Oregon State University has created a hybrid online-and in-person course to teach farmers the essentials to creating and developing a successful business.
“Growing Farms” is meant to benefit novice farmers and those interested in farming for business better understand how to cultivate within the industry. The course is Oregon focused, however, it can be taken solely online from all over the country!
Looking for more information on field crop diseases to protect your crops? The Crop Protection Network (CPN) produces collaborative Extension research on diseases affecting field crops in both the United States and Canada. The program hopes to communicate necessary information that will not only help identifying crop field diseases, but also manage their destruction.
Currently, there are 24 full-length publications that focus how to identify and manage corn and soybean diseases, and the program consistently adds new resources as they are produced.
Land Grant Universities involved are: Purdue University, Iowa State University, University of Wisconsin and Michigan State University Extension
One of the most common resolutions for a new year is to lose weight and get healthier, and companies know it by pushing numerous diet and exercise plans on consumers. However, many of these diet suggestions aren’t the safest or healthiest plan.
Louisiana State University’s AgCenter explores various current diet trends, such as paleo and gluten-free, and states that many lack important vitamins, nutrients, and fiber. And because these diets restrict a certain type of food, they are usually unsustainable for long-term weight loss. Instead, LSU AgCenter recommends following the U.S. Department of Agriculture MyPlate guide or Dietary Guidelines.
Read more about LSU AgCenter’s diet recommendations and why diet trends don’t work here.
While many households in cities have access to grocery stores with fresh fruit and vegetables, lower income neighborhoods often do not have the same opportunity. Growing an urban garden in such communities can increase access to produce and help families add to their vegetable intake.
The University of California Cooperative Extension surveyed 85 community gardens and 50 home gardens to determine the impact of urban gardens in lower income neighborhoods. Through growing tomatoes, peppers, green peppers, and cucumbers, residents were able to double their vegetable intake. This cost-effective approach can be implemented in other cities to increase produce access and food security among lower income neighborhoods.
In the first app of its kind, Ag Water, designed by University of Arizona and University of California, Davis researchers, determines whether a water source is safe to use on produce. Ag Water predicts the quality of water from a source by using the user’s location, historical water quality data, and weather information. A user can also input certain qualities such as water temperature to strengthen the accuracy of Ag Water’s prediction.
Ag Water not only helps with maintaining water quality, but also increases food safety by ensuring contaminated water is not used on produce. The app also helps growers test their water sources regularly, in conjunction with the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2015.
Read more about the Ag Water app here. The app is available for download in iTunes and Google Play stores.
The solution to consumers throwing away over 30 percent of the total food supply may be as simple as changing a few words. Auburn University, in conjunction with Cornell University, found that date labels on produce and food, such as “use by” or “sell by” directly impacts how consumers view the product’s value.
By using different date labels (“best by,” “fresh by,” “use by,” and “sell by”) and sized packaging, researchers were able to determine that consumers are very responsive to package size and dates and their willingness to waste food is based on that information. Therefore, different packaging and labeling of dates may help prevent consumers from wasting food, which tends to end up in landfills and contributes to greenhouse gases.
Read more about the study and how food labeling impacts consumers here.
Forget their nutritional benefits – legumes are also genetically superior to other crops with their ability to convert nitrogen from the air we breathe to a form crops can use. All other crops have to receive nitrogen from the soil, which is why nearly $800 million was spent on nitrogen fertilizer in past years.
Clemson University looks to change that. The recipients of a three-year National Science Foundation grant, three Clemson University researchers are investigating the genetics in legumes’ roots that allow them to convert nitrogen without a fertilizer. If all crops had this genetic capability, farmers would save money and runoff from nitrogen fertilizer, which frequently pollutes water sources, would significantly decrease.
Read more about Clemson’s genetic research on legumes’ root and its impact here.
Iowa State University Extension program has a robust network for beginning farmers that is continuously growing. This program, which began in November, allows beginning farmers to build relationships with other experienced and new farmers in the region for advice and support.
The Farmers Network also supports food-based farmers to strengthen the local food economy and by producing more food in the region. Northern Iowan farmers now have a support system as well as a group that allows them to collaborate.
We may still be awhile off yet for self-driving vehicles on the typical farm, but Controlled Area Network (CAN) systems and GPS are providing an easier way to streamline harvests. CAN, along with GPS, come equipped with newer tractors and track a vehicle’s state, whether it’s in harvest, travel, delay, idle, or downtime.
Brian Luck, a professor of Machinery Systems and Precision Agriculture Biological Systems Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, says the data can then be used to see patterns and gaps in efficiency. This will help farmers perfect the number of tractors running at once for better crop yield and to receive the most efficient harvest possible.
Read more about how drones and devices improve farming efficiency here.
A new type of biofuel using biological non-food sources may soon be readily available, and
Washington State University discovered that consumers were willing to pay more for a more environmentally friendly type of fuel.
First generation biofuels typically use food sources, like corn, which can increase the price of food and is less sustainable than second generation biofuels, which use materials like wood scraps. While this new biofuel does not exist commercially yet, if consumers are willing to pay a greater premium, the market of new biofuels might not be far behind.
Read more about Washington State University’s study on new biofuels here.
Libby Beard became the owner of a nursery about thirty years ago. Little did she know that she was holding onto a business that would blossom into influential horticulture.
Thanks to Mississippi State University Extension, Beard was able to rely on the resources provided by the university to continue to grow the success of her business. Like Beard, individuals in communities all across the nation rely on their universities to provide guidance into agriculture needs.
Every year, Americans waste 40% of our food, but the actual figure might be even larger than that. Farm-level food waste, produce that never reaches the food supply, has not been accounted for in previous calculations which leads to an estimated 20.2 billion pounds of produce that is missing from the food waste equation.
Farmers generally plant more than needed to accommodate potential disease, weather patterns, and other unexpected negative effects on their crops. However, this creates a surplus of produce that is unharvested due to timing, cost, or quality and then attributed as “farm-level loss.” Growers are not required to report these losses, and many studies on food waste only focus on post-harvest produce, ignoring farm-level loss.
North Carolina State University has developed a way to estimate why and how much produce remains in a farmer’s field. By doing so, the university can look to identify ways to harvest the remaining crops to reduce food waste, increase our food supply, and make our farms more efficient.
