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NCAT - News 11/14/2019 16:48
The Savanna Institue has produced a new series of free “Key Perennial Crop” information sheets in collaboration with the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems and the USDA-SARE program. The information sheets offer descriptions of twelve key Midwestern agroforestry crops: Aronia, Asian Pear, Black Currant, Black Walnut, Chinese Chestnut, Cider Apple, Elderberry, Hazelnut, Honeyberry, Northern Pecan, Pawpaw, and Serviceberry. They are available free online.
NCAT - News 11/14/2019 16:43
The Center for Rural Affairs has released several Conservation Innovation Grants farmer case studies. The case studies feature new, experienced, and veteran farmers who raise a variety of livestock, grow crops, and are involved in agritourism. Each PDF case study includes an overview of the farming operation, a statement from the farmer about the value of conservation, and the advice they would offer to a beginning farmer.
NCAT - News 11/14/2019 16:27
Iowa State University scientists published a study in Global Change Biology Bioenergy that showed cover crops stimulating microbes deep in the soil can lead to improved water quality by preventing nutrient loss. However, the study also found that because the stimulated microbes consume the carbon in the cover crop, carbon dioxide is released to the atmosphere and that carbon is not sequestered in the soil. “Greater plant growth doesn’t necessarily mean gains in carbon sequestration if microbial activity also increases,” explained corresponding author Steven Hall.
NCAT - News 11/13/2019 19:44
Researchers with the Multi-Use Naked Barley for Organic Systems project funded by a 2017 Organic Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) grant have posted results of a national survey of organic barley growers. The project surveyed 81 organic barley producers on how many acres they are growing, what varieties they grow, what markets they are growing barley for, whether they receive a price premium for organic barley, whether they are growing or would be interested in growing multi-use naked barley, what production challenges they face, and what traits they would like to see improved. A 20-page PDF report on the results...
NCAT - News 11/12/2019 19:58
The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has announced Cultiv@te, a global technology and innovation initiative for sustainable agriculture. Cultiv@te—an innovation initiative of UNDP supported by the Singapore Government—will curate multi-stakeholder coalitions to tackle key challenges faced by developing countries across the globe and explore opportunities in urban agriculture, climate resilience, and livestock farming. According to UNDP, “the program offers mature growth-stage startups and R&D teams from academic institutions a unique opportunity to work in a number of emerging markets with immense potential and needs. The global cohort will join local innovators, technology experts, corporate mentors, and financiers to co-design so.
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.

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