From the Field Profiles

Short profiles of SARE-funded research and education projects in action.

Partnering to Promote Cover Crops in Southeast Wisconsin

Cover crops can improve a farmer’s bottom line in many ways, whether it’s by lowering fertilizer needs, reducing weed and pest pressure, or boosting yields, but as with any investment, there are things to take into consideration when planning. Jim Stute is a farmer in southeast Wisconsin, and a crop and soil researcher with the […]

Using Drone Sensors for Site-Specific Nitrogen Application

From shooting photos from small planes to using a powered parachute with the help of a sport pilot license, Dean Stevens has been taking to the sky to catch a glimpse of his family’s southeast Nebraska farm fields for the better part of 30 years. With recent support from a $15,000 NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher grant, […]

Reducing Tillage in Vegetables Using Cover Crops

When Thomas Ruggieri first planted cover crops on his vegetable farm in rural Missouri in 2004, he noticed improvements in soil fertility and plant health. Ruggieri and Rebecca Graff run Fair Share Farm, a diversified vegetable farm with a 140-member CSA in Kearney, Missouri. Vegetable growers can use cover crops to help reduce erosion, improve soil […]

Kansas City Food Hub Strengthens Brand and Marketing

In 2015, a small farm cooperative in the Kansas City area had a dilemma. Fresh Farm HQ (FFHQ) Cooperative Association was helping small and medium-sized farmers access wholesale markets in the Kansas City area, but with more than 18 produce distribution companies already operating in the area, they needed to differentiate themselves; they needed to […]

Mechanization Options for Root Crops on Small Farms

On five acres of land in central Michigan, Dru and Adam Montri grow vegetables with seasonal field production and six hoophouses. They sell their Ten Hens Farms produce at the farmers market, to local grocers, area restaurants, and a regional food distributor. They had a problem with root crops, and two other nearby vegetable growers did […]

Aspiring Farmers Connect with Youth Garden Program

Integrating agriculture into urban settings is not a new concept, but more and more, the benefits are being realized by communities, policymakers, and food-system entrepreneurs (NCAT-ATTRA 2018).  One such entrepreneur is Brent Lubbert, whose nonprofit organization is growing vegetables and future farmers on six plots of land in the Gifford Park Neighborhood of Omaha, Nebraska. […]

Native Plants Attract Beneficial Insects

Whether building boxes for mason bees or planting habitat for predatory beetles, farmers seeking sustainability can encourage populations of pollinators and beneficial insects on the farm.  Researcher Doug Landis knows that many native plant species are highly attractive to both pollinators and natural enemies, and with help from a $199,887 NCR-SARE Research and Education grant, […]

Sprinkler Deterrent System Helps Farmer Control Wildlife

Enhancing biodiversity on a farm can result in cleaner air and water and increased wildlife. But what happens when the wildlife gets a little too close to your crop? That’s the problem sweet corn grower, Scott Kelly, was facing on his farm near Kearney, Missouri. “The demands of growing produce sometimes seems never-ending,” said Kelly. […]

An Open-Source, Automated Irrigation System for Small Farms

Christian and Katie Flickinger were experienced urban farmers in Michigan who were farming eight plots in various locations. When they decided to consolidate their operation and buy a 7-acre farm in Howell, Michigan, they faced the challenge of converting a long-standing, non-rotated cornfield into the organic, heirloom farm of their dreams. Among the other items […]

Soil Remediation Techniques in Urban Agriculture

When we think of soil health, concepts like soil structure and water and nutrient holding capacity come to mind. For urban farmers managing contaminants such as lead and arsenic is another major soil health concern. Dirty Boots Flowers is an urban flower farm that shares a small parcel of land with two other farms in […]

Controlling Pigweed with Minimal Tillage in Fall Vegetable Crops

Managing and controlling weeds is an ongoing challenge and frustration for many farmers, but it can be especially cumbersome for organic producers, whose options for herbicides are limited. For these organic producers, no-till and conservation tillage systems can help conserve soil and can be used for weed control. Tom Buller, a vegetable grower and extension […]

Farm Towers: Urban Agriculture Goes Vertical

In southeast Nebraska where corn and livestock fields dominate the agricultural landscape, Auburn High School agriculture teacher, Ashton Bohling, offers a variety of agricultural education opportunities for curious youth. Students have access to an aquaponics system (an aquaculture system with tilapia) and a 24×48’ greenhouse. With support from a $1,999 NCR-SARE Youth Educator grant, Bohling […]

Scaling Up Specialty Dairy in Ohio’s Appalachian Region

The beautiful vistas of Ohio’s Appalachian region delight visitors with ancient forested foothills, winding creeks, and unglaciated terrain. In the late 19th century, extraction industries like the coal industry also discovered value in this landscape, but as coal resources declined, local economies deteriorated. Today, scaling up local foods is one way these historic communities are […]

Spring-Grazing Cover Crops with Nebraska’s Knuth Farms

When a fourth-generation farm in Mead, Nebraska began to diversify their primarily cash crop operation in 2012, they gave some thought to cover crops and livestock. Knuth Farms didn’t want to buy cattle or become beef producers, but they did want to diversify their income stream, capture some of the soil benefits of cover crops, […]

Developing a Woman and Farmer-Led Meat Processing Cooperative

Wisconsin needs more butchers. That’s what April Prusia, Betty Anderson, and Bethany Emond Storms determined during their farmer-led research project in 2017. The three livestock producers raise beef, pork, poultry, and goats in south central Wisconsin. While they all have big dreams of charcuterie plates made with their meat, they lack processing options in the […]

Paving the Way for Shared-Use Kitchens

New cottage food laws are making it easier for producers to can, freeze, bake, and pickle their raw agricultural products at home and sell them directly to their customers. While they might fit under regulations, home kitchens might not be a good fit for everyone, and some producers want to expand without investing in their […]

Traditional Fertilizer, Modern Applications for Iroquois White Corn

Farmers have long relied on liquid fish fertilizers because they are a source burn-free nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Traditional Native American growers were well aware of the benefits that decaying fish could bring to their soil; they buried fish under mounded soil and planted the 3 Sisters (corn, beans, and squash) directly on top of […]

Immigrant and Minority Farmers Inspire Soil Health Collaboration

When Julie Grossman was an undergraduate, she had no idea that a single economic development course was going to change the trajectory of her life’s work. In that course, and during her international PhD research in Latin America, she learned how biology, and specifically agroecology, could be used to help grow food in regions of […]