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NCAT - News 11/12/2019 15:58
A group of scientists published an opinion in Nature Sustainability, saying that debate over quantifying the potential for soil carbon to mitigate climate change is obscuring additional reasons to implement policies that build soil carbon. “The benefits of soil carbon go beyond climate mitigation,” said Stephen Wood, soil scientist at The Nature Conservancy and associate research scientist at Yale. “Rebuilding soil carbon on agricultural lands is important to building sustainable and resilient agricultural systems. We need to make sure that the debate about how to mitigate climate change doesn’t undermine efforts to build soil health for the many other things...
NCAT - News 11/12/2019 15:46
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is seeking public comments on its interim final rule for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) through January 13, 2020. Changes to the program in this rule include ncreasing payment rates for adoption of cover crop rotations, introducing a new supplemental payment for advanced grazing management, creating one-time payment for developing a comprehensive conservation plan, and providing specific support for organic and transitioning to organic production activities. NRCS will evaluate public comments to determine whether additional changes are needed. The agency plans on publishing a final rule following public comment review.
NCAT - News 11/11/2019 19:35
A 20-year study by Iowa State University researchers showed that fertilizing crops with poultry manure can benefit soil health and farm profits when compared to a commercial fertilizer. In the study’s first decade, experiments compared three treatments in a corn-soybean rotation, and in the second 10 years, treatments for continuous corn cropping were compared. After 20 years, the study found particulate organic matter and several other measures of soil quality were significantly better in the manured plots. Corn yields increased from manure treatment during the continuous corn phase of the study, and were similar during the corn-soybean phase. Although the...
NCAT - News 11/08/2019 19:36
A feature in Tri-State Neighbor profiles a new demonstration farm in Huron, South Dakota. Ducks Unlimited signed the 310-acre farm over to Beadle Conservation District, which will both manage it as a demonstration farm and maintain hunter access. The farm will highlight use of cover crops, grazing to promote wetland management, soil health, no-till, and improving farm income. A team including representatives from Beadle Conservation District, Ducks Unlimited, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, South Dakota State University, and other partners will make management decisions. The farm is already offering a management example for neighborhood farmers, as soil quality improves.
NCAT - News 11/08/2019 18:33
USDA has announced that it will make available $800 million to agricultural producers in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia affected by hurricanes Michael and Florence. The state block grants are part of a broader $3 billion package to help producers recover from 2018 and 2019 natural disasters, which includes the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program-Plus (WHIP+), as well as programs for loss of milk and stored commodities. USDA and the governor’s office in Florida and the state departments of agriculture in the other two states are working out final details for the grants, which will cover qualifying losses not covered by...
NCAT - News 11/08/2019 18:20
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is seeking nominees to serve on the Farm, Ranch, and Rural Communities Committee (FRRCC). Established in 2008, the FRRCC provides independent policy advice, information, and recommendations to EPA’s Administrator on a range of environmental issues and policies that are of importance to agriculture and rural communities. Members may represent allied industries and stakeholders including farm groups, rural suppliers, marketers, processors, academia/researchers; state, local, and tribal government; and nongovernmental organizations. EPA will consider qualifications such as the following: whether candidates are actively engaged in farming, hold leadership positions in ag-related organizations, poss.
NCAT - News 11/08/2019 18:07
The Midwest Cover Crops Council has developed a series of free PDF “recipes” for growing cover crops, available on its website. The site has recipes for Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, and North Dakota that explain how and why to add cover crops into a corn-soybean rotation. The cover crop recipe guides tell how to plan for cover crops, choose corn and soybean hybrids, and purchase seed. They also explain crop sensitivity to selected hybrids and effects of residual herbicides. The simple, three-page guides tell what field work must be done in fall and spring for best results...
NCAT - News 11/08/2019 01:05
Pennsylvania State University is constructing a solar farm of more than 150,000 solar panels on 500 acres leased from local landowners that will provide 25% of the school’s purchased electricity over the next 25 years. The project is designed to be reduce energy costs, lower greenhouse-gas emissions, support local communities and farmers, and be regenerative, in terms of providing wildlife habitat and improving soil. Part of that effort includes planting pollinator habitat among the panels and hedgerows around the edge to provide honeybee habitat. One site will incorporate mixed flowers and low-growing vegetation below the solar arrays to support grazing...
NCAT - News 11/08/2019 00:37
The International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis reports on a study published in the journal Nature Communications that found human impacts have greatly reduced plant-fungus symbioses, or mycorrhiza. These play a key role in sequestering carbon in soils, encompassing storage of some 350 gigatons of carbon globally. Researchers say that restoring these mycorrhizal ecosystems more broadly could help slow climate change, and they suggest restoring native vegetation to abandoned agricultural and barren land to enhance soil carbon storage.
