NSSI E-Book Released!

We are proud to announce the release of our e-book, Moving the Needle: Accomplishments of the National Strawberry Sustainability Initiative 2013 – 2014. This interactive e-book is a downloadable PDF that provides access to the 70+ resources (tools, videos, and publications) developed during Phase I of the NSSI Grants Program. This summary of accomplishments includes specific outcomes and impacts from each of the 20 projects. Jump to the appendix to access a complete list of hyperlinks for strawberry videos and resources. You can find the download link on our website, strawberry.uark.edu.

two page preview

We have also created a full version of the e-book that contains embedded videos for each of the projects. This version is too large for download, but if you are interested in obtaining a copy, please contact us at sberries(at)uark.edu.

Cold Climate Strawberry Farming E-Book

This blog post highlights the work of the NSSI project titled “Development of a Comprehensive, Engaging E-Learning Tool for Strawberry Farmers” led by Dr. Emily Hoover of the University of Minnesota

By Echo Martin, University of Minnesota

Where do farmers go to discover new techniques and information? In the past it was to conferences or other farmers, but more commonly today the first place people turn to is the internet. Many great outreach resources are available online, but sometimes navigation can be difficult and some articles are up to date, while others are a decade old. Additionally, the information can be difficult to access in the field if it’s not on a mobile website or isn’t downloadable.

Phase I Final Reports Due Next Week

Phase I is nearing completion and project leaders are reminded that final reports are due next week on August 15th. Thank you for your hard work, and we look forward to reading about what you discovered in the push for sustainable strawberries.

Hydroponic Strawberry YouTube Channel

Commercial growers now have free access to hydroponic strawberry start-up advice on YouTube, thanks to NSSI researchers. This collaboration between projects at the University of Arkansas and the University of Arizona demonstrates the mechanisms implemented on hydroponic and soilless setups at both locations.

The goal of this project was to provide a free portal to teach commercial strawberry growers how to build, manage, and use hydroponic systems in the production of strawberries. By using soilless and hydroponic systems to produce strawberries, growers are able to manage water and fertilizer more effectively. Additionally, many issues that are common in field-grown operations (soil sterilization/disinfestation, weed control, runoff) are eliminated.

You can view the Introduction video here.

The videos are each about 3-6.5 minutes in length and cover topics such as cultivar selection, fertilizer distribution equipment, pest and disease management, and harvesting.

Want to learn more about hydroponic strawberries? Then watch the rest of the videos at the project’s YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/user/sustainablehydro

Walmart Foundation’s $1.05 Million Donation Fuels Second Phase of Strawberry Initiative

By Mary Hightower, U of A System Division of Agriculture

July 17, 2014

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Ripening in mid-winter. Taking root in old cotton acres. Growing organic in conventional farms. America’s favorite berry is finding itself in places it’s never been before thanks to research, creativity and a donation from the world’s largest retailer.

Each of these new directions was grown from a $3 million donation from the Walmart Foundation to the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Sustainability, known as CARS. Last year’s donation gave birth to the National Strawberry Sustainability Initiative and would fuel 20 research projects in 13 states.

All of the innovations have one aim: to provide U.S. consumers with the freshest berries raised in the most sustainable way possible everywhere they’re grown, from small family farms to cooperatives. It’s no small target either. Strawberry production was valued at $2.4 billion in 2012, according to the USDA’s Economic Research Service. And USDA says they are the fifth favorite fruit among American consumers, prized for its sweet taste and good-for-you versatility in the kitchen.

“At Walmart we support the issues our customers and communities care about most –sustainability being one of them,” said Dorn Wenninger, Vice President of Produce and Floral, Walmart. “We’re excited to help the National Strawberry Sustainability Initiative enter Phase II where we’ll see innovation at work in the fields. As a result, we’ll have a better understanding of how to sustainably increase production and supply of one of our nation’s favorite fruits.”