News

USDA Opens More Land for Emergency Haying and Grazing

On July 20th, 2017, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is authorizing the use of additional Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands for emergency grazing and haying in and around portions of Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota affected by severe drought. USDA is adding the ability for farmers and ranchers in these areas to hay and graze CRP wetland and buffer practices.

“We are working to immediately address the dire straits facing drought-stricken farmers and ranchers,” said Perdue. “USDA is fully considering and authorizing any federal programs or related provisions we have available to meet the immediate needs of impacted producers.”

For CRP practices previously announced, including those authorized today, Secretary Perdue is allowing this emergency action during and after the primary nesting season, where local drought conditions warrant in parts of Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota that have reached D2, or “severe”, drought level or greater according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. This includes counties with any part of their border located within 150 miles of authorized counties within the three states, and may extend into Idaho, Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota and Wyoming. All emergency grazing must end Sept. 30, 2017 and emergency haying must end Aug. 31, 2017.

The Secretary said that epic dry conditions, as high as D4 in some areas, coupled with an intense heatwave have left pastures in poor or very poor condition resulting in the need for ranchers to, at best, supplement grain and hay and at worst, sell their herds.

Landowners interested in emergency haying or grazing of CRP acres should contact the Farm Service Agency (FSA) office and meet with the local Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) staff to obtain a modified conservation plan to include emergency haying/grazing. Individual conservation plans will take into consideration wildlife needs. CRP participants are reminded that a certain percentage of fields must be left unhayed or ungrazed.

Additional information about the counties approved for emergency haying and grazing and the eligible CRP practices in this area is available at www.fsa.usda.gov/emergency-hayandgraze.


USDA Announces $15.1 Million for Research on Renewable Energy, Biobased Products, and Agroecosystems

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced 34 grants totaling $15.1 million for research on agricultural systems and production of biomaterials and fuels, socioeconomic implications and public policy challenges of bioenergy and bioproducts market development and expansion, understanding nutrient cycling in agricultural systems, and the management of agricultural ecosystems. The grants are funded through NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initative (AFRI), authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

“Natural resources are essential to producing the food, fiber, and fuel that we use every day,” said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy. “The NIFA research investments we expect will help us develop the next generation of renewable energy, bioproducts, and biomaterials, protect the ecosystems that support agriculture, and improve the agricultural systems and processes that help us feed our nation.”

The Agriculture and Food Research Initiative is America’s flagship competitive grants program for foundational and translational research, education, and extension projects in the food and agricultural sciences. These grants are awarded under the AFRI Foundational Bioenergy, Natural Resources, and Environment (BNRE) program. Funded projects support agroecosystem production that preserves needed ecosystems services, such as drinking water, pollination, and climate regulation.

All fiscal year 2016 grants being announced can be found here.

More information on these grants is available at the NIFA website.

Among the grant recipients, a Pennsylvania State University project will seek to increase farmer adoption rates for riparian buffers, which are vegetation strips that protect streams from farm runoff. A Colorado State University project will combine ecological and economic perspectives to produce an atlas of marginal lands in the United States that might support climate-friendly biofuel and bioenergy production.

Among past projects, the University of Vermont examined how working farms might benefit from alternative management systems that preserve soil fertility and reduce the overall environmental impact of agriculture. The study implemented approaches such as cover cropping and no-till fields on two farms and has collected economic data on the costs and returns of these practices at participating study farms. A collaborative effort between the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, North Carolina State University, and the University of Connecticut investigated the mechanisms that break down nitrogen from fertilizer and other sources into greenhouse gas. Their discoveries contradict current wisdom on these processes and could lead to new ways for farmers and others to reduce their emissions of harmful gases


Updated Chickpea, Lentil & Potato Crop Profiles Available

New crop profiles for Chickpea, Lentil and Potato are available free to download from the Government of Canada Publications web site or through the Crop profile webpage.

There are thirty-two Crop Profiles covering 38 crops created and maintained by the Pesticide Risk Reduction Program that are accessible for download on the Government of Canada Publications web site.

