012 Market Report on Wind Technologies in Distributed Applications, a new report by the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. About a third of all U.S. wind turbines installed in 2012 were distributed, representing about 3,800 turbines that can generate a combined 175 megawatts.
Related ATTRA Publication: Small-Scale Wind Energy on the Farm

Biomass Conversion Project to Produce Biofuel and Biochar
A project at Appalachian State University will use bio volatilization (BV) to convert biomass to biofuel and biochar economically. BV converts biomass into biochar, pyrolosis oil, fuel gas, and heat. The biochar can be used as a soil additive and waste energy will be used to heat the university's bioshelter/greenhouse. The researchers' goals are to provide a sustainable energy source and a potential revenue stream for farmers.

>> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Northeast SARE Partnership Grant
Northeast SARE offers Partnership Grants for agricultural service providers—extension staff, nonprofits, consultants, state departments of agriculture, and others working in the agricultural community—who want to conduct on-farm demonstrations, research, marketing, and other projects with farmers as active cooperators.
Application deadline is November 13, 2013.

Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin Grants
Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection is offering Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin matching grants of up to $50,000. Proposals will be accepted from individuals, groups, businesses, and organizations involved in Wisconsin agriculture, food processing, food distribution, food warehousing, retail food establishments, or agricultural tourism sites. Eligible expenses for grant-funded projects include operating expenses, real estate, and equipment.
Pre-proposals must be received by October 21, 2013.

Missouri Conservation Programs Workshops and Projects
The NRCS State Office in Missouri is offering cooperative agreements and grants up to $120,000 to promote public awareness and implementation of Farm Bill activities. Projects may include workshops, conferences, and training that will help educate Missouri's farm community, private landowners, conservation organizations, cooperating agencies, and general citizenry.
Applications are due by August 27, 2013.

>> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Farm Viability Conference
September 25-27, 2013
Middlebury, Vermont

The National Farm Viability Conference is geared towards professionals in farm and food business planning, financial planning, agricultural financing, farmland conservation, agricultural market development, and food hub management. The conference is an opportunity to network, develop new knowledge and skills, and visit farms and value-added processing facilities.

ASAP's Farm Tour
September 21-22, 2013
Western North Carolina

The gates and barns of 31 farms certified Appalachian Grown will be open to the public in this tour. Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project's self-guided driving tour is a chance to learn how food grows, taste farm-fresh treats, hang out with farm animals, and meet the community's food producers.

Harvesting Energy: Wind and Solar Power
September 14, 2013
Fairfield, Iowa

In this afternoon field day, explore how Radiance Dairy "harvests" alternative energy with a 40-kW wind turbine, solar-thermal water heater, solar-powered pumping system for livestock watering, and a geothermal heating and cooling system.

>> More Events

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Digital versions of recent and archived Weekly Harvest and ATTRAnews newsletters are available online. ATTRAnews is the newsletter of ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service.

National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) logo and link to home page The National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service - ATTRA - was developed and is managed by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT). The project is funded through a cooperative agreement with the United States Department of Agriculture's Rural Business-Cooperative Service.

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