North Central SARE From the Field

North Central SARE From the Field

North Central SARE From the Field

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

Rural Revitalization through Farm-Based Enterprise

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

For decades, John Allen has helped farmers develop business skills and strategies, improving their profitability and helping to revitalize rural communities.

Begin Farming Ohio Website Launched to Assist Beginning Farmers

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

This website represents the collaborative efforts of: the Cuyahoga Valley Countryside Conservancy; Ohio Department of Agriculture, Sustainable Agriculture; Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA); the Organic Food and Farming Education & Research Program of the Ohio State University Ohio Agriculture Research and Development Center; and the Ohio State University Extension. These entities, working together as Begin Farming Ohio, aim to build Ohio’s capacity to provide, expand, enhance, and sustain services to beginning farmers.

Missouri Farmer Develops Sustainable Irrigation System for Organic Vegetable Production Systems

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

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.

Building Capacity to Engage Latinos in Local Food Systems in the Heartland

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

A new program has been developed in Iowa and Kansas to train Extension and other professionals to increase their awareness of Latino culture and community.

The “Building Capacity to Engage Latinos in Local Food Systems” project was designed to provide Extension educators and other agricultural professionals in Iowa and Kansas with the knowledge and skills to identify and respond to the needs and goals of Latino growers and produces and their families.

Iowa State University's Small Meat Processors' Working Group Produces Consumer Guide to Whole Animal Buying

Type: North Central SARE Grantee-Produced Info Product

The  “Beef and Pork Whole Animal Buying Guide” is for consumers and producers who are interested in learning more about buying and marketing local beef or pork. It brings together useful information into a single resource.

"What Soil Means in My World" Wins Video Contest

Type: North Central SARE Multimedia

The Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) 75th Anniversary Committee offered the "What Soil Means in My World" Video Contest in honor of the SSSA 75th Anniversary in 2011. The overall winner was "Soil Our Nation’s Greatest Natural Resource" by NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher Grant recipient, Elizabeth Sarno.

Improved Productivity in Winter Greenhouse Video

Type: North Central SARE Multimedia

This video features farmer rancher grant recipients, Carol Ford and Chuck Waibel, and their winter CSA. They show us different types of Asian greens grown in their passive solar green house.

Dryland Cover Cropping Boosts Yields

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

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.

Cutting Edge Research: Helping Bees Help Themselves

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

University of Minnesota Entomologist Marla Spivak is advancing innovative integrated pest management strategies that help bees fight pests.

Grad Student Research Leads to Industry and Life Altering Change

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Iowa State University graduate student's unexpected discoveries inspired vibrant new learning communities for small-scale meat processors.

Agricultural Educators and Clean Energy in the North Central Region

Type: North Central SARE Promotional Product

This feature is a summary of the results of the 2007 NCR-SARE Professional Development Program projects that were awarded grants for the speical call on bioenergy and energy-efficiency.

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Mortenson Ranch's Range Restoration Video

Type: North Central SARE Multimedia

In this video, NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher grant recipient, Todd Mortenson, describes some of his family’s many conservation efforts on their ranch in South Dakota.

Video: Improving Forage Production and Quality with Native Legumes

Type: North Central SARE Multimedia

NCR-SARE grant recipient, Craig Maier, discusses the research his team conducted to learn more about improving forage production and quality with native legumes in grazed warm-season grass stands. 

Ohio Milk and Cheese Initiative Explores New Market Opportunities in Ohio

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

To determine the level of interest and opportunities for the production of sheep milk and cheeses in Ohio, Abbe and Anderson Turner helped form the Ohio Sheep Milk and Cheese Initiative (OSMCI).

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Researcher Shares Grafting Techniques with Agricultural Educators

Vegetable Grafting Training for Agricultural Professionals

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

A Lincoln University researcher is training extension educators on emerging plant grafting technology and the relevant physiology.

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Researchers Study Forage Chicory for Parasite Reduction in Sheep

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Sheep and goat production is a growing enterprise for small and limited resource farmers in the North Central region. While small ruminants (sheep and goats) are adaptable to many different production systems and can be raised with relatively few inputs, they present production challenges. In Ohio, researchers are examining the use of forage chicory as part of a gastrointestinal nematode parasites control strategy for sheep.

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Video: Community CROPS's Growing Farmers Training Program

Type: North Central SARE Multimedia

Community CROPS's Growing Farmers Training Program received an NCR-SARE Research and Education Grant to bring together existing farmers, extension staff, and area farm training programs to help beginning farmers successfully grow increasingly larger amounts of food and market it locally. This video features staff from Community CROPS talking about the program.

Video: Cover Crop SmartMix Calculator

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.

Screening Open-Pollinated Vegetable Varieties for Local Markets in North Dakota

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

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. 

City Backyard Farming Video

Type: North Central SARE Multimedia

In this video clip, NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher grant recipient, Xe Susane Moua, talks about City Backyard Farming, LLC, an urban farming project in St Paul, MN.

