NIFA announces partners for SARE

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced partners to serve as the National Reporting, Coordination and Communications Office (NRCCO) and as the four regional Host Institutions for the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program (SARE). NIFA’s SARE program supports farmer-focused solutions that boost production, increase profitability, promote environmental stewardship, and enhance quality of life in rural communities.

The NRCCO for the SARE program and the four regional SARE host institutions will serve for five years from Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 through 2022. The NRCCO works with NIFA and the national SARE Operations Committee to administer national reporting, coordination, and communications. Each regional host institution collaborates with NIFA to implement regional competitive grant and outreach programs as guided by the Regional Administrative Council (AC). Continue reading

Webinar: Organic Management of spotted wing drosophila

Spotted wing drosophila (SWD) has emerged as a devastating pest of small and stone fruits worldwide. We have organized a webinar to provide you with the most updated information on everything you need to know for organic management of SWD. Continue reading

What gardeners should know about organic insecticides!

by Ayanava Majumdar, Alabama Cooperative Extension Service

Organic insecticides are critical tools to insect control, especially in the hot and humid south where insect pests never seem to rest. Even in the dead of winter, insect pests such as the yellowmargined leaf beetles can be active in the soil on a warm winter day (just look under some turnip plants and other host plants for deep brown larvae that may be in the ground). In most cases, vegetable plants have should be protected early in the season with a variety of integrated pest management tactics. Insecticides are the last resort for pest management in a sustainable system. With latest advances in IPM technologies, there are several types of organic insecticides to choose from, namely, physical desiccants, contact and stomach poisons, and products with volatile action. Below is a brief description of modes of action and usage tips. Continue reading

University of Florida doctoral student wins award for work with spotted wing drosophila

Although it is no longer a new pest, spotted wing drosophila continues to be a bane for small fruit—especially organic—growers. To help both organic and conventional growers fight the pest, a University of Florida doctoral student examined several pest management options and has won a regional award for her research.

Lindsy Iglesias

Lindsy Iglesias, who will graduate from the University of Florida in May with her Ph.D., discovered some novel and more efficient ways to scout and control spotted wing drosophila, or SWD, that will work for both organic and conventional growers. She won a Friends of Southern IPM Graduate Student Award from the Southern IPM Center for her work. Continue reading

NIFA Announces Support for Organic Agriculture Research, Extension, and Education

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced the availability of $17.6 million in grants focused on organic agriculture research, education, and extension activities. These grants are funded through a competitive process by NIFA’s Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative, authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

“America’s organic industry continues to be one of the fastest growing segments of U.S. agriculture,” said NIFA Director Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy. “NIFA strives to support the development and deployment of science-based best knowledge and practices to organic producers to help them grow their businesses while solving critical organic agriculture issues, priorities, or problems.” Continue reading

Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI)

The OREI seeks to solve critical organic agriculture issues, priorities, or problems through the integration of research, education, and extension activities. The purpose of this program is to fund projects that will enhance the ability of producers and processors who have already adopted organic standards to grow and market high quality organic agricultural products. Priority concerns include biological, physical, and social sciences, including economics. The OREI is particularly interested in projects that emphasize research, education and outreach that assist farmers and ranchers with whole farm planning by delivering practical research-based information. Projects should plan to deliver applied production information to producers. Fieldwork must be done on certified organic land or on land in transition to organic certification, as appropriate to project goals and objectives. Refer to the USDA National Organic Program for organic production standards. Continue reading

Labels, labels, everywhere! What do they all mean?

Organic. Natural. Hormone-free. Gluten free. Today’s consumers are assaulted with a variety of labels that companies are using to promote their products. However, a study by extension specialists at Texas A&M AgriLife shows that most consumers don’t have a clue what some of those labels mean, and some may make ill-informed choices based on the labels. They have created a new program called Path to the Plate to help debunk some myths and demystify labels for the curious shopper.

Most people who read labels do so to make the best choices for their own health or the health of their families. Many consumer lobby groups have taken their charge to the Internet or to social media to laud or vilify certain types of production practices. “Organic,” for instance, is praised, while “GMO” is criticized. As a result, many consumers concerned about their health look for organic, non-GMO products. Continue reading