Read more about North Carolina State University’s work in food waste here.
The best way to improve water quality might be allowing farmers the freedom to do so themselves. Pennsylvania State University College of Agricultural Sciences surveyed nearly 7,000 farmers who implemented water-quality best management practices voluntarily to reduce nitrogen and sediment levels in local water sources. The result? The Chesapeake Bay’s water quality improved.
This is the first report of its kind to accurately capture and report self-implemented water-quality practices. Previously, government reporting has not tracked voluntarily efforts, but with Penn State’s help, Pennsylvania farmers’ efforts will count when documenting the state’s conservation progress. This report and the success of voluntarily practices will help other states track farmers’ self-implementation and increase the accuracy of states’ conservation reporting.
Read more about the report documenting Pennsylvanian farmers’ conservation practices here.
Utah State University is encouraging children to play with their food – with surprising results. Created by Heidi Wengreen, a professor in the Department of Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Science, the game FIT increases children’s vegetable and fruit intake through role play.
Every day, the game’s superheroes, known as Field Intensive Trainees (FITs), give the students a new school-wide goal, such as eating more vegetables to power the ship. The game has doubled the student’s vegetable eating.
Because FIT is low-cost and does not require technology, the game is accessible for schools to eventually program themselves.
Read more about the FIT game and its success here.
Maintaining sustainability in communities revolves around the community itself, according to Timothy Waring at the University of Maine. When smaller groups of people cooperate as one, sustainability is better managed and easier to maintain.
Waring is developing a “theory of sustainability” to further understand how communities manage natural resources successfully. His work has already identified that smaller social groups are better at managing resources, especially when supported by social and institutional factors.
Waring will continue to study his theory using Maine’s own natural resources – lobsters and blueberries – as an example for other communities to institute and make sustainability more possible.
While algae might be an unsightly nuisance in home aquariums, the plant can improve wastewater efficiency at a low-cost. Most wastewater is treated with a bacterial process, which produces sludge that can cause disposal issues. Treatment systems using bacterial processes also cost more through facility upgrades.
Iowa State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences discovered a system that uses conveyor belts with multiple layers of algae on them to treat wastewater. Not only is the system more cost-effective, it is also more sustainable as the algae produced from the process can be used as fertilizer. The Iowa team hopes the system will be implemented in small communities that may not be able to afford costly treatment upgrades to comply with new regulations.
A class offered in Prince William County, Virginia is helping individuals who live with diabetes manage the disease. The Virginia Cooperative Extension has been providing the “Living Well with Diabetes” class in recent years to help local residents control and live with diabetes. Throughout its implementation, 34 people have attended the course, and many say that it has made a positive change in their health and lives. Some attendees with diabetes have even experienced a decrease in A1C levels, which measures a person’s average levels of blood sugar over a three-month span.
The class aims to educate attendees about helpful lifestyle changes for people with diabetes, which is the sixth leading cause of death in Virginia. Class participants learn about nutrition, physical activity, medication compliance, and stress management throughout the course, which includes four sessions and a follow-up session.
To read more about how the Virginia Cooperative extension is helping patients with diabetes, click here.
Prairie View A&M University is studying the soil moisture of strawberries for big implications. Through 60 soil moisture sensors and a weather station to monitor the moisture within and below the root system, the team is determining irrigation requirements, plant water use, and excess water losses for organically grown strawberries.
The research collected will be shared with limited resource farmers in the southeast region, especially in Texas and Arkansas, to increase production. The research is also part of a project to evaluate organic pest control products that will help control damaging diseases and insects in strawberries.
The Food and Drug Administration has approved a qualified health claim for products containing high-amylose maize starch, which cites its effectiveness in reducing the risk of Type 2 diabetes. The starch was tested for health benefits with the help of researchers from the Agricultural Center at Louisiana State University.
Along with his colleagues, Professor Michael Keenan of the LSU AgCenter School of Nutrition and Food Sciences has been working with the starch for about 15 years. With a qualified claim from the FDA, food marketers are now allowed to promote the diabetes risk reduction benefits of the starch, if it is found in their products, and help improve blood glucose control among the public.
Read more about how researchers are attempting to reduce the risk of diabetes here.
A new approach to tracking fish migration patterns has been launched with help from Oregon State University researchers. The researchers are calling the results of their method, an ichthyograph, a chart that depicts key characteristics of a water source like stream flow, water temperatures, and the timing of upstream migration of fish.
The ichthyograph allows fisheries managers and fish biologists to better understand upstream migration patterns and will help to explore how climate change and human-related activity like water control, floodplain stabilization, and road construction affects fish migration.
Sanja Ilic, the state food safety specialist for the Ohio State University Extension, is currently analyzing five years of research on greenhouse vegetable production. It is an effort being undertaken to ensure that food production in greenhouses meets the safest standards possible.
Dr. Ilic and her colleagues visited 26 greenhouses across the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Guatemala to research differences in production among greenhouse vegetable growers by testing thousands of samples from irrigation water, food contact, environmental surfaces, and the vegetables being grown. The results will help consumers enjoy fresh, safe vegetables no matter the season.
Read more about Dr. Ilic’s food safety efforts here.
Droughts are a real problem throughout the United States, and America’s farmers have been particularly hit hard with lower crop yields over the past few years. This month, the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture is sending surveys to over 5,000 state producers to understand how to proactively help Tennessee farmers during the next drought.
The university plans to use this research as a way to educate all farmers about the different types of technology and resources they have at their disposal. For example, having more Tennessee farmers make use of cover crops – crops known to help promote soil moisture – would help maintain their crop yields during a dry period.
What other information are University of Tennessee researchers collecting to help their state’s farmers? Click here to learn more.
It’s no surprise that climate change affects weather patterns and contributes to rising temperatures, which can also raise sea levels. However, those rising sea levels affect animal and plant life in coastal ecosystems, and when the change happens suddenly, the damage can be significant.
To help predict rising sea levels and prepare ecosystems for a change, New Jersey Institute of Technology studied environmental trends such as water temperature, water pressure, and salinity, which change before sea levels actually rise. Now, by monitoring these factors, scientists can anticipate rising sea levels and prepare ecosystems for the change.
Curious how NJIT figured out the environmental trends? Read more about their research here.
