Type: North Central SARE Grantee-Produced Info Product
Cover Crops are an important addition to any farming system to improve soil quality and decrease soil erosion or nutrient loss. Cover crops are normally planted without the intention of a direct harvest. Rather, they are planted for the multiple benefits they provide to the farmer and the environment. In Iowa, cover crops are usually planted into standing corn or soybean crops or are planted after grain harvest. Farmers are concerned that a winter rye cover crop could negatively impact their cash crop yields.
In this research report from Practical Farmers of Iowa, fall cover crop impacts on corn and soybean yields are summarized.
Zachary Hayden received an NCR-SARE Graduate Student Grant to evaluate the relative effects of rye, hairy vetch, and rye-vetch mixture cover crops on the biomass and density of winter annual weed communities. This SARE research supports that winter cover crops composed of rye or vetch (or both) can significantly suppress winter annual weeds.
Type: North Central SARE Portfolio Brief Sheet
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: Northeast SARE Grantee-Produced Info Product
This software program calculates the annual difference between a farm's imported and exported nutrients (N, P and K). Teaching guides and instructions for the tool's use are also available.
Type: North Central SARE Multimedia
SARE grantees and brothers, Keith and Brian Berns, have a cover-crop seed business, and have created a SmartMix Calculator, an online spreadsheet that calculates seed quantities and cost, carbon-to-nitrogen ratio (C:N), nitrogen-fixation potential and other factors for mixes of nearly 40 cover-crop species, including legumes, brassicas, grasses and broadleaf crops.
Brett Blaauw's SARE research investigated the response of beneficial insects and their ecosystem services to the size of wildflower plots. This video is a quick introductory guide to help people establish wildflower plantings on their own for the conservation of beneficial insects.
Transitioning to Organic Production lays out many promising conversion strategies, covering typical organic farming production practices, innovative marketing ideas and federal standards for certified organic crop production.
Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile
Tucked away in the sprawling prairies of Northwestern Kansas is a town not unlike thousands of other rural communities spread across the country. It is a town built on agriculture that has subsisted for over 130 years on the determination of its citizens and their love of the land. The only outward sign that sets this community apart from the other towns around it is that its citizens are predominately African American. They have their roots in the post-Civil War movement which freed millions of individuals from plantation slavery. Their town is called Nicodemus.
Hailing from small vegetable farms, cattle ranches and grain farms covering thousands of acres, the producers in The New American Farmer, 2nd edition have embraced new sustainable approaches to agriculture.
Michigan State University (MSU) graduate student, Jesse Sadowsky, received an NCR-SARE $9,900 Graduate Student Grant to conduct an observational study to examine the effects of both organic and conventional management on plant health and soil biology in blueberry fields in Michigan.
Weed control demands time, labor and expense for every farmer every year. Steel in the Field shows how today's implements and techniques can control weeds while reducing—or eliminating—herbicides. Available only online.
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.
This publication provides a guide for selecting best management practices that consider both production and environmental-sustainability goals for corn production in South Dakota.
As producers throughout the nation grow increasingly concerned about water scarcity, farmers, ranchers and agricultural educators are beginning to explore new, conservation-oriented approaches to water use.
Marvin Baker, Theresa Podoll, and Steve Zwinger received an NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher grant to increase the number of open-pollinated vegetable varietal choices well-suited to organic production systems and local markets in North Dakota. They screened and identified dozens of varieties of interest to North Dakota market growers.
Type: National SARE Promotional Product
Order an entire set of SARE Outreach books and bulletins for one low price.
In West Branch, Iowa, Scattergood Farm converted pasture from perennial alfalfa and clover to vegetable crop ground from summer 2010 to spring 2011. This research report from Practical Farmers of Iowa summarizes the effects of two cover crops or no cover crop on numbers of weeds and compaction measured by soil density in a vegetable crop following a transition from a pasture. Farm manager, Mark Quee, felt the cover crops assisted his conversion from pasture ground to vegetable plots. He felt the cover crops helped build soil and reduced weed pressure significantly in preparation for vegetable plants.
Across the region, farmers are planting cover crops, method of revitalizing soil, curbing erosion, and managing pests. Steve Sutera, an Extension educator at South Dakota State University (SDSU), saw an opportunity to bring together Bon Homme County’s Extension service, FFA Chapter, 4-H Club, and ongoing research at SDSU.
This video from Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society explains how to plan, layout, and plant a home corn breeding nursery.
Practical Farmers of Iowa and Rural Advantage partnered to disseminate information to farmers and key participants through farmer field schools utilizing hands-on experience and practice, crop field days, and workshops to tell neighbors about cover crops. The project began in 2009, and the outreach is resulting in more landowners understanding the multiple benefits of installing these conservation practices.
A group of farmers in Wimbledon, ND are working to turn a conventional chemically dependent farm into a fertile, sustainable, organic, farming unit. What started as a farm restoration project for the sake of their beef market ended by using all of the livestock to restore the soil.
Dan Forgey has farmed for 40 years based on the belief that if you take care of the land, it will take care of you, evidenced by his commitment to no-till, cover crops and crop diversity.
In Kingsville, MO, a perennial and native seed crop producer has been developing and processing energy crops and agricultural residues into biomass engineered fiber fuel, and now he and other producers in MO could help determine the future of cellulosicbased biofuels.
