The purpose of this five-year breeding project is to reduce transgenic contamination of organic maize grown in the USA by maintaining the integrity of organic maize seed. Organic farmers are not required to produce transgene-free crops, but they must plant seed that is free of transgene. An important objective of this project is the education of seed producers and organic farmers on how to use these “Organic-Ready” varieties for reducing the incidence of transgenic contamination.
Organic farmer interest in on-farm plant breeding has been on the rise due to a lack of available germplasm adapted to organic systems, a growing awareness of the value of regionally adapted varieties, and consolidations in the seed industry that have led to a decline in varietal offerings.
Determing habitat requirements for natural enemies of farm pests
Coordinator: Rebecca Chaplin-Kramer, University of California, Berkeley
Maintaining a healthy population of beneficial insects that serve as natural enemies to crop pests is an important component of pest management for organic farmers. To do so, we must understand the habitat requirements of these insects.
Increasing organic matter in soils is one way to build soil heath. Cover cropping, compost, and manure additions increase soil organic matter and improve the soil’s ability to hold and supply nutrients, water, and air to plants and animals. Soil organic matter provides a bank of nutrients, including nitrogen, that are made available to plants through a process called mineralization.
Investigator: Sean Swezey, Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, University of California, Santa Cruz
Project locations: Pacific Gold Farms, Watsonville, California
Growing blackberries and raspberries in high tunnels increases yields.