From the Field

From the Field

From the Field

Short profiles of SARE-funded research and education projects in action.

Curious about a particular topic? Search all SARE products in the Learning Center.

Traditional Fertilizer, Modern Applications for Iroquois White Corn

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

A Oneida White Corn Growers Group in Wisconsin received SARE support to build their cultural knowledge about Iroquois White Corn, and to learned how to use fish emulsion to fertilize it.

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Immigrant and Minority Farmers Inspire Soil Health Collaboration

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

A team from Minnesota received SARE support to develop resources for educators, mentors, and community leaders working with immigrant and minority growers on issues around soil health.

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Building Resilience and Flexibility into Midwest Organic Potato Production

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

With SARE support, organic potato growers in the region learned about organic seed potato production and potato breeding. 

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Ohio Farmer Develops Mobile Hops Dryer

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

With support from an NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher grant, hops growers David and Nina Volkman developed a mobile hop dryer that can be shared among Ohio's hop growers.

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The American Kestrel: an IPM Friend for Michigan’s Fruit Growers

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Researchers at Michigan State University are learning more about the American Kestrel and its potential benefit to cherry and blueberry growers. 

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Youth Hit the Road to Learn about Sustainable Livestock Production in Wisconsin

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

With support from an NCR-SARE Youth Educator grant, youth who participate in 4-H livestock projects in Jackson County, Wisconsin had an opportunity to visit five farms and businesses in southwest Wisconsin to learn more about sustainable livestock production. 

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Latino Producers Explore Sustainable Practices in Missouri

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Through on-farm trainings and classroom focus-groups, University of Missouri educator, Eleazar Gonzalez is working with Latino producers in Missouri to help answer their questions about sustainable practices. 

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Does Open-Pollinated Corn Have a Place on Today’s Organic Farm?

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Organic crop and livestock producer, Stan Smith, received SARE support to experiment with six open pollinated corn varieties on his Minnesota farm. Nutritional value of open pollinated corn was Smith’s major concern entering this project; he was particularly concerned with protein.

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Iowa Farmers Seek Sustainability with Cover Crops and No-Till

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

With SARE support, Billy Sammons and George Naylor are working to improve cash crop production on their Iowa farms with a combination of cover crops and no-till practices, including a roller-crimper. 

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New Research Tackles Concerns About Grazing Corn Residue

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

With support from SARE, Nebraksa researcher, Rick Rasby, is examining the effects of corn residue grazing and baling on subsequent grain yield and soil productivity.

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Overwintering Bees for Increased Apiary Sustainability

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Meghan Milbrath is a Michigan beekeeper who is examining the key variables that affect overwintering nucs, and developing systems that can be used by other beekeepers to overwinter their bees. 

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Peer-to-Peer Food Safety Education Fruitful for Hmong-American Farmers in Minnesota

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

In Minnesota, Annalisa Hultberg is working to develop a peer-to-peer education program among Hmong-American fruit and vegetable growers to provide in-depth education around farm food safety principals.

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North Coast Lamb Co-op: Using Carcass Scanning for Producer Production Criteria

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

DeYoung Minning says in Northeast Ohio, there is more demand for locally produced lamb than the average farm flock can supply. She says inconsistencies among flocks is a major barrier to the industry. With support from a $20,526 SARE grant, DeYoung Minning and two other Ohio sheep producers formed the Northeast Lamb Co-Op, a co-op of producers created to market together to local grocery stores and restaurants.

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Comparing Apples to Apples: Participatory Research for Artisanal Cider Producers

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Michelle Miller, the Associate Director of University of Wisconsin’s Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS) has been using participatory research to better understand the growing hard cider industry. Miller received an $29,999 NCR-SARE Partnership Program grant in 2017 to work with experienced grower partners to identify 40 apple varieties with potential for sustainable cider production.