NCAT - News 11/06/2019 23:58
California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) and the Organic Produce Network (OPN) will honor long-time organic rice growers Lundberg Family Farms as the recipient of the third annual Organic Grower Summit’s Grower of the Year. According to a press release, Lundberg Family Farms was selected based on the company’s ongoing commitment and dedication to excellence in organic production and organic industry leadership and innovation. The award will be presented at the Organic Grower Summit, December 4-5, 2019, in Monterey, California. “Not only has the Lundberg Family’s decades of work to encourage water conservation, rotate crops, grow cover crops, and use natural...
NCAT - News 11/06/2019 23:33
Rabo AgriFinance is offering a new loan product designed to make it more financially viable for farmers to seek organic certification. With guidance from Pipeline Foods, a specialty grain supply-chain company, Rabo AgriFinance has developed a financial framework that gives farmers the flexibility to receive the capital needed for upfront costs associated with changing production practices. Farmers can schedule repayments when they receive the additional revenue from selling certified organic goods. “There is demand from consumers and food companies for organic food and ingredients, but farmers repeatedly run into a wall trying to pencil out how they are going to...
NCAT - News 11/06/2019 23:11
Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientists have determined that produce can be scanned for nutrient content using a handheld Raman spectrometer. In their study, the team scanned corn kernels and were able to calculate levels of protein, carbohydrates, fiber, and carotenoids quickly and without destroying the sample. The technology could be used to assess qualities of grain in the field, and the same scan can help identify diseases in plants even before symptoms appear.
NCAT - News 11/05/2019 15:15
American Farmland Trust (AFT) has released the first of 11 state fact sheets summarizing results from its Non-Operating Landowners Survey. These first results, from Ohio, demonstrate that landowners care about their land and are keenly interested in stewarding it well— keeping it in farming and altering lease terms to support conservation. AFT concludes that the survey results are good news for farmers who want to try new conservation practices on land they rent. AFT will release a full report this winter on conclusions from all surveyed states.
NCAT - News 11/05/2019 15:08
The National Young Farmers Coalition, Farm Aid, and Vermont Farm First received $480,000 from USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) for the establishment of a Farm Ranch Stress Assistance Network in the Northeast Region. This program will improve behavioral health awareness, literacy, access, and outcomes for farmers, ranchers, and farmworkers in the Northeast. The program will convene a network of farmer service providers in the region to build connection and collaboration, gather resources, and provide feedback on regional needs; develop an online clearinghouse to share available resources and referrals with farmers and service providers; and train service providers...
NCAT - News 11/04/2019 22:27
The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University has announced Paul Mugge as the 2019 winner of the Spencer Award. The annual $1,000 award recognizes farmers, researchers, and teachers who have contributed significantly to the environmental and economic stability of the Iowa farming community. Mugge raises organic corn, soybeans, small grains and alfalfa on the 300-acre farm he took over from his father, and he has been particularly active with Practical Farmers of Iowa in conducting numerous field trials and hosting field days.
NCAT - News 11/04/2019 21:44
Research published in HortTechnology by Montana State University’s Roland Ebel examined how the ancient Aztec use of “chinampas” could inform modern urban agriculture. Chinampas are raised vegetable fields on artificial floating islands in lakes, where vegetables can be grown year-round. Similar systems are in use today in Mexico City and elsewhere in the world. Benefits include low irrigation needs, a microclimate favorable for a variety of crops, high fertility generated by surrounding canals, provision of ecosystem services, and potential for tourism revenue.
NCAT - News 11/04/2019 13:28
Scientists with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) have developed and released a true red spinach variety. The new variety, “USDA Red,” has red leaves, not just red veins. The red color comes from betacyanin, a powerful antioxidant, and testing showed the antioxidant capacity of USDA Red was 42–53% higher than other spinach cultivars. In addition, the red leaves offer eye appeal for salad mixes. ARS has applied for a Plant Variety Protection certificate for USDA Red and the agency is seeking a partner to license production of seeds for the market.
NCAT - News 11/01/2019 20:16
The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) has opened public registration for the inaugural Soil Health Innovations Conference, March 30-31, 2020, in Bozeman, Montana. The forum will bring together leading experts and innovative farmers from around the United States to share the latest in soil science, best practices in soil management, and the emerging technologies that will drive the future of sustainable and regenerative agriculture. NCAT is sponsoring the conference in cooperation with USDA Rural Development, Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE), and Montana State University. The goal of the conference, NCAT Executive Director Steve Thompson said, is to...

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