Sustainable Renewable Energy Training for Agriculture and Natural Resource Professionals

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Marin Byrne and Jim Kleinschmit’s series of six training sessions for more than 340 attendees focused on sustainability and renewable energy for natural resource and agriculture educators throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin. Farm field days, tours, and workshops addressed topics such as alternative bioenergy crops and production methods, whole farm planning for renewable energy, and on-farm energy production and efficiency.

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Educational Curricula and Professional Development Training for Energy Efficient Production Practices

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

David Clay’s long-term goals for his project were to increase producers’ awareness of the importance of determining costs of production, as well as conducting energy efficiency and environmental sustainability assessments during long-term planning. Clay edited curricula suitable for use in training sessions and conducted seven related workshops and 31 presentations.

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Impact of Biomass Removal for Bioenergy

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

The rapid increase in ethanol production from corn grain, and the proposed use of crop residues for ethanol production poses significant challenges in increasing awareness and providing needed training to extension educators and agency staff to address the potential environmental impacts of intensive corn production and corn residue use. For this reason, Mahdi Al-Kaisi conducted an educational training program on residue management through a series of workshops, webinars, and field training sessions across Iowa.

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Greenhouse Energy Conservation Strategies and Alternative Fuels

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Many greenhouse growers are looking for options to reduce their energy costs, but they don’t always understand which options will provide the greatest return on investment. For his project, Scott Sanford developed curriculum materials, extension bulletins, resource lists, and a spreadsheet model for educators to use for delivering programming on energy management and conservation for greenhouse production.

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Biofuels and Community Participation

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Extension and other natural resource educators can provide educational programming on renewable energy and potential impacts at the community level, and can be facilitators of community discussions about renewable energy. Sharon Lezberg provided training materials to approximately 100 extension, NRCS educators, and community stakeholders on ways to engage community members and stakeholders in assessing proposed bioenergy developments.

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Integrated Alternative Energy and Livestock Production Systems

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Michael Siepel’s SARE grant project provided training on selected alternative energy topics, emphasizing interconnections between livestock production, renewable energy, and energy conservation. Attendees at Seipel’s first annual conference learned about grassy biomass, woody biomass, wind energy, financing bioenergy projects, and case studies of bioenergy enterprises.

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Storage and Utilization of Ethanol Co-Products by Small Cattle Operations

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Francis John Hay’s SARE project focused on storage techniques for wet ethanol co-products and how those co-products could be used in small cattle operations. For his project, Hay prepared educators to teach ethanol co-products storage techniques. Conferences attracted nearly 300 educators from ten states. Written materials and videos extended the reach of this project through the internet with more than 30,000 individual downloads of educational materials.

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Hispanic Farmer Video Features SARE-supported Training Program Graduate

Type: North Central SARE Multimedia

Efrain Hernandez (and family) were 2010 graduates of Community CROPS's SARE-supported Growing Farmers Training Program in Lincoln, NE. They were featured in the television documentary "Hispanic Farmers on Broken Ground,"  produced by Harvest Public Media's Clay Masters and Nebraska Educational Telecommunications. It was part of a special report on the Farmer of the Future.

Michigan Researches Use Flowering Plant Strips to Support Beneficial Insects and Increase Crop Productivity

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Beneficial insects are valued on farms for their abilities to perform services like pollination and pest control. Researchers at Michigan State University are exploring whether plantings of native Midwest flowers can support beneficial insects and lead to improved crop productivity and quality.

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New Tools for Sustainable Entrepreneurs and Service Providers

Business Feasibility, Marketing, and On-line Direct Marketing; In-depth Training to Better Serve Sustainable Agriculture Business

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Communities often have access to a variety of production agriculture expertise, including University Extension Educators, Resource Conservation and Development coordinators and assistants and vocational agriculture instructors who are commonly consulted for advice and guidance, especially in the area of sustainable agriculture practices. University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) Extension Specialist, Cheryl Burkhart-Kriesel, says that these resource experts can feel unprepared to help when it is time for a product or service to move to the marketplace. Burkhart-Kriesel is working to create targeted professional development for creating feasibility and marketing plans, and conceptualizing and organizing online direct marketing websites.

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Researchers and Educators Collaborate to Teach Youth about Cover Crops

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

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.

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Using Hydroponic Green Forage to Reduce Feed Costs in Natural Pork Production

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Due to the rising cost of feed, many small scale pork producers are exploring alternatives in order to increase their profit margins. At Donnelly Farms, Jack Donnelly is producing hydroponically-grown green forage for his hogs, and has been able to reduce feed outlay and increase their bottom line.

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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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Good Natured Family Farms Brings Together Producers and Local Businesses to Market Local Foods

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Good Natured Family Farms is an alliance of more than 150 family farms and small businesses in the Kansas City, MO area.  In 2008, they received an NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher grant for their Bistro Kids Farm 2 School program, which provides students with healthy school lunches from local farmers and education about sustainable agriculture. This video provides a brief overview of their work.