As consumers continue to rely on convenience when it comes to food, ready-to-eat food has seen an increase in purchasing. What else is increasing? Foodborne illnesses.
Cornell University has developed new technology to specifically treat ready-to-eat foods to prevent foodborne pathogens and extend shelf life. The answer is a high-pressure food processor, which surrounds food packages with water and then puts the package through 87,000 pounds per square inch of pressure. The processor will not only answer increasing consumer demand for ready-to-eat foods, but help ensure safer healthier choices.
Want to see how the processor works? Click here.
Rice is one of the most consumed crops in the world but did you know it contains arsenic? Arsenic is a known carcinogen, a substance capable of causing cancer, and traces of the chemical are found in rice. Rice absorbs arsenic through groundwater and soil, so if a region has water contamination, the chances of arsenic poisoning through rice consumption is higher.
To date, no government authority has set up regulations on arsenic-related exposure in foods so the University of Delaware (UD) has teamed up with Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU) to set the standard and keep rice safe for the world.
See UD and BAU’s research methods to protect rice in action here.
In 2015, 15.8 million households were considered “food insecure,” which means they had inconsistent access to healthy food. For Massachusetts, nearly one in ten households (almost 200,000 children) don’t receive food they need.
To help , University of Massachusetts Extension implemented nutrition education programs to low-income families and youth. Over 65,000 individuals participated in their programs with great results – over half of participating adults changed their dietary intake, improved their ability to choose foods, and acquired skills to be more food secure. With these programs, food insecurity may continue to decline for Massachusetts and provide an example for other states to follow.
How did they do it? Read what the nutrition education program offered to communities here.
During American Heart Month, there are constant reminders to improve our heart health. Heart disease is the #1 killer of Americans every year, and prevention begins with you. So, for this month, Alcorn State University offers tips you can take to keep you from being a statistic.
One of the simplest changes to help prevent heart disease is incorporating healthy foods into your diet. Eating more fruits and veggies keep blood pressure in check and provide the recommended nutrients needed to stay healthy so visit your local farmer’s market and stock up!
Check out Alcorn State University’s other tips for a heart healthy life here.
Every year, droughts and other natural disasters impact agricultural production across the United States contributing to food insecurity and rising prices.
To reduce droughts’ impact on crop production, Tuskegee University researched forecasting to measure long-term effects of weather patterns on crops. By monitoring weather data, farmers can manage risks in the future and form preventative measures. Not only will this increase food production, it will also stabilize produce prices when natural disasters occur.
Did you know the research started in Tanzania? Read more about the project here.
Contrary to what you may think, warmer climates create a slower and earlier snowmelt during the winter. The snow starts melting sooner in the season and earlier during the day, as days are shorter. With a slower melt, the amount of water reaching the ground where it doesn’t evaporate is reduced so most of the snowmelt doesn’t create a runoff and never reaches downstream.
University of Nevada – Reno discovered that with a reduced runoff, there is less water available for drinking and agriculture as the snowmelt never reaches reservoirs. Nearly 60 million people depend on snowmelt for their water supply so with continued warmer climates, water availability will be greatly reduced.
Read exactly how warmer climates affect water availability here.
Irrigation systems help supplement water to crops, but the systems might also be impacting the farmers’ perspective on climate change.
As irrigation systems maintain crops’ growth without impact from droughts and other weather patterns, farmers are less likely to realize climate change in their region. This causes unawareness in producers, and they are less likely to implement green processes that help prevent climate change.
University of Vermont links this realization to show the impact of farm infrastructure on climate perception. With this knowledge, Vermont can educate producers everywhere on the importance of recognizing climate change and incorporating preventative measures.
University of Vermont’s study is the first of its kind – read the report here.
Crop irrigation can be a tricky balancing game – water too much and you might see a loss of nutrients. Water too little and a dry field reduces crop yield.
University of Missouri Extension takes the guessing out of irrigation with their new app, Crop Water Use. The app sets itself up with the farm’s soil information and location to input the correct rainfall information. Then, all farmers have to do is enter the irrigations they make for their personalized recommendations on when to irrigate next. The Extension encourages farmers to register now before spring to make your crop yield your best yet.
The app incorporates two different methods to calculate recommendations– one from the 1960s! Read about its development here.
Do you know what the world’s seventh most important crop is? Sweet potatoes have increased in popularity lately with sweet potato fries and sweet potato casseroles, and researchers at North Carolina State University are investigating how to make this beloved potato even more nutritious.
The team at NC State University will research the genetics of the sweet potato to optimize the crop’s nutrition and adaptability to specific regions. Their work will help alleviate hunger and malnutrition by increasing access to this nutritious crop.
How do you research a vegetable’s genetics? The NC State University team has two ideas here.
If you’ve given up your New Year’s resolutions to get healthier this year, it’s not too late to get back on track! Many assume there is a quick fix for weight loss, but switching to healthier habits take time, according to New Mexico State University (NMSU) Extension.
Defining long-term goals, eating balanced meals with whole grains, proteins, and vegetables, and monitoring activity levels all contribute to a healthier you. And don’t forget – your local Extension office can offer nutrition and wellness advice!
Stressed out? NMSU recommends meditation as stress causes the body to store fat – see more tips from the Extension here.
Quinoa might be the latest superfood craze, but did you know the seed is actually difficult to produce? Quinoa is coated in saponin, hardening the seed to protect it from birds and insects, but also making it very expensive for farmers to remove. As quinoa is adaptable to many different environments and is a great source of nutrients, cracking the quinoa code is vital to making it easier for farmers to produce.
Washington State University has discovered the quinoa genome responsible for its hard coating, giving farmers the option to remove the bitter coating. This will help the nutritious crop be more accessible for farmers who may not be able to afford the process to remove saponin and increase availability of the protein-packed crop for in-need communities.
Washington State University created an ancestral family tree of quinoa, dating back from 3 million years ago, to track quinoa’s genetic code. Read more about their research here.
It’s easy to check the weather and see if rain or sunshine is in the forecast but it’s a lot harder to predict droughts. Droughts do not appear suddenly in regions and can remain for a long period of time, making them unpredictable.
