Wednesday, March 23, 2016
Western SARE News
Pollinator Forage Development Farmer Heather Harrell and beekeeper Les Crowder of New Mexico recognized the need to develop conservation techniques to preserve the continued presence of honeybees and other pollinator species due to their collapsing populations. Research existed on the potential causes of the collapse; however, more information was needed on remediation. Organic producers, such Harrell and Crowder, had turned to the idea of building healthy habitats for pollinators in areas that are protected from environmental degradation. The goal of their Western SARE farmer/rancher project, “Pollinator Forage Development,” was to begin the process of identifying forage species which provide food and habitat for pollinators while serving as windbreaks, livestock forage, and nitrogen-fixing cover crops. Read More
2016 Funded Projects Announced
The Administrative Council approved funding for 37 projects totaling almost $2.9 million in the 2016 grant cycle. Projects are located in 11 Western states and protectorates.
Innovative researchers, ag professionals, farmers, and ranchers will be investigating topics important to Western agriculture such as:
* Effective water, weed, and nutrient management;
* Season extension;
* Cover crops and soil health;
* Rangeland and riparian habitat management;
* Food safety; and more.
Improving Irrigation and Nutrient Management
Growers on the Central Coast of California face rising costs and increasing regulatory scrutiny due to implementation of Total Maximum Daily Load. Thus, many growers are seeking more sustainable and cost-effective irrigation and nutrient management strategies. Pamela Krone-Davis, Agricultural Water Quality Coordinator for the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Foundation, noted that this had led to demand for technical assistance for implementation of irrigation and nutrient best management practices in Central Coast watersheds. With project partners, it was determined that a cross training program was needed to assist agricultural and resource conservation professionals across California’s Central Coast in coordinating and building technical capacity to ensure delivery of the most up-to-date, comprehensive, and consistent information.
Open Source Software for CSAs
The Siskiyou Sustainable Cooperative CSA has recently unveiled innovative, open source software developed through funds acquired from Western SARE to assist CSA farmers in connecting with their members. At a time when farmers work hard to keep up with some of the latest trends in the local food movement nationally, CSA coordinator Maud Powell sought to provide a high-tech, user friendly tool to support CSA members interested in having their member information right at their fingertips. "CSAs continue to be a great marketing channel for farmers, but in order to attract customers, they need to be adaptive to cultural trends," says Maud.
2015/2016 Report from the Field
Read about SARE-funded work in the areas of sustainable dairy cropping systems, soil health assessments, nutrient management, cover crops, beginning farmers, pollinators, technical assistance programs for women farmers, and more. This edition includes highlights of projects funded through the graduate student program and the highly regarded Sustainable Agriculture Fellowship, a professional development program coordinated by SARE and NACAA.
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