Calvin Adams

Calvin Adams, Kansas Ranch and Range Internship Program coordinator

Ranch ownership transitions can be complex, involving issues such as generational needs, tax issues, social attitudes, and recreational landowner competition.  In an effort to help simplify the process, Calvin Adams of Beloit, KS, Cade Rensink of Ada, KS, and Ted Alexander of Medicine Lodge, KS, and the Kansas Ranch and Range...

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Toolkit Supports Livestock Decisions

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

The Agricultural Innovation and Commercialization Center at Purdue University has developed a Comparative Decision Support toolkit online resource to assist with entry-level decision-making about small-scale livestock enterprises.  

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Pollinators Take Center Stage at Xerces Society Workshops

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Honeybee losses, compounded with rising rental rates for pollination, are a concern for many producers. Not only are growers looking for alternative pollinators to improve crop security, but they also want to learn how to manage on-farm habitats for native bees and other pollinators.

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Farm in North Central Michigan is the First to Produce Canola Oil in the State

B&B Farms find success in first season as canola growers

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Dan and Bonnie Blackledge have started a canola oil business on their farm in Marion, Michigan. B & B Farms Canola Oil’s first pressing was only about 50 gallons, but it stands out as the first canola oil grown and pressed in Michigan.

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Rancher Internship Program Invests in the Future of Kansas Agriculture

Type: From the Field Profile

Ranch ownership transitions can be complex, involving issues such as generational needs, tax issues, social attitudes, and recreational landowner competition.  In an effort to help simplify the process, Calvin Adams of Beloit, KS, Cade Rensink of Ada, KS, and Ted Alexander of Medicine Lodge, KS, and the Kansas Ranch and Range Management Internship Program are working to get experienced and well-trained young ranchers back on the ranch through a summer internship program.

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Youth Grow Fresh Food with Edible Avalon's Summer Youth Program

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

In southeastern Michigan, a dedicated non-profit organization is growing and delivering fresh produce to low-income residents through a youth program. “Edible Avalon” is an organic community garden and education program in association with Avalon Housing, the largest provider of permanent, supportive affordable housing for extremely low-income residents in Washtenaw County, MI. 

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EverCrisp: A New Apple Variety in the Midwest

Type: From the Field Profile

A grassroots apple-breeding program has released its first apple variety, EverCrisp. The variety was bred by the Midwest Apple Improvement Association (MAIA), a group of more than 140 apple growers who are interested in developing new varieties for the Midwest.

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2013-14 Cover Crops Survey Analysis

Cover Crop Report Documents Yield Boost, Soil Benefits and Ag Retailer Roles

Type: North Central SARE Presentation

For the second year in a row, a national survey of farmers has documented a yield boost from the use of cover crops in corn and soybeans, as well as a wide variety of other benefits. This analysis includes results from that survey, conducted by the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) and funded by NCR-SARE.

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Producers and Researchers Collaborate to Improve Soil Health in North Dakota

Southwest North Dakota Soil Health Demonstration

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Soil—and whole farms—have been renewed through soil-improving practices like cover crops and no till. In the semiarid plains of western North Dakota, a team of producers and researchers are working to boost soil health for improved yield stability, farm income, and natural resource health of farms.

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Nebraska Nonprofit Teaches Youth and Community About Sustainability

Young Urban Farmers

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

A nonprofit organization that has made a difference for beginning, immigrant, and refugee farmers in Lincoln, Nebraska is now reaching out to youth.

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Ohio MarketReady Team Connects Producers to Markets

Retail Ready & Wholesale Ready

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Proactive marketing strategies have proven to be a key to success for many agricultural enterprises, and a team of researchers and educators in Ohio are working to connect willing markets to quality sources of food.

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Michigan State Graduate Student Explores the Benefits of Adding Cover Crops to Vegetable Production

Cereal-Legume Cover Crops

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Cover crops can help slow erosion, improve soil, smother weeds, enhance nutrient and moisture availability, help control many pests, and bring a host of other benefits to farms across the country. A graduate student at Michigan State University wanted to optimize seeding rates for cereal-legume cover crop mixtures and found tradeoffs in services based on treatment.

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Minnesota Producer Experiments with Hogs to Control Buckthorn

Control of Buckthorn with Hogs, Cutting Feed Costs with Food Waste

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Originally introduced by European settlers who liked the fast growth and thick hedges it produced, buckthorn is an exotic invasive species that forms an impenetrable understory that can cause long-term decline of woodland and wetland areas by competing with native tree seedlings and plants. Struggling with traditional treatment choices for this noxious weed, Minnesota producer, Nancy Lunzer, tested an original option for controlling buckthorn on her ranch.

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From Fruit to Fuel

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Missouri farmer Dan West turns his waste fruit into valuable ethanol.