Auburn University’s College of Agriculture is developing a Drought Early Warning System for the Southeast, which will monitor, forecast, and prepare the region for droughts. By predicting droughts, states can manage their farm economies and water resources more effectively and farmers will be able to prepare irrigation in advance.
The Drought Early Warning System is just one of the tools Auburn University is working on to fight back against drought. Read about the others here.
In low-income neighborhoods, access to grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and high quality food can be difficult; however, there’s an easy way to increase access to healthy foods in lower-income communities: Master Gardeners.
Master Gardeners are volunteers with special horticulture training for research, teaching, and creating gardens in local communities, and Fort Valley State University Extension’s Master Gardener program in Lowndes County is working with local schools to bring local produce straight to the cafeteria. So far, eight schools participate in the program where students learn how to grow food. Lowndes County has an estimated 23,000 individuals experiencing food insecurity, and the Master Gardeners program will soon change that.
Curious who a Master Gardener is? Meet two from Fort Valley Extension here.
Did you know March is National Nutrition Month? This year’s theme is to “put your best fork forward,” and the University of Alaska – Fairbanks Extension has tips that start with you.
You can swap mealtime favorites for a healthier version – such as using whole grain pasta – or using smaller plates for better portions. And of course, meals should have plenty of veggies, whole grains, and protein!
University of Alaska has more healthy eating tips for National Nutrition Month here.
It’s no secret family dinners have positive effects on a child’s development, but it can be difficult to plan a healthy dinner and grocery shop when time, transportation, and motivation get in the way.
Alabama A&M University Extension has created an app to help families plan for healthy meals and activities. The app, Body Quest, texts parents three times a week with healthy recipes, tips, and prompts to encourage families to make positive decisions throughout the week. With this text-based education, 74% ate more vegetables, 82% cut back on sugary drinks, and 81% engaged in more physical activities with their child.
The app was created as part of the Extension’s obesity prevention initiatives – read more about the success of Body Quest here.
In underserved rural and urban communities with dry climates, there is a heavy reliance on rainwater harvesting systems, but the water quality of these systems is sometimes questionable as they are exposed to pollution. Nearly one-third of the world’s population lives in this type of environment.
University of Arizona is analyzing the safety and quality of water collected through these systems to increase access to clean water and provide water for agriculture. The university will work with nearly 200 families to monitor water quality from harvesting systems, which will improve water access not just in Arizona, but the world.
Families will collect water samples over three-years, with tools and resources from the University of Arizona. Read more about the study here.
Do you have a pond or fountain in your neighborhood? These local bodies of water help prevent flooding in communities and treat polluted runoff during rainstorms to protect bigger water sources. If not properly maintained, however, your local pond can contribute to poor water quality, shoreline erosion, and damage biodiversity.
Clemson University Extension has launched a new website that provides information on maintaining and protecting local ponds in neighborhoods and on community and business properties. Visit their website handbook to learn how to manage your pond’s water quality, prevent contamination, and identify disruptive species.
Ponds are so prevalent in South Carolina – the Extension added an advertising campaign to emphasis proper pond management solutions. Read more about their campaign here.
It’s National Nutrition Month and University of Missouri Extension Master Gardeners are partnering with local food pantries to increase access to healthy foods.
In their local county, more than 15% of the population is food insecure, and nearly another 10% experience hunger at times. And with high food insecurity rates come diet-related health conditions such as obesity, hypertension, and high cholesterol.
The partnership with the Master Gardeners provides opportunities for food pantry recipients to plant community garden plots with tools, supplies, and support from the experts themselves. The local gardens will help neighborhoods fight against health problems and build stronger communities.
The community garden is just one aspect of the community food system – read about the other benefits here.
The Colorado River Basin has been in a drought since 2000 and the lack of rain has taken its toll. Colorado State University researchers discovered 81 percent water reduction of Colorado River’s flow, affected by high temperatures and low precipitation. Nearly forty million people rely on the Colorado River for water and the drought has reduced the river by at least .5 million acre-feet – the amount of water used by two million people in one year.
This study is the first of its kind quantifying the effects of temperatures and precipitation, and the team hopes it will provide water managers with insight on weather patterns to prepare for future impact and better regulate water use across the region.
University of Colorado collected 25 years of data to determine the effect of the river’s flow – read about their climate model here.
Urban gardens are increasing in popularity and for good reason: the neighborhood gardens increase access to fresh local produce, especially among low-income residents, and benefit the community with reduced crime and education and job opportunities. But local organizations who hope to create urban gardens contribute many of their own resources to manage the new garden, usually without much farm experience.
Virginia State University is now offering a 10-week certificate program in urban agriculture to help train new urban agriculture professionals. The program covers not only gardening courses but also city and environmental policy and business principles to help prepare individuals to start and maintain successful urban gardens.
Did you know urban gardens help decrease “food deserts,” areas with little access to fresh fruit and veggies? Read more here.
With researchers’ help, plants can up their natural defense against predators, diseases, and drought.
Washington State University discovered an enzyme called proteases that protects the plant from insects and increases resistance to disease and drought. However, researchers can raise protease levels in adult plants by increasing protease activity, which means healthier and drought-resistant crops in our future.
The protease enzyme may also help cancer research. How? Read here.
Did you know the U.S. imports more than 80 percent of its seafood? While aquaculture (fish farming) is increasing in popularity, domestic farmers find it hard to raise fish because treating waste can be an expensive and difficult process.
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign created an economical and green way to treat wastewater using wood chips. Filtering water from a fish tank, the wood chips naturally remove nitrogen pollutants. Finding an effective and sustainable way to treat wastewater in aquaculture will encourage more produces to raise fish domestically, helping increase food security as the seafood momentum continues.
The woodchips are placed in a container called “bioreactors” – read more about how the system works here.
What if farmers and consumers could see how much local food was bought, where produce is bought the most, and which local partners help increase access to local food? That’s exactly what North Carolina State University tracked with their new online dashboards describing local food spending in the state.
With these dashboards, farmers can figure out the best outlet to capitalize their produce, consumers can compare prices, and local community leaders can effectively plan for increasing access to local food sources in their area.
North Carolina encouraged businesses and individuals to use 10% on local produce – did they reach the goal? Find out here.
Looking to start selling your homemade food products? The specialty food market, foods that are unique and made in small qualities with high-quality ingredients, is growing as more individuals create innovative products, consumers value local items, and retailers continue to sell the special goods.