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Apples for Artisanal Cider: Understanding the Characteristics of Single Varietals

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Two producers who have contributed to the growth of cider production, are Wisconsinites Marie and Matt Raboin, who made their first few gallons of cider in 2010. They planted their first trees in 2014, and now have more than 1,000 trees, but they reached a barrier in their cider production when they noticed the scarcity of information about specific cider apple qualities. In 2016, the Raboins received a $7,500 NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher grant to determine which trees and apples would yield high-quality ciders.

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Selecting a New Array of Crisp Apples for Increased Consumer Demand and Grower Profit

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Two apple producers, Steven and Connie Doud, own Doud Orchards in Denver, Indiana. Doud Orchards is the second oldest orchard in Indiana and currently produces, on sixty-seven acres, more than 100 varieties of tree-ripened apples. In 2015, Steven Doud received a $21,735 NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher grant to evaluate apple selections from the Midwest Apple Improvement Association (MAIA) for field performance and consumer preference. 

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The Fruit and Nut Compass: Developing a Tool and Guiding Principles for Diversified Farms

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

As interest in diversified perennial production grows, farmers across the region have been searching for sustainable ways to battle pests, tap into lucrative markets, and increase yields as they work to develop biodiverse agricultural ecosystems. Building on the concept of their Veggie Compass project, and the desire to develop whole farm profit management tools and workshops for perennial systems, in 2016, Michael Bell and Leah Potter-Weight with the University of Wisconsin’s Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS) applied for and received a $199,246 NCR-SARE Research and Education grant to develop a similar tool called the Fruit and Nut Compass.

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Sustainable Pest Management Approaches for Raspberry Growers

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Leach is working on an integrated pest management scheme for Spotted wing Drosophila (SWD) in raspberries in high tunnels, using specialty plastics and insect exclusion netting. In 2015, Leach received a $9,979 NCR-SARE Graduate Student grant to explore alternative controls for managing SWD, including ultraviolet-reducing plastics and exclusion netting. 

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Maximizing Pollinator Protection and Natural Pest Suppression in Minnesota Fruit and Vegetable Crops

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Eric Middleton knows that beneficial insects can provide ecosystem services to agriculture, ranging from pollination to pest suppression. As a graduate student at the University of Minnesota, Middleton received a $12,000 NCR-SARE Graduate Student grant to compare how floral plantings in the margins of conventionally managed potato fields affect pollinator and predator abundance and richness, as well as biological control of Colorado potato beetle.

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Evaluating On-Farm Value-Added Production in Utilizing Unmarketable Produce to Reduce Waste While Helping Small Farms Engage in Agritourism and Bec...

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

On a three-acre urban farm in northeast Grand Rapids, Michigan, Lance Kraai is growing produce and jobs. In 2012, Kraai helped start New City Neighbors urban farm to expand the non-profit’s already successful youth employment work. In 2016, Kraai received a $7,379 NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher grant to demonstrate how on-site, value-added production could increase small farm financial viability.

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Resources that Help Sustainable-Organic Vegetable Growers Select, Use, and Evaluate Microbecontaining Crop Stimulants (MCCSs) More Effectively

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

The decomposition of organic matter relies on bacteria and fungi that are commonly referred to as soil microbes. Matthew Kleinhenz, The Ohio State University professor and extension specialist, says many microbes are included as leading components of microbecontaining crop stimulants (MCCSs) advertised to enhance soil and crop health, accelerate soil nutrient cycling, and improve crop quality. In 2016, Kleinhez received a $198,842 NCRSARE Research and Education grant to identify and develop resources for selecting, using, and evaluating the benefits of MCCS to help SOFs and their advisors.

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Development of a Cooperative Food Distribution Model for Small Farms

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Monica Bongue owns Muddy Fork Farm in Wooster Ohio, a certified organic farm for over 15 years, where she produces vegetables, chickens, ducks, sheep, and goats. She wanted to expand her marketing which consisted of direct sales through farmers’ markets and a small, on-farm CSA. Along with a number of other small, local producers, Bongue received a $22,500 NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher grant to develop a cooperative food distribution system to connect small growers in her rural area to consumers in nearby urban areas.