Organic Broccoli Produced to Meet a Growing Need for Locally Grown Foods

Scaling Up Local Broccoli

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Although broccoli is a popular staple vegetable that can be harvested for 20 weeks in the upper Midwest, the Twin Cities was experiencing a shortage of locally grown produce every summer. Local farmers found it difficult to scale up production to take advantage of demand.

A group of farms was able to attain a two-year agreement to guarantee the purchase of 100 percent of the satellite farms’ broccoli crop at an agreed-upon minimum price if production acreage, production schedule, and quality standards were met. Throughout the project, data were collected about yields, economic performance, labor inputs, product quality, and more.

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Farmer Seeks Improved Growth and Survival of Transplants with Mycorrhizae and/or Compost Additions

Using Commercially Available Mycorrhizae Inoculant, Compost, or Mycorrhizae Inocculand and Compost when Transplanting Small Berry Bushes

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Mychorriza is a beneficial fungus that has a symbiotic relationship with the roots of plants. Studies have shown that mycorrhizal inoculation helps plants in soils with heavy metals and that are low in nutrients. It also helps plants take up nutrients and moisture by increasing the surface area of the root systems up to 700 to 1,000 percent. In order to determine whether the use of products that encourage mycorrhizae growth would help small berry growers establish productive plantings more quickly, Cathy Hanus experimented on aronia and elderberry root cuttings.

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Broiler Chickens Compared in Performance and Behavior

Alternative Broiler Breeds in Three Different Pastured Poultry Systems

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

The Cornish Rock Cross, the favored breed of large-scale poultry houses, has been bred for traits important to that production system; however, the birds have developed health issues as a result, and that’s especially evident in pasture production systems. Kim Cassano, who raises poultry and other livestock on an 80-acre farm in northern Wisconsin, compared the performance of the Cornish Rock Cross to five other broiler breeds on pasture.

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Research Seeks a Balance Between Crop Residue Removal and Soil Conservation

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Midwestern researchers are helping farmers identify crop residue removal rates that offer both soil protection and increased profitability through the ethanol market.

A Bright Future for Hops Farmers in Michigan

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

With local demand on the rise, Michigan farmers are bringing hops production back to their state.

Farm Internship Program Increases Farm Profitability and Quality of Life

Evaluating the Effectiveness of Meeting Seasonal Labor Demands by Integrating a Farm Internship Program

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

The 16-acre Suncrest Gardens produces vegetables sold through community supported agriculture (CSA) subscriptions, raspberries, and a diversified line of homemade products including jams, handcrafted soaps, and wood-fired pizza. Owner Heather Secrist sought seasonal, low-cost labor to help with farmwork to increase production and free up time needed for other business activities, so she explored developing a farm internship program.

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Building a Farmer-Based Industry from the Ground Up

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Missouri farmers interested in growing elderberries—a high-value specialty crop worth up to $25 per pound—are now better equipped to do so.

Fieldhands and Foodways: A Cultural and Historical Urban Farm Program

Fieldhands and Foodways

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

For over 15 years Venice Williams has taught youth about sustainable agriculture at several community gardens, including Alice’s Garden, a two-acre urban community garden in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The land was once part of abolitionist Deacon Samuel Brown’s farm, and the location is rich in African American history. In 2010, Williams started Fieldhands and Foodways, a program that blends agriculture education with African and African American history and culture.

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Using Low Tunnels as an Economical Way to Extend the Growing Season

Extending the Vegetable Growing Season with Low Cost Quick Hoops

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Locally produced food is growing in popularity as consumers’ interest in knowing where and under what conditions their food is grown is increasing. In the Midwest, though, most producers stop growing after the first frost and don’t have produce for up to six months a year. There is also a two to three month period in the summer when it is too hot to produce lettuce. The Millsaps use high tunnels and heated greenhouses to extend the growing season. Low tunnels are a supplement to the way they grow year-round.

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Iowa Farmer Mechanizes Planting and Maintenance Tasks in Vegetables with Companion Plants

Maintaining Companion Plantings while Mechanizing in Diverse, Small-Farm Vegetable Operations

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

As vegetable production on farms increase to meet demand and increase profits, weeding and other tasks that were done with hand tools have become more labor intensive. In a monoculture planting, where all plants have the same spacing, it’s easy to use equipment to reduce labor. In a diverse system with companion plants, using equipment is challenging and requires more planning and different implements. The Genuine Faux Farm is working to identify equipment and develop techniques to mechanize planting and maintenance tasks in vegetable plantings with companion plants.

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Examining the Cheapest Way to Produce the Best Egg

Comparing How Different Supplemental Feeds Affect the Cost and Nutrient Density of Eggs from Heritage and Hybrid Pastured Hens

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Singing Prairie Farm, owned by John and Holly Arbuckle, is on 50 acres in northeast Missouri. They raise beef cows, free range pigs, turkeys, fryer chickens, and laying hens. Although the operation is not certified organic, it offers the animals organic and/or non-GMO feed and follows organic standards. The Arbuckles sell their meat on farm and wholesale their eggs to grocery stores and restaurants in the area. Arbuckle’s experiment compared the cost effectiveness and nutrient density of formulated organic rations to sprouted wheat rations for supplemental feed.