University of Maine has resources to help new producers break into this thriving business. With fact sheets, workshops, and business planning, potential producers can contribute their own goods to the local food market.
The specialty food industry grew 19.7% between 2013 and 2015 – check out all of the University of Maine’s resources here.
Screaming for ice cream? The University of Delaware has created its first off-campus ice cream shop, but there’s more scoop to this story.
UDairy Creamery will offer students an on-hands agricultural education by teaching them not only how to create locally-sourced ice cream and other menu items, but customer service, food science and safety, and marketing – all needed skills to help future producers succeed. Next time you’re in Wilmington, satisfy your sweet tooth and encourage more farm-to-table, educational options.
Other menu items, such as salads, will come straight from the University of Delaware’s organic garden! Read more about the creamery here.
Scroll through Instagram and you’re sure to see mouth-watering photos of delicious food but did you know that foodie photos might have health benefits?
Food images can help keep track of dietary patterns and provide intake information to consumers, but also individuals who work with a nutritionist such as a diabetic patient. Oregon State University researchers found that image-based dietary assessment can help reduce or eliminate inaccuracies found in written food journals and, with more accurate reporting, consumers can identify potential issues in their diet and how to be healthier.
Oregon State University surveyed more 100 nutrition and dietetics students and their ability to judge food and serving sizes through photos – read more about their research here.
Cover crops are planted after the main harvest to help revitalize the soil while also protecting the area from weeds. However, cover crops aren’t just environmentally friendly— they also help protect local water quality by reducing nutrient run-off and preventing erosion.
The University of Vermont has outlined the benefits of cover crops and other green farming practices in a short video illustrating how the planting goes beyond soil revival. With making cover crops more accessible, producers will be able to protect their soil and their local water sources.
Using cover crops also help farmers meet EPA goals – watch the University of Vermont’s video here to see how planting cover crops will benefit you.
Water conservation has a new champion in local farmers, according to a recent report from Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences.
To combat ways to reduce nutrients from agriculture and identify strategies to protect the Chesapeake Bay, Penn State organized a conference with farmers, representatives from environmental groups, and local, state, and federal government officials. The session resulted in “champion farmers,” farmers who will help lead other producers in conservation efforts. With conservation efforts coming from the inside, maintaining productive agriculture while meeting water-quality goals will be revitalized.
The conference outlined four areas in how to increase efforts in conservation. Read them here.
Is it possible for fast food to be healthy? Alabama Cooperative Extension says it’s all about the ingredients.
Many fast food restaurants are offering grilled meat items and other healthier food items such as salads and fruits. The key is moderation and maintaining a balance between protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, and water, and avoiding the salty, fatty foods, and sugary drinks. So, if you’re ever crunch for time, don’t feel too bad about making a stop at a fast food restaurant, just be sure to keep your order in check!
If you’re frequenting fast food places because of budget, Alabama Cooperative Extension has a solution to that too.
A diet can be seen as a short-term solution. For individuals who want to improve their health, establishing a longer-term healthy eating pattern is more beneficial.
An eating pattern is more than a short-term diet, such as ones that last a couple weeks. Instead, an eating pattern encompasses all food eaten over the course of time, and changing that pattern, from caloric levels to nutrient intake, is key to preventing obesity and related diseases. To help transition to a better eating pattern, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff recommends replacing one less healthier choice with a nutrient-dense food over time to create a transition that will stick.
University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff has additional suggestions to make your eating pattern healthy and lifelong here.
Mississippi may be one of the highest states with obesity and heart disease rates, but with Mississippi State University Extension, Mississippians will soon understand nutrition, food safety, and healthy lifestyles to make their state healthier.
The Extension has created weekly videos to connect with locals about how to eat healthier. “The Food Factor” series addresses food topics that relevant, fact-based and relatable to the average consumer such as coffee drinks or recommended refrigerated times for food. Every video is available to the public and aims to encourage healthier choices for everyone.
Ready to see what the commotion is all about? Check out one of their videos on food safety here.
Though part of the country is getting over a cold front, it’s still springtime and you know what that means? Planting season is here!
Iowa State University has a few tips to help prepare your soil for this gardening season. And with healthy soil comes hearty vegetables– check out these tips from Iowa State University Extension:
Check out Iowa State University Extension others tips and fact sheet here.
As more and more farmers are faced with rising operating costs and labor shortages, new options must be made available to help producers maintain production yields. Especially as organic farmers cannot use chemicals to treat weeds on their farms, farmers are stumped on alternative options.
The University of Arizona Extension has created a new machine that will integrate technology with farming. A prototype of the new weeding machine will be able to remove weeds without contaminating the crops in any way, making sure farmers can improve profitability, sustainability, and environmental integrity of produce systems.
The machine uses a camera-based system to differentiate between crops and weeds – see more about how the technology works here.
As we officially welcomed spring last week, the winter season is coming to an end, and the University of Connecticut researchers are evaluating the consequences of salting roads in the winter.
Road salt is necessary to prevent accidents during inclement weather, but the sodium and chloride used on the streets flow into surface and ground water. University of Connecticut researchers found that those chemicals then runoff into neighborhood water sources, impacting water and ecological systems. The team also found that the quantity of salt is what is contributing to the impact so next winter, be sure to reduce salt application for healthier water in the spring.
Researcher also discovered how we can redirect salt runoff to help in addition to reducing supply – read more here.
We hear ideas about how to increase children’s intake of vegetables, but what about adults? According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, less than 9 percent of Americans eat two to three cups of vegetables every day, per recommendations.
The University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences researched ways to encourage adults to eat more veggies, such as using more spices in cooking. This was the first study to test this theory and determine which spices are used most frequently, or how they were used in cooking, to figure out the best way to get those greens.
The research showed variances among social and economic factors, among other discoveries – check them out here.
Mississippi State University Extension is finding variety is good when it comes to rice production. Alternating wet and dry production (AWD) is a new system that starts with an initial flooding of crops, letting the water drain below the surface, before refilling the field again with water.
Mississippi Extension has been testing this system and while there is no difference in yields, compared to traditional production, the benefit comes in conserving water. AWD uses 20 to 25 percent less water than traditional rice management which means more water, and money, is saved.
