Research

Investigating the Impact of Green Manures and Weed Mat on Soil Biota and Tree Growth in Organic Peach Tree Orchards

In the spring of 2001, organic peach blocks were established at two Western Colorado Research Center sites: Rogers Mesa and Orchard Mesa. These plantings were established to allow multi-disciplinary research, systems comparisons, and demonstration of an organic production system for peaches. The objective of this project is to study the effects of different organic management practices on the soil microbial and faunal communities within peach orchards on the western slope of Colorado.

The Effects of Green Manure, Compost, and Feather Meal on Soil Nitrogen Dynamics, Beneficial Soil Microorganisms, and Bell Pepper Yield

Many organic growers utilize a preceding cover crop or diverse types of organic fertilizer materials for fertility management. Cover crops are one of the most economical sources of organic nitrogen and provide additional potential benefits for succeeding crops. Time or market constraints and the need to intensively farm high value land may limit the use of cover crops and increase the need to utilize organic fertilizer sources of plant nutrients.

Analysis of Compost Tea Under Different Stages of Production

In this paper we review some of the pertinent research concerning organic teas, and note that the results of studies on the effects of such teas, especially as a biocide, is quite mixed. We believe this is due to the variable nature of both the organic feed stock and the methods of extraction. We also make some suggestions concerning a protocol for on-site research into the production and use of organic teas with suggestions for controlling feedstock and extractor variables infield experiments.

Monitoring the ability of compost to provide sufficient nitrogen to a bell pepper crop under drip irrigation

This project was designed to evaluate inputs of various rates of compost on the yield and nitrogen status of a crop of peppers. The grower-cooperator on this project makes his own compost and, for the last two years, he has applied from three to ten tons of compost (along with other nitrogen inputs such as cover crops, feather meal and sodium nitrate) to provide for the nitrogen need of his pepper crops.

Sorghum-sudangrass as a cover crop for organic no-till vegetable production and as a hey crop for the organic market

The purpose of this project was to investigate the potential of sorghum sudangrass to serve as both summer cover crop and marketable hay crop preceding no-till production of organic fall cabbage. The original stated objectives of this project were to determine best management practices for a non-leguminous summer cover crop in a no-till fall vegetable production system and to evaluate the efficacy of cover crop mid-season cutting for sale as hay. Based on the results of a 2003 field trial, these objectives were narrowed to the following:

Maintaining agroecosystem health in an organic strawberry/vegetable rotation system

Continued growth of organic strawberry and vegetable production in California faces two challenges: soil-borne disease management without use of synthetic chemical fumigants, and fertility management to optimize fertility input use while ensuring protection of vulnerable habitats.
 
The goal of this project is to demonstrate effects of diverse organic strawberry/vegetable rotations and integrated ecological practices on agroecosystem health.
 

Nebraska organically grown grapes

Grape production in the Midwest is increasing at a rapid rate. Very little if any are being grown organically due to the fact that little is known about organic disease control on grape in the Midwest. Sulfur is a good material to use for control of most of the major diseases but sulfur treatments will injure some cultivars of grapes. Many cold hardy grape cultivars have never been tested for sulfur sensitivity. The object of the project is to determine which varieties of grapes are tolerant to sulfur applications.

Organic Apple Thinning Strategies

A proposal was funded in 2001 and renewed in 2002 by OFRF to study methods and begin the development of technologies for organic apple crop thinning. The work was coordinated by C. R. Rom at the University of Arkansas in conjunction with the Colorado Organic Crop Management Association (COCMA), organic fruit growers in Colorado, and research scientists at Colorado State University. Additional funding for the project were received from COCMA and Gerber Products.

Small grain cultivar selection for organic systems

Organic agriculturists expressed the need for adaptation studies to land grant scientists at North Dakota State University (NDSU), beginning in 2000. In response, a limited number of modern spring wheat and oat cultivars were compared in MN and ND in 2001. Funds provided by the Organic Farming Research Foundation and the Wheat Subcommittee of the North Dakota State Board of Agricultural Research and Education allowed expansion of this effort in 2002.

OBJECTIVES STATEMENT

The objectives of this project were to