News Roundup: March 17-23

By on March 23, 2018

News Roundup - this week's top news stories about NC agricultureEach week we round up the latest N.C. agricultural headlines from news outlets across the state and country, as well as excerpts from the stories.

  • “NC State Researcher Awarded Grant to Improve Honeybee Health,” NC State CALS News: With a grant from the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research’s Pollinator Health Fund, NC State University scientist David Tarpy is researching the impact of pesticide exposure on honeybee colony disease prevalence and reproductive potential. Tarpy, a professor of entomology and plant pathology and the NC State Extension apiculturist, recently received a $217,000 grant from FFAR, a nonprofit established through bipartisan congressional support in the 2014 Farm Bill. The FFAR grant is being matched by a graduate fellowship from the North Carolina Agricultural Foundation Inc., supporting a Ph.D. student in the NC State Apiculture Program, Joe Milone. Insect pollinators contribute an estimated $24 billion to the U.S. economy annually. Milone and Tarpy’s research will generate new knowledge about the multiple interacting stressors that lead to declines in pollinator populations. “By studying the interactions among queens, pesticides and disease, we are determining how the entire exposome – or all of the things that the queen and colony are exposed to – affects overall bee health,” Tarpy said. …
  • “Henderson County teacher earns statewide recognition,” Hendersonville Times-News:  Deborah Clark, an agricultural engineering K-5 teacher at Dana Elementary, was recently named North Carolina Farm Bureau’s 2018 Ag in the Classroom Teacher of the Year. Clark was selected from numerous other nominees who were evaluated by a panel of judges. Her approach to integrating agricultural concepts into classroom curriculum was judged to be the most effective among her peers. “Agriculture is an important part of everyone’s life. Clothing, food, fuel, housing, medicine and much more are rooted on the farm. Agricultural issues can support the teaching of many academic disciplines,” said Larry Wooten, president of North Carolina Farm Bureau. “Deborah is a shining example of what it means to be a teacher who truly cares about the students and what they are being taught.” Clark was evaluated for the award based on the following criteria: creativity and utilization of agricultural information, interdisciplinary approaches, advancement of educational standards, student impact and endorsement by an administrator. …
  • “Rethinking on-farm soil health in the 21st century,” Southeast Farm Press: There are more microbes in a teaspoon of soil then there are people on the planet. Healthy soil is biologically active. Russel Hedrick, a first-generation farmer in Catawba County, N.C., uses cover crops and no-till to boost his productivity and soil health. In 2016, Hedrick was the dryland division sate winner in the North Carolina Corn Yield Contest with a yield of 318.5 bushels per acre. Hedrick focuses on nutrient management on his farm, turning to variable-rate fertility and zone sampling to save on his fertilizer bill. He uses zone sampling based on soil sol types then gives his crops prescriptions for fertility based on zones. “The key thing we are focusing on is soil carbon, water extractable carbon and microbial active carbon. By doing that, we’ve started to hone in on our nitrogen management. Last year, we won the dryland division of the North Carolina state corn yield contest with a yield of 318 bushels with 140 units of nitrogen,” Hedrick said. Hedrick still applied fertilizer, lime and chemicals on his 1,000 acres of row crops last year, but he saved $76,000 on his fertility bill in part by using the Haney Test, a practice he began four years ago. The Haney Test, or Soil Health Test, is an integrated approach to soil testing using chemical and biological soil data.
    “It’s a love-hate relationship,” Hedrick said. “Some people love the Haney Test; some people hate it. It works on our farm, but it’s not a silver bullet,” Hedrick said. …
  • “THE LAND GRANT UNIVERSITY’S ROLE IN AG BIODEFENSE,” Southern Farm Network: (Audio) What are some of the ways the land grant university system participates in defending our nation’s food supply from bio threats? Rod Bain reports for SFN.
  • “DEQ To Test Fish, Possibly Vegetables, For GenX,” WUNC: State regulators are testing fish from a privately-owned lake near the Chemours plant in Bladen County for the presence of GenX, the latest regulatory response to increasing questions about the risks posed by this emerging contaminant. Chemours produces GenX at its Fayetteville Works site for use in non-stick surfaces like Teflon. The company released GenX into the Cape Fear River for years – its wastewater permit was suspended in November – and airborne GenX has appeared in wells near the company’s plant and in rainwater downwind of the facility. The unregulated chemical has been linked to cancer in lab animals but its health effects on humans are not known. State health and environmental quality officials addressed the Secretaries’ Science Advisory Board on Monday. The board is assessing the state’s regulatory response to GenX and other emerging contaminants and considering whether to recommend revising the health department’s provisional health goal of 140 parts per trillion for drinking water. …
