Research

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.

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.

Development of Corn Borer-Resistant Corn for Organic Farming Systems

Summary

Investigator: Dave Christensen, Seed We Need, Big Timber, Montana
Project locations: Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Wisconsin
Related links: Dave Christensen talks about his breeding work in 2009. Listen»

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.

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