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Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - August 21, 2019

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

  • Compost Key to Carbon Storage in Soil, Long-Term Study Shows
  • Organic Soil Health Management Training Available Online
  • First Open-Source Technology Ecosystem To Address Soil Health and Mitigate Climate Change
  • Study Explores Soil Compaction in Fields with Grazed Cover Crops
  • National Food Hub Survey Underway
  • Multi-Year Purchase Agreements Can Advance Sustainable Agriculture

Funding Opportunities

  • Farmers Advocating for Organic
  • Specialty Crop Research Initiative
  • Minnesota Dairy Assistance, Investment, and Relief Initiative (DAIRI)

Coming Events

  • Midwest Mechanical Weed Control Field Day
  • Farm Aid 2019
  • Common Ground Country Fair

News & Resources

Compost Key to Carbon Storage in Soil, Long-Term Study Shows
A 19-year study by scientists at the University of California, Davis, found that adding compost is key to storing carbon deep in semi-arid soils. This research found that conventionally managed soils neither release nor store much carbon. Cover-cropped soils stored carbon only in the 12 inches nearest the surface, and they actually lost carbon at lower depths. However, when both compost and cover crops were added, soil carbon content increased 12.6% over the duration of the study, or about 0.07% annually.
Related ATTRA Publication: How to Add Compost on Your Small Farm

Organic Soil Health Management Training Available Online
Organic Farming Research Foundation has introduced a free online training program for beginning farmers, organic farmers, and farmers in transition. The first module is Organic Soil Health Management. The self-paced training program focuses on organic specialty crop production in California and combines descriptive essays, video lectures from university faculty, and virtual field trips to demonstrate organic principles and practices.

Related ATTRA Publication: Nutrient Management Plan (590) for Organic Systems

First Open-Source Technology Ecosystem To Address Soil Health and Mitigate Climate Change
Wolfe's Neck Center for Agriculture & the Environment, together with Stonyfield Organic, the USDA's LandPKS project, and Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, has launched OpenTEAM, the first open-source technology ecosystem to address soil health and mitigate climate change. OpenTEAM, or Open Technology Ecosystem for Agricultural Management, is a farmer-driven, interoperable platform to provide farmers around the world with the best possible knowledge to improve soil health.
Related ATTRA Publication: ATTRA Soil Resources

Study Explores Soil Compaction in Fields with Grazed Cover Crops
The Pasture Project, Practical Farmers of Iowa, Sustainable Farming Association, and Land Stewardship Project partnered on a four-year NRCS-USDA Conservation Innovation Grant to demonstrate the economic and soil health benefits of livestock grazing on cover crops. Practical Farmers of Iowa reports that grazing cover crops did not contribute to soil compaction in row-crop fields for the three Iowa farmers participating in the study.
Related ATTRA Publication: Livestock as a Tool: Improving Soil Health, Boosting Crops

National Food Hub Survey Underway
The National Food Hub Survey is currently underway. It's a collaborative research effort of Michigan State University's Center for Regional Food Systems and the Wallace Center at Winrock International, conducted every two years. The survey helps to identify trends in economic growth, services offered, and customers served by food hubs nationwide. Participation in the online survey is voluntary and takes 30 to 60 minutes.

Multi-Year Purchase Agreements Can Advance Sustainable Agriculture
Multi-year purchase agreements can help advance sustainable agriculture, says a feature on Conservation Finance Network. For example, Pipeline Foods' Farm Profit Program enrolls growers in 10-year agreements to purchase their organic crops. Some organic producers value long-term contracts because they alleviate the need for marketing every year, and having a long-term agreement can motivate banks to lend. Long-term contracts can also support conservation measures or practices that take a long time to pay off.

>>More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Farmers Advocating for Organic
Farmers Advocating for Organic (FAFO) is a grant program funded by annual, voluntary contributions from Organic Valley farmers. Grants are awarded to research, education, and advocacy projects that advance FAFO's mission: to protect and promote the organic industry and the livelihood of organic farmers. Nonprofit organizations and academic/research institutions are eligible to submit a letter of interest. One-time grants of $5,000 to $50,000 are available.
The next application deadline is September 1, 2019.

Specialty Crop Research Initiative
The Specialty Crop Research Initiative program, administered by USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, addresses the critical needs of the specialty crop industry. The program awards $80 million in grants to support research and extension that address key challenges of national, regional, and multi-state importance in sustaining all components of food and agriculture, including conventional and organic food-production systems. Projects must address at least one of five identified focus areas.
Pre-applications are due October 15, 2019.

Minnesota Dairy Assistance, Investment, and Relief Initiative (DAIRI)
The DAIRI program provides financial assistance to small to medium-sized dairy operations that participate in the USDA Farm Service Agency's Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program. Applicants must be the principal operator of a Minnesota dairy cow operation that produced less than 16 million pounds of milk in 2018 and sign up for five years of coverage through the DMC. There will be two payments to eligible producers, based on the amount of milk produced in 2018, at 10 cents per cwt, up to 50,000 cwt.
Applications must be postmarked no later than October 1, 2019.

>>More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Midwest Mechanical Weed Control Field Day
September 18, 2019
Waukesha, Wisconsin
Learn about the principles and tools for precise mechanical weed control at the Midwest Mechanical Weed Control Field Day. It features weeding tools, equipment, keynote speakers, company representatives, farmer-to-farmer networking, and in-field equipment demonstrations for both specialty and row crops.

Farm Aid 2019
September 21, 2019
East Troy, Wisconsin
Farm Aid's annual festival is a an all-day celebration of music and family farmers, featuring a unique lineup of artists and genres, along with family farm-identified, local, and organic foods.

Common Ground Country Fair
September 20-22, 2019
Unity, Maine
Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association hosts Common Ground Country Fair, celebrating the rural and agricultural traditions of Maine. The event includes keynote speakers, numerous events, and exhibits.

>>More Events

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New ATTRA Publication
Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program and Whole-Farm Revenue Protection: Understanding the Differences

Question of the Week
What plants and fish are adapted to aquaculture?

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Farm Fundamentals Workshop
September 7, 2019
Collins, Mississippi
Learn more about this free, day-long workshop.

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