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Farmer Adds Value by Adding Prawn and Trout

Adding Value to Missouri Family Farm by Incorporating Aquaculture Into Existing Farm Operation

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Joe Gaylord has a 100-acre farm and rents additional acreage for his 120 cow/calf operation. To offset rising fuel and input costs, he sought another source of income. Since his farm has a large pond with an excellent water supply, he decided a fish and prawn operation would be a good fit.

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Truffle Orchard Establishment — The Burgundy Truffle

Phase 1 & 2: Truffle Orchard Establishment - The Burgundy Truffle as a New Sustainable Agroforestry Crop for Missouri

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Ozark Forest Mushrooms (OFM), owned by Nicola Macpherson Hellmuth, specializes in log-grown shiitake mushrooms, and oyster mushrooms grown on bagged agricultural waste substrate. Additionally, OFM sells imported truffles. Hellmuth viewed growing truffles as an opportunity to introduce an exciting new agroforesty product into an area of high unemployment, and to provide an additional culinary highlight and agrotourism attraction in the region. With SARE support, she has been working to cultivate the European burgundy truffle.

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Preserving Genetic Diversity in Swine

A Survey of Relationships Among Rare Breeds of Pigs

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

There are more than 70 breeds of pigs worldwide, but only seven are used in most large pork-producing operations. Though benefits of biodiversity are often overlooked, there are farmers and organizations interested in preserving rare and endangered breeds for future generations. Kizzi Roberts, a graduate student at the University of Missouri, wanted to determine the relationships within rare breeds that lacked pedigree information.

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Tactic for a More Consistent Product

Developing Harvest Task Checklists to Assist Farmers in Managing Harvest Crews

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Troy Community Farms is a five-acre urban farm that produces certified organic vegetablessold through a CSA, farm stand, and grocery store accounts. Given the farm’s location on the north side of Madison, people of all ages and abilities have easy access and are attracted to the farm as a place to learn about food and food production. One of Claire Strader’s challenges as farm director was training and managing a large and diverse workforce of interns, worker shares, and volunteers.

Strader found that even with training and clear instruction, it was difficult to ensure harvest tasks were completed efficiently and produced a consistent product. To address this, she identified 10 priority crops that crews would likely harvest multiple times throughout the season and developed task sheets for each crop.

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Farmer Incorporates Movable Coops for Multiple Benefits

Hoeing Hens

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Wil Farm, owned by Pieter Los, consists of 18 acres near Hermann, Missouri — approximately 2 acres are used to raise flowers, produce, strawberries, and laying hens.

Los incorporated movable coops for laying hens into this sustainable farming system to reduce weeds, tillage, and nutrient losses, and to increase income soil fertility, and farm diversity.

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Forage Quality Determined with Grazing Wedge

Using Grazing Wedges to Match Beef Cattle Nutrient Need with Pasture Resources while Reducing Feed and Fertility Costs

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

The grazing wedge is a tool for visualizing forage inventory in different pastures. It visually represents the quality and quantity of forage dry matter available both now and during the next round of grazing, enabling farmers to plan pasture management accordingly. Cattle graze good quality forage (not too mature) without overgrazing and risking poor regrowth. University of Missouri Extension provides an online grazing wedge calculator for producers at www.grazingbeef.missouri.edu.

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On-Farm Research Investigates How Planting Techniques Influence Livestock Grazing

Skip-Row Corn Planting Techniques with Cover Crops for Sustainable Grazing

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Harry Cope grazes 100 head of cattle, 400 ewes, and occasionally 400 head of feeder goats. He wanted to switch from supplementing pasture with harvested grains to a year-round grazing system that included standing corn interplanted with cover crops.

Getting good soil contact and enough light are challenges when planting cover crops into a standing corn crop. Skip-row planting (skipping some rows of corn when planting) looked like a solution that would allow Cope to establish a cover crop mix of oats, cereal rye, red clover, Winford turnip kale, Graza radish, and cow peas. If successful, he could extend the length of time his animals could graze forages (cover crops), reduce labor and input costs, and increase profitability.

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Educating about Elderberries

Developing Successful Marketing Strategies for Elderberry Growers and Value-Added Processors: A Model for Specialty Crop Development in the U.S. Midwest

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. Elderberries are also in demand due to their high antioxidant content and health benefits. They can be an income opportunity for family farms.

In-depth information was developed to support the producer decision-making process for on-farm and associated value-added elderberry enterprise opportunities. Research results were disseminated through workshops, outreach guides, decision-support tools, and peer-reviewed journal articles.

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Experiential Learning in Agricultural Systems

GVSU Upward Bound TRiO Flower and Herb Garden at the GVSU Sustainable Agriculture Project

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Through the Grand Valley State University (GVSU) Sustainable Agriculture Project, Levi Gardner helps students learn about food production and gain an appreciation for the process of planning, growing, harvesting, and selling horticulture and floriculture products. The project is growing at a regional public university with a limited history of agriculture or food systems education.