Links to the most up-to-date versions of all available Crop Profiles are provided here, for your convenience.

 


Three New Experience House Training’s on Pest Control

Are you looking for pest control training using a practical approach? Do you have a new employee that you’d like to provide with some of the best training available? Then you might be interested in the three new hands-on classes being offered this summer through the new IPM Experience House in Dallas. Here are this summer’s classes with information on how to register:

Practical Mosquito Control for PMPs (next week!) July 20, 8:30 am – 3:30 pm. This class provides an introduction to mosquitoes and mosquito biology. We’ll go through some of the basics of mosquito adult and larval identification, learn how to identify mosquito risk zones around the home and how to communicate with customers about risks from mosquito-borne disease. Different insecticide application methods and equipment will be demonstrated. Training will include both classroom, and hands-on and outdoor training at IPM Experience House. Cost for the course is only $20 thanks to partial funding by the Centers for Disease Control. If you are interested, you’ll have to hurry. Click here for an agenda and information on how to register today.

Introduction to termite control for new technicians. August 2, 8:30 am – 3:30 pm. This class is designed to orient new termite technicians to the art and science of termite control. Termite control expert, Dr. Bob Davis, will be demonstrating practical field skills for setting up and executing a termite job. He is joined by Dr. Mike Merchant in the classroom to provide some of the basic biology of termites you need to know if you are to be on the top of your game. This is a great opportunity to train new or old employees in the field of termite control. Half of this class will be held in the classroom, and half will be outdoors, conducting a termite estimate and treatment. Cost for the course is $40, includes snacks and water. Click here for an agenda and registration information.

General Household Pest Category Training. August 23, 8:30 am – 5:00 pm. This first-time offering provides the necessary Pest category training for new apprentices and an introduction to general pest control for new technicians. Topics to be covered include: introduction to entomology and the general orders of insects; general insect pests; mosquitoes; rodents and other animal pests; introduction to IPM and pesticides; and equipment used in pest control. This is a great opportunity to train new or old employees in the field of termite control. Half of this class will be held in the classroom, and half will be in the field, conducting pest control inspections at the new IPM Experience House, looking at specimens, and getting some introductory experience with monitoring and treatments. Cost for the course is $50, includes lunch, snacks and water. Click here for agenda and registration information.


USDA Announces $7.2 Million for Research on Plant-Biotic Interactions

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced 10 grants totaling $7.2 million for research on the interactions of plants, microbes, and invertebrates. This is the first round of grants awarded through the Plant-Biotic Interactions program, a joint funding opportunity established through a partnership between NIFA and the National Science Foundation (NSF). The NIFA funding is made possible through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) program, authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

“The research to be supported by these grants will help reveal the mechanisms that govern how plants interact with the world around them,” said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy. “The expectation is that NIFA investments will result in tools for growers to help plants thrive in the face of pest and environmental constraints, along with other challenges.”

AFRI is America’s flagship competitive grants program for foundational and translational research, education, and extension projects in the food and agricultural sciences. The Plant Biotic Interactions program supports fundamental and applied research to provide a deeper understanding of the complex interactions between plants, and their associated microbes, and invertebrates. Through interagency cooperation between NIFA and NSF, this program allows seamless transitioning of research projects from basic sciences to user-inspired applied sciences that yield solutions to agricultural problems.

Project details can be found at the NIFA website.

Among the grants, a Tufts University proeject will investigate how plant-herbivore-microbe interactions shape the diversity of cabbage microbiomes. The team will also take a traveling microbiome discovery center to ten farmers’ markets located in low-income urban and rural areas of Massachusetts; exhibits in the discovery center use kimchi and sauerkraut, edible microbial ecosystems that millions of Americans eat every day. A South Dakota State University project will investigate how the symbiotic interactions between legumes, nitrogen-fixing bacteria, and fungi help legume plants obtain nitrogen and other nutrients, reducing the need for added nitrogen and phosphate fertilizers. The research may help improve yield and environmental sustainability of legume crops, which account for 27 percent of the world´s primary crop production.