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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.