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Green Tools: Improving Sustainability by Integrating New In-Row Cultivation Equipment and Competitive Cultivars

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Graduate student, Sam Hitchcock Tilton, says often the greatest expense in vegetable production is weed control, especially within the crop row. He says in-row tools can substantially reduce hand-weeding costs for vegetable growers, and he’s been learning about new tools with MSU associate professor Daniel Brainard. In 2016, Hitchcock Tilton received an $11,994 NCR-SARE Graduate Student grant to test a variety of in-row cultivation tools on eight cultivars of carrots.

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Investigation into a Year- Round Complimentary Broiler and Vegetable Farm Enterprise using Mobile High Tunnels

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

From improving soil health to diversifying income streams on the farm, vegetable growers have plenty of reasons for adding poultry to their farms. Amy Surburg of Berry Goods Farm in Morristown, Indiana, wanted to integrate poultry production with winter vegetable production, and she wanted to build a hybrid mobile coop/greenhouse that could be used for chickens and turkeys in the summer and for growing vegetables through the winter.

With a $7,467 Farmer Rancher grant from NCR-SARE, Surburg and her dad designed a mobile “coop house” that can be used for chickens in the spring/summer, turkeys in the summer/fall, and then washed and used to cover pre-planted fall greens.

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Optimal Flock Size for Pasture Raised Layers

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Aaron Brower, along with his wife Mary, own and operate Bluestem Farm, a diversified, 4-season farm in Northern lower Michigan. They raise certified organic vegetables on 10 acres. In 2016, Brower received a $7,394 NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher grant to compare three pastured poultry flocks (100, 250, 450) in order to test what affect the size of the flock has on production and health. He wanted it to serve as an example to producers who are considering pasturing their layers and provide insights for safely raising productive laying hens.

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Feasibility, Planning, and Purchase of Mobile Processing Unit (MPU)

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Chris Sramek is a pasture poultry producer and a member of the High Plains Food Co-op (HPFC); in 2013, customer interest in their poultry was so high that the producer members were unable to keep up with the demand; Sramek says they were limited by processing barriers. To address these barriers, Sramek applied for and received a NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher grant to plan and construct a Mobile Processing Unit (MPU) to expand processing potential. 

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Evaluating the Roller-Crimper for Cover Crops in Corn and Soybean Terraced Ground

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Many farmers utilize a practice known as terracing to prevent erosion and surface runoff in their fields. Michael Willis, a farmer in northwest Missouri. Michael Willis, a farmer in northwest Missouri, says terraces have been important to preventing ditch formation on his farm during the transitional phase from traditional no-till to no-till with cover crops. In 2013, Willis applied for and received a NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher grant to evaluate the effectiveness of the Rodale roller-crimper on hilly, terraced, and irregularly shaped fields. 

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Developing a Method to Capture and Authenticate Single Varietal Honey on Diverse Landscapes

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Between April and May the apple orchards and fields at Curtis Orchard and Pumpkin Patch in Champaign, Illinois boast plenty of blossoms for hungry pollinators. In 2015 they applied for and received an NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher grant to examine pollination services in their orchards and fields. The Farmer Rancher grant will allow Curtis Orchard’s managing beekeeper, Rachel Coventry, and consulting beekeeper, Maggie Wachter, to investigate best practices for small-scale pollination on the farm.

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Creating a Depository of Local Honey Bee Strains From Feral Swarms and Demonstrating a Sustainable Beekeeping Model Using Horizontal Hives and Bee-...

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Dr. Leo Sharashkin, a beekeeper in Ava, Missouri, says farmers become discouraged from adding bees to their operations due to bee stock issues, costly beekeeping equipment, and complicated management methods. Sharashkin maintains a stationary apiary with more than three dozen hives. In 2015, he applied for and received a NCRSARE Farmer Rancher grant to develop and share his solution to starting an apiary based on catching and propagating local bee stock, using bee-friendly, do-it-yourself hive models, and simple, accessible management techniques.

