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.
Farmer Training Programs
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.
With funding support from OFRF, NCAT implemented a Biointensive and Organically Acceptable Pest Management Literacy Training for Hispanic organic growers and Hispanic organic growers-in-training. The objectives of this training were:
¾ Increase grower knowledge and ability to differentiate between pest and beneficial organisms.
¾ Provide the growers with information about organic pest management options, both proactive and reactive.
Several researchers (Francis et al., 1990; Murray and Butler, 1994; Poudel et al., 2000) have suggested farmer participatory research methods for problem identification, research design, and implementation of research results in developing production strategies for enhancing agricultural sustainability and environmental quality.
There are two obvious barriers organic producers face when they consider on-farm processing. The first is psychological. On-farm processing can appear intimidating and beyond reach, on one hand; on the other, it may seem unnecessary to someone who is already “adding value” by raising crops or livestock organically. The second barrier—a more pragmatic one—is the lack of good, producer-friendly information on small-scale organic processing and handling.
The principal objective of this project was to make a greater proportion of relevant and practical research-based information available to organic farmers. Experienced organic farmers were specifically targeted. In the original proposal, NCAT planned to create a quarterly publication featuring abstracts of relevant research gleaned from the literature. Emphasis was to be placed on recent, cutting-edge research on a broad range of topics pertinent to organic production and marketing.