Farmers are already adopting this new method due to its water conservation and financial benefits – read about their personal experiences here.
Did you know one tiny molecule can save an entire harvest from being destroyed?
Aflatoxin is a toxic substance that comes from fungi on crops. This element can destroy entire harvests due to its dangerous impact on humans as it can stunt children’s growth or increase susceptibility to HIV.
University of Arizona researchers, however, have discovered a naturally occurring molecule that will prevent fungi on crops from producing aflatoxin. The molecule will need to be tested and approved for widespread use, but if it succeeds, it can save producers, and consumers, plenty of headaches.
The discovered molecule can also be used in developing countries, who may not test for aflatoxin yet – read more about the impact here.
Quick – did your breakfast this morning have added sugar?
The answer might be yes – nearly 60 percent of packaged foods and drinks include some form of added sugar. While added sugar is used to make foods more appetizing, the sugars have little nutritional value and add calories to your intake which can increase weight gain, poor nutrition, and tooth decay.
Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences offers suggestions to reduce your added sugar consumption, such as recognizing their names, studying nutrition labels, and adjusting your diet so you can stay healthy.
Even “organic” labels may have added sugar – check out Ohio State University’s recommendations here to avoid the extra sugar.
Have you ever been unsure whether food has gone bad or not? Did you throw it out anyway?
The US Department of Agriculture estimates that about 30 percent of food is lost or wasted at the retail and consumer level, but there are ways to protect food safety and help your wallet.
Along with the Food Marketing Institute and the USDA, Cornell University has developed the Foodkeeper app that will help consumers ensure they’re preparing foods properly and when to throw food away. With the app’s help, consumers will be able to keep food for longer and save money by preventing unnecessary food waste.
Curious about tips on preventing food waste? Wonder what the Use By dates actually mean? Check out Cornell’s highlight in US News article here.
When it comes to learning about water systems, middle and high school is the perfect time to start.
The University of Nebraska – Lincoln developed a new curriculum to help students have a stronger knowledge of water and water resources. Through participation in water literacy workshops and water science research projects, students will be able to link water to global issues like food, climate, and energy to brainstorm new approaches to age-old problems.
Read more about the effort to educate students on water systems in order to tackle the real- world challenges of the future here.
Have you ever run faster on a treadmill at the gym, because the person next to you won’t stop? Competition might be the way to go to increase fitness levels, and the University of Wyoming and the Virginia Cooperative Extension is testing this theory with a new fitness program.
The FitEx competition, which runs through May, is meant to promote healthy lifestyles by having participants set fitness goals, creating an accountability system to reach those goals, and increasing overall health outcomes. Teams will work together to improve physical activity, as well as eat more fruits and vegetables. And the best news? It’s open to everyone, so sign up today and see if you can beat Old Dominion and the Equality State.
Click here and catch up to other competitors today.
The University of Arizona launched a new website that will help ranchers in more ways than one. The new site, DroughtView, will not only allow ranchers to track greener pastures, but also help determine where drought conditions may exist, in order to better deter the possibility of wildfires.
The site includes imagery of a 16-day period and has a feature where users can enter impact reports based on their own observations of plants and wildlife. It is already utilized by a local drought impact group, environmental scientists, plant geographers, federal and state land management agents, and ranchers to help take control of unpredictable weather patterns.
Curious about how the new application works or want to use it yourself? – read more about DroughtView and the University of Arizona’s work here.
We all know eating healthy is good for your body, but did you know that it also impacts your brain?
University of New Hampshire Extension links healthy eating to better reading skills in youth from a study in the Journal of Nutrition by researchers in Finland. Children who follow a healthy diet generally had higher test scores in reading than their peers who did not follow a healthy diet.
The Extension recommends promoting healthy meals for your children and limiting processed foods. Their body – and their brain – will thank you.
The diet included more fruits, fish, veggies, whole grains, and unsaturated fats – read more about the study here.
For the past few months, Florida has been experiencing an extreme drought, but the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension program has saved nearly 65 million gallons of water – all through community outreach.
The UF Extension conducted water-saving workshops tackle common household problems like water retention, irrigation practices, and more. The workshops helped to educate Floridians on not just conservation strategies, but the benefits of water conservation, such as saving money. With over 87,000 people participating in 2016, it’s no wonder the workshops achieved such success!
So far, using less water has resulted in savings of over $200,000 for Floridians – read more about the workshops’ impact here.
Nutrition labels alone can be confusing, but food labels designating freshness can also trick consumers. University of Connecticut Extension helps to decipher the safety and quality labels.
You’ve all seen the labels: “sell by,” “use by,” “best before.” All of these are “open dating,” where the date is an estimation of how long the product will be at its best quality. The keyword is estimation, as a lot of perishable foods are safe past the date stamped on them. Did you know eggs are as safe as many as 4-6 weeks after the sell-by date?
University of Connecticut Extension lays out the guidelines for perishable foods so you can balance between food safety and food waste.
Questions about frozen or packaged foods? University of Connecticut has an answer to that here.
Ever buy veggies only to have them turn brown before you can use them? Purdue University and Fort Valley State University are teaming up to research how solar power can lengthen shelf life for your produce.
Solar power preservation, essentially sun-drying produce, will help producers prepare crops for shipping and in turn, will improve crop shelf life by dehydrating the produce. Not only will this prevent food waste for the consumer, farmers will also be able to receive tax incentives for sustainability.
Purdue and Fort Valley State make a perfect pair– read more about their grant research here.
Farmers have the power to support conservation efforts to reduce nutrient runoff in waterways. Iowa State University surveyed farmers on which conservation practices they were using – tillage and cover crops, nitrogen management, and structural practicers, such as terraces – all of which reduce nutrient waste.
Many are incorporating the recommended practices, but there is still more work to be done. Further nutrient runoff can be prevented through additional methods, like cover crops, and the Extension looks forward to continuing outreach to farmers to address the benefits of conservation practices.
Iowa State University takes survey results for their Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy – read more about their conservation goals here.
Ready for your spring planting? Planting is one of the most critical steps that leads to good yields in the future, and Penn State University Extension has you covered by discussing what factors matter most:
Check out more of Penn State University Extension’s tips here to get the most out of your planting.
