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Posts tagged: NIFA

Transitioning to Organic Certification

Conner Voss on his farm

Conner Voss got his family farm certified organic in 2015. Diggin’ Roots Farm is a diversified fruit, vegetable, and livestock operation in Molalla, Oregon, midway between Portland and Salem. Pictured is Conner Voss.

More and more farmers are entering the organic market. Just last year, the number of certified operations in the U.S. grew by almost 12 percent – more than double the growth rate of 2014. So how do farmers, ranchers, and food processors make the transition to organic? We talked to one farming family about their experience, learning how they used USDA programs to help with the transition process.

Conner Voss got his family farm certified organic in 2015. Diggin’ Roots Farm is a diversified fruit, vegetable, and livestock operation in Molalla, Oregon, midway between Portland and Salem. “We sell our product direct – through a CSA, at a local farmers market, and direct to restaurants – and our customers kept asking about our growing practices,” said Conner. “We wholeheartedly believe in the practices and philosophy of organic production, and certification offers a quick and easy starting place for our conversations with our community. Beyond that, being certified is a way for our small farm to actively engage in the larger organic movement by helping define and shape what organic is.” Read more »

NIFA Supports Annual Science, Engineering Festival to Spur Future Scientists

Victor Villegas educating young participants on the many uses of drones in agriculture

Victor Villegas also known as the ‘Drone Singer’ educates young participants on the many uses of drones in agriculture, including crop surveillance.

The link between agriculture, science, and engineering is quite simple. Whether you live in a rural or urban setting, those three components work together to make a more sustainable environment. Thousands of students had the chance to learn about that and more, April 15-17 at the 4th Annual Science and Engineering Festival in Washington, DC.

Several members of the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) participated in the festival to encourage children to become the next generation of agricultural professionals. Read more »

Organic Study Uses Domestic Sheep to Facilitate Sustainable Farming

Sheep grazing on cover crops in a Montana State University sustainable farming study

Sheep graze on cover crops in a Montana State University sustainable farming study. Photo courtesy of Montana State University.

Environmental and economic management of weeds and pests is a priority for organic farmers and they typically use tillage to address these issues. However, frequent mechanical tillage can reduce soil integrity, which increases costs for farmers and negatively impacts future crop growth. Now, Montana State University (MSU) researchers are studying an alternate technique to manage these issues—domestic sheep.

Instead of using traditional tilling machinery or herbicides, MSU’s project features domestic sheep that graze farmland to eliminate the cover crop and control weeds. The study will determine if an integrated animal and crop production system is an economically feasible way to reduce tillage for certified organic farms. Read more »

USDA Engages Public through Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science

CitizenScience.gov homepage screenshot

Check out CitizenScience.gov to learn about crowdsourcing and citizen science projects in your area, and get involved.

Recently, USDA participated in the White House launch of the Federal Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science (CCS) Toolkit. By providing federal employees with information about developing CCS activities, the Toolkit will eventually allow the Federal government to design more programs that ask citizens to help us in solving both simple and complex problems.

Now, USDA is excited to announce our role in helping to harness “the power of the crowd” with the official release of CitizenScience.gov. Read more »

4-H, Be SAFE Helps Develop Youth/Adult Partnerships to Help Prevent Bullying

A man working with youth

Research shows that adults working with youth strengthens bullying prevention efforts. Photo courtesy of 4-H.

(4-H’ers from across the country, U.S. territories, and Canada are converging on Washington, DC, for the 4-H National Conference, April 9-14.  4-H National Conference is the premier citizenship and civic engagement opportunity for 4-H members.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) provides funding and national program leadership for 4-H and is the home of 4-H National Headquarters.  This blog has also been published at StopBullying.gov.)

Every day, many young people feel unsafe, disconnected, unsupported, and harmed because of bullying, harassment, and other forms of violence. Be SAFE: Safe, Affirming, and Fair Environments is a Michigan State University Extension initiative that helps communities learn about and address these issues. Be SAFE taps the wisdom and resiliency of young people and invites youth and adults to work in partnership to create relationships and settings that are physically and emotionally safe. Read more »

ARS Helps Veterans Weigh a Career in Agriculture

Veterans participating in building a chicken hoop house

Veterans participate in building a chicken hoop house, which is used to house and move poultry across pastures. Participants are instructed and assisted by veteran mentor Terrell Spencer of Across the Creek Farm. Photo credit: USDA-ARS

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

For many veterans, agriculture may be a career choice worth exploring when they return to civilian life. Veterans have discipline, passion and a sense of service—qualities that would translate well for anyone interested in getting into agriculture.

That may be why a collaborative USDA training project is such a hit. The program, run by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists and their partners in Fayetteville, Arkansas, trains veterans in the basics of agricultural practices by offering workshops, online courses, internships and “Armed to Farm” boot camps at various sites, including the University of Arkansas campus in Fayetteville. Read more »