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Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - October 13, 2010

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

Funding Opportunities

Coming Events


News & Resources

Grant Funds Organic Farm Transition Economics Study
Minnesota economists will study the economic costs associated with transitioning from traditional to organic farming through a new $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The four-year project is aimed at gathering data about costs and returns for farmers making the switch to organic farming. Data will come from transitioning and recently certified organic farmers who enroll in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Farm Business Management Education program. The project also will develop print and online educational materials that will help transitioning farmers make long-term planning decisions.

Publication Highlights Prairie Benefits for Landowners
A new publication sponsored by the North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program, Leopold Center and ISU Agriculture and Natural Resource Extension touts the benefits of tallgrass prairies for landowners. "Incorporating Prairies into Multifunctional Landscapes" was written by Iowa State University researchers who are developing multi-year cropping systems for Iowa that integrate annuals and perennials. The publication looks at ways that prairies can be incorporated into farms, how they affect nearby crops, and includes resources for establishing your own prairie. The publication is available free online or in hard copy.

Study Credits GM Corn with Reducing Corn Borer Losses
A study published in the journal Science says corn that is genetically modified to resist pests, benefits neighboring crops as well, according to a Planet Ark news story. Researchers said Midwestern states that planted corn genetically modified to make a toxin that fights off European corn borer moths has dramatically cut the $1 billion in annual losses from the pest, even preserving crops that have not been altered. Earlier cost-benefit studies have looked only at the effect on the genetically modified corn itself, but this study, led by William Hutchison of the University of Minnesota, shows the wider impact caused by crops modified to make their own insecticide. According to the team's calculations, Bt corn planted in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska over the past 14 years saved up to $6.9 billion, and 62 percent of that savings--or about $4.3 billion--came from fields that were not genetically modified.

Study Advances Understanding of Bee Colony Collapse Disorder
A study published in the online journal PLoS ONE found the presence of both a virus and a fungus in bee colonies that suffered Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). The study, led by scientists from the University of Montana and the U.S. Army, used Mass spectrometry-based proteomics (MSP) to identify and quantify thousands of proteins from healthy and collapsing bee colonies. MSP revealed two unreported RNA viruses in North American honey bees, Varroa destructor-1 virus and Kakugo virus, and identified an invertebrate iridescent virus (IIV) associated with CCD colonies. Prevalence of IIV significantly discriminated among strong, failing, and collapsed colonies. In addition, bees in failing colonies contained not only IIV, but also the microsporidia Nosema. Laboratory cage trials with a strain of IIV type 6 and Nosema ceranae confirmed that co-infection with these two pathogens was more lethal to bees than either pathogen alone.

Small Farms Alternative Enterprises Conference Proceedings Online
The proceedings of the 2010 Florida Small Farms Alternative Enterprises Conference held July 31-August 1 are now available online. Speaker presentations on Alternative Energy, Alternative Enterprises, Business and Marketing, Horticulture, Livestock, and Organic and Sustainable Farming are all accessible through the conference website.

Rangeland Study Documents Land Health
USDA has released a new study by scientists and conservationists showing that non-federal rangelands in the Western United States are productive, but that non-native grasses and shrubs pose a potential threat to the rangelands' productivity. The study, which was published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, was the result of collaboration between two USDA agencies—the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)—and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The study reveals that less than 25 percent of non-federal rangelands have significant land degradation but that non-native plant species now occur on nearly 50 percent of all non-federal rangeland. The study evaluated more than 10,000 field plots across western rangelands using National Resources Inventory data. Additional details on the study are available online.

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Funding Opportunities

Organic Farming Research Foundation
OFRF is pleased to announce that funding is available to fund research or education/outreach projects on any agricultural production, social, economic, or policy-related topic of concern to organic farmers and/or ranchers. Special funding is also available for projects in the categories of organic seed quality or crop breeding thanks to a partnership with the Clif Bar Family Foundation. There are separate RFPs for research proposals and education/outreach proposals.
Proposals are due November 18, 2010.

Wisconsin Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative Grant Program
The Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative (GLCI), a partnership between USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection, and private sector agricultural and conservation groups, has announced the 2011 Request for Proposals for the Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative Grant Program. The program offers grants for grazing education and on-farm demonstration, grazing research, and grazing technical assistance.
Proposals are due November 12, 2010.

Communities Take Root
The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation (FTPF) and Dreyer's Fruit Bars are planting orchards across the country in a collaborative program called Communities Take Root (CTR). Through this program, communities compete in a nation-wide vote to win a complete community orchard. FTPF orchards are a wonderful way for communities to grow fresh fruit for the community, beautify neighborhoods, strengthen relationships and build community food security — all through the simple act of planting fruit trees. They are now inviting applications for 2011. The first 125 qualified applicants will be in the running to win a free orchard, including free community workshops on planting, pruning and caring for fruit trees. FTPF provides all plants, related materials and equipment, community workshops and training, and our team will work with your community volunteers to install the orchard. Recipients must have the appropriate space and commitment to the orchard to qualify.
This opportunity is first-come, first-served.

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Coming Events

Grass-finished Beef: Production and Marketing Webinar
October 20, 2010
Online

Grass-finished beef is part of a growing niche market of farm products that can command higher market prices and bring more to a farmer's bottom line. During this hour-long webinar you'll learn how farmers, large and small, are using more pasture and less grain to produce high-quality meat products and how they compete in the marketplace. The free webinar, presented by ATTRA specialists from the National Center for Appropriate Technology, will be held at 12:00 PM CDT.

Sustainable Ag Expo
November 15-16, 2010
Monterey, California

The 6th Annual Sustainable Ag Expo provides a unique opportunity for farmers, ag professionals and pest control advisors representing a variety of operations to learn about the latest in farming research, resource issues, and business trends related to sustainable agriculture. This two-day educational meeting provides continuing education credits, an innovative trade show, and an exhibitor showcase.

Tilth Producers Annual Conference
November 12-14, 2010
Port Townsend, Washington

This year’s Tilth Producers of Washington conference is "Organic Agriculture: The Root of Rural Development." The WSU Friday Symposium, "Organic Grains for Food, Feed and Malt," features sessions with growers, researchers, millers and bakers. The Tilth Producers conference will have five concurrent workshops running all day Saturday and Sunday. The 28 workshops have information for the novice and seasoned farmer. In addition there will be a trade show, wine tasting, auction, 50-mile banquet and dance.

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Weekly Harvest and ATTRAnews Archives
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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