Cover Crop Seed Growth


With cover crops becoming increasingly important for farmers to provide nutrients and protect against erosion, different varieties are being developed to address specific needs.

At the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) CSS & Seed Expo in Chicago, I learned more about that from Risa DeMasi with Grassland Oregon, who issecond vice chairman of ASTA. “Our company is very involved with cover crop research…working on sustainability issues for the soil and for the farmer,” she said. “Our mission is to provide novel solutions for growing concerns of the growers today.”

Risa says there are a number of different types of cover crops that are best for achieving specific goals, whether that is addressing soil erosion, soil compaction, water or nutrient management, wildlife habitat – or all of the above. One variety they are particularly excited about is Balansa clover. “It provides a great amount of nitrogen,” said Risa. “It also creates very deep channels in the soil, so you get water availability when you want it and drainage when you don’t. It’s creating a lot of top growth so you get weed suppression. It also can create an environment of habitat for certain wildlife.”

ASTA is becoming more involved in the educational aspect of cover crops for all stakeholders, from policy makers in Washington to the farmers on the ground. Learn more in this interview: Interview with Risa DeMasi, Grassland Oregon

Click here to read the original article in AgWired.

Buzzing into Washington: The Bee Care Tour (Feb. 6, 2014)

Save the Date:

Washington State University
Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014
Compton Union Building
Junior Ballroom – 320
Pullman, WA  99163
10 a.m. – Noon

Click here for more information.

Buzzing into Oregon: The Bee Care Tour (Feb. 18, 2014)

Save the Date:

Oregon State Universtiy
Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014
CH2M Hill Alumni Center
Cascade Ballroom
725 SW 26th Street
Corvallis, OR  97331
10 a.m. – Noon

Click here for more information.

Young farmers cultivated through internship program

Bend Bulletin

EUGENE — Jonny Steiger got a chance a few years ago to learn about farming and decide if it was the life for him through an Oregon program designed to “grow” a new crop of farmers to feed Americans.

“There’s a looming crisis in our farming community where there are not a lot of young people farming,” said Stu O’Neill, executive director of Rogue Farm Corps. “Young people aren’t growing up on the farm anymore.”

The average age of farmers in the United States was 57.1 in 2007, the most recent federal data available, said Bruce Pokarney, spokesman for the Oregon Department of Agriculture. The Oregon average — 57.5 — is slightly higher.

Rogue Farm Corps started its FarmsNext program to address the need for fostering a new generation of farmers and ranchers.

The program, which offers hands-on training and classes in sustainable agriculture for aspiring farmers and ranchers, has proven so promising that it has expanded to Lane County, with a South Willamette Valley chapter starting up. And it is getting requests to expand to other parts of the state.

Steiger, 33, decided after his internship that farming was indeed the life for him. He and his business partner, Tyson Fehrman, 30, today lease an 87-acre farm near Jacksonville and are themselves mentoring others through the FarmsNext program.

“We are training people who want to do what we are already doing,” Steiger said. “We’re training our own competitors.”

In Lane County, Organic Redneck in Leaburg, Berggren Farm near Walterville and Deck Family Farm in Junction City are all signing on to the nonprofit Rogue Farm Corps’ internship program. Each will host one or two unpaid students, who get training, a place to live and meals, as well as a $400 monthly stipend in exchange for their full-time labor.

Students in the program also can earn college credit for their internship, although enrollment in an institution of higher education is not a prerequisite of the program, which takes between 1,200 and 1,500 hours to complete, O’Neill said.

FarmsNext has a 2014 budget of about $120,000, O’Neill said, and is funded through a series of grants, private donations, tuition fees from students and membership fees from farmers.

Each student pays $1,500 in tuition. Farmers in the Rogue Valley pay $1,000 per year, O’Neill said, but first-year farms in Lane County will be subsidized by another nonprofit organization — Cascade Pacific, which is helping with the expansion into Lane County.

Cascade Pacific secured a $25,000 grant from the Meyer Memorial Trust that will cover a part-time employee, transportation costs for program instructors and a contract with Rogue Farm Corps, Cascade Pacific’s Jared Pruch said.

A Rogue Valley farms internship program has been around in some form since 2004, when it started off informally, O’Neill said.

“In 2010 we hit a point of change,” he said. “It became apparent the informal nature of it was running up against the realities of labor laws.”

The program unintentionally broke labor laws in such areas as paying hourly wages and carrying workers compensation insurance, he said. So organizers worked with state agencies to come up with the model it now uses.

Click here to read the original story from the Bend Bulletin.

Oregon ag an economic powerhouse, report finds

Capital Press — 

Report says Oregon’s “agri-cluster” accounts for 15 percent of the state’s economic activity.

Agriculture is Oregon’s second-largest industry, and one in eight Oregonians work on farms or ranches or in businesses linked to them. The processing, shipping and distribution plants, joined by equipment dealers, supply stores, restaurants and food service companies, churn $5.48 billion worth of farm and ranch products into $22 billion in goods and services annually. That’s 15 percent of Oregon’s economic activity.

Those statistics and others are compiled in a new report from the land-use advocacy group 1000 Friends of Oregon, which hopes legislators and policy makers will recognize the economic impact of what it calls the state’s “agri-cluster.”

“We want them to connect the dots,” said Steve McCoy, farm and forest staff attorney with the Portland-based group.

The report, written by intern Arturo Romo and titled, “Great & Growing: People and Jobs in Oregon’s Agri-Cluster,” assembles data to make the case that Oregon agriculture is an economic powerhouse in every corner of the state.

Jobs and products associated with Oregon ag are surprisingly stable, and can’t be easily outsourced. In the depths of the 2007-2012 recession, when the state’s total employment dropped 5.3 percent and other kinds of manufacturing jobs declined 15.8 percent, food processing jobs in Oregon increased 7.8 percent, according to the report.

Eighty percent of what Oregon grows leaves the state. and half of that goes overseas. Compared to Midwest competitors, Oregon farmers stand at the doorstep of Asia’s vibrant economies, and engage in brisk trade with China, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Indonesia. One Willamette Valley potato grower has been on three trade missions to Vietnam in the past two years.

Oregon’s crop diversity cushions economic downturns, according to the report. A bad corn market might devastate Iowa, where 45 percent of its farm acreage is planted to corn. But Oregon produces 220 crops and leads the nation in production of 14, ranging from blackberries to Christmas trees and hazelnuts to carrot seed.

Farming’s just a rural concern? Hardly. Five of the top 10 agricultural counties are considered “urban” by the U.S. Census. Marion County, home of the state capital, Salem, is first in Oregon ag sales. Clackamas County, just outside Portland, is fifth. Washington County, also a Portland neighbor and better known for Intel, Nike and high-tech, is seventh. By volume, farm products make up 60 percent of the goods shipped from the Port of Portland.

McCoy, the 1000 Friends of Oregon staff attorney, says agriculture’s economic impact is often overlooked. And in the group’s view, it is Oregon’s land-use laws — originally enacted to prevent cities from sprawling onto farmland — that make agriculture’s success possible.

“It’s important to point that out from time to time,” McCoy said. “The reason we have an agricultural economy is because of SB 100 (Senate Bill 100, the 1973 law that required statewide planning).”

The report concludes there is work to be done to keep farming viable. The state must continue to shelter farmland from develop, support a new generation of farmers and improve its water and transportation infrastructure in order for agriculture to thrive.

The report is available at the group’s website,

Click here for the original article in the Capital Press.