Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - December 24, 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
- Ag Engineering Podcast Shares Tools, Tips, and Techniques to Improve Sustainability
- Integrating Livestock Doesn't Jeopardize Food Safety, ISU Study Finds
- Study Explores Long-Term Soil Health Impacts of Organic Management
- 'Locally Grown' Label Changes Consumer Perceptions
- Research Project Studies Turning Forested Land to Silvopasture
- Cover Crops Improve Sustainability of Star Fruit Production
- Conservation Collaboration Grants
- Farmers Advocating for Organic
- California Fertilizer Research and Education Program Grants
- Practical Tools and Solutions for Sustaining Family Farms Conference
- Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society Food & Farming Conference
- OGRAIN Winter Conference
News & Resources
Ag Engineering Podcast Shares Tools, Tips, and Techniques to Improve Sustainability
University of Vermont Extension has introduced The Ag Engineering Podcast. This series of 10- to 20-minute, in-depth podcasts chats with small-scale fruit and vegetable farmers who share tools, tips, and techniques to improve the sustainability of your farm. The first three episodes address caterpillar tunnels, managing multiple sales channels, and forming habits that create a sustainable farm business.
Related ATTRA Resources: Podcasts
Integrating Livestock Doesn't Jeopardize Food Safety, ISU Study Finds
A study from Iowa State University shows that livestock grazing can be integrated with organic crops without posing a significant food safety risk. The study involved experimental organic farming systems in Iowa, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania on which corn and soy crops were rotated with cattle grazing on small grains. Experiments have shown such arrangements can help farmers realize benefits including better soil health.
Related ATTRA Publication: Food Safety Considerations for Integrating Livestock into Produce Cropping Systems
Study Explores Long-Term Soil Health Impacts of Organic Management
Cornell University researchers published a study that examined how organic farming practices affected soil health in the long term. The study also explored how different aspects of soil health affected crop productivity. The study compared four cropping systems following 12 years of organic management and found that past nutrient inputs, how much soils had been disturbed, weed management, and the preceding crop all had lasting productivity effects.
'Locally Grown' Label Changes Consumer Perceptions
Researchers from Cornell University determined that consumer perception of produce was influenced by having a label that identified it as locally grown. In a blind taste test of broccoli, consumers rated California broccoli higher than local broccoli. However, when the produce was labeled as locally grown, consumers ranked its flavor higher and indicated their willingness to pay more for it.
Research Project Studies Turning Forested Land to Silvopasture
Researchers at Furman University studied the feasibility of transforming forested land on southern farms to silvopasture systems. The team studied suitable understory forage mixtures specifically for grazing pigs, removed invasive weeds to determine how that impacted wildlife nesting and foraging habitat, and compared soil quality of managed and unmanaged forested land. They concluded that some forage mixtures did not provide enough forage or provide for soil retention.
Cover Crops Improve Sustainability of Star Fruit Production
Cover crops can help the sustainability of star fruit farms, says a Florida International University research team that explored how sunn hemp and velvet bean contribute organic matter to the soil and improve nutrient availability. Cover crops can also help protect star fruit, or carambola, roots from cold temperatures. Sunn hemp can even provide a windbreak for the wind-sensitive star fruit crop.
Related ATTRA Publication: Cover Crop Options for Hot and Humid Areas
>>More Breaking News
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Conservation Collaboration Grants
USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is investing $35 million in conservation collaboration grants to enhance outreach to farmers and ranchers for the delivery and adoption of conservation measures. NRCS is accepting proposals for Outreach to Assist Historically Underserved Groups projects of $250,000 to $1 million. Also, Collaboration on Strategic Natural Resource Issues projects can receive $500,000 to $2 million. Eligible applicants include tribal governments, universities, nonprofit organizations, and individuals. Projects should target agricultural producers in multiple states, including Tribal, socially disadvantaged, limited-resource or beginning farmers and ranchers, as well as veteran farmers or ranchers.
Proposals are due February 7, 2020.
Farmers Advocating for Organic
Farmers Advocating for Organic (FAFO) is a grant program funded by 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. FAFO is currently prioritizing projects that focus on Understanding Organic or Cultivating CROPP Cooperative Community. Nonprofit organizations and academic/research institutions are eligible to submit a letter of interest.
The next application deadline is February 15, 2020.
California Fertilizer Research and Education Program Grants
The California Department of Food and Agriculture Fertilizer Research and Education Program (FREP) is accepting proposals. FREP funds research and education to advance the efficient use of fertilizer materials and reduce environmental impacts associated with them. Priorities include the following: technical education, demonstrating and/or validating management practices that optimize nutrient and irrigation management, addressing barriers to adoption of management practices, filling knowledge gaps in nitrogen management for specific crops, research on the role of organic input materials in soil nutrient management, and understanding and investigating mitigation strategies for nitrogen losses.
Proposals are due by January 31, 2020.
>>More Funding Opportunities
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Practical Tools and Solutions for Sustaining Family Farms Conference
January 22-25, 2020
Little Rock, Arkansas
Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group's annual Practical Tools and Solutions for Sustaining Family Farms Conference features "field-tested" presenters for conference sessions, as well as pre-conference courses, field trips, a poster display, and a trade show. The topic is "Agricultural Resilience in a Changing Climate." Several NCAT staff members will be presenters.
Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society Food & Farming Conference
January 23-26, 2020
Fargo, North Dakota
The NPSAS Winter Conference features pre-conference workshops, keynote speakers, workshops, and a trade show. Topics include weed control, unusual crops, deep winter greenhouses, farmland transition, and more.
OGRAIN Winter Conference
January 24-25, 2020
The fifth annual conference for those interested in organic grain production in the Upper Midwest will feature expert farmers, researchers, and industry representatives sharing their knowledge, along with ample opportunity for networking and discussion.
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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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