It turns out there’s a bigger difference than just “good” cholesterol and “bad” cholesterol.
The University of California at Davis found that the “good” cholesterol, HDLs, vary in their structure and different ones impact the body’s immune and inflammatory responses. With this discovery, researchers will be able to predict an individual’s susceptibility to inflammatory diseases and certain infections. And now, with further research, the team will be able to analyze how altering individuals’ diet may impact their resistance to diseases.
The HDL compositions differs from healthy individuals and individuals undergoing dialysis – read more about their function here.
Finding your pantry stocked with food you don’t eat? We all know to avoid grocery shopping on an empty stomach to prevent impulse buys but there are other ways to make sure the items you buy are items you intend to eat.
Ohio State University has tips to help you prevent food waste and save extra green. For example, did you know most stores stock more expensive items at the consumer’s eye level? Check the upper and lower shelves and you may find a better deal!
Check out other tips from the Ohio State University for smarter shopping here.
Reducing nutrient runoff and increasing efficiency use of irrigation systems are top priorities for Louisiana State University AgCenter that discussed several projects to address water quality at the Louisiana Groundwater, Surface Water and Water Resources Symposium.
For example, one project monitors water quality by reusing runoff collected in a reservoir – nutrients also get reused which ends up reducing pollution in nearby water sources. Another project researches the best conservation practices in specific areas to remove additional nutrients and sediments from runoff.
These two projects are just several examples from the AgCenter’s work – read more about their research here.
Every year, there are dozens of frozen food recalls. As consumers value convenience more and more due to increasingly busy schedules, producing safer prepackaged food has never been more important.
Washington State University has created the first national Center of Excellence for Food Safety using Microwave Energy that will focus on creating safer prepackaged frozen food for consumers. The center will help to share knowledge of processes and technologies so food companies, both large and small, can create healthy, high quality products.
Read about the center’s two new technologies that will help small and medium companies develop their own packaged products here.
This past year, parts of Alabama went more than 70 days without measurable rainfall, hurting famers and communities that were unprepared and relying on the wet weather. Droughts occur and then last for a longer period of time than most weather patterns, contributing to their unpredictability.
The Water Resources Center, part of Auburn University College of Agriculture’s Alabama Agricultural Experiment station and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, looks to improve drought preparedness by monitoring and detecting early signs for drought. With this information system, the team hopes to move the nation from a reactive approach to proactive to better prepare producers and local governments.
The monitoring system is just one piece of the puzzle at the Water Resources Center – read more about other water management tools here.
The federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides nutrition assistance to low income families and over 80,000 individuals in North Dakota participate in the program, with 46% under the age of 18.
The North Dakota State University Extension Services offers SNAP education to individuals who receive, or are eligible, for SNAP benefits. Over 4,000 adults and 10,000 youth across the state participated, which resulted in 85% of youth eating more fruit, 61% of youth adopting more physical activities, and 60% of adults making more meals at home proving that direct education achieves results when it comes to healthy choices.
The North Dakota Extension worked with 205 partners and 63 low-income schools – read their impact statement here.
Kale might be a superfood, but did you know that leafy greens are at an increased risk for transmitting foodborne illnesses, especially when eaten raw?
The University of Maryland has developed the first system model that simulates effects on a farm to identify how E. coli develops in green veggies. By measuring the factors in a farm setting, such as soil, rainfall, and irrigation, the University of Maryland has discovered processes to help prevent food borne illnesses in the future and maintain food safety.
The University of Maryland’s research will help prevent over 600 outbreaks that occurred over the past forty years – read more here.
Healthy soils impact everything in American agriculture by ensuring global food security, protecting water quality, mitigating climate change, and providing safe environments.
Seventeen land-grant universities are working together to protect soil health by improving soil testing, expanding soil databases, develop quality sensors to monitor quality, and teaching others how to manage their soil. By maintaining soil health, farmers can make smarter decisions about irrigation, fertilization, and production that will increase yields.
Land-grant universities participating include:
University of California-Davis
University of Florida
University of Illinois
Iowa State University
Kansas State University
University of Maryland
Michigan State University
University of Minnesota
University of Missouri
University of Nebraska
University of Nevada
North Dakota State University
Oregon State University
Pennsylvania State University
University of Wisconsin
Read more about the land-grant universities’ specific research here.
Curious if a research project includes your farm? The University of Nebraska-Lincoln now has a database that makes research more accessible to local farmers and producers in the state.
The Nebraska On-Farm Research Network, which includes over 600 studies, allows growers to click and view research projects conducted throughout farms in their area. Farmers can navigate the database by keyword, year, crop and more to help them with a variety of issues such as farmer production, profitability, and natural resources.
Ready to check if your farm is part of research? Click here.
Clemson University has created a GPS software to track soil sampling that will help farmers not only with profitability but also environmental efforts. The software will locate exactly where soil samples are taken to help producers ensure they are taking adequate samples and then evaluate the soil for nutrient recommendations.
With accurate soil data, growers can maximize yields or lower operating costs by managing their nutrient inputs. Knowing the correct amount of nutrients will also help fertilizer reduction and assist with water conservation efforts within the community.
Each sampling zone gets their own ID and recommendations on nutrients such as potassium and phosphate – read more how the software works here.
South Carolina may be impacted by tropical storms and hurricanes, but in the state, researchers say they are always just one month away from a drought. In fact, last summer marked the driest summer season in 122 years.
Clemson University organized an annual conference that will bring together experts across the country to discuss resources and research on water use, availability and management. Stakeholders agree that consistent communication among groups is crucial to water resource management and with an annual conference to prepare stakeholders, droughts may be less catastrophic.
Clemson University is also working on a program that will be able to sense and monitor the state’s water availability for agricultural, recreational, and industrial use – read more here.
Plants without soil? This isn’t a science fiction story– it’s reality down in Georgia.
Fort Valley State University is using hydroponics, growing plants and produce in a nutrient solution instead of water or soil. While this might be an unconventional method now, hydroponics requires less labor, incurs less weather damage and bacterial contamination, which means higher production and income for farmers.
Hydroponics also requires less space which is perfect for urban gardeners – read more about the practice here.
