From the Field Profiles

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

Pink Spotted Lady Beetle

Using Flowering Insectary Borders to Boost Natural Enemies

Beneficial insects play an important role in managing insect pests and pollinating crops, but they struggle to thrive in and around farms that have low plant diversity and rely mainly on tillage. Routine soil disturbances and low plant diversity can mean fewer prey, shelter and plant-based resources available to support natural enemies, especially early in […]

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Supporting Farmer Training Programs in the West

“When I finally came (to ALBA’s Farmer Education Program), I learned so much! How to eat differently, how to plant without pesticides, how to harvest, move the boxes, move the product in the system.”  -Maria Ana Reyes, 2015 graduate of ALBA’s Farmer Education Course. Like Maria Ana Reyes, new and beginning farmers often need technical […]

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Growing the Field for Organic Conservation

As producers work to meet regulations under the National Organic Program (NOP) and become certified organic, they often apply conservation practices that align well with the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) conservation activities, such as green manures, buffer strips, and rotational grazing. NRCS assistance is being sought by both new and established organic farmers to […]

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Climate-Sustaining Agriculture

Often, farmers are willing to make changes in their growing practices to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and their climate impact. Whether conventional or organic, agriculture can be a source of GHG emissions. Those farmers eager to modify their practices may lack the knowledge and tools to make effective choices. According to graduate student […]

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Researchers Say Hill-Climbing Cows May Bring Big Benefits for Western Ranchers

Conventional wisdom says cows don’t go up steep slopes. They don’t climb hills and don’t travel very far from water. But some cows never got that memo. “I’ve been watching cattle for years, and there are always some cows that just take off for the hills, like they didn’t know they weren’t elk,” said Derek […]

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Vegetable and Weed Degree-day Models

Pest managers are familiar with the concept of using degree days to predict pest outbreaks. Insects, like many other organisms, develop according to the temperature around them and degree days are a way to measure accumulated temperature. Plants – at least in part – also develop based on temperature, so a team in Oregon is […]

Donn Branton

Innovative Assessment Helps Farmers in the Northeast Improve Soil Health

  Improving soil health without understanding the soil’s condition is not easy and traditional soil tests, though important management tools, don’t provide information on the physical structure or microbial life living in the soil. That is why a multidisciplinary team at Cornell University created a soil health assessment, which measures physical, chemical and biological indicators […]

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Integrating Traditional Foods with Aquaponics in the Desert Southwest

The Challenge Cochise County, Arizona, where Aaron Cardona’s Arevalos Farm is located, is classified by the USDA as a food desert with high poverty rates, as well as high rates of diabetes and obesity. To help confront these problems, Cardona decided to look into aquaponics, which had not been experimented with in the desert regions […]

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Training in Marine Ornamental Farming for Extension Professionals in Micronesia

The Challenge The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) are fledgling sovereign nations. Both nations have low per capita GDP and high unemployment. Like many developing small island nations, the FSM and RMI are economically marginalized. The people of FSM and RMI have skills and resources for aquaculture, […]

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Western Pollinator Conservation Planning Short Course

The Challenge Hives of European honeybees, commonly purchased for pollination services, have become more difficult to obtain due to decline from disease and Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Native bees can make a significant contribution to crop pollination. Protecting, enhancing, or providing natural habitat on farms is the best way to conserve native pollinators. The USDA, […]

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Water Management in Sonoma County Grape Production

The Challenge As in all of California, water is a scarce resource in Sonoma County, a region in Northern California with more than 400 wineries and almost 60,000 acres of vineyards. Wine grape growers face increasing competition for water from different interests, various regulations, and a need to protect threatened and endangered salmonids found in […]

raising locally-adapted and disease resistant queens in Illinois

Raising Locally-Adapted and Disease Resistant Queens in Illinois

  It is no secret that we are losing bees at higher rates than ever before: On average, beekeepers lose 33 percent of their hives each year. This unfortunate occurrence is known as Colony Collapse Disorder, caused by many different factors such as disease, the varroa mite, pesticide poisoning and habitat loss. And while most […]

link to Integrated Pest Management in Alabama video

Integrated Pest Management in Alabama

  Organic vegetable growers in the Deep South face a constant battle with pests. In Alabama, new information is leading to better crop protection and more profitability, thanks to the work of Ayanava Majumdar, Alabama Extension entomologist and Southern SARE state coordinator. As a SARE state coordinator, Majumdar is tasked with bringing sustainable agriculture information […]

Montana wheat farmer video

Improving Nutrient Use Efficiency in Montana Wheat

  "This was a landmark study because we knew we were losing nitrogen, we just didn’t know how we were losing it," says farmer Curtis Hershberger. When nitrogen fertilizers are applied to the soil surface using certain application practices, a significant amount can be lost when the nitrogen converts to ammonia gas and enters the […]

Researcher and farmer holding a tillage radish

For Vegetable Farmers, a New No-Till Tool in Forage Radish

Vegetable farmers who want the myriad benefits of winter cover crops may be setting themselves up for a hectic spring schedule, when the challenge of planting during a narrow window of good weather becomes more complicated by the need to first terminate that winter crop. To make their lives a little easier, University of Maryland […]

the inside of a high tunnel

Abundant High Tunnels Provide a Community Boost in West Virginia

For years now, small-scale vegetable farmers have been turning to high tunnels—cheap, unheated structures similar to greenhouses—as a cost-effective way to extend the growing season and their on-farm income stream. But while high tunnels were popping up throughout many cold Northeastern states, in West Virginia they were not. Until 2008 that is, when West Virginia […]

Dan West next to a solar collector

From Fruit to Fuel

As tree fruit growers know well, annual harvests do not remove all the fruit from the orchard. A great deal is left behind littering the orchard floor. While pondering his fruit waste problem, Dan West of Macon, Mo., who grows apples, peaches, apricots, nectarines, plums and pears, hit upon a novel approach: Why not turn […]

Joel Myers at NoTill Workshop

No-Till and Cover Crop Innovations Increase Dairy Profits

Summertime for dairy farmers in New England is anything but slow. Silage corn must be planted and harvested in a short window to provide high-quality forage for cattle, leaving little time to plant cover crops to replenish the soil. Under pressure to get corn planted early, farmers may delay the first cutting of hay, sacrificing […]