Research

Evaluating Soil Protein as a New Soil Health Indicator

Predicting the capacity of soil to supply nitrogen is an ongoing challenge in organic farming. Simple and affordable soil tests that can predict organic nutrient release are of particular interest for organic farmers, because organic farming exclusively relies on this microbially-driven process for crop nutrition. Emerging soil health measurements can shed insight into organic nutrient mineralization, offering organic farmers a better nutrient management tool.

Corn Earworm Management: A Survey of Organic Sweet Corn Growers

The objectives of this project are to attain information about the corn earworm management strategies of organic sweet corn growers. This information will be used to achieve two outcomes: creation of an extension publication about corn earworm management strategies, aimed at organic farmers, and collection of data that will inform longer-term efforts of developing earworm-resistant sweet corn cultivars for organic farmers.

Evaluation of Organic Strawberry Transplants for Organic Strawberry Production

Conventional strawberry nurseries that fumigate soils with methyl bromide and other synthetic chemicals prior to propagation are currently the main source of transplants for both conventional and organic production systems. While many organic strawberry growers have expressed dissatisfaction with having to use conventional transplants, organic transplants simply are not commercially available. In part, commercial availability of organic transplants has been limited due to a lack of tested varieties as well as a lack of supply during the traditional planting season.

Developing a Cover Crop-Based, No-Till System for Small-Scale Vegetable Producers: Effects on Soil Health, Weeds, Arthropod Communities, and Yield

In the Midwest, one limitation faced by small- and mid-scale organic producers involving cover crop-based, no-till systems is the expense associated with equipment such as a roller crimper needed to terminate the cover crop for spring planting. Thus, the development of an effective no-till system that does not require the use of expensive equipment would be beneficial to producers.

Examination of Organic Grain Productivity to Support the Upper Peninsula Organic Livestock Industry

The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is experiencing an agricultural renaissance, which is being fueled by a new generation of farmers wanting to return to the land. Although many of these operations would be considered small in scale, they are often direct to market enterprises managed within an organic system. Furthermore, many operations contain stacked enterprises, integrating both crop and livestock production.

Development of Wheat Varieties For Organic Farmers

From the mid-1950’s on, most wheat in the U.S. has been grown in and bred for high-input, traditional agricultural conditions.  These conditions include the common use of artificial fertilizers and chemical herbicides and fungicides, practices that are not allowed under current certified organic standards.  We believe that traits specifically adapted to and useful for organic wheat production have been lost from the gene pool of modern wheat varieties due to the intensive chemical management common in current wheat-breeding programs.

Long-term Organic Farming Impacts on Soil Fertility

Cyanobacteria are versatile organisms, able to generate oxygen, pull nitrogen from the air, and survive in virtually every ecosystem on the planet - all on a diet of sunlight, carbon dioxide and water. Researchers at Colorado State University are now putting these solar-powered microbes, commonly known as blue-green algae, to work producing high-quality organic fertilizer.
 

Nutrient Budgeting in Organic Grain Production

Green manures (GMs) play an essential role in organic grain-based systems on the Canadian prairies by contributing to soil health, cash crop yield, and grain quality. While this is well documented on research farms, a recent scan conducted by the Prairie Organic Grain Initiative (POGI), indicated poor adoption of GMs and lack of proper GM management. The goal of this research project is to increase the use and proper management of GMs.

Creating Climate Resilient Organic Systems by Enhancing Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi Associations

While the majority of carrots are cultivated in California, recent droughts and water use restrictions may impact the success of future crops. Even in states such as Wisconsin, where water is more abundant, crops still must overcome oscillating soil moisture regimes due to differences in soil drainage, water-holding capacity, and microclimate conditions, as well as the anticipated drier summers which are predicted to increase with climate change.

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.

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