Type: North Central SARE Portfolio Brief Sheet
Organic agriculture is a whole-farm management system that replaces synthetic inputs with methods that mimic natural ecological processes. Demand for organic food is far outpacing supply, as U.S. sales in this dynamic sector have nearly quadrupled in the last decade. All 50 states have USDA-certified organic farmland, totaling more than 4 million acres of range, pasture and cropland. NCR-SARE has invested in more than 100 projects to help achieve the sustainability and well-being of all aspects of organic agriculture and those communities that support organic agriculture.
From Aronia berries to apples, wine grapes to bitter melon, NCR-SARE-funded research is hepling specialty crop farmers across the region use sustainable practices to battle pests, tap into lucrative markets, and increase yields. Sixteen percent of NCR-SARE’s 20-year research portfolio has been devoted to growing fruits, nuts, vegetables and other specialty crops in ways that boost profits, protect the land, and strengthen communities.
Farmers, politicians, and investors across the U.S. are enthusiastic about the potential economic benefits and use of energy crops to revitalize the rural landscape. NCR-SARE hopes to more clearly articulate the need to use a systems approach to identify critical questions, develop innovative solutions, and solve both on-site and off-site problems that might limit the sustainable development of bioenergy production. NCR-SARE has invested in research and education projects to help achieve the sustainability of all aspects of bioenergy and those communities that support bioenergy.
A farm is to a beginning farmer what a blank canvas is to an aspiring artist, which makes it no wonder that beginning farmers and ranchers are some of agriculture’s greatest innovators and experimenters. In fact, studies have found that most innovation takes place within the first five years of a farmer’s operation. SARE has made fostering the next generation and its ingenuity a priority.
NCR-SARE supports value-added marketing of agricultural products, which provides more profit for producers while enhancing local communities and multiplying consumer choices. Since 1995, NCR-SARE has invested in alternative marketing strategies through com- petitive grants to help regional farmers and ranchers develop skills and supportive relationships with others that assist them in creating and sustaining profitable, sustainable ag marketing ventures and to help make more direct connections between food buyers and food producers in the region.
Agroforestry helps farmers diversify – products and income. Trees that produce an annual fruit or nut crop can also be grown for a future timber harvest. Shrubs can be grown instead of, or with, trees and can produce a yearly crop. Forages and other fruit, vegetable or specialty crops can be harvested for market or grazed by livestock. NCR-SARE has invested in more than 50 research and educa- tion projects to help achieve the sustainability of agroforestry operations and to optimize production, discover or develop markets, and enhance environmental benefits.
While every farming system is unique, the principles of integrated pest management (IPM) apply universally. NCR-SARE has funded more than 100 projects on ecologically based pest management and the strategies of farmers throughout the region who are addressing pest problems. NCR-SARE has invested in pest management strategies to help develop more complex, more diverse ecosystems in the region.
Business planning can help alternative and sustainable agriculture entrepreneurs transform farm-grown inspiration into profitable enterprises. NCR-SARE funded research is helping farmers learn how to set goals, research processing alternatives, determine potential markets and evaluate financing options. NCR-SARE has invested in more than 150 research and education business planning projects to help achieve the sustainability of operations and to optimize production, discover or develop markets, and enhance environmental benefits
From organic grape production to the integration of sheep grazing in vineyards, NCR-SARE-funded research is helping vintners and farmers across the region use sustainable practices to battle pests, tap into lucrative markets, and increase yields. Five percent of NCR-SARE’s 20-year research portfolio has been devoted to growing grapes and/or producing wine in ways that boost profits, protect the land, and strengthen communities.
Type: North Central SARE Promotional Product
Aquaculture is the cultivation of ﬁsh and aquatic animals and plants. Aquaponics is a bio-integrated system that links recirculating aquaculture with hydroponic vegetable, flower, and/or herb production. In aquaponics, nutrient-rich effluent from fish tanks is used to fertigate hydroponic production beds. SARE has supported recent advances by producers, researchers, and educators that are helping to make aquaculture and aquaponics into working models of sustainable production.
The sustainability of a dairy farm relates to many factors revolving around farm management, use of resources, and quality of life. NCR-SARE has supported research and education opportunities in a wide variety of dairy topics including organic dairying, value-added dairy options, pasture productivity, animal management, milk marketing, small ruminant dairies, and farm energy.
Management-intensive grazing (MIG) maximizes the feed potential of pasture by moving grazing animals through a series of pasture paddocks. By monitoring the growth of pasture plants, producers can control the grazing activities of the animals, ensuring that they are harvesting the forages with the best nutritional quality. NCR-SARE has supported research and educational opportunities around the topic of management-intensive grazing in order to help producers reduce costs and increase profits.
A growing group of people are interested in getting more local foods into the hands of consumers -- and providing additional marketing channels for farmers to produce sustainable, local foods. “Scaling Up” local food refers to the process of building the system necessary to make local food available to a wider segment of the population than currently possible. NCR-SARE has supported research and education in some of the key challenge areas to scaling up local foods including agricultural production, storage and transportation, and marketing and sales.
Soil nutrient management is essential in maintaining efficient growth, fertility, and water quality in crop production. By analyzing soils, farmers are able to determine type, placement, application rate, and application intervals of nutrients to maintain short and long term productivity. SARE has supported advances by producers, researchers, and educators who are working to make soil nutrient management strategies more efficient and effective.
From investing in energy-saving practices, to implementing smart water use strategies, farmers and ranchers have a deep understanding and commitment to the conservation and stewardship of natural resources. Since 1988, NCR-SARE has supported work by producers, researchers, and educators that encourages responsible use and protection of the natural environment through conservation and sustainable practices.
As opportunities have emerged to increase both the production and processing of elderberry across the value chain, the historically medicinal plant is gaining popularity among farmers. With the resurgence of elderberry cultivation in the North Central region and the rest of the United States, NCR-SARE has funded a variety of projects featuring elderberries.
SARE produces an extensive library of books, bulletins and online resources for farmers, ranchers, and educators.
North Central Region SARE
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Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education ©2012