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MDA Greenbook helps provide new ideas to sustain ag

The annual edition of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture's (MDA) Greenbook is off the press. Published for 19 years, the Greenbook highlights the results of innovative demonstration projects that test new approaches to marketing agricultural products as well as raising crops and livestock. The demonstration projects are funded by the MDA's Sustainable Agriculture On-Farm Demonstration Grant program, which targets farming practices that rely more on renewable resources, enhancing the environment, and increasing profitability.

Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Gene Hugoson said the grantees are dedicated to making Minnesota agriculture more profitable and environmentally friendly.

"We're pleased they are documenting and sharing their knowledge and experiences through the Greenbook," said Hugoson. "The Greenbook provides a wealth of information to an increasing number of farmers interested in a more sustainable approach to agriculture."

Greenbook 2008: A Multitude of Ideas to Sustain Agriculture highlights 22 Sustainable Agriculture Demonstration Grant projects in five major topic areas: alternative markets and specialty crops; energy; fruits and vegetables; cropping systems and soil fertility; and livestock. Among this year's projects are strategies for developing a Saskatoon berry market, intercropping with a high tunnel to achieve maximum production, feeding in-line alfalfa/grass bales to eliminate fall and winter "flat spots" in grassfed beef production, and aerial seeding of winter rye.

Greenbook editor Jeanne Ciborowski said farmers are always interested in new and innovative concepts.

"The MDA grant program enables farmers and researchers to try new ideas on a small scale and share the information with other producers," said Ciborowski. "All of this information is then incorporated into the annual Greenbook publication."

For the 2009 field season, the MDA will award up to $150,000 in Sustainable Agriculture Demonstration Grants to help farmers, researchers, and educators implement new sustainable farming systems.

These grants are available for three-year projects that benefit the environment, increase farm net profits through cost reduction or enhanced marketing, and improve the farm family quality of life. The request for proposals (RFP) will be available in mid-September.

For a free copy of Greenbook 2008, call 651-201-6012 or e-mail Greenbook 2008 is also available on the MDA's web site: