Syndicate content News – ATTRA – Sustainable Agriculture
Updated: 1 year 20 weeks ago

Western Cover Crops Council Seeks Experts to Help Build Selection Tool

Thu, 02/23/2023 - 15:24

The Western Cover Crops Council is building out a regional cover crop selection tool. They would like to invite farmers and cover crop experts in the Western SARE region to participate in the species verification process. Volunteers who have experience with cover crops to review and sometimes provide data for the Selector Tool. Volunteers should expect 10-15 variables added monthly for them to review online and comment on in their own time. Sign up online to participate as a volunteer.

Categories: Ag News

Organic Certification and Inspection Agencies Invited to Join Equity Learning Cohort

Thu, 02/23/2023 - 10:24

Organic Farmers Association and a coalition of partners are offering an opportunity for certification agencies or inspector organizations to deepen racial equity by participating in an eight-month equity learning cohort beginning in April 2023. The cohort specifically tailored to organic certification agencies and inspection organizations to realize organizational change around racial equity. At the end of the learning exchange, your team will have actionable next steps for your journey for equity and racial justice in your work, and strong relationships with several other organizations working on their own next steps. Upper management from eight to ten organizations will be selected to participate in this free opportunity. Apply online by February 28, 2023.

Categories: Ag News

NCAT’s ATTRA Program to Receive California IPM Achievement Award

Wed, 02/22/2023 - 22:12

The National Center for Appropriate Technology’s office in Davis, California, is being recognized by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation on February 23, 2023, as one of six recipients of the department’s IPM Achievement Awards. The IPM Achievement Awards celebrate organizations and individuals who are leading the adoption of IPM in California. NCAT is receiving recognition for providing multilingual IPM resources to underserved growers through the ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture program. The virtual IPM Achievement Awards ceremony will start at 1:30 p.m. PT and can be viewed via webcast.
Related ATTRA publication: Guía de campo de MIP orgánico

Categories: Ag News

New York Farm Viability Institute Funds 12 Research Projects

Wed, 02/22/2023 - 21:53

The New York Farm Viability Institute announced the 12 projects that were selected for funding in the organization’s competitive grant program this year. A common attribute of all the work is its focus on creating and sharing knowledge that will help farmers adapt their practices and make informed decisions about technology investments. This year’s projects cover a wide range of topics, including chickpea and lupini production, soil science, dairy cattle health, and more.

Categories: Ag News

Biochar Research Explores Climate and Production Benefits

Tue, 02/21/2023 - 17:32

Researchers at the University of Connecticut are exploring the potential to utilize forest byproducts to create biochar that could then be used in climate-smart agricultural practices. They’re evaluating biochar’s impact on food production, soil health, and environmental sustainability, and say it performs well. “Through the global data synthesis, you can see that across different soil and climate conditions, biochar, together with other practices, can help farmers to sustain food production. It can also reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce nitrogen leaching, and save soil water,” says Yawen Huang, the study’s lead author. Meanwhile, the Salisbury Independent reports that scientists at the University of Maryland, Florida A&M University, University of Florida, and the University of California-Davis received a $4.8 million in Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities funding to conduct trial studies on different types of biochar and its potential benefits as a supplementary fertilizer source. This project will focus on using poultry litter biochar to grow leafy greens in Maryland, while the other universities will test other forms of biomass as raw material for biochar and produce different types of produce, like legumes.
Related ATTRA Podcast: What is Biochar?

Categories: Ag News

Oregon Research Explores Potential for Growing High-Value Asian Herbs and Vegetables

Tue, 02/21/2023 - 17:16

Oregon State University Extension Service is exploring which Asian herbs and vegetables grow best in the Willamette Valley. Project partners are conducting field trials to determine the success of several high-demand herbs and vegetables that could offer high-value crops for farmers. A steady increase in Asian, Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander populations in the Portland metro area is contributing to rising demand for medicinal herbs and Asian vegetables. Growers trialed tulsi (holy basil), ashwagandha, and red sage (Salvia miltiorrhiza) last season, and researchers are surveying buyers about the crops and attributes they prefer. This year, grower trials will include mizuna, Asian radish, and gai lan, as well as bitter melon, Korean radish, and Korean leeks.
Related ATTRA publication: Herbs: Organic Greenhouse Production

Categories: Ag News

Colorado Seeks Community Food Access Program Grant Advisory Committee Members

Tue, 02/21/2023 - 17:00

The Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) is recruiting members to form the Small Food Business Recovery and Resilience Grant Advisory Committee. The Grant Advisory Committee will help develop grant materials, qualifying criteria, and assist in the award process of approximately $6 million in non-competitive grants to improve availability of local, fresh food in areas of Colorado that lack access currently. The grants will help small food retailers and small family farms purchase equipment or reduce the cost of providing access to locally grown food, especially in low income, low access neighborhoods or rural areas. This opportunity is part of CDA’s new Community Food Access Program. Advisory Committee members will be asked to attend four 90-minute virtual meetings between April and May 2023 and then monthly 60-minute meetings through February 2025.

Categories: Ag News

EPA Proposes Rule to Protect Farmworkers and Pesticide Handlers from Exposures

Mon, 02/20/2023 - 18:31

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a proposed rule that would improve and modernize the pesticide Application Exclusion Zone (AEZ) requirements under the 2015 Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS). An EPA review determined that the provisions in the 2020 AEZ Rule that weakened protections for farmworkers and nearby communities from pesticide exposure should be rescinded to protect the health of farmworkers, their families, and nearby communities. Consequently, EPA proposes to reinstate several provisions from the 2015 WPS to strengthen protections for farmworkers and bystanders. The changes include establishing AEZ distances for ground-based spray applications of 25 feet for medium or larger sprays and 100 feet for fine sprays when sprayed from a height greater than 12 inches from the soil surface or planting medium, as well as clarifying that AEZs extend beyond an establishment’s boundaries.

Categories: Ag News

Research Improves LED Lighting Efficiency for Vertical Farms

Mon, 02/20/2023 - 18:02

OptimIA (Optimizing Indoor Agriculture), a project led by Michigan State University, has developed two strategies to improve the efficiency of LED lighting for vertical farms. Researchers found that putting LED lighting closer to plants reduced the amount of wasted light, allowing the current for LED lighting to be lowered without reducing yield, or for yield to be improved without increasing energy costs. Similarly, the strategy of focusing light on individual plants while they are small helps prevent wasted light between seedlings. Keeping control of energy costs is one of the key factors in making vertical farming viable.

Categories: Ag News

Food Safety Planning Assistance Offered in Maine and New Hampshire

Mon, 02/20/2023 - 16:41

Cooperative Extension at the University of Maine and the University of New Hampshire have partnered up on a three-year grant to assist Fruit and Vegetable farmers in Maine and New Hampshire with farm food safety planning. The Jumpstart to Farm Food Safety project will fund an Extension Educator, trained in Produce Safety, to work with you one-on-one on your individualized farm food safety plan. Participation is on a first-come-first-served basis and small to medium-sized farms will be given preference.
Related ATTRA topic area: Food Safety

Categories: Ag News

Texas A&M Creating Center for Greenhouse Gas Management in Agriculture and Forestry

Sun, 02/19/2023 - 21:32

A new Texas A&M Center for Greenhouse Gas Management in Agriculture and Forestry will bring together expertise across the university to advance the abilities of agriculture and forestry systems to meet a new paradigm of safe, affordable food and fiber production that also strives toward a minimal carbon footprint, with a goal of net-zero emissions. According to a press release, the center will keep a heavy focus on strengthening ongoing research in greenhouse gas emissions and carbon sequestration.
Related ATTRA virtual conference event: Growing Hope: Practical Tools for Our Changing Climate

Categories: Ag News

West Texas Research Explores Cover Crop Options

Sun, 02/19/2023 - 18:15

With funding from Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SSARE), researchers at Texas A&M University worked with West Texas farmers to evaluate cover crop varieties and management practices to find the best ones for the region. The trials considered both warm-season and cool-season cover crops and looked at legume options to increase nitrogen capture. This research revealed that fall-planted warm-season cover crops didn’t have enough time in the season to establish well and produce adequate biomass. Meanwhile, cover crops had to provide more than one benefit, such as nitrogen fixing and forage for grazing, in order to be financially viable. Managing seeding rates was also key, in order to have enough legumes in the cover crop to fix nitrogen. Researchers found that Austrian winter pea teamed with rye was able to achieve the greatest biomass at the lowest seeding rates.
Related ATTRA publication: Cover Crop Options for Hot and Humid Areas

Categories: Ag News

Conservation Reserve Program General Signup Begins

Sun, 02/19/2023 - 17:12

USDA will be accepting applications for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) General signup from February 27 through April 7, 2023. General CRP helps producers and landowners establish long-term, resource-conserving plant species, such as approved grasses or trees, to control soil erosion, improve water quality and enhance wildlife habitat on cropland. Additionally, General CRP includes a Climate-Smart Practice Incentive to help increase carbon sequestration and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by helping producers and landowners establish trees and permanent grasses, enhance wildlife habitat, and restore wetlands. There are currently 23 million acres enrolled in CRP, with 1.9 million set to expire this year. USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) is aiming to reach the 27-million-acre cap statutorily set for fiscal year 2023. Landowners and producers interested in CRP should contact their local USDA Service Center to learn more or to apply for the program before their deadlines.