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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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Middle School Students Learn Farm-to-Table Agriculture First Hand

Organic Farm to Summer Camp Table

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

In December 2011, EarthDance proposed to host two week-long sessions of Camp EarthDance, a farm-to-table summer camp for middle-schoolers. Plans for the camp were fine-tuned in spring 2012, and publicity materials were developed. Although there were not enough registrants to conduct the first camp, the second camp included 16 students.

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Good Agricultural Practices for Agricultural Professionals

Developing Extension Competence in Good Agricultural Practices and Farm Food Safety Planning for Fruit and Vegetable Growers in Kansas and Missouri

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Due to recent outbreaks of foodborne illnesses, consumers are concerned about food safety, and an increasing number of wholesale and institutional buyers are requiring growers to have GAPs certification, which focuses on reducing microbial risks to fresh fruits and vegetables.

Cary Rivard and Jeffrey Callaway developed a program to train agricultural professionals, including Extension agents, Department of Agriculture personnel, and other agricultural educators, in Kansas and Missouri on how to help fruit and vegetable growers develop and implement farm food safety plans and obtain GAPs certification.

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Young People Learn the Importance of Native Edible Plants

Wild Eating: Bringing Food Production Back to Nature

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Scattering Farms is a 47-acre outdoor learning center with a history of helping children learn about teamwork and nature. In 2012, an urban 4-H Club from Mexico, Missouri, with no experience being in the woods, was invited to work with Master Gardeners and garden club members to plant 18 kinds of native edible trees, shrubs, and flowers in a designated area along a trail.

Youth learned how to use gardening tools, prepare the ground for planting, sustainable growing methods, and how to choose a proper location based on a plant’s need for sunlight and nutrients. Later the youth learned to label and mulch each of the plantings. They returned to taste some of the wild edibles already growing in that space.

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Beekeeper Develops Non-Chemical Product to Protect Hive from Beetles

Integrated Pest Management for Small Hive Beetles

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

The small hive beetle has the ability to destroy a colony of bees. John Henry Nenninger recognized that the larval stage is the weakest link in a small hive beetle’s lifecycle. He developed a non-chemical product he calls a salt box to stop larvae from reaching suitable soil to pupate.

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Farmers Build Small-Scale Mobile Slaughter System

Development of Humane Slaughter Systems for Small-Scale Operations

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

As family farmers in northwest Wisconsin, Larry Jacoby and his partner raise premium sheep and goats. In attempting to market their meat as a value-added product, they came to realize that good, small-scale equipment simply did not exist for humane, animal welfare friendly slaughter. They wanted to develop a mobile slaughter unit that could be produced at a reasonable cost.

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Safe Poultry Products

Teaching Pastured-Poultry Producers On-Farm Processing Best Management Practices for a Safer Product

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Kevin Backes and his family operate Backes Poultry Company. They raise and slaughter 5,000 to 6,000 of their own chickens annually and slaughter 15,000-18,000 birds for others in their state-inspected processing facility each year.
The Backes surveyed people who brought birds to their plant for slaughter and determined that the most common errors occurred in safe handling of the birds in both pre- and post-slaughtering.

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School Teacher Grows Community Through Gardens

Growing a Future

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

At the time of this project, Dan Kenney was a school teacher and coordinator of DeKalb County Community Gardens (DCCG), a nonprofit organization that helps establish school and neighborhood gardens throughout DeKalb County.

Kenney noticed that many of his students didn’t make the connection that the foods they ate were a result of the agricultural activities they saw going on around them. With approximately 14 percent of the county’s residents considered food insecure and about half of the students in the county receiving reduced or free lunches, chances were they weren’t getting much fresh food. Kenney saw this problem and decided to enact change.

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Farmers Study Multiple Benefits of Chickens and High Tunnels

Examining the Practicality of Incorporating Chickens into a Diversified High Tunnel Rotation System

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

The Neff Family Farm is on 13 acres, 10 tilled. The Neffs grow vegetables and herbs on old wheat ground. The soil was damaged and not very productive. Poultry has been part of the operation for a long time but the birds had not been incorporated into the rest of the farm in a sustainable manner.

The Neffs created six study plots, each measuring 20 ft. x 24 ft., and implemented a two-year rotation that included various combinations of herbs, vegetables, strawberries, chickens, and fallow.They wanted to explore if integrating chickens into a chemical-free high tunnel system would reduce fuel costs, as well as improve soil fertility and help control insects.

Aquaponics in School

Rethinking Urban Agriculture: An Aquaponics Approach

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Aquaponics is a food production system that combines aquaculture, the raising of fish, with hydroponics, the soil-less growing of plants in water, into an integrated system. The first year of this project included purchasing and building an aquaponics system consisting of a grow bed, breeding tank, growing tank, and scientific equipment to maintain water quality and quality control throughout the system. The project began with one tank. Currently, there are three tanks with more expansion planned.

