Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education News – Vegetable Crops Hotline

Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education News

The 2023 cover crop survey is underway

Adopted from NCR SARE news release, “Farmers: Share Your Thoughts on Cover Crops in the National Cover Crop Survey!“, March 1, 2023

Farmers are invited to share their thoughts on cover crops in an online survey. Why do you plant cover crops…or why don’t you? What do you want to know? Your insight will help guide research, communications, seed development, and more.

This National Cover Crop Survey is the seventh since 2012 conducted by the USDA-NIFA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) and the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA), with the help of Informa/Farm Progress.

“Since 2012, the National Cover Crop Survey has been extremely valuable in helping guide research priorities, direct communications and education efforts, provide data to researchers, and illustrate the effects of policy on cover crop use and adoption,” says Dr. Rob Myers, regional director of extension programs for North Central SARE and director of the University of Missouri Center for Regenerative Agriculture. “Data from previous surveys have been used in scientific papers, business planning, extension efforts, media coverage of cover crops, and even included in testimony to Congress.”

NCR-SARE launch a new story-sharing video series

Adopted from a NCR SARE news release, “Farming Matters” Video Series Showcases Grantees, February 28, 2023

Farming Matters with NCR-SARE

NCR-SARE has launched a new storytelling video series, “Farming Matters,” featuring grantees. Join NCR-SARE staff members Erin Schneider and Marie Flanagan as they learn more about what inspires and motivates farmers, researchers, and educators. You’ll leave each video with a better understanding of the innovative ways SARE grantees approach challenges.

With this project-sharing series, as with all our outreach efforts, NCR-SARE is working to broaden the narrative about farmers and their communities by sharing stories from various perspectives.

Episodes of “Farming Matters” are released on YouTube twice per month and will be announced on NCR-SARE’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts. Subscribe today and never miss an episode.

The “Farming Matters” YouTube video series features farmers, ranchers, educators, and researchers sharing the stories of their sustainable agriculture research. Watch to learn more about what inspires and motivates the folks who have received SARE grants in the North Central Region. You’ll leave each video with a better understanding of the innovative solutions SARE grantees use to address today’s challenges.

Below are a few of the videos that are currently featured in the playlist.

Farming Matters: No-Till and Organic Vegetables with Andrew Adamski

Andrew Adamski joins us from Full Circle Farm, his family’s farm in Wisconsin. With his SARE grant, he is working to incorporate no-till methods in his vegetable system. He talks about using a power harrow and deep shank system in his high-rotation vegetable beds of higher-value crops like lettuce, beets, and carrots. Learn about this SARE project.

Farming Matters: Soul Food Project’s Urban CSA with Danielle Guerin

Danielle Guerin takes us to Indianapolis’ Soul Food Project. With support from a SARE grant, Soul Food Project explored direct marketing and runs a successful community-based veggie box program. A follow-up SARE grant bolsters their Youth Grow Indy program and urban farming experience for youth ages 9-18. Learn about these SARE projects – Soul Food ProjectYouth Grow Indy programming

Farming Matters: Growing and Selling Mushrooms with Lauren McCalister

Lauren McCalister and her partner, Brett, run a 25-acre Three Flock Farm in Ellettsville, IN. They have been working with a network of farmers, brewers, coffee vendors, and consumers who are reducing by-product waste through the production and marketing of mushrooms. They partner with the People’s Cooperative Market for community-building and market opportunities. Her SARE project “No Waste Mushroom Cultivation: Viability Comparison of Spent Grain and Coffee Grounds for Small-scale and Urban farmers” was created in pursuit of a circular economy that would build community and test the potential to use a waste stream (brewery grains and coffee grounds) to grow mycelium, all while keeping the small farmer in mind. In preparation for her project, McCalister read about other mushroom projects on the SARE project database, but she didn’t like the amount of plastic often used in growing mushrooms. She simplified the materials and ingredients she used to make her own coffee and researched more environmentally friendly substrate and inoculum options to make her method easy to reproduce by others.  She used the SARE project from Soul Fire Farms as a manual to help her focus her research and answer the most pressing questions. This video features Lauren talking about her mushroom cultivation project and her motivations behind it. Learn about this SARE project.

Book resource

Adopted from SARE webpage

Building Soils for Better Crops – Ecological Management for Healthy Soils

Fred Magdoff, Harold van Es | 2021 | 410 pages

The 4th edition of Building Soils for Better Crops is a one-of-a-kind, practical guide to ecological soil management. It provides step-by-step information on soil-improving practices as well as in-depth background—from what soil is to the importance of organic matter. It will show you how different physical, chemical and biological factors of the soil interconnect, and how management practices impact them to make your soil healthy and resilient or unhealthy and vulnerable to degradation.

Case studies of farmers from across the country provide inspiring examples of how soil—and whole farms—have been renewed through these techniques. A must-read for farmers, educators and students alike. A free download is available, or it’s available in hardcopy at SARE

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