Categories: Ag News

How Women Farmers Are Changing Agriculture

Fri, 02/17/2023 - 16:21

A feature from The Fuller Project highlights the impact that a growing number of women farmers is having on the agriculture industry, particularly in California. “Experts say the growing presence of women in agriculture is having an impact on how the industry operates, especially in the face of generational challenges like pandemics and climate change, with research showing that women-led businesses are more likely to take a community-minded approach to how they operate and fill in gaps during crises,” writes Rachel Sarah. The article explores the growing number of women farmers and women participating in agricultural education, and the willingness of those farmers to grow specialty and ethnic crops, try new growing methods, and improve community food access.
Related ATTRA Publication: Specialty Melon Production for Small and Direct-Market Growers

Categories: Ag News

National Organic Standards Board Announces Spring Meeting

Fri, 02/17/2023 - 15:50

The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) announced its spring meeting for April 25-27, 2023, in Atlanta, Georgia, and via webcast. The NOSB invites oral and written public comment on its spring agenda topics. Written comments and requests to provide oral comments must be received by April 5, 2023. Two online comment webinars will be held April 18 and 20, 2023, Noon – 5:00 pm Eastern Time. All meeting materials, including Zoom information to join the live meeting webcast and submit comments, will be posted on the NOSB Spring 2023 Meeting website.

Categories: Ag News

Purdue Exploring Zero-Waste Aquaponics to Increase Midwest Seafood Production

Thu, 02/16/2023 - 16:03

Purdue University has received a five-year, $10 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to increase the production of seafood in the Midwest. The project will involve building a pilot integrated aquaponics facility on campus that’s designed to eliminate wastewater discharge. Instead of being discharged, the wastewater will be routed into algal bioreactors, where algae will capture nutrients, and then into anaerobic digesters that generate biogas fuel. The system is designed to generate zero waste and to operate independently of the power grid. In addition, a biorefinery will turn other system byproducts into marketable products.
Related ATTRA Publication: Aquaponics – Multitrophic Systems for Sustainable Food Production

Categories: Ag News

Project to Help Empower Small-farm Owners with Sustainable Agriculture Practices

Wed, 02/15/2023 - 22:40

Penn State University’s Global Teach Ag Network and the University of Tennessee at Martin are partnering on a USDA-funded project to help empower small-farm owners with sustainable agriculture practices. According to a Penn State news story, “the project will include new research on sustainable forage and vegetable production, a producer field school exchange program, and the promotion of global engagement and cultural awareness among students.” The project results will be shared in workshops, published in a fact sheet, and incorporated into class offerings at the university.

Categories: Ag News

Vermont’s Working Lands Enterprise Initiative Celebrates 10 Years

Wed, 02/15/2023 - 22:29

Over the last 10 years, farm, and forest businesses from all 14 Vermont counties have accessed $13.6 million from the Working Lands Enterprise Fund (WLEF) and leveraged $22.5 million in matching funds, says the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets. In the 10 years of the program, the Vermont Working Lands Enterprise Initiative has funded 418 agriculture and forestry projects. These projects have created 539 new jobs, impacted 24,007 acres, and generated $55,557,487 in sales one year after completing their grant. In agriculture, dairy and meat products make up the bulk of investments. Produce operations and value-added agricultural products have also been key areas of grantmaking.

Categories: Ag News

Licorice Leaf Extract Shows Promise as Plant Protectant

Tue, 02/14/2023 - 17:48

The American Phytopathological Society reported on a study published in Plant Disease that found licorice leaf extract is a potent bactericide and fungicide. The leaves and upper parts of the licorice plant are a byproduct when the roots are used by industry. Researchers found that the licorice leaf extract modulates plant immune responses to pathogens, involving both salicylic acid and ethylene-based responses, and also acts against a particular late blight-causing oomycete.

Categories: Ag News

Community Gardens and Urban Farms Positively Affect Biodiversity, Study Concludes

Tue, 02/14/2023 - 17:32

A study published by researchers at multiple universities found that community gardens and urban farms positively affect biodiversity, local ecosystems, and the well-being of humans that work in them. The study was the first to explore the effects of urban gardens across a wide range of biodiversity measures and ecological services. “[U]rban farms and gardens currently provide about 15%-20% of our food supply, so they are essential in addressing food inequality challenges,” notes the study’s lead author, Shalene Jha, at the University of Texas at Austin. “What we’re seeing is that urban gardens present a critical opportunity to both support biodiversity and local food production.”

Categories: Ag News