Nina Prater Tag

In a new video series: Soil Health 101: Principles for Livestock Production, NCAT Sustainable Agriculture Specialist Nina Prater makes the case for modeling soil health strategies after nature’s blueprint that produced that situation in the first place. We all know the basic story. Plants photosynthesize sunlight and make sugars. They use the sugars to build leaves and stems and roots and seeds – pretty much everything that makes a plant a plant. But at the same time, they share the wealth by exuding sugars from the roots to feed a “community” of soil microbes and fungi that in turn help keep the...

In this episode of Voices from the Field, Sustainable Agriculture Specialist Nina Prater introduces us to one of NCAT’s newest staff members, Chris Lent. Actually, it is more of a reintroduction since Chris worked at NCAT several years ago. He took a break when his son was born, and now he’s back as a sustainable agriculture specialist working from northeast Pennsylvania with NCAT’s Northeast Regional Office. Chris has wide-ranging experience, from organic agriculture and high tunnel production to solar power and business planning. He and Nina talk about his journey in agriculture and the projects he’ll be taking on with NCAT. ATTRA...

Getting nutrients right in farming is a balancing act. When planning to apply fertilizers and soil amendments, farmers must consider their soil type, climate, the time of year, the crops they are raising, water availability, soil health, water quality concerns, and the nuances of the many different macro- and micronutrients that plants require. The way nutrients are applied is also an important consideration.
By Nina Prater, Sustainable Agriculture Specialist...

Adaptive grazing is a regenerative livestock production system that uses multiple paddocks, frequent moving of livestock with short grazing intervals, and long rest periods to provide full pasture plant recovery. It is a proven method of increasing the resiliency of pastures by building soil organic matter, increasing soil water infiltration, promoting water conservation, adding diversity, and decreasing surface runoff.
By Nina Prater, Sustainable Agriculture Specialist...

Our NCAT Gulf States team has been working hard throughout the pandemic to provide quality technical assistance to farmers that we’re known for. Instead of meeting with farmers in-person, we shifted to virtual events. In-person on-farm workshops will always be our favorite way to teach, but we found that there are benefits to embracing the virtual platform. One significant benefit was that we were able to record these virtual workshops and share them with a national audience.
By Nina Prater, Sustainable Agriculture Specialist ...

Native plants bring both beauty and resilience to the farmscape. In this episode of Voices from the Field, Eric Fuselier, an environmental project manager at the Arkansas and Oklahoma civil engineering firm Crafton Tull, tells the story of native plants and the benefits they offer in a conversation with NCAT Sustainable Agriculture Specialist Nina Prater. Farmers can use native plants in many creative ways to provide such benefits as biological pest control, bioremediation, and erosion control. Eric and Nina also talk about different ways farmers can create profitable enterprises with native plants, such as native forage species for livestock, native food...

I love talking with people who are passionate about what they do. That energy and excitement is always so inspiring, and that was definitely the case recently when I talked with Matt Casteel, owner of Wurmworks, a composting business in Jackson, Mississippi. He works in partnership with local organizations to transform food waste into a resource for local farmers. Matt makes worm compost, thermophilic compost, compost extract, and compost tea. 
By Nina Prater, Sustainable Agriculture Specialist ...

Not all superheroes wear capes, and that includes worms. In this episode of Voices from the Field, Nina Prater, sustainable agriculture specialist in the NCAT Southeast office in Fayetteville, Arkansas, talks with Matt Casteel, owner of Wurmworks, a composting business in Jackson, Mississippi. The two take a closer look at worms as composting superheroes. Casteel explains how to identify “good” compost, the ins-and-outs of worm composting, why compost is so good for soil health, and how composting can put food waste to good use. ATTRA Resources: Worms for Bait or Waste Processing Vermicomposting: The Basics Managing Soils for Water: How Five Principles of Soil Health...

It is always challenging to be a farmer, with so many things outside our control: the weather, of course, but customers, markets, and supply chains can also shift as unpredictably as the summer rain.
By Nina Prater, Sustainable Agriculture Specialist...

Everyone has their “thing”—that topic or interest that they just can’t get enough of. That topic that you bore people with at parties (remember parties?) when you talk about it just a little too long. For me, my “thing” is soil. I find the topic of soil so endlessly fascinating, and I get to think about, talk about, teach about, and play with soil as a job and a way of life. I’m lucky enough to be a soil specialist for NCAT and I live on a family farm.
By Nina Prater, NCAT Sustainable Agriculture Specialist ...

In this episode, Nina Prater, a sustainable agriculture specialist with NCAT’s southeast office in Fayetteville, Arkansas, continues a discussion about electric fencing with her husband, Jeremy Prater. Jeremy is the owner and operator of Cedar Creek Farm, a sustainable diversified livestock operation in the Ozarks of Arkansas. Jeremy has used electric fencing to manage cattle, goats, hogs, and poultry. They go into detail about the equipment itself and how to use it effectively. In the previous episode, Nina and Jeremy discussed why electric fencing is such a useful tool in management-intensive grazing; the NRCS’s cost-share program for electric fence; how to adapt...

In this episode, Nina Prater, a sustainable agriculture specialist with NCAT’s southeast office in Fayetteville, Arkansas, talks about electric fencing with her husband, Jeremy Prater. Jerry is the owner and operator of Cedar Creek Farm, a sustainable diversified livestock operation in the Ozarks of Arkansas. Jeremy has used electric fencing to manage cattle, goats, hogs, and poultry. In this episode, Nina and Jeremy talk about why electric fencing is such a useful tool in management-intensive grazing; the NRCS’s cost-share program for electric fence; how to adapt existing fence; and other ways electric fencing can be used to contain and manage livestock. In...

Designed and patented by Dr. Dan Pote, the Subsurfer inserts dry poultry litter a few inches into the soil profile without disturbing the soil. It’s kind of like a combination of a no-till seed drill and a manure spreader. It was originally designed to be used in pasture and forage production systems, but Dr. Ashworth has been leading a three-year research project to assess its use in organic specialty crop production. This research, funded by the Arkansas Department of Agriculture, is trying to determine best practices for using the Subsurfer in organic sweet corn and edamame production.
By Nina Prater,...

In this episode, Nina Prater, a sustainable agriculture specialist with NCAT’s southeast office in Fayetteville, Arkansas, talks with Dr. Phillip Owens and Dr. Amanda Ashworth about a new piece of farm technology called a subsurfer. Dr. Owens is research leader with the Dale Bumpers Small-Farm Research Center in Booneville, Arkansas, and Dr. Ashworth is a research soil scientist with the USDA Agricultural Research Service. The subsurfer inserts dry poultry litter into the soil without tilling the soil. It was originally designed for use in pastures, but Dr. Ashworth has been conducting research on the use of this technology in organic edamame and...

As we round the corner from summer into fall, I always like to look back and assess how we did on our farm during the busy summer months. We did not suffer a bad drought this summer, though it was touch and go for a few weeks in July. We had to feed hay for about ten days to make sure we didn’t graze the grass too short, but it wasn’t as dire as it has been some years.
By Nina Prater, NCAT Agriculture Specialist ...

We have a livestock farm in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas, but we’re always looking for ways to diversify our operation. Mushrooms seemed like a good fit. We manage over 100 acres of forest, a ready source of both material and shady land for mushroom production.
Photos and text by Nina Prater, NCAT Sustainable Agriculture Specialist...