Thursday, May 25, 2017

Weekly Harvest, May 24, 2017

Home | Newsletter Archives

ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture

Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - May 24, 2017

Weekly sustainable agriculture news and resources gleaned from the Internet by NCAT staff for the ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture website. The Weekly Harvest Newsletter is also available online.

Join the NCAT Team!
The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) is seeking an Agriculture Specialist/Outreach Coordinator who can create and distribute outreach communications. The position will be located in Keene, New Hampshire. Applications will be accepted through June 16, 2017, or until suitable candidates can be identified.

News & Resources

  • Soil Health Guide Series Helps Organic Producers
  • Protecting Farmland Can Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Says Report
  • Silvopasture Benefits Animal Welfare and Productivity
  • Penn State Researchers Explore Extending Berry Season
  • Mechanical Blossom Thinning Offers Alternative for Apple Growers
  • Tennessee Research Finds Fall Calving More Profitable

Funding Opportunities

  • Agriculture and Food Research Initiative - Food Safety Challenge Area
  • Farmers Advocating for Organic
  • Conservation Innovation Grants in California

Coming Events

  • North American Agroforestry Conference
  • Touring the Lentil Underground
  • Grass-Fed Beef Conferences

News & Resources

Soil Health Guide Series Helps Organic Producers
Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) has released the first three titles in Soil Health and Organic Farming, a new series of educational guides designed to help organic farmers and ranchers enhance the soil health and overall resilience of their operations. Available titles include Building Organic Matter for Healthy Soils: An Overview, Weed Management: An Ecological Approach, and Practical Conservation Tillage.

Protecting Farmland Can Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Says Report
Greener Fields: Combating Climate Change by Keeping Land in Farming in New York is a new report from American Farmland Trust on the role that protecting farmland can have in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The report found that an acre of farmland produces 66 times fewer greenhouse-gas emissions than an acre of developed land in New York.

Silvopasture Benefits Animal Welfare and Productivity
A study in Virginia, reported in Temperate Agroforester, showed that silvopasture delivered equivalent weight gains in sheep while improving animal welfare. Although the silvopasture system had 30% less forage availability compared to treeless systems, lambs had equivalent weight gains. Researchers believe that greater animal comfort provided by shade contributed to the productivity of the silvopasture system.
Related ATTRA Publication: Agroforestry: An Overview

Penn State Researchers Explore Extending Berry Season
Penn State researchers are examining how the use of high and low tunnels and plastic coverings extends the growing season for strawberries and raspberries to five months and four months, respectively. In addition, the growing system increases yields while reducing pesticide use and improving berry quality and shelf life.
Related ATTRA Publication: Brambles: Organic Production

Mechanical Blossom Thinning Offers Alternative for Apple Growers
A three-year study by New York apple producers, CCE educators, and Cornell researchers examined mechanical blossom thinning as an alternative to the commonly used chemical carbaryl. The trial used a Darwin string thinner to remove one-third to one-half of a tree's blossoms. The trials focused on finding optimal speeds for the Darwin spindle and for the tractor, as well as preventing the potential spread of fire blight.
Related ATTRA Publication: Apples: Organic Production Guide

Tennessee Research Finds Fall Calving More Profitable
Researchers at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture assessed the potential trade-offs in risk and return of using a fall calving season rather than a spring season. They considered the seasonality of cattle and feed prices for least-cost feed rations. Researchers determined that in the Southeast, calving between mid-September and mid-November was most profitable.

>>More Breaking News

Back to top

Funding Opportunities

Agriculture and Food Research Initiative - Food Safety Challenge Area
The Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) is a competitive grant program that provides funding for fundamental and applied research, education, and extension projects in food and agricultural sciences. The long-term goal of the Food Safety Challenge Area is to support the development and deployment of science-based knowledge to improve the safety and nutritional quality of food without sacrificing flavor, acceptability, and affordability. In FY 2017, applications are sought in the priority area of effective mitigation strategies for antimicrobial resistance. Approximately $11 million will be available for new grants.
The application deadline is June 21, 2017.

Farmers Advocating for Organic
Farmers Advocating for Organic (FAFO) is funded by annual, voluntary contributions from Organic Valley farmers. Grants are awarded to research, education, and advocacy projects that advance FAFO's mission: to protect and promote the organic industry and the livelihood of organic farmers. Non-profit organizations and academic/research institutions are eligible to submit a letter of interest online. Grant applications are reviewed three times per year.
The next application deadline is June 15, 2017.

