Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - December 16, 2015
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
- Illinois Study Finds Ground-Level Ozone Reduces Crop Yields
- European SmartSOIL Toolbox Offers Interactive Online Decision Tool for Optimizing Soil Carbon
- Project to Examine Orchard-Protection Potential of Falcons
- Reflective Mulches Help Control Mexican Bean Beetles in Snap Beans
- Analysis of Local Food Market Published
- New York's Local Meat-Buying Website Expands Service Area
- Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI)
- The FruitGuys Community Fund
- Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund
- Organic Seed Growers Conference
- Farming for the Future Conference
- Soil Health Conference
News & Resources
Illinois Study Finds Ground-Level Ozone Reduces Crop Yields
University of Illinois and USDA ARS researchers found that over the last 30 years, ozone emissions have reduced soybean and corn yields by 5% and 10%, respectively. Damage is increased by greater ozone concentrations and by greater water availability. The researchers calculated an annual loss of just over $9 billion worth of crops nationwide.
European SmartSOIL Toolbox Offers Interactive Online Decision Tool for Optimizing Soil Carbon
A new online tool developed for the EU, the SmartSOIL Toolbox, helps users to identify farming practices that can optimize soil organic carbon (SOC) storage and crop productivity. The project team identified key management practices that can enhance SOC and help improve soil resilience, crop productivity, and carbon sequestration. These include crop rotation, residue management, conservation agriculture, addition of manures and composts, and cover crops.
Project to Examine Orchard-Protection Potential of Falcons
Michigan State University researchers are investigating whether crop damage in orchards decreases when the population of small falcons increases. The researchers are installing nest boxes to try and attract American kestrels to orchards because kestrels prey on many species that cause damage to fruit crops. Researchers are also interviewing cherry and blueberry growers to determine how they decide which pest-management methods to use.
Related ATTRA Publication: Farmscaping to Enhance Biological Control
Reflective Mulches Help Control Mexican Bean Beetles in Snap Beans
A Virginia Tech study funded by a Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SSARE) Graduate Student Grant has shown that using reflective plastic mulch significantly reduces populations of Mexican bean beetles on snap beans, while significantly increasing yields. Results revealed that silver (metalized) plastic mulches performed the best.
Related ATTRA Publication: Cucumber Beetles: Organic and Biorational Integrated Pest Management
Analysis of Local Food Market Published
The Packaged Facts report Shopping for Local Foods in the U.S. estimates that local foods generated $12 billion in sales in 2015, accounting for 2% of total U.S. retail sales of foods and beverages. Over the next five years, the report says local foods will grow faster than the annual pace of total food and beverage sales to approach $20 billion in 2019.
New York's Local Meat-Buying Website Expands Service Area
MeatSuite.com is a website designed to help New York consumers find locally produced, high-quality meats to purchase by the whole, half, or quarter animal. The site currently includes listings of farms that sell bulk meat in nine counties of the Finger Lakes region, and 16 more counties are joining the program. Farms can create free profiles on the site, featuring contact information, prices and descriptions of products, practices, and photos.
>> More Breaking News
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Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI)
USDA is accepting applications for $17.6 million to support research and outreach activities that will help growers, producers, and processors find innovative ways to improve organic agriculture. OREI funds high-priority research, education, and extension projects that enhance the ability of organic producers and processors to grow and market high-quality organic products.
Applications are due March 10, 2016.
The FruitGuys Community Fund
The FruitGuys Community Fund provides grants up to $5,000 to small farms and agricultural nonprofits for sustainability projects that have large positive impacts on the environment, local food systems, and farm diversity. Preference will be given to applicants within 250 miles of San Francisco, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Chicago, or Phoenix. Projects should help farms and/or orchards operate more sustainably, both environmentally and economically, as well as strengthen community outreach.
Applications are due by February 15, 2016.
Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund
The Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund provides direct assistance to veterans in their beginning years of farming or ranching. Applicants must have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, currently be on active duty, or serving in the military reserve/National Guard. They must also be members of the Farmer Veteran Coalition.
Applications must be received by February 1, 2016.
>> More Funding Opportunities
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Organic Seed Growers Conference
February 4-6, 2016
Organic Seed Alliance and co-hosts Oregon State University, Washington State University, and eOrganic present the largest organic seed event in the United States. Expand your seed knowledge and skills, hear the latest in scientific research, and discover new resources and tools that help you breed, grow, and sell more seed.
Farming for the Future Conference
February 3-6, 2016
State College, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture's annual Farming for the Future Conference includes intensive pre-conference programming, more than 100 workshops on a variety of topics, a trade show, and special activities. The conference theme is Farming in a Changing Climate.
Soil Health Conference
February 2-3, 2016
This conference is a collaborative effort between Iowa State University Extension and the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service. The goal of the conference is to increase awareness and understanding of soil health as pivotal to sustainable agriculture and environmental quality in Iowa and the Midwest.
>> More Events
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ATTRA was developed and is managed by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT). The program is funded through a cooperative agreement with the United States Department of Agriculture's Rural Business-Cooperative Service.
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