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Growing Power Video

Type: North Central SARE Multimedia

This video features NCR-SARE grant recipient Will Allen, founder of Growing Power. 

Iowa Student Studies Woodchip Bioreactors for Nitrate Reduction in Agricultural Drainage

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Tile drainage reduces soil moisture levels for optimal crop
growth, but there is concern about nitrate loss from these systems. Because the water quality of regional streams, rivers, and lakes can be negatively impacted by nitrate in drainage, researchers at Iowa State University are studying several practices that can be done to reduce the amount of nitrate in drainage water.

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2012 Cover Crop Survey Analysis

Type: North Central SARE Presentation

Cover crop adoption has been increasing rapidly in the last 5 years, with an estimated 1.5 to 2.0 million acres of cover crops planted in the U.S. in 2012. To learn more about this trend, during the winter of 2012-13, the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) carried out an NCR-SARE-funded survey of farmers who have grown cover crops. This analysis includes results from that survey.

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Cover Crop Cocktail

Workshops Train Educators on Ecosystem Services

Type: From the Field Profile

Ecosystem services are the ways in which people benefit from wildlife and/or ecosystems. Cover crops can slow soil erosion, improve soil health, smother weeds, enhance nutrient and moisture availability, help control pests, and bring a host of ecosystem services.  They have become an important part of organic cropping systems, but Rafiq Islam feels that many people still do not realize their full benefit.

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Value Added Vegetables

Live Fermentation

Type: From the Field Profile

Fermentation is an ancient method of preserving fresh vegetables and other foods for later use. It is accomplished due to lactic acid-producing bacteria, which lower the pH of these foods.

Chris Chmiel, co-owner of Integration Acres Ltd., applied for an NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher grant and learned that fermentation could be profitable and add value to his vegetable production.

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Alternative Parasite Treatment

Small Ruminant Anthelmintics

Type: From the Field Profile

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Family Farm Compares Sweet Corn Varieties

Studying Consumer and Producer Satisfaction

Type: From the Field Profile

Marissa Kruthaup and her brother started selling produce at the farmers market when their family’s home garden produced too many melons one year. Today, they own and run Kruthaup Family Farm CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), which operates on their parents’ 70-acre farm. In order to keep her family business thriving, Marissa compared different sweet corn production systems.

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Profitable Rabbit Production

Establishing a Commercial Distribution Channel

Type: From the Field Profile

Rabbit meat is high in protein and low in fat, cholesterol, and sodium when compared to most of the meats eaten in the U.S. Rabbit meat has great potential to feed people in developing countries and could be promoted in the U.S. as a healthful, natural meat and a small farm asset (Fanatico, Anne. “Rabbit Production.” ATTRA. October 2005).

On his family farm in Indianapolis, Nick Carter wanted to know whether meat rabbitries could be a new revenue opportunity for small family farms. He applied for an NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher grant to conduct a feasibility study.

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Low Tunnel Strategies

Microclimate Modification and Early Vegetable Production

Type: From the Field Profile

Producers have few options when challenged by climate limitations. One frost can substantially damage a crop, but farmers need to plant as early as possible to obtain the maximum growing degree days for their crop to produce well. As a graduate student at Michigan State University, Rebekah Struck Faivor wanted to help improve profitability of fresh market vegetables in Michigan and the North Central region, so she applied for an NCR-SARE Graduate Student grant to develop, test, and demonstrate new low tunnel strategies for frost protection and early harvest in Michigan.

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Scaling Up by Developing a Planting Cart

Improving Worker Comfort and Efficiency

Type: From the Field Profile

Perkins’ Good Earth Farm is a small family farm that operates on 19 acres. They currently grow only one-quarter acre of organic garlic but hope to increase their productivity in this area by 50 percent. Two major challenges in achieving this goal are the cost of additional labor and worker comfort during planting and harvesting. Dan and Julie Perkins applied for an NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher grant to explore a way to improve worker comfort and efficiency.

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Niche Nuts

Nut Crop Production, Processing, and Marketing in the North Central Region

Type: From the Field Profile

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, America’s top nut producers are California, producing nearly 90% of tree nuts in America; Georgia, New Mexico, and Texas, raising 75% of America’s pecan crop; and Oregon, raising the majority of America’s hazelnut crop.

Kurt Belser is the owner of the The Wingnuttery in Albany, Ohio, where he grows, produces, and wild harvests hickory nuts, black walnuts, chestnuts and hazelnuts. In 2012, he received an NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher grant to create a prototype regional-scale nut production, processing, and value-adding system in Southeast Ohio. His goal is to create a regional-scale nut processing facility that will be replicable for other areas in the region, and wherever nuts are a viable crop.

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Urban Farmers Unite to Market Sustainable Goods

Creating a Collaborative Marketing Presence

Type: From the Field Profile

Four urban farms in Indianapolis have created IndyGrown, a collaborative marketing presence for urban farms. Each farm is distinct in size, location, and personality, but all share similar farming practices and philosophies. Using sustainable growing practices, IndyGrown farms are creating green space in the urban core and repurposing vacant land in Indianapolis.

