Beginning Farmers

Flowering Plants in Organic Strawberry Fields to Enhance Natural Enemies and Pollinators and Improve Pest Control and Fruit Quality

Methods to conserve and augment beneficial insects in modern horticultural production systems are needed given issues with pest resistance to insecticides, pest resurgence due to lack of natural enemies, and replacement of native with invasive species. Production systems also require pollinators and, in recent years, declines in managed and wild species have been well documented. Organic agriculture systems are less disturbed by insecticides and well suited to benefit from practices designed to improve abundance and diversity of beneficial insects.

A New Approach for Successful Organic Peach Production in the Southeast

The production of organic peaches is extremely difficult under the humid conditions of the Southeast due to high pest and disease pressures, and the lack of effective, organically approved pesticides. Consequently, only very few growers have taken the risk and transitioned into organic peach farming. This proposal aims to provide growers in the Southeast with a new tool to reduce the risk of transitioning to organic production of peaches. This strategy consists of the use of paper bags to physically protect the fruit from pests and diseases to reduce reliance on spray applications.

Developing integrated Irrigation Management Strategies to Improve Water and Nutrient Use Efficiency of Organic Processing Tomato Production

This project aims at developing integrated irrigation practices that capitalize on soil health to improve the efficiency of irrigation water and decrease pest pressure and potential N losses of California organic processing tomato production. The current drought has dramatically decreased irrigation water allocated to organic tomato growers and there is an urgent need to test new irrigation strategies that reduce water inputs while maintaining product quality, nutrient supply and high productivity levels.

Field Evaluation of Designed Compost Extracts for Organic Weed Suppression

Organic vegetable growers need practical and cost-effective technology to reduce weed pressure and yield losses. In 2013-2014, OFRF funded Dr. Gladis Zinati at the Rodale Institute to perform laboratory and greenhouse trials on the weed suppressing ability of chemically- and biologically-designed compost extracts (DCE). Dr. Zinati found that DCEs with lower nitrate levels and greater nematode-to-protozoa ratios significantly reduced lambsquarter weed seed germination by 32% without affecting crop seed percent germination.

Beef cattle finishing in summer/fall in a strip cropping system

In this project, we finished Texas longhorn beef cattle on the Sunshine Farm by using polywire (temporary electric fence) to break-feed crop residues and forages in a narrow strip cropping system without supplemental feed. To close the nutrient cycle between cattle and crops, the project was recommended February 1995 by the seven-member Farmer Advisory Committee for the Sunshine Farm.

Livestock management on organic farms: A survey of issues and farm tested solutions

The survey was undertaken to obtain information for a publication on organic livestock management. Canadian Organic Growers wanted to base the book on farmers' experience as much as possible, to make sure it addressed the issues being faced by organic producers in Canada as well as providing useful practical information for those who want to convert from a conventional to an organic livestock operation. The main purpose of the survey was to identify theconstraints to organic livestock production and the methods used successfully to overcome these problems.

Controlling gastrointestinal parasites of livestock with organic materials

A one-year project grant to Practical Farmers of Iowa to research livestock gastrointestinal parasite management resulted in a five-year series of experiments during which attention shifted from commercial botanical mixtures to single-ingredient botanical materials. The end of this period sees renewed interest in the role of management, as results of natural anthelmintics have been variable at best and largely disappointing. Our research results have also pointed to difficulties of collecting reliable data from these on-farm trials.

Forage Brassicas as a Component of Organic Production Systems

Objectives Statement

A. To identify organic farming systems that will benefit from the introduction of brassicas. B. To gather farmer input on the practical concerns regarding incorporating forage brassicas into their grazing and cropping practices. C. To evaluate the effects of brassicas on soil nutrients and subsequent nutrient uptake by crops.

Feeding beef cattle to produce healthier and highly acceptable beef

Objectives

1. Determine the differences in CLA content of organic beef produced by cattle that are grass-finished with minimal grain to that from cattle that are conventionally grainfinished. 2. Determine the time required for cattle to grade at least low choice when finished by the two finishing systems. 3. Determine the economic differences between the two finishing systems. 4. Determine the profitability of marketing grass-finished cattle through Organic ValleyCROPP. 5. Determine eating quality of beef produced by the two finishing systems.

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