Predicting the capacity of soil to supply nitrogen is an ongoing challenge in organic farming. Simple and affordable soil tests that can predict organic nutrient release are of particular interest for organic farmers, because organic farming exclusively relies on this microbially-driven process for crop nutrition. Emerging soil health measurements can shed insight into organic nutrient mineralization, offering organic farmers a better nutrient management tool.
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.
Investigator: Dave Christensen, Seed We Need, Big Timber, Montana
Project locations: Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Wisconsin
Related links: Dave Christensen talks about his breeding work in 2009. Listen»
In this project, we finished Texas longhorn beef cattle on the Sunshine Farm by using polywire (temporary electric fence) to break-feed crop residues and forages in a narrow strip cropping system without supplemental feed. To close the nutrient cycle between cattle and crops, the project was recommended February 1995 by the seven-member Farmer Advisory Committee for the Sunshine Farm.
A one-year project grant to Practical Farmers of Iowa to research livestock gastrointestinal parasite management resulted in a five-year series of experiments during which attention shifted from commercial botanical mixtures to single-ingredient botanical materials. The end of this period sees renewed interest in the role of management, as results of natural anthelmintics have been variable at best and largely disappointing. Our research results have also pointed to difficulties of collecting reliable data from these on-farm trials.
1. Determine the differences in CLA content of organic beef produced by cattle that are grass-finished with minimal grain to that from cattle that are conventionally grainfinished. 2. Determine the time required for cattle to grade at least low choice when finished by the two finishing systems. 3. Determine the economic differences between the two finishing systems. 4. Determine the profitability of marketing grass-finished cattle through Organic ValleyCROPP. 5. Determine eating quality of beef produced by the two finishing systems.
Small-scale and family-oriented organic growers must be continually innovative and efficient in their operations in order to remain in business. One strategy for small and organic farmers is development of niche markets and specialty or high-value alternative crops, such as medicinal herbs. The American Southwest has a large number of native medicinal herb species that have been used traditionally by indigenous and Hispanic cultures. By and large, these species have been wild-harvested from native stands, mostly for personal, family, or local use.
1. To investigate the abilities of six in–row weeding implements to control in-row weeds in organic soybeans and corn. The initial selected six implements were reduced to five after preliminary trials showed that the Bezzerides Cultivator System with spyder set and spring hoe, was similar with the Bezzerides Cultivator System with spyder set and torsion weeders. This change was made with the agreement of the farmer. Also it was decided to use the Williams tool system as the tine weeder without the optional side knives offered.
The original objectives of this project as stated in the proposal were to: 1) Test the effectiveness of high glucosinolate-containing meals at controlling soilborne diseases (damping-off and white mold of lettuce) in an organic farming system. 2) Determine the influence of these materials on N cycling processes in organic systems.