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Building Community and Growing Food with the Next Generation

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Sola Gratia Farm is a community-based farm in Urbana, Illinois that is dedicated to producing locally grown, high-quality, natural produce. The community farm has been committed to helping those who lack access to fresh produce since 2012. With a CSA, a youth day camp, community workshops, and other activities, the farm promotes healthy lifestyles and community building.

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Cover Crop-based Reduced Tillage for Fall Production of Cabbage,Cauliflower and Broccoli Using a Roller-Crimper and No-Till Planting Aid

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Cover crops can reduce erosion, improve soil health, slow weeds, enhance nutrient and moisture availability, control pests, and offer other benefits to vegetable producers. After vegetable grower, Thomas Ruggieri, planted cover crops on his farm in rural Clay County, Missouri in 2004, he noticed dramatic improvement in soil fertility and plant health. They wondered if they could also use cover crops to minimize labor by reducing the need to hand-mulch crops, and received a $7,480 NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher grant to conduct a cover crop mulch experiment.

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Economics of Grazing and Haying Cover Crops in North Central Kansas

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Grown on an estimated 10 million acres across the country, cover crops are becoming an indispensable part of crop rotations. To maintain this momentum, the development of reliable information at the local level—how to craft a diversified rotation that pays—needs to keep pace with growth in farmers’ interest. That is what motivated Josh Roe to use a NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher grant to explore the economics of grazing and haying cover crops in a corn-soybean-wheat rotation on his family’s farm in North Central Kansas.  

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Apples for Artisanal Cider: Understanding the Characteristics of Single Varietals

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

A couple of the producers who  have contributed to the growth of apple cider, are Wisconsinites Marie and Matt Raboin, who made their first few gallons of cider in 2010. They planted their first trees in 2014, and now have more than 1,000 trees, but they reached a barrier in their cider production when they noticed the scarcity of information about specific cider apple qualities. In 2016, the Raboins received a NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher grant to determine which trees and apples would yield high-quality ciders.

Development of Cost and Labor Effective Produce Sanitation Methods for Small Farms

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Orr and Mark Straw operate a diversified family farm in Indiana called Strawridge Farm. They recently converted a 10,000 square foot greenhouse into a hydroponic vegetable operation, growing early tomatoes for farmers markets and English (seedless) cucumbers for restaurants through a state-wide distributor. In 2014, Orr received a NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher grant to evaluate multiple cost and labor effective methods for washing and sanitizing produce that needs gentle handling, like English cucumbers and tomatoes. They developed two different methods for washing and sanitizing that save time, energy, water, and chemical sanitizer.

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The Economic Analysis of Cover Crops, Soil Health, the Role of Livestock and Impact on Moisture

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

 In 2014, three farm families in Nebraska and Iowa received a NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher grant to study a variety of economic indicators related to cover crop use on their farms. At the time that they applied for the grant, they had no way to know that the project would be impacted by the 45” of rain they would receive in 2015. While the project was inconclusive on cash crop yield gains and water usage, the team was able to document how all that moisture affected their fields and crops:

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Marcoot Jersey Creamery Comprehensive Food Safety Program

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

When the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was passed in 2011, farmers across the country recognized a need to develop a food safety plan. Marcoot Jersey Creamery in Greenville, Illinois was no exception. In 2013, Marcoot family member, Beth Marcoot, applied for and received a NCRSARE Farmer Rancher grant to develop a food safety and defense program that could be useful to other producers in the dairy industry.

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Growing Mushrooms on Local Agricultural Byproducts

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Mushroom-growing seems to be increasing in popularity for producers who are looking to diversify their crop production strategy. Wakarusa Valley Farm is a family farm that cultivates organic vegetables, fruits, and mushrooms in Lawrence, Kansas. They wanted to see if they could grow mushroom substrate locally instead of purchasing and shipping their substrate from Colorado. 