Conservation Innovation Grants in California
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in California is accepting proposals for Conservation Innovation Grants. Up to $375,000 is available for one- to three-year grants, with $75,000 the maximum award amount per project. In 2017, NRCS California is prioritizing proposals that improve the "technical toolbox" to address soil and water quality, wildlife habitat, water conservation, forest health, air quality, waste recycling, and energy conservation. Eligible applicants include state and local government, nongovernment organizations, Tribal governments, eligible private businesses, and individuals.
Proposals are due by June 7, 2017.

>>More Funding Opportunities

Back to top

Coming Events

North American Agroforestry Conference
June 27-29, 2017
Blacksburg, Virginia

This event for agroforestry producers, researchers, educators, and those involved with permaculture and agroecology will feature three days of networking, discussion, site visits, and more.

Touring the Lentil Underground
June 29-30, 2017
Ulm, Power, Fort Benton, and Havre, Montana

AERO is offering a free, two-day tour of sustainable farms and farming in Montana's Golden Triangle. Vans are provided, and participation is limited.

Grass-Fed Beef Conferences
June 28 or 29, 2017
Spring Hill or Athens, Tennessee

University of Tennessee Extension will offer cattle producers a "one-stop" opportunity to learn about producing and marketing grass-fed beef. The same event will be held twice.

>>More Events

Back to top

Subscribe to the Weekly Harvest

Comments? Questions? Contact us

Weekly Harvest Archives
Digital versions of recent and archived Weekly Harvest newsletters are available online.

National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) logo and link to home pageATTRA was developed and is managed by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT). The program is funded through a cooperative agreement with the United States Department of Agriculture's Rural Business-Cooperative Service.

Visit the NCAT website for more information on our other sustainable agriculture and energy projects.

© 2017 NCAT

Back to top

New ATTRA Podcast

Question of the Week
Should I deworm my sheep on a schedule?

Ask an Agriculture Expert
Submit questions to our professional staff online or by calling 1-800-346-9140

Armed to Farm
Sustainable agriculture training for veterans and spouses, August 21-25, 2017, in Bangor, Maine.
Apply by July 12, 2017.

ATTRA Spanish Newsletter
Subscribe to Cosecha Mensual (Monthly Harvest), ATTRA's Spanish-language e-newsletter

ATTRA is on Facebook!
We feature breaking news on sustainable agriculture topics several times a week. Add us to your Facebook friends list today!

Find us on facebook


Follow us on Pinterest


Follow us on Twitter


Follow us on Twitter


Support the ATTRA Project


Home | Newsletter Archives



thedatabank, gbc.


Spring Chemically Speaking

The spring edition of Chemically Speaking is attached for your viewing.

Dr. Fred Fishel
Professor, Agronomy, and Director
UF/IFAS Pesticide Information Office
Bldg. 164, P.O. Box 110710
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 32611
(352) 392-4721
FAX: (352) 846-0206

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Drought and wildfire

The drought tool kit has some very good resources, including information on wildfire risk, firewise planting, and providing water for wildlife. 


Thanks Michael and Saqib for bringing to our attention.


Best, M





Martin B. Main, PhD

Associate Dean and Program Leader, Extension Natural Resources
Associate Director, Florida Sea Grant

University of Florida IFAS

1762 McCarty Drive, Building 803, PO Box 110405

Gainesville, FL 32611-0430

Office: 352.392.1837

Fax: 352.392.5113


Administrative Assistant: Sandi Reveille (; ph: 352.392.1837)


Being a leader is not someone you are, it’s something you do.

Drought & Fire: Learn what forest landowners are doing about it

Drought & Fire

Florida is burning up: Learn what forest landowners are doing about it


GAINESVILLE, Fla., May 23, 2017 — Drought has been making news in Florida, fueling more than 2,100 wildfires burning 170,000 acres since the start of the year according to The Florida Forest Service.


And with up to a 12-inch rain deficit throughout the state and temperatures predicted to continue above normal, relief may not be in sight, even if the rainy season starts soon, according to the National Weather Service.


Florida’s forests are fire-dependent, and prescribed burning eliminates the woody understory that serves as ladder fuel for wildfires if left unburned. They need to be burned about every three years to maintain the proper balance and diversity of vegetation for forest health and wildlife habitat. The difference between a prescribed burn and wildfire is control.  And since Mr. Bickel has managed his forest by burning it regularly, he has reduced the risk of wildfire hazard. If an unplanned fire sweeps through his forest, it will most likely burn with less intensity and size.


Wildfires are expensive. It costs from $300 to $723 per acre to suppress a wildfire, said Susan Kett, prescribed fires specialist for the US Forest Service. Compare that to $15 to $50 an acre to do a prescribed burn, according to Eric Staller, natural resource coordinator at Tall Timbers Research Station.  The research station, located in Tallahassee, Fla., conducts research on fire ecology.