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Aquaponics in the Classroom

Using Aquaponics to Teach Core Science Concepts

Type: From the Field Profile

Students at Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy are being exposed to their core science concepts in a new way. They are learning biology, chemistry, physics, and other core scientific concepts through hands-on modules based on an aquaponics system.

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Artificial Insemination

Training Farmers to Breed Sheep

Type: From the Field Profile

Artificial insemination (AI) has become widely popular in breeding livestock, because it allows farmers to make faster genetic improvement in their animals, enhance biosecurity, and decrease breeding related costs of production. Despite these benefits, some farmers are hesitant to use sheep breeding becaue sheep have a complex reproductive anatomy. Farmer Don Brown and Dr. Craig Zimmerly received an NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher grant to test the success rate of AI and share information on AI techniques in sheep.

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On-Farm Soybean Trials

Extension Educator Identifies Promissing Organic Soybean Varieties

Type: From the Field Profile

Organic soybeans are commonly used for food grade products, yet these seed systems have struggled historically. According to the US Department of Agriculture, organic soybeans account for less than one percent of soybeans produced in the United States (agcensus.usda.gov, 2007). Michigan has significant organic food grade soybean production, but non-GMO soybean varieties are becoming less available due to many factors including seed contamination, limited breeding programs, conflicting selection criteria, and lack of awareness and communication.

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Bovine Mastitis Treatment

Professor Tests Non-Antibiotic Therapies

Type: From the Field Profile

While mastitis is the most frequent disease condition in dairy cattle, the most common treatment for it -antibiotics- aren’t used in organic milk production. Mastitis affects animal health, longevity in the herd, and the production of quality milk. Although non-antibiotic products for mastitis have been marketed, limited data is available regarding the safety and efficacy of these products.

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Multi-Farm Cooperative Model

Small-Scale Farmers Create Cooperative to Improve Distribution

Type: From the Field Profile

In 2013, Monica Bongue received an NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher grant to develop a small farm cooperative food distribution model in Wooster, Ohio. By 2014, Bongue and a group of farmers formed a not-for-profit cooperative registered in the state of Ohio as Farm Roots Connection Cooperative.

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Managing Drought Risk On the Ranch

The Role of Drought Preparedness in Improving the Sustainability of Great Plains Ranches

Type: From the Field Profile

Producers throughout the nation continue to grow increasingly concerned about water scarcity. Farmers, ranchers, and agricultural educators are exploring new approaches to the challenges associated with water shortage and drought.

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2015 Cover Crop Survey Analysis

Cover Crops Continue to Boost Yields and Expand Acreage

Type: North Central SARE Presentation

For the third year in a row, a national survey of farmers has shown that cover crops improve corn and soybean yields. The survey also found that cover crop acreage per farm more than doubled over the past five years. The survey was conducted by the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) with funding from USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program and the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA).

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Raising Locally-Adapted and Disease Resistant Queens in Illinois

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

To help increase the prevalence of locally-raised bees in Illinois, Stu Jacobson used a SARE grant to start the Illinois Queen Initiative (IQI). The organization provides training to beekeepers on how to raise queens that are adapted to Illinois' harsh winters, and resistant to disease and the varroa mite.

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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From the Field

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

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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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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Developing a Goat Meat Market in the Black Hills of South Dakota

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

With SARE support, Tom and Susan Barnes are working to expand the goat meat market and goat production in the Black Hills region of South Dakota. 

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Missouri Youth Gain Hands-On Experience in Sustainable Ag

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Amelia LaMair received an NCR-SARE Youth Educator grant to teach students from Lutie School District about sustainable agriculture in Theodosia, Missouri, where 4th graders measure plant growth in raised beds, kindergarteners have their own “kindergarden,” and middle school and high school agriculture classes take field trips to nearby sustainable farms.

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Soil Scientist Makes Case for “Active C” Soil Test

Type: North Central SARE From the Field Profile

Researcher Christine Sprunger studies how farmers view soil carbon and the barriers they face when working to improve soil fertility; she argues that the active C test should be more widely available and offered at soil testing laboratories.

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2016 Cover Crop Survey Analysis

Cover Crop Survey Reflects Enthusiasm for the Soil-Saving Practice

Type: North Central SARE Presentation

Insight from 2,020 farmers (download) from across the country reflected enthusiasm for cover crops and—for the fourth year in a row—found a yield boost in corn and soybeans following cover crops. Multi-year data shows the yield boost increases as cover crops are planted year after year, a revelation that points to an appealing long-term benefit of the conservation practice. The survey offers data unavailable elsewhere, providing a vital glimpse into farmers’ use of and perceptions about cover crops: Previous SARE/CTIC Cover Crop Surveys have been used by researchers and farm groups, and even cited in Congressional testimony.

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