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First Ever Texas Hispanic Farmer and Rancher Conference!

conference folks

Mark your calendars! NCAT and USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) are proud to present the first-ever Texas Hispanic Farmer and Rancher Conference on September 14 and 15 at the Casa de Palmas Hotel in McAllen, Texas. The conference will focus on practical conservation methods and new marketing opportunities, with a strong lineup of expert speakers, a trade show, and visits to area farms and ranches. NCAT Agriculture Specialist and Conference Chair Robert Maggiani says, "Thanks to NRCS and our conference sponsors, we've been able to keep registration affordable. We look forward to bringing folks together from around the state, creating new relationships, and celebrating the contributions of the Hispanic farming and ranching community in Texas."

All are welcome. Translation services will be provided, so all can participate in either English or Spanish. Sponsorship and booth opportunities are available. Registration is $25 per person or $40 per couple and includes lunch and snacks. For more information or to register, visit the conference website here.

New Subtropical Health Initiative

John Deer Tractor

We just received the fantastic news that our Subtropical Soil Health Initiative has been chosen for funding by the NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant Program. Under the direction of Southwest Regional Director Mike Morris, this three-year project will demonstrate soil improvement methods in South Texas, in partnership with the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley and two organic farms: PPC Farms and Hilltop Gardens.

"We are grateful to NRCS for supporting this badly-needed project," notes Mike. "Most research on cover crops and reduced tillage has taken place in cooler areas, and there are lots of unanswered questions about how to adapt these methods to subtropical places like the Lower Rio Grande Valley." The project is expected to start in August.

Read more about the project here.

feeling the heat publication

Feeling the heat? Justin's got you covered

Cover crops are usually planted to prevent erosion, suppress weeds, or improve soil fertility. NCAT Agriculture Specialist Justin Duncan has written a new publication about cover crop options for hot and humid areas that offers comprehensive information for farmers in our region. Justin explains that "Cover cropping is especially important in hot climates because soil organic matter volatilizes so quickly." The publication discusses 12 cover crops that are well-suited for subtropical climates, including detailed information on how to select and grow these crops. Check out Cover Crop Options for Hot and Humid Areas here!


A Healthy Chicken is a Happy Chicken

Since 2015, a devastating bird flu epidemic has caused most large commercial farms to rethink their approaches to disease prevention and biosecurity. But many smaller operations have not taken precautions and are still vulnerable. NCAT Agriculture Specialist Kevin Ellis is directing a new project, "Biosecurity Education for Organic and Pastured Poultry Producers." Over the next year or two, Kevin will speak at conferences across the southern United States and travel to farms around Texas, creating how-to videos, podcasts, and publications, and training growers how to keep their flocks disease-free. We are grateful to the Southern Risk Management Education Center for funding this project.

Geology in the Blink of an Eye

Geology in the Blink of an Eye

Contrary to what many of us learned in school, it turns out that we don't need to wait for the next volcanic eruption or Ice Age to rebuild depleted and eroded soils. In May, NCAT Agriculture Specialist Thomas Schroeder carried out ecological monitoring at four large ranches in central Texas; carefully recording grass and forb species, collecting soil samples, and measuring indicators of ecological health, as part of NCAT's Soil for Water Project.

The project has just been awarded a second round of funding from the Meadows Foundation, allowing us to keep working with Texas landowners and testing promising new ways of rebuilding damaged soils. Project director Mike Morris says, "We're grateful to the Meadows Foundation for this continuing support, which will allow us to reach and help many additional landowners."

Featured Event:

  • Texas State University is holding the first ever Small Producers Initiative Workshop on August 14-16 in San Marcos, Texas. The workshop includes sessions on whole farm planning, food safety, agrotourism, irrigation, livestock production, hot season crops and more. Following up the two-day classroom session will be a farm tour on August 16. Scholarships for the event are still available to those who attend both days of the workshop. More details here!

Other Upcoming Events:

Out and About:

  • All five members of our office gave presentations the Annual Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association Conference, in Mesquite, Texas.
  • Justin presented "Cover Crops for Hot and Humid Areas" and Robert presented "FSMA Produce Safety Rule" at the 31st Annual Fort Bend County Vegetable Growers Conference in Rosenberg, Texas.
  • Robert and Thomas spoke at three Austin Foodshed Investors Roadshow workshops ("Funding Our Foodshed") in Austin, Fredericksburg, and Lockhart, Texas.
  • Robert spoke about food safety regulations at the National Farmworker Conference in San Antonio.
  • Mike, Robert, and Thomas all spoke to NRCS agents about organic farming methods and certification at the NRCS organic training in Seguin and McKinney, Texas.
  • Mike spoke on "Good Organic Farming Practices" at the National Crop Insurance Services Crop Adjuster Training in Bastrop, Texas.
  • Robert spoke at the event "Neighborhood Farms: For the Good of All," in Austin.
  • Kevin offered a booth the Midwestern Organic and Sustainable Education Service's Annual Conference in La Crosse, Wisconsin
  • Kevin exhibited at the Medina County Soil and Water Conservation District's "Roots, Hooves and Antlers Workshop" in Hondo, Texas.
  • Justin presented "Why Organic?" for Harker Heights Parks and Recreation in Harker Heights, Texas.
  • Mike spoke to the Houston Food Policy Working Group on "Why Aren't There More Organic Farmers in Texas?"

Have a farming or energy question? Call our ATTRA toll-free English language hotline at 800-346-9140 or the Spanish-language ATTRA hotline at 800-411-3222.


We routinely publish news and events as they are happening on our Regional Page on the NCAT website. Bookmark it to keep up to date!

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Copyright © July 2017
The National Center for Appropriate Technology

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