The Florida Forestry Association reports that most of Florida’s 17.3 million acres of timberland are privately owned. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides financial and technical assistance to private landowners like Mr. Bickel to manage their forests, planting fire-tolerant longleaf pine, installing firebreaks and prescribe burning though several initiatives under the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP). The Conservation Stewardship Program can help through forestry-related enhancements. Since October, 2013 to October 2016 NRCS has helped private landowners do prescribed burns on 52,947.9 acres in Florida.


Mr. Bickel wanted a natural forest setting when he bought the old cow pasture with fence rows in 1986. He ripped out the fences and planted longleaf pine and slash pine 11 years ago.  He found setting prescribed burns the last three years mimicked Mother Nature and eliminated invasive plants. He discovered his native longleaf pine trees held up really well in fires. Controlled burns gave life to a fresh understory of plants that provides food and shelter for wildlife.  Now Mr. Bickel has the forest he envisioned.  “I enjoy seeing wild turkey, deer, fox squirrels and gopher tortoise. And the quail are back,” he said.


To learn about technical and financial assistance available from NRCS, go to Getting Started with NRCS. Begin by visiting your local NRCS field office and requesting help developing a conservation plan.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Florida Land Steward Update 5/19/17


May 19, 2017

Have Land?  Get a Plan and Stay Connected.  Florida Land Steward is your source of assistance, information, events and resources.

News, information and upcoming events below.  
Please share this update with your neighbors, colleagues and others that may be interested.

*- Link to the current quarterly Florida Land Steward Newsletter (Winter-Spring 2017, Vol 6, No 1) and back issues -*



From the U.S. Forest Service, Southern Research Station
During the spring of 2017, cone production data were collected from selected low-density stands of mature longleaf pine, throughout its native range. Binocular counts of green cones and unfertilized conelets were conducted on the crowns of sampled trees, as viewed from a single location on the ground. The regional cone crop is good for 2017, at 61.9 cones per tree. As usual, there is natural variation in cone production across the region. Bumper crops (> 100 cones per tree) were observed in Escambia County, Alabama, Santa Rosa Country, Florida, Baker County, Georgia and Chattahoochee County, Georgia. See the full report here.

USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) offers disaster assistance and low-interest loan programs to assist agricultural producers in their recovery efforts following wildfires or other qualifying natural disasters.

For more information on these programs, visit or contact your local FSA office. To find the local FSA office, visit

Funding is available from the US Fish and Wildlife Service Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program for invasive species control within the Apalachicola River watershed. Cogongrass on private lands in Gadsden and Liberty counties is highest priority for treatment. This is a 60% cost share. Contact Brian Pelc, The Nature Conservancy, (727) 515-8313,

Application Deadline is TODAY May 19
Agricultural producers in Florida have until May 19 to apply for financial assistance to restore longleaf pine and build habitat for northern bobwhite quail habitat.  Landowners can apply through Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) of the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). NRCS helps landowners plant and manage longleaf forests through practices such as prescribed burning. Longleaf forests benefit both wildlife and landowners. Private landowners can get financial and technical assistance to restore and protect quail habitat in the following counties: Santa Rosa¸ Okaloosa, Walton, Jackson, Leon, Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, Columbia, Clay, Levy, Marion, Osceola, Baker, Citrus, Polk, Highlands, Manatee, Charlotte and Sarasota.

Contact your local USDA service center for more information. A NRCS district conservationist will help you develop a conservation plan customized to your land and assist you in the application process for financial assistance. Applications are accepted throughout the year, although funding selections are usually made once a year.  Learn more about getting started with NRCS.

Application Deadline is TODAY May 19
Agricultural producers in three watersheds can apply for financial assistance from USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) until May 19 to improve water quality in high-priority streams and rivers. The watersheds are Deep Creek and Clarks Creek on the Lower St. Johns River within Putnam and St. Johns counties and the Little Scurlock Creek Watershed on the Lower Choctawhatchee River within Jackson and Washington counties. 

The National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI) helps farmers and ranchers adopt conservation practices such as improving soil nutrient management, planting cover crops, using conservation cropping systems, establishing filter strips and monitoring water quality.

The contact for the Deep Creek and Clarks Creek watersheds is NRCS District Conservationist Lakeisha Barber, 386-328-2908, x3 and in Little Scurlock Creek contact District Conservationist MaryJane Nelson, 850-526-2610, x3.  New to working with NRCS? The first step is to develop a conservation plan with a NRCS specialist. Contact your local field office in Florida. Learn more about participating in conservation programs at

Application deadline is June 16
Ranchers in southwest Florida may be able to get financial assistance for managing their property for wildlife, including the Florida panther.  To be eligible, a producer's operation must be in northeastern Collier County or southwestern Hendry County—an area identified as important for the long-term viability of the panther population. Federal, state and nonprofits are coordinating a suite of technical services and financial assistance to ranchers for practices such as building fencing and treating invasive plants.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is coordinating assistance to ranchers available through various agency programs. The USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will provide technical and financial assistance for conservation practices through its Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). The signup deadline to apply is June 16.

To find out how to participate contact Luis Gonzales at FWC, 863-648-3826 or Erin Myers at USFWS, 239-657-8009. At NRCS in Hendry County contact District Conservationist Jim Sutter, 863-674-5700, and in Collier County District Conservationist Bob Beck, 239-455-4100.

Go to for information, assistance and partnership opportunities.

Check the vast array of extension publications available at the University of Florida IFAS on the EDIS publication site:  Wow, there's a publication about that?

Drop a line to Chris Demers,

More news and info at the Florida Land Steward Blog



EAST FLORIDA (Madison County, east and south)

May 18-21

37th Annual Florida Native Plant Society Conference (link), Westgate River Ranch Resort & Rodeo, 3200 River Ranch Boulevard, River Ranch, FL 33867. The conference will address the biological and ecological connections important to the Kissimmee River Basin and beyond. See link for details and registration.

May 20

Dr. Minno's Journey Into The Natural World (link), 10:30 am to 12:30 pm, B.B. Brown's Gardens at the Florida Scrub-Jay Trail, 11490 Montevista Road, Clermont, FL. Dr. Marc Minno will lead a 2 hour trek through the sandhill scrub and wetlands where butterflies live in abundance along with a plethora of tiny insects, caterpillars, birds, native plants, shrubs and trees. $10.00 per member, $15.00 per non-member. RSVP Required. Call or email (352) 429-5566,

June 2

Feral Swine Workshop, 12:00 to 2:00 pm ET, UF/IFAS Columbia County Extension Office, 971 W. Duval Street #170, Lake City, FL 32025. Provided by Florida A&M University. Guest speakers will be J.C. Griffin, USDA/APHIS Wildlife Services and Pam Hunter, DVM, Florida Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services/Animal Industry. Free. Please RSVP by calling (386) 752-1117.

June 13

S-131 Firefighter Type 1 Training (link), 8 am - 5 pm ET, Doyle Conner Building in Gainesville, FL. Provided by Natural Areas Training Academy. Cost is $75. Topics include fireline reference materials, communications, and tactical decision making. Register by May 15, limited capacity. See link above for details and registration.

June 14-15

S-215 Fire Operations in the Wildland/Urban Interface (link), 8 am - 5 pm ET each day, Doyle Conner Building in Gainesville, FL. Provided by Natural Areas Training Academy. Cost is $100. Provides students with the skills and knowledge to size-up a wildland/urban interface fire incident, evaluate the potential situation, order and deploy the necessary resources, and apply safe and effective strategy and tactics to minimize the threat to life and property. Register by May 15, limited capacity. See link above for details and registration.

June 15-16

Regional Agritourism Workshop (link), UF/IFAS Martin County Extension Office, 2614 SE Dixie Hwy, Stuart, FL 34996. For farmers, policy-makers, and consumers interested in learning about agri-tourism. Includes farm tour and presentations. Provided by UF/IFAS Martin County Extension. $75 if by June 8, $90 after June 8. See link above for details and registration.

 July 14

Cover Crop Tour Helps Florida Ag Producers Build Soil Health (link), 10 am - 1 pm ET at the NRCS Brooksville Plant Material Center, 14119 Broad St, Brooksville, FL 34601. Farmers, ranchers and researchers invited. Free tour showcases performance of 17 summer cover crop species in west central Florida and tests of five summer cover crop species to improve soil health. Learn evaluation results for different cover crop seed sources and planting recommendations. Regional soil health scientist Nathan Lowder will demonstrate different infiltration rates for cropland management types. Hosted by USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service. Contact Janet Grabowski at 352-796-9600, ext. 3831 or

August 15-18

Basic Wildland Firefighter Training, S-130/190 (link), Florida Forest Service Waccasassa Forestry Center, Gainesville, and Ordway-Swisher Biological Station, Melrose. See link above for details and registration.

September 17-19

Organic Food and Farming Summit (link), Gainesville, FL. Provided by Florida Organic Growers. See link for details.

 WEST FLORIDA (Jefferson County and west)

May 22-25

GIS Workshop: Applied Geospatial Solutions in Natural Resources (link), Tall Timbers Research Station, 13093 Henry Beadel Drive, Tallahassee, FL 32312. See link above for details.

May 25

Forest Stewardship Workshop: Sell Your Timber for what it's Worth (pdf link), 9:00 am to 2:00 pm ET, UF/IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center, 155 Research Rd, Quincy, FL 32351. Join us to learn the necessary steps to get the best return on your timber investment and meet your forest management objectives. We will also discuss income opportunities from the FWC's Gopher Tortoise Relocation Program. $10 fee covers lunch and materials. Register at You can also call UF/IFAS NFREC, (850) 875-7100 to reserve a space. Please register by May 17 so we can plan accordingly.

June 8

Pond Weed Management Workshop (link), 6 to 8 pm CT, UF/IFAS Washington County Agricultural Center in Chipley, FL. Provided by UF/IFAS Extension. $10 fee includes supper and materials. Please register in advance by Friday, June 2.  If you have any questions or would like to register contact the Washington County Extension Office at (850) 638-6180, or See link above for details.

June 12-15

Advanced GIS Workshop: Python scripting and GIS Programming (link), Tall Timbers Research Station, 13093 Henry Beadel Drive, Tallahassee, FL 32312. See link above for details.

July 26

Need Pesticide CEUs? Attend The Great CEU Round-Up (link), 8:30 am – 4:00 pm EDT at participating UF/IFAS Extension Offices in the Panhandle. Presented by The Florida Turfgrass Association and UF/IFAS. Earn up to 6 CEUs across 14 license categories as this statewide program is broadcast to participating Extension Offices, in the panhandle these include Bay, Escambia, Calhoun, Holmes, Jackson, Leon, Santa Rosa and Walton Counties. Until 7/21, registration is $15 for UF/IFAS employees, $30 for municipal employees, and $50 for industry professionals. Starting 7/22, prices increase to $22.50 for UF/IFAS employees, $45 for municipal employees, and $75 for industry professionals. See link above for details.

September 28

Invasive Exotic Species and Control Workshop (pdf link), 9 am to 3 pm CT, UF/IFAS Okaloosa County Extension Office, Crestview, FL. Join us to learn about identifying and controlling some of the most troublesome invasive exotic plants like cogongrass, Japanese climbing fern and others. We'll also address new and established exotic insects that are causing land management problems. Earn pesticide applicator CEUs and forestry CFEs and connect with partnership and assistance opportunities! Presented by the Six Rivers Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area and Florida Forest Stewardship Program. Register on-line at You can also reserve a space by contacting UF/IFAS Okaloosa County Extension at (850) 689-5850. Please register by September 15 so we can plan accordingly.

October 5

Forest Stewardship Tour at David and Cindi Stewart's Sandhills Farm, Jackson County (pdf link), 9 am to 2 pm CT. Join us to learn about longleaf pine regeneration, prescribed fire, forest groundcover and habitat enhancements for a variety of wildlife species. Take this opportunity to meet your County Forester, UF/IFAS County Extension Agent, Landowner Assistance Biologists, and other resource partners that can provide management assistance, cost-share opportunities, forest certification and many other resources. $10 fee. Register at or contact UF/IFAS Jackson County Extension at (850) 482-9620. Please register by September 22 so we can plan accordingly.


May 23

SFE Webinar: An Assessment of Temperature and RH from a Variety of Weather Meters (link), 1-2 pm ET, See link for details and to register.

May 24

Science and Technology Webinar: Seed Zones & Population Movement Guidelines: Concepts & Tools (link), 12 pm ET, See link for details and to join.

June 8

Science and Technology Webinar: Developing a Climate Action Plan for Your Community: Lessons from the Florida Keys (link), 3 pm ET, See link for details and to join.

June 13

Science and Technology Webinar: Improving Soil on Urban Farms (link), 2 pm ET, See link for details and to join.


More events on these sites and web calendars:

UF/IFAS Web Calendar

Florida Forest Stewardship Calendar

Florida Master Naturalist Program

Florida Native Plant Society Chapters:

Brooker Creek Preserve Events, Pinellas County

Florida Forest Service Training Opportunities

Forestry and Natural Resources Webinars

Check with your UF/IFAS County Extension Office for more events
and information relevant to your county:

On Facebook? Visit and Like   Florida Land Steward on Facebook



Florida Land Steward Partners:











To be added or removed from this service, simply email a request to