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April 3, 1998

Sustainable ag grants available for farmers

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Farmers in Indiana and 11 other states can apply until May 1 for Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) grants to test the practical side of a sustainable practice or idea.

Individuals can be awarded up to $5,000 for research, and groups of three or more producers working on creative marketing projects can be awarded up to $10,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture program. Funding decisions will be made in late June, and funds will be available in mid-fall for the 1999 crop production year.

"The SARE grants allow farmers to do research on the farm," said Jerry Brust, Purdue University Integrated Pest Management specialist. "It is useful because farmers do their own research and learn from one another."

Brian Churchill, a Harrison County farmer who worked with Brust on a SARE project, said: "This program is an excellent tool to try various ideas. This grant helped me to look for ways to produce an earlier crop with a smaller amount of insecticide."

Churchill received a grant to test the practical effects of a new Integrated Pest Management practice on his 35-acre sweet corn operation and to evaluate the use of row covers on cantaloupes.

Churchill installed moth traps in his sweet corn field and sprayed only when insect numbers reached a certain level as opposed to automatically spraying every three to four days. Spraying according to insect population saved approximately $10,000 and 130 trips across the field, he said.

The row covers on the cantaloupes acted as mini-greenhouses to promote early growth, but the labor-intensive procedure only advanced harvest by a week, and it wasn't worth the effort, he said.

Farmers who want to field-test their own methods of sustainable production can get grant applications through the SARE North Central region office at (402) 474-7081 or on the Web at http://www.sare.org/ncrsare/. In Indiana, applications are available from the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service office in each county or by calling (888) 398-4636. The Indiana Commissioner of Agriculture Office also has applications and can be contacted at (317) 232-8770.

The other 11 states in the region are Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

Sources: Jerry Brust (812) 886-0198; e-mail,
brust@purdue.edu
Brian Churchill (812) 347-3486
Writer: Tim Hoskins, (765) 494-8402; e-mail,
news_students@aes.purdue.edu
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail, purduenews@purdue.edu


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