Organic News

OFRF Research Partner Releases New Varieties of Open-Pollinated Sweet Corn

July 24, 2015 - Two new varieties of open-pollinated, sweet corn will be available in limited quantities for the 2016 planting season, thanks to ongoing research by Oregon farmer and OFRF research partner Jonathan Spero.

The commercial release of Top Hat and Tuxana sweet corn seed is a welcome milestone in the movement to revive traditional crop breeding, and increase the selection of organic-friendly varieties whose seed can be saved by farmers. Spero’s sweet corn breeding project was supported by a four-year research grant from OFRF.

Spero expects his new varieties of white and yellow sweet corn to see additional improvements in coming years, as they are planted in new regions and the seed is saved and replanted by numerous farmers and gardeners.

“I have shown how these crop improvements can be made, and new varieties created, without advanced technology or large amounts of money,” Spero said in his report. “Others may see that they too can step up from gardening or farming to plant breeding and crop improvement. It may help return crop improvement and varietal ownership to the farmer.”

Organic Farming Research Foundation Seeks Research Abstracts for 2016 Organic Agriculture Research Symposium

July 24, 2015 - Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) and the Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension (KARE) Center invite the submission of research papers for presentation at the 2016 Organic Agriculture Research Symposium (OARS), taking place Jan. 20, in Pacific Grove, CA, immediately before the Ecological Farming Association’s annual EcoFarm Conference.

Research Shows Effect of Compost on Weed, Seed Germination

July 24, 2015 - Can compost supply crops with nutrients and fight weeds?

Weeds are one of the top challenges for organic crop producers. Researcher Dr. Gladis Zinati set out in her OFRF project to look for a new practical solution for organic weed management: compost extracts. Zinati just completed her project at the Rodale Institute in Kutztown, PA looking at whether compost extracts could reduce weed seed germination.

The study found that different types of compost vary in their ability to suppress weeds, and also in the undesirable effect of suppressing crop seed germination. “The funding I received from OFRF was integral to test the concept of compost extract as a tool for weed suppression,” Zinati said.

Grassroots Power - Six Lobbying Tips for Citizen Advocates

July 24, 2015 - It’s true – professional lobbyists have deeper pockets than community-based organizations. But grassroots groups can successfully lobby for change by making personal connections with legislators, and presenting a clear and focused message.

“It’s important to know some legislative basics, and be clear on what changes you are asking for,” said OFRF Policy Associate Jane Shey. “But once you’ve got your message, grassroots groups need to get acquainted with legislators and their staff.”

Shey has developed a workshop for community groups titled "Legislative Advocacy 101: How to Make Your Voice Heard by Elected Officials and Have Fun Doing It". The three-hour workshop covers government and lobbying basics, and participants are coached on building networks, crafting a message and maintaining their focus.

OFRF Kicks Off 2015 National Survey of Organic Farmers

July 9, 2015 – OFRF’s 2015 National Survey of Organic Farmers began landing in e-mail boxes across the U.S. this month, inviting all certified organic farmers in the U.S. to share their experiences, and let the science community know what areas of research are most needed to advance organic farming.

Organic farmers rely on cutting-edge science to outsmart pests, improve fertility and produce bountiful harvests, without the use of toxic chemicals. Organic researchers across the U.S. are hard at work seeking solutions to organic farming challenges – but they need feedback from farmers in the field.

Survey results will be used to update OFRF’s National Organic Research Agenda, an influential roadmap for the USDA and other research institutions, identifying the issues most critical to the success of organic farmers.

"Weeds Your Way" – Organic Farmers Share Secrets of Herbicide-Free Farming

June 24, 2015 - The battle between weeds and food crops is as old as agriculture, a conflict that organic farmers manage through knowledge, experience, and creativity.

Weeds Your Way,” a new study by researchers at Cornell University funded by OFRF, found that successful organic farmers deploy a range of weed-fighting techniques to keep their fields clean and productive; including crop rotations, intercropping, and plowing fields before weeds are able to set seed.

Farmers reported that, over time, consistent use of organic techniques led to fewer recurring weeds, healthier soil and more successful harvests – a contrast to the soil depletion and emergence of mutant superweeds resulting from chronic use of chemical herbicides.

Researchers Brian P. Baker and Charles L. Mohler surveyed and interviewed well-respected organic farmers operating a diverse range of farming systems throughout the upstate New York area. The farmers held an average 24 years of farming experience, and their farms ranged in size from 4 to 2,600 acres.

Organic Seed Production Offers Profit Potential

June 24, 2015 - Sourcing organic seeds has emerged as a vexing problem for organic producers, who often search in vain for certified seed in varieties suited to their needs. But the shortage of specialty seed can offer lucrative opportunities to regional organic seed growers, according to a study by researchers at the University of Georgia (UGA) extension.

The UGA study, funded by Organic Farming Research Foundation, combined field trials and economic analysis of organic seed production for cover crops suitable for Georgia farms. Researchers found that profits from production of organic cereal rye and crimson clover seed ranged from $338 to $356 per acre in the second year of the study.

Returns in the study’s first year were much lower, reflecting trial-and-error missteps, including harvesting equipment that lost too much seed and planting on unfertilized land.

Ceres Trust Seeks Organic Research Proposals

June 24, 2015 - Ceres Trust is now accepting applications for the sixth year of its competitive Organic Research Initiative program, which provides research grants of up to $60,000 per year for up to three years to qualifying applicants in the 12-state North Central region. The grants are available to universities, tribal colleges and other non-profit applicants based in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Ohio or Wisconsin. The application deadline is Sept. 25, 2015.

The Ceres Trust’s main focus is the support and promotion of organic and sustainable agriculture.

Research areas of interest include, but are not strictly limited to: ecosystem health, water conservation, building soil organic matter, cultivation of minor and regional crops, soil remediation, tillage and integrated livestock systems.

Updated Organic – What “Organic” Means in 2015

June 24, 2015 - A five-webinar series offered by the American Society of Agronomy examines key aspects of modern organic production, and explains what’s new in 2015. Webinars begin July 7, and continue monthly through Nov. 3d. Watch them live or save them for later.

Farmers Sought for Farm Service Agency County Committees

June 24, 2015 - Are you a beginning or small-scale farmer? Are you producing for organic or local markets? Do you work for an organization that represents any of these producer types?

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