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The Viability of Small Scale Aquaponics in Urban and Rural Underserved Communities

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Combining concepts from both aquaculture and hydroponics, aquaponics systems produce both fish and plants. Greg Fripp has been building closed, recirculating aquaponics systems for small and emerging farms since 1999 with his company Whispering Roots. In addition to producing food, Fripp believes aquaponic systems can help improve education, increase personal income, and develop community centered solutions to significant economic, nutritional and health disparities. 

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Tomato Variety Trials for Flavor, Quality, and Agronomic Performance

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

University of Wisconsin (UW)-Madison plant scientist, Julie Dawson, says tomatoes can be a potentially high-return crop for diversified vegetable farmers. In 2014, Dawson received a $199,866 NCR-SARE Research and Education grant to work with graduate student Kitt Healy to conduct organic and low-input field trials investigating tomato varieties for optimal economic and environmental sustainability on two research stations and six farms. 

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Urban Farmers Focus on Soil Health for Sustainable Intensification

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

With support from an NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher grant, urban farmers Adam and Melissa Millsap started to work on a method for getting crop residues to rapidly decompose in place, hoping that they could drastically reduce the labor and tillage required to return nutrients to their soil.

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Tribal Educators Gather for Sustainable Agriculture Workshops

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Dan Cornelius was searching for a way to promote knowledge development and sharing among educators working directly with American Indian farmers, ranchers, and other food producers. Cornelius applied for and received a $75,000 NCR-SARE Professional Development Program (PDP) grant to conduct a sustainable agricultural workshop series for Tribal educators.

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Non-Profit and Producers Partner Up Around Agroforestry

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

With support from a $29,957 NCR-SARE Partnership grant, Keefe Keeley and the Savanna Institute had an opportunity to work with four farmers to research crop performance, pests, and pollinator activity in agroforestry systems.

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Non-Profit Shines Light on the Bison Advantage

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Jim Matheson and the National Bison Association received a $103,675 NCR-SARE Research and Education grant to conduct a program called The Bison Advantage Outreach and Education Program. With their project funds, they created a "Bison Advantage" curriculum, supported bison- specific research on pasture management protocols, and developed the second edition of The Bison Producer’s Handbook.

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2017 Cover Crop Survey Analysis

Cover Crops Boost Yields and Weed Control

Type: North Central SARE Presentation

Following the use of cover crops, farmers reported increased yields of corn, soybeans and wheat, and improvement in the control of herbicide-resistant weeds, according to a nationwide survey conducted by SARE and partner organizations. In addition, the survey of 2,012 farmers showed acreage planted in cover crops has nearly doubled over the past five years.

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Producer Raises Prawns for Ohio Locavores

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Freshwater prawn producer, Don Maloney, received SARE support to experiment with raising and selling freshwater prawns in Ohio.

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Illinois Farmer Builds Precision Seeder to Maximize Cover Crop Advantage

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Ralph Upton received SARE support to build a precision, multi-cover crop species seeder on his farm in Illinois.

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Wisconsin Non-profit Brings Beekeeping to Youth and Community

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

SARE funded a youth beekeeping pilot program at the Goodman Youth Farm in Madison, Wisconsin, where students learned about keeping bees with help from a local bee expert.

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Developing Michigan’s Local, Pasture-Based, Beef Production System

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

With SARE support, Jason Rowntree and Michigan State University are working to establish a system for pasture-based beef production in Michigan.

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Minnesota Researchers Spill the Beans on Pulses

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Pulses (also known as grain legumes), such as beans and peas, are gluten-free, high in fiber and protein, low in fat, and nutritionally a good complement to grain-based diets. The can also play and important role in crop diversification on the farm. At the University of Minnesota, researcher Craig Sheaffer and the Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships (RSDP) received SARE support to bring more agronomic and marketing resources to organic, edible legumes. 

