USDA to Host Listening Sessions — NOTE email comments extended to January 9, 2016

Reminder — USDA to Host Listening Sessions on Public Access to Scholarly Publications and Digital Scientific Data

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is seeking public comment on the development of a policy to increase access to the results of federally-funded agricultural research. Dr. Catherine Woteki, the USDA’s Chief Scientist and Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics (REE) announced that USDA will receive comment at two live teleconferences and via email (extended through January 9, 2016).  The first webinar was held Monday, November 23, 2015, 2 pm EST:  Policy impacts related to scholarly papers. 

The second webinar is scheduled for this Friday, December 4, 2015, 2 pm EST: Policy impacts related to scientific data.  Continue reading

Attracting Pollinators to your Home Garden (in the South)

by Dr. Danesha Seth Carley, co-Director, Southern IPM Center

General Suggestions

You can attract butterflies and other insect pollinators to your yard or garden by growing plants that are attractive to both humans and pollinators (see list below for suggestions). You do not need a formal garden to include plants that will attract and support pollinators; even small patches of plants can help.

When choosing plants for your pollinator habitat, it is always best to aim for plant diversity. Consider that the bees and butterflies you want to attract need either food or habitat year-round. By including a variety of blooming herbs, trees and shrubs, vines as well as annuals and perennials in your garden, you will be not only attracting native pollinators, but also providing them a year-round place to thrive. Continue reading

USDA scientist develops crimper to help roll down cover crops

In Southeast Farm Press

By Dennis O’Brien, Agricultural Research Service

Growers who use cover crops are increasingly turning to a tool that can flatten out their actively growing fields, usually in a single pass. Known as a “roller/crimper,” the technology can help reduce and sometimes eliminate the need for herbicides.

Cover crops can improve soil quality; and in organic operations, they play a major role in keeping weeds in check. Crimpers boost those benefits. They have been used for years in South America and are beginning to catch on in the United States, says Ted Kornecki, an agricultural engineer at the Agricultural Research Service’s National Soil Dynamics Laboratory in Auburn, Alabama. He has conducted a study evaluating several crimpers to give guidance to growers and has patented three crimper designs. Continue reading

Kissing bugs and Chagas disease

From the NC State University Plant Disease and Insect Clinic blog

By Matt Bertone, NC State University

News reports out of Texas, and now North Carolina, have been stirring up fears about “deadly” insects and a lesser known, but potentially serious illness: Chagas disease. Most people in the United States have never heard of this malady, yet it affects millions of people every year…in Central and South America.

The vast majority of Chagas disease cases are from rural areas in the New World tropics. Cases in the United States are rare, and most have been diagnosed from people who traveled here from outside the country. In fact there are at present only seven verified cases of natively-infected (termed “autochthonous”) Chagas in the United States since 1955, and none of these was from North Carolina (see Reference 2). To put this in perspective, malaria — a mosquito transmitted protozoan disease often thought of as exotic — has been recorded as autochthonous 63 times since 1957. Continue reading

Expect invaders as weather gets colder

This post was written for Texas Extension specialists; however, the tips included are applicable to people in all states.

With temperatures dropping, many Texas residents likely will be getting some unwanted guests in their homes around the holidays, according to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service pest management experts.

“This time of year, squirrels, as well as raccoons, will try to make nests in attics,” said Janet Hurley, AgriLife Extension program specialist in integrated pest management, Dallas. “Also several species of ants will nest in the walls of homes for warmth and protection.” Continue reading

What to do now to reduce nematode and disease problems this spring

In Southeast Farm Press

By Bob Kemerait, University of Georgia plant pathologist

Winter months are for many farmers the “off season” for row crop disease management.  This occurs not only because cotton, corn, soybeans, peanuts and most other agronomic crops are out of the field, but also because cold weather and soil temperatures affect the pathogens or disease-causing agents.

Perhaps of greatest interest to growers is the survival of plant-parasitic nematodes, such as the southern root-knot nematodes affecting cotton, corn and soybeans, the renifom nematodes affecting soybeans and cotton and the peanut root-knot nematode.  These nematodes cause significant damage to southern row crops; all feed exclusively on living hosts.  Continue reading

Natural Resources Defense Council publishes report linking cover crops to stronger soil

In Corn and Soybean Digest

As harvest season ends and farmers in the United States ready themselves for winter, one small change could make a huge difference in their soil’s health and the health of our climate-impacted world: planting cover crops.

A report released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) finds cover crops can suck tons of carbon pollution from the air, significantly cut crop losses and prevent the loss of a trillion gallons of water. In fact, planting cover crops on half the corn and soybean acres in the top 10 agricultural states (California, Iowa, Texas, Nebraska, Minnesota, Illinois, Kansas, Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Indiana) could sequester  more than 19 million metric tons of carbon annually – the equivalent of taking more than 4 million cars off the road. Continue reading


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