Researchers Help Farmers Improve Soil Health with Green Manures

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OFRF has awarded a grant to Iris Vaisman and Dr. Martin Entz at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg to help increase the use of green manures (GMs), which 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 the use of GMs 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 by improving the information flow between researchers and farmers, in order to assess current on-farm GM use and how this affects on-farm nutrient budgets.

Dr. Entz has developed a co-design model that helps researchers and farmers work together on nutrient budgeting. The research team will visit certified organic farms to collect and analyze green manure biomass samples for nutrients and micronutrients. The following year, cash crop grain samples will be similarly analyzed. The data will then be used to examine nutrient budgeting on farm and encourage higher adoption of GMs for improved soil health and farm resiliency.

The grant is one of six research grants OFRF awarded in 2016 to address organic farming challenges. In a national survey of organic farmers conducted by OFRF in 2015, weed and pest management, soil health, and water management during drought were identified as foremost concerns.

Since its founding in 1990, OFRF has awarded 332 grants to organic researchers and farmers, investing more than $3,000,000. All research results are freely available in our online database at ofrf.org. Read about the 2016 research grants here.

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