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Indiana School Raises Apples and Awareness

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

A few years ago, a small farm-to-school apple tasting took place at James A. Cole Elementary in Lafayette, Indiana in conjunction with Wea Creek Orchard. Later that day, Cole students took more apples off the lunch lines than ever before. They planted 12 disease resistant apple trees on school grounds, and today their school orchard is part of the grade level curriculum.

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Non-Profit Brings Conservation Strategies to Women Landowners

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

In 2010, Holcomb and Women, Food & Agriculture Network (WFAN) received an NCR-SARE Research and Education grant to develop their Women Caring for the Land program, which works to inform and support women landowners in working with their tenants to improve soil and water conservation. By 2013, WFAN and Holcomb were ready to share WFAN’s Women Caring for the Land curriculum with other agriculture educators, and used an NCR-SARE Professional Development Program grant to provide conservation agency and non-profit staffers with a professional development training on their Women Caring for the Land rationale and methodology.

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South Dakota Rancher Explores Sustainable Livestock Fly Control

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Linda Simmons used support from an NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher grant to experiment with various reduced-pesticide fly control systems on her ranch in South Dakota. She wanted to reduce the flies while conserving beneficial insects, especially the dung beetle.

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Adjusting your Farm Plan to Avoid the Bumps in the Road

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

The Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota (SFA) supports the development and enhancement of sustainable farming systems through farmer-to-farmer networking, innovation, demonstration, and education. In 2012, SFA received a $165,294 NCR-SARE Research and Education grant to work on two programs, Adjust 2015 and the New Farm Reality Check™.

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Big Bluestem Management Using High Density/Short Duration Grazing

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Big Bluestem is a warm season, perennial bunchgrass with blue-green stems four to eight feet tall. It has been referred to as “ice cream for cows.” Leslea and Brad Hodgson own and operate Root Prairie Galloways, where they raise Galloway beef cows and have big bluestem pastures that they want to protect from the encroachment of weeds into the bare areas between the grass clumps.

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Utilizing Cover Crops to Increase Productivity, Health and Vigor on Tame Grass Pasture

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Donnie Feiring owns and operates Feiring’s Cattle Co. in Beach, ND, a 120-head registered Black Angus cow calf operation. They also run 35 head of commercial yearling heifers.

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Mob Grazing Increases Efficiency and Profitability of Livestock Production

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Mob grazing is a recent development in grazing management that uses extremely high stocking densities for short periods of time to improve soil health, pasture productivity and carrying capacity. Alexander “Sandy” Smart is a professor of Natural Resource Management in Range Science at South Dakota State University. He has a passion for the preservation of our natural grasslands and the people who make their living from it.

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Increasing Varietal Suitability and Availability of Cowpea and Forage Radish Cover Crop Seed for Northern Climates

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

With support from a $199,776 Research and Education grant, the Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society Farm Breeding Club and university partners at NDSU, SDSU, UW-Madison, and the University of Puerto Rico, have been evaluating cowpeas and daikon radish from around the world for use and seed production in the Dakotas. On-farm evaluation, selection, and evolutionary participatory breeding is being conducted on forage radish on certified organic and low-input farms in ND, SD, and WI. 

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Squash in Sustainable Food Production

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Sue Isbell is a 4-H Youth Development Agent with NDSU Extension Service in Sioux County, ND. In 2013, she received an NCR-SARE Youth Educator grant to work with youth from three Tribal communities across North Dakota on activities about sustainable agriculture, local foods, gardening methods, marketing, and concepts and practices of breeding and seed saving.