According to the CDC, one in five school-aged children is obese – a rate that has more than tripled since the 1970s.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension has combined several programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Expanded Food and Nutrition Education program, 4-H, and The Learning Child to encourage healthy habits in kids and reduce childhood obesity rates.
Last year, the program reached over 63,000 Nebraskans and focused on how teaching youth how to choose healthy food and beverages, how to prepare food safely, and fun ways to be active.
The partnership also helps schools implement smarter lunchroom strategies. Read more about the Extension’s fight against child obesity here.
In the longest-running survey of its kind, the Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll has been surveying farmers since 1982 to evaluate issues of important to agricultural stakeholders.
Iowa State University analyzes the results to help policymakers and farmers know which practices, such as nutrient loss reduction, are being implemented. Not only will the results help stakeholders review recommended practices, it also helps communicate conservation efforts and benefits to farmers. For example, a recommended practice of applying nitrogen during the growing season can reduce nutrient loss and runoff in water sources, but also may increase farmers’ profits.
Curious which processes are implemented the most? Read more about the survey here.
Still craving guacamole after Cinco de Mayo? There may be way more avocados available now, thanks to the University of California Cooperative Extension.
Avocados can be difficult to grow in California, especially with recent droughts and the rising cost of water. But with special spacing, incorporating bees, and using moisture meters, avocado yields in the UC Cooperative Extension study has more than doubled. Which means they’ll be guac-ing your Cinco de Mayo for years to come.
The average production in California was 6,500 lbs per acre – UC Cooperative Extension raised it to 15,000. Read more about their process here.
How many times have you seen the latest diet fad flash on the news or social media? While the headlines might be interesting, they often do not provide all the details about the study.
North Dakota State University Extension has published a list of questions to help you sort through the latest health finding such as asking yourself: Does the advice or product promise a quick fix? Or, are the recommendations based on a single study? All their questions will make sure what you’re reading is right in the study and right for you.
Check out the other top questions you should ask yourself the next time you come across new and exciting research.
Getting caught in a storm is one thing, but suffering home and property damage can be catastrophic. Recent storms in Indiana have caused major flooding concerns but, thanks to the Purdue Extension, Hoosiers can be better prepared to protect their homes and farms.
Purdue University’s Extension Disaster Education Network has offered a list of online resources to help Indiana homeowners and farmers deal with the aftermath of recent heavy rainfall, which resulted in flooding. The resources can be used to educate residents how to prevent future flood damage and take steps to recover if a home or farm is damaged by floodwater.
Looking for tips on how to prevent flooding in your home or on your farm? Take a look at Purdue’s resources.
Do you ever wonder how safe your food actually is? Well, if you’re eating a potato that came from Wisconsin, you’ll be happy to hear about the process it undergoes before it reaches your plate.
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison grow their potatoes in a sterilized test tube with bacteria and virus-inhibiting chemicals, creating what is known as “seed potatoes.”
The process continues as researchers turn up the heat to kill possible viruses which maintains the product’s quality and keeps you safe from foodborne illnesses. The team then clips up a portion of the shoot and replants the seed in a clean test tube, which means eight potato plants become 30. Then those 30 become 80. With this process, the program certifies 200 million pounds of potatoes every year, so it’s safe to say your next potato might be Wisconsin-approved.
Learn more about how plant pathology researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are keeping your food safe.
With the expansion of juiceries, wineries, and craft beer booming in the United States, producers have the opportunity to think outside the box when it comes to distribution.
Alabama Cooperative Extension says creating and marketing value-added products can boost farmers’ operation profits by targeting businesses like wineries or creating additional products like ham, salsas, and syrups. And these creative outlets also have benefits to our food system – many of these market areas use fruit that may be unsellable or leftover due to appearance at a farmers’ market.
Looking to get started with a winery or creating your own jam? Alabama Extension can help – read more here.
Looking for your greatest yield yet? The key might lie in robotic technology.
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is developing a semiautonomous robot that will gather and transmit real-time data about growth and development of crops that will help breeders and farmers identify genetic traits in plants. Analyzing this information – such as stem diameter, plant height, and environmental conditions – will upload the data to the grower’s computer to predict a plant’s growth and development. The data will then help producers make decisions that will enhance production and enable more crops in a yield.
The researchers also hope to keep the robot within a lower price range to increase access to all farmers. Read more about the technology here.
April showers have spread into May as many states experience recent heavy rains that have resulted in flooding and pooling near crops. While water is necessary for growth, excessive water and flooding can carry contaminants while spring crops continue to ripen. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration considers food that is contacted by flood water to be contaminated and cannot be sold to the public.
Purdue Extension offers management tips to help manage flooded produce as flooding presents growers with difficult choices. Producers should document the extent of flooding before considering additional factors such as whether the edible portion of the crop was in contact with the water.
How to revitalize your field after a flood? Purdue Extension also includes suggestions here.
How much do you know about farming? Three out of four consumer know nothing or very little about the industry, and the percentage is even higher for youth.
New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension looks to change that with Food Camp for Kids, a one-week program that teaches youth where their food comes from and includes field trips, cooking activities, and more. The camp aims to educate youth on all aspects of food – including food safety practices! – to help bridge the divide between youth and their meals.
Field trips included visits to a pig farm, a raw milk dairy, and orchard – read more about the program here.
Want to eat healthy but are concerned about sticking within your budget?
Iowa State University Extension has created a new website and accompanying mobile app that will help you make healthy food choices, plan meals, and save money at the store. Their website, Spend Smart, Eat Smart, has over 150 healthy, delicious, and inexpensive recipes in addition to how-to videos for cooking techniques, meal planning templates, and tips to save money.
The mobile app also has a unit price calculator to take with you when shopping. Read more about Spend Smart, Eat Smart here.
Despite what people may think, there is still time to help water conservation, even in rapidly growing urban areas.
The University of Massachusetts – Amherst discovered that surface runoff can increase significantly due to reduction in green areas while urban areas are built. However, while still in the construction phase, planners can reduce water runoff by restoring wetlands, installing rain gardens that will absorb the runoff and adding bioretention swales – a system that partially treats water runoff – to parking lots. Implementing these processes while an urban area is still in planning can help water shortages and quality in the future.
The two-year study used simulations to explore the effects of weather to determine the effect of urbanization on water resources – read more about their research here.