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Mushrooms May Save Bees

A decade ago, honeybee populations around the world began declining at an alarming rate. In the early years of this trend, beekeepers lost 60 percent or more of their hives to a mysterious phenomenon that came to be known as colony collapse disorder (CCD). In each of these cases, worker bees simply disappeared, and it doesn’t take long for a colony to collapse without workers to provide food and to care for the young. Although this trend seems to have leveled off somewhat in recent years, the current average rate of 30 percent annual mortality is still nearly double the average rate reported prior to 2006.

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Soil pH: Making Adjustments to Boost Fertility

Raising soil pH is relatively inexpensive. Lime is the product of choice but there are two basic types of lime: high-calcium and dolomitic.

Soil pH adjustment may seem like a pretty straightforward operation, but there are many things to consider before undertaking such a bold step with soil chemistry. The first step is determine the direction you need to go and the products to use to achieve your goal.

I cannot stress enough the importance of getting a good soil test. I’ve heard people say that based on the type of weeds or the fact that moss is growing means the soil pH needs adjusting. Assuming those statements were true, which direction and how much adjustment should be made? Without a good soil test it is pure and simple guesswork.

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Acres U.S.A. Bestseller List — January 2017

Here were the top sellers between Jan. 1, 2017 and Jan. 31, 2017, from the Acres U.S.A. bookstore.

restoration_agriculture_awardseal

1. Restoration Agriculture

By Mark Shepard

$30.00

Restoration Agriculture explains how we can have all of the benefits of natural, perennial ecosystems and create agricultural systems that imitate nature in form and function while still providing for our food, building, fuel and many other needs — in your own backyard, farm or ranch.

Copyright 2013, softcover, 339 pages

Buy It: http://www.acresusa.com/restoration-agriculture

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Make the Most of the 2016 Acres U.S.A. Conference

Omaha, Nebraska
Eco-Ag U: Tuesday, Nov. 29-Wednesday, Nov. 30
Main Conference: Wednesday, Nov. 30-Friday, Dec. 2

Be an Acres Conference All-Star:
Catch a flick: We work hard to bring exciting, informative films to each conference for your viewing pleasure. The films are shown around lunchtime, so check the conference schedule and don’t miss out. This year’s selections include: Seed: The Untold Story and Circle of Poison.
Meet the Author! We hold numerous book signings throughout the conference. Check the schedule, buy the books in our on-site bookstore, meet the author and get your copy signed.
Get your questions answered in Consulting Halls: Meet with top eco-ag consultants in a small-group setting…a rare opportunity to obtain valuable advice specific to your farm’s needs.
Trade Show: Don’t forget to visit the more than 100 vendors of high-quality eco-inputs and innovations in our Trade Show. Whether you are looking for a specific product or want to pick someone’s brain, the trade show delivers.
Nutritious eats: No need to leave the hotel in search of quality food (although there are lots of great options in Omaha…we’ll highlight a few later) with Creative Cuisine Catering.
Continued learning: Each conference keynote speech and all lecture sessions are recorded live. The recordings are available during the conference as they are produced and full sets of CDs and MP3s are available after the conference.
On-Site Bookstore: Take advantage of excellent prices on all our titles…without worrying about shipping!
Top-Tier Keynoters: Treat yourself to a mind-expanding session each evening at 7:30 p.m. including organic pioneer and author Grace Gershuny, health authority and author Dr. Arden Andersen and farmer and activist Denise O’Brien.

What to bring:
Pens/Notepad/Notebook (You’ll want to take lots of notes. It also helps to write your name on your notebook in case it gets left behind in a session.)
Business/Contact Cards (You will be meeting people with the same farm interests/business needs and ideas — take advantage!)
Reusable Water Bottle (The warm air can be pretty dry indoors in the wintertime.)
Backpack (Many folks find this useful to help bring their supplies, especially if they are leaving and coming back to the hotel throughout the day.)
Badge (When you check in, you’ll receive a name badge. Please don’t misplace your badge, and remember to wear it each day as you’ll need to display it for admission to all conference events and the trade show.)
Conference Program (When you check in, we’ll give you a nifty tote bag designed for this year’s meeting. Inside the bag will be helpful resources including a full conference program including the list of events, times and locations as well as information about the speakers, a map of the Trade Show with information about each vendor and more. Keep it handy!)
Comfortable Shoes (Trust us on this one.)

Venue:
Hilton Omaha, 1001 Cass Street, Omaha, Nebraska 68102, phone: 402-998-3400.

Getting to the hotel:
Airport Transportation, by Taxi
One-way fare between the Omaha Airport and downtown is about $11. Upon arrival at the airport, proceed to ground transportation by the baggage claim. There should be cabs waiting. Following are the taxi companies in Omaha:
• Happy Cab ─ 402-333-TAXI (8294)
• Checker Cab ─ 402-333-TAXI (8294)
• Yellow Cab ─ 402-333-TAXI (8294)
• Safeway Cab ─ 402-333-TAXI (8294)
• City Taxi ─ 402-933-8700

Driving from the Airport
From airport, take left onto Abbott Drive. Left at 10th Street, to Cass Street. Turn right. Hotel is on the left.

Parking:
Self parking: $14.00 (Garage Parking)
Valet: $20.00 (Event Valet: $15)

Dining in Omaha
Here are a few recommendations:
Block 16: block16omaha.com
Avoli Osteria: avoliosteria.com
The Grey Plume: thegreyplume.com
Kitchen Table: kitchentableomaha.com
The Blackstone Meatball: theblackstonemeatball.com
LOCAL Beer, Patio and Kitchen Old Market: localbeer.co
Lot 2: lot2benson.com
Modern Love: modernloveomaha.com
V. Mertz: vmertz.com

Want more information? Check out our Conference FAQs: www.acresusa.com/2016conference-faq

Nitrogen Fertilizer’s Long-Lasting Legacy

Aerial of intersecting roads in rural IndianaDangerous nitrate levels in drinking water could persist for decades, increasing the risk for blue baby syndrome and other serious health concerns, according to a new study published by researchers at the University of Waterloo. Nitrogen fertilizer applied to farmers’ fields has been contaminating rivers and lakes and leaching into drinking water wells for more than 80 years. The study, published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, reveals that elevated nitrate concentrations in rivers and lakes will remain high for decades, even if farmers stop applying nitrogen fertilizers today. The researchers have discovered that nitrogen is building up in soils, creating a long-term source of nitrate pollution in ground and surface waters. “A large portion of the nitrogen applied as fertilizer has remained unaccounted for over the last decades,” said Nandita Basu, a professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and Civil and Environmental Engineering. “The fact that nitrogen is being stored in the soil means it can still be a source of elevated nitrate levels long after fertilizers are no longer being applied.” Their paper presents the first direct evidence of a large-scale nitrogen legacy across the Mississippi River Basin. Professor Basu and her group analyzed long-term data from over 2,000 soil samples throughout the Mississippi River Basin to reveal a systematic accumulation of nitrogen in agricultural soils. In many areas this accumulation was not apparent in the upper plow layer, but instead was found 25-100 centimeters beneath the soil surface.

This article appears in the May 2016 issue of Acres U.S.A.

Camelina Cover Crop Benefits Honeybees

story70_d3502-1-660x430pxCamelina is an herbaceous, yellow- flowering member of the mustard family whose oil-rich seed and cold tolerance has piqued the interest of USDA scientists for its potential as both a winter cover crop and biodiesel resource. Now, in the process of studying this plant, scientists with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service have found that its flowering period can provide honeybees and other insects with a critical, early spring source of nectar and pollen that’s usually unavailable then. This is especially true in Minnesota, South Dakota and North Dakota, where about one-third of the nation’s managed bee colonies are kept from May through October.

This article appears in the February 2016 issue of Acres U.S.A.