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Reduced Pesticide Fly Control in Feedlots and Native Rangeland to Conserve Dung Beetles and Benefit Beef and Sheep Production

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Linda Simmons is a beef and sheep producer in Twin Brooks, South Dakota. Beef and sheep producers in northeastern South Dakota depend largely on native rangeland, and there are several species of flies that can cause serious economic losses, including the horn fly. Simmons is concerned that dependence on pesticide use has resulted in pesticide resistance and a reduction in the populations of beneficial insects.

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Confinement Building Redesign Sheds ‘Sunlight’ on Animal Welfare

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Paul Sobocinski  has a 240 acre crop and livestock farm that includes hogs and cattle. In 2001, he received a SARE grant for the conversion of an existing pole barn to a deep bedded sow and piglet nursery. In 2012 he received a second NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher grant for $7,450 to renovate an existing 24 by 64 foot confinement building with a partial pit to make the building suitable as a straw-based, animal-welfare-friendly growing unit.

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Mobile Farmers Market

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Dream of Wild Health — a program of Peta Wakan Tipi — was established in 1998 as a way to “promote health in the Native community by expanding knowledge of and access to healthy indigenous foods and medicines.” At the Dream of Wild Health Farm they grow rare, indigenous seeds that have been gifted to the farm, increasing the seed stock for future generations. They also offer age-appropriate and culturally focused summer garden programs to Native youth, ages 8-18, who learn about healthy lifestyles and sustainable farming.

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Making Goats Milk Soap Business Sustainable by Implementing Standard Manufacturing and Testing Protocols

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Penny and Jay Adler own and operate the 444Farm in Hazel, South Dakota. They have 40 acres (half in wetlands) where they have implemented sustainable grazing practices by replacing water systems, re-sowing pastures, installing high tensile fences, and creating paddocks for rotational grazing. They raise dairy goats and make goat’s milk soap and lotion.

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Integrating Host Plant Resistance and Insecticides for Soybean Aphid Management

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

In 2013, University of Minnesota graduate student Anthony Hanson, received a $9,938 Graduate Student grant to determine if there are combined effects of insecticide application and using resistant plants for soybean aphid control, with the hope that the efficacy of insecticides would be improved on resistant plants.

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Developing a Mob Grazing System to Improve the Sustainability and Profitability of a Cattle Operation in North Dakota

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Jeremiah and Krista Reiser run an all grass operation on 2,700 acres of native prairie in central North Dakota. They run a herd of leased and owned spring calving cows and also custom graze the excess grass that is not planned for their own herd.

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New Buckwheat Varieties for Greater Sustainability

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Anne Ongstad is a managing partner at The Whitman Ranch, a 13,500 acre operation in the rolling prairie of central North Dakota. Approximately 4,000 acres are in certified organic production of flax, wheat, buckwheat, millet, sunflower, alfalfa, and oat/pea hay. The rest of the acres are in pasture and used for uncertified beef production. 

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Promoting Sustainable Biological Control of Soybean Aphid by Examining the Effect of Biodiversity and Releases of Parasitoid Wasps

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

George Heimpel and his research group at the University of Minnesota have been working on biological control of the soybean aphid since 2001. They have used a number of methods, including releases of specialized aphid parasitoids from Asia, and promoting native biological control through plant diversification strategies. 

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Adapting Cover Crops to Northern Climate Conventional Cropping Systems

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Northeast Minnesota is home to a large beef cow-calf sector, several dairy farms, and an increasing amount of cash grain farming. In each of these types of operations, annual cultivation of corn, soybeans, oats, and barley is common. 

Annual cultivation of these crops can lead to high rates of nutrient leaching and soil erosion, decreased crop diversity, decreased soil aggregate stability, decreased soil organic matter, and reduced soil biology and overall soil health. The utilization of cover crops has been shown in many cases to alleviate these problems.

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Evaluating the Roller-Crimper for Cover Crops in Corn and Soybean Terraced Ground

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

In northwest Missouri, a practice known as terracing is used to prevent ditches. Michael Willis, a beginning farmer in northwest Missouri, says that cover crops can reduce the need for terraces, but terraces still prove to be important to prevent ditch formation during the transitional phase from traditional no-till to no-till with cover crops. 