In Ashland, MO, Dan Kuebler is creating an affordable, efficient, and sustainable irrigation system for a two acre organic vegetable operation. Since 1977, Dan Kuebler has been running a certified organic garden operation in Ashland.
Managing Cover Crops Profitably explores how and why cover crops work and provides all the information needed to build cover crops into any farming operation.
Managing Alternative Pollinators: A Handbook for Beekeepers, Growers and Conservationists is a first-of-its-kind, step-by-step, full-color guide for rearing and managing bumble bees, mason bees, leafcutter bees and other bee species that provide pollination alternatives to the rapidly declining honey bee.
While every farming system is unique, the principles of ecological pest management apply universally. Manage Insects on Your Farm highlights ecological strategies that improve your farm’s natural defenses and encourage beneficial insects to attack your worst pests.
In Missouri Valley, IA, Vaughn and Cindy Pittz have been developing the opportunity for small family farms to utilize the aronia berry as a sustainable organic alternative crop at Sawmill Hollow Organic Farms, located 6 miles north of Missouri Valley, Iowa in Harrison County.
Researchers at the University of Illinois are using sorghum-sudangrass as a summer smother crop in the battle against aggressive perennial weeds.
How to Manage the Blue Orchard Bee explains how to use this alternative pollinator successfully, including nesting, rearing and wintering, how to manage predators, and more. Available only online.
Dan Forgey describes how he grows cover crop mixes in synch with a cash crop of corn, and gets strong yields without chemical fertilizer.
To support the producer decision-making process for on-farm and value-added elderberry enterprise opportunities, the University of Missouri has developed a production and marketing guide, a financial decision support tool, videos on elderberry wine production, and more.
Practical Farmers of Iowa compared two cropping systems for three years in northwest Iowa to examine differences in the energy expended and the biofuel produced. Analysis of fossil fuel flow reveals that a more diverse cropping system was significantly more energy efficient than continuous corn.
Type: Online Course/Curriculum
These in-depth training manuals, produced by the University of California Santa Cruz, help instructors conduct hands-on teaching in organic farming and gardening, direct marketing, and small-farm business planning.
The primary short-term goal of this graduate student grant project was to test a strategy for utilization of native plants to increase biodiversity in a perennial fruit system. This project is of particular relevance to specialty crop farmers that are under pressure to reduce pesticide inputs while also producing the highest quality food.
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.
Nebraska farmers Keith and Brian Berns found they could use cover crops in dryland farming to increase corn yields, and now are sharing their knowledge.
Research at Iowa State University (ISU) may be good news for swine producers who have been facing high grain prices. Coordinated by Jim Fawcett, the team’s recent research at ISU has demonstrated that field peas can be utilized as a partial substitute for soybean meal or corn in swine diets.
University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate student, Herika Kummel, conducted an experiment in two restored prairies in southern Wisconsin to assess their carbon sequestration potential under a gradient of warm-season grass (C4) to cool-season (C3) pasture grass ratios. The sites were the Bison Ridge Ranch in Marquette County and the Wisconsin Integrated Cropping Systems Trial (WICST) at the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Arlington Agricultural Research Station in Columbia County.
Funded in 2005 through the Farmer Rancher Grant Program, Pov Huns’ high tunnel project, “Can Screened High Tunnels Extend the Growing Season of Bitter Melon in the Midwest?” (FNC05-551) aimed to determine whether pest control and season extension could make a tropical vegetable such as bitter melon protable by using a high tunnel on his Kansas City farm.
This bulletin describes some of the many agronomic crop alternatives, with plentiful examples of on-farm successes.
This study was conducted to develop an effective method for management of internal discoloration of horseradish roots. Internal discoloration of horseradish is a disease complex caused by at least three fungi, Verticillium dahliae, V. longisporum, and Fusarium solani. These fungi are carried in the propagating roots (set-borne inoculum) and also survive in the soil (soil-borne inoculum).
Dan Forgey uses no-till, cover crops and crop rotations to build soil health, manage weeds and maximize rainfall.
Crop Rotation on Organic Farms: A Planning Manual provides an in-depth review of crop rotation, including how it improves soil quality and health and helps manage pests, diseases and weeds.
In this research report from Practical Farmers of Iowa, a variety of winter small grains were tested as cover crops in the fall of 2010 to determine if these grains could be effective cover crops and also produce a quality grain crop, even though planted at a later than optimal date for typical grain planting. Most of the winter cover crop varieties tested effectively established, overwintered, and yielded grain the following summer.
This research report from Practical Farmers of Iowa presents data about a cover of hairy vetch, tillage radish and rapeseed established in strips by both aerial seeding into standing soybeans and drilling after soybean harvest.
Building Soils for Better Crops is a one-of-a-kind, practical guide to ecological soil management, now expanded and in full color.
A printed guide to insect conservation on fruit farms.
In Minnesota, Mhonpaj Lee, NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher grant recipient, is researching and documenting information about traditional Hmong herbs. In addition to her job as a translator at Hennepin County Medical Center, Lee farms with her family. They are currently offering shares from the first certified organic Hmong owned and operated Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) operation.
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.
Air-Propelled Abrasive Grit Management (PAGMan) is a new technique for postemergence weed control in organic row crops. This video from SARE grantee Frank Forcella at the USDA-ARS Soils Lab shows PAGman in action.
South Dakota farm manager Dan Forgey has improved soil quality and the bottom line by successfully introducing cover crops to his long-term no-till system.
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