USDA Invests $6.8 Million for Research and Extension Grants on Pollinator Health

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced seven grants totaling $6.8 million for research and extension projects to sustain healthy populations of pollinators, which are crucial to the nation’s food security and environmental health. The funding is made possible through NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) program, authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

“An estimated $15 billion worth of crops, including more than 90 fruits and vegetables, are pollinated by honey bees alone,” said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy. “With the recent declines in pollinator populations owing to various factors, it is imperative that we invest in research to promote pollinator health, reduce honey bee colony losses, and restore pollinator habitats.”  Continue reading

New Bee Better Certification for Farmers and Ranchers Who Help Bees

From the Connection

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) works with conservation partners like the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation to help farmers plan and implement conservation practices that benefit bees and other pollinators. Through a new certification program – Bee Better Certified – agricultural producers can inform consumers that they are farming in ways that benefit bees. Continue reading

Competitive Grants Workshop Link shared

On May 25, NIFA held a two-part informational webinar on competitive funding opportunities. The webinar was a part of the Competitive Funding Opportunity Workshops (CFOW). The recordings of the webinar and information to request the webinar slides can be accessed here.

More precautions needed when spraying with dicamba and 2,4-D

From the Weed Science Society of America

New resistant soybean and cotton cropping systems based on the synthetic auxin herbicides give farmers new options for managing Palmer amaranth and other broadleaf weeds resistant to glyphosate. But scientists with the Weed Science Society of America (WSSA) say special precautions are necessary. Auxin herbicides are known to drift and to cause harm to sensitive, off-target broadleaf plants.

“Concerns about drift led the U.S. EPA to issue time-limited registrations for the auxin herbicides dicamba and 2,4-D of two years and five years respectively,” says Kevin Bradley, Ph.D., past president of WSSA and associate professor at the University of Missouri. “The approved product labels have considerable detail on management of drift and other risks and must be carefully followed to reduce off site movement. Unless growers show they can use these herbicides as labeled, the registrations could easily be revoked.” Continue reading

Scientists use bacteriophages to fight fire blight

in Science Daily

 

The plant disease fire blight, caused by the bacterium Erwinia amylovora, is dreaded by fruit growers. It affects apple and pear trees and other plants in the rosacea family, and if a tree becomes affected it usually has to be cleared and burned.

The pathogen that causes fire blight is difficult to control. In exceptional cases, farmers can use the antibiotic streptomycin, but even this cannot prevent the pathogen from disseminating via pollinating insects. Continue reading

Native Thistles: Important and Misunderstood Plants for Conservation

Presented by USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service – Science and Technology, National Technology Support Centers

What will you learn?

Learn about the value of native thistles to pollinators and other wildlife, the precarious conservation status of native thistles, and ways we can conserve the wide diversity of native thistles in North America. Learn more… Continue reading

How to maintain a thirsty lawn

The following recommendations were developed by Extension specialists at the University of Georgia. However, they are general enough to be relevant to every state on the East coast that is affected by the drought this summer. Click here for the original article, written by Mary Carol Sheffield.

Water correctly. In the absence of rainfall, established lawns need about 1 inch of water a week. Because the soil cannot absorb that much water at one time, which results in runoff, smaller volumes of water totaling 1 inch may need to be applied at separate times during the week. For example, two half-inch applications could be made three to four days apart. Continue reading