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Comparison of Annual Forages for Grazing Lambs on Previously Cropped Ground

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Michael Seipel, his wife, and three children raise livestock on pasture in northeast Missouri. Michael also teaches agricultural business and sustainable agriculture courses at Truman State University.

In 2013, Michael Seipel received an NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher grant to look at the economics of grazing lambs on spring, summer, and winter annual forage crops as compared to average returns from corn and soybean production.

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Developing Commercial Elderberry Production in Minnesota

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Elderberries are a rapidly growing specialty crop in the Midwest. They have multiple functions in a cropping system because they are perennial, ornamental, a wildlife food source, and they can be planted in low-lying wet areas as a buffer. They can be used to produce value-added products like jams, jellies, wines, and juices.

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Finishing Time and Weights of Grass-fed Beef Animals

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

For more than 20 years, Jane Jewett has owned WillowSedge Farm near Palisade, Minneosta. She and her family raise and direct-market pork, poultry, lamb, and grass-fed beef on 113 acres. An increasing interest in grass-fed beef operations led Jewett to make the transition to grass-fed beef in 2008.

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Management of the Spotted Wing Drosophila Using High Tunnels

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Erik Gundacker helps manage the high tunnels at Scenic Valley and applied for an NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher grant in 2014 to monitor the presence of spotted wing drosophila (SWD). SWD is a small fly that will damage ripe or ripening fruits such as cherries, peaches, plums, raspberries, strawberries, apples, blueberries, and grapes.

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Nonprofit Works to Protect Farms with Legal Education

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

With support from SARE, Farm Commons is working to foster the discussions and connections that build a strong legal backbone for farmers and their communities.

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Researchers Aim to Conserve Bees for Michigan Berry Growers

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Researchers at Michigan State University are developing best management strategies for conserving wild bee communities for Michigan's blueberry farms.

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Developing Hazelnut Germplasm for the Upper Midwest

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Researchers are working to develop a viable bush-type hazelnut industry in the Upper Midwest by combining the productivity of European hazelnuts with the disease resistance and winter hardiness of American hazelnuts.

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Improving Pasture Quality with Cover Crops in North Dakota

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Donnie and Trisha Feiring at Feiring’s Cattle Company in Beach, North Dakota are utilizing techniques such as cover crops, bale grazing, and high stock density grazing to improve their pasture land without tilling and replanting.

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Illinois Students Show Garden PRIDE

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Students, teachers, and volunteers at Freeport High School in Freeport, Illinois are successfully growing and selling food from their student-run garden, which they named PRIDE (Positive, Respectful, Impressive, Disciplined, Educated).

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Research Team Studies Biofuel Cropping System to Increase Crop Profitability

Sustainability of a Short-Rotation Woody Biofuel System Compared to Grass Biofuel and Grain Cropping Systems

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

The North Central region has over 11 million acres of claypan and claypan-like soil areas that are disproportionate sources of nonpoint pollution and soil quality degradation when used for grain production.

Hank Stelzer wanted to determine whether a short-rotation willow biofuel cropping system on claypan soil could improve crop profitability, but establishing a willow crop during the 2011 and 2012 growing seasons on a Centralia, Missouri, research site was especially difficult because of severe drought.

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Source: Edible Madison, Vanessa Herald 

This story features NCR-SARE grant recipient, Julie Engel, and her Coney Garth rabbits. With her SARE project, Engel developed a system for raising rabbits on pasture and built handling equipment that consistently and efficiently herds her rabbit does in a stress-free manner.

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Julie Engel

“The rabbits and the project have stretched me way beyond where...

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From the Field Archives - More From the Collection

Historic profiles from SARE-funded research and education projects in action.

 

From the Field Archives - More from the Collection

The From the Field archives features historic profiles from SARE-funded research and education projects in action.

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