  • “A spotlight on solar farms,” Richmond County Daily Journal: Daily Journal file photo The solar farm behind Rockingham Speedway is one of six, which vary in size, in Richmond County. Another has been approved and not built, while the latest proposed farm awaits approval. North Carolina is the second-largest solar-producing state in the nation, behind California.
    North Carolina has had a 40-year love affair with solar energy, the latest offspring of which are so-called solar farms: rows and rows of glass panels tilting their gray faces toward the sun.
    Richmond County has six such farms, plus one approved but not yet under construction and one on 200 acres on the eastern edge of Hamlet awaiting City Council approval. The new “farm” would be among almost 30 in the state built by ESA Renewables of Sanford, Florida. Fields of solar-collection panels may be called “farms,” but they’re not agriculture — although some people try to make them so by allowing sheep to graze alongside the panels. Their financial appeal, at least in Richmond County, is to those who work the land — so much so that the local Cooperative Extension office has conducted workshops to tell farmers what they ask before leasing acreage to a solar-energy company. “It’s a huge boon to farmers on several fronts,” said Paige Burns, a horticultural agent with the Richmond County Extension who has conducted such workshops. …
  • “HOW CAN IRELAND EXPAND AG TRADE WITH THE US?” Southern Farm Network: Ireland wants to expand its ag trade with the United States, as the country seeks to diversify its markets in advance of Brexit. Stephanie Ho has the story for SFN.
  • “5 points from U.S.-Canada export report,” Southeast Farm Press: Fresh fruits and vegetables among top export items. Total U.S. export value to Canada surpassed $20 billion in 2017, making Canada the leading destination for U.S. food and agricultural exports. Here are five points from the “Canada: Canada Number One Market for U.S. Agricultural Exports” report: U.S. exports of high-value food and beverage products to Canada represented 25% of total U.S. consumer-oriented agricultural exports globally. The top export categories included: fresh and processed fruits and vegetables, meat, prepared foods, snack foods and soft drinks. At $16.3 billion, Canada remained the top destination for U.S. exports of consumer-oriented products, which are typically sold in retail outlets or used in restaurants.
  • “Spring is here! Asheville’s outdoor tailgate markets will soon follow,” Asheville Citizen-Times: Spring is here! This past Tuesday marked the first day of the season, and that means we’re thinking about the upcoming outdoor farmers tailgate market openings. North Asheville Tailgate Market and Asheville City Market both open April 7. West Asheville Tailgate Market opens April 10, and Asheville City Market South begins April 4. Even more markets open throughout April and then even more in May. For a full list of market opening dates across the region, visit the “Spring Tailgate Market Opening Dates” page on ASAP’s website, asapconnections.org. In addition to the fresh produce farmers are bringing to market now, they have plant starts for sale this time of year for you to grow your own.  …
  • “Wilmington-area farmers markets, U-picks opening this spring,” Wilmington Star-News: Riverfront Farmers Market will open March 31. It’s spring and that means local farmers markets and u-pick farms are getting ready to open. Here’s a list of places to check out for fresh produce. …
  • “Wrangler offering student scholarship,” Greensboro News & Record: Greensboro-based Wrangler has created a scholarship for students interested in pursuing college degrees in agriculture, soil science or environmental science. High school seniors and college students interested in applying can attend a free Next Generation Land Stewardship Conference April 7.
    Register for the conference here. Attending the conference is not a requirement to apply for the scholarship. Applicants for the non-renewable $5,000 scholarship must be currently enrolled in a college or planning to attend college in this fall. Application requirements include one letter of reference, an official transcript, a short personal statement and a 1-3 minute video explaining the importance of soil health. …
  • “From pork to PCs, a trade war with China creates fallout for NC,” WRAL:  As talk of a trade war between the United States and China continues to grow with both countries imposing tariffs, North Carolina could face fallout. President Trump imposed tariffs on some $60 billion worth of goods on Thursday. China responded with tariffs on some $3 billion worth of US imports, including pork. The latest tariff battle adds to the potential of job losses in North Carolina due to penalties imposed on solar panels in January. The Solar Energy Association has estimated that tariffs could lead to the loss of some 4,700 jobs. While specifics about much of what Chinese imports face tariffs of up to 25 percent are not yet clear, the impact could be significant on such things as electronic devices could hit Lenovo. The international tech conglomerate is the world’s No. 2 manufacturer of PCs as well as a substantial player in the computer server and smartphone markets. Lenovo operates global headquarters in Morrisville as well as Beijing. Most of its operations are based in China as is the majority of its manufacturing for personal computers, smartphones and other electronics. Its server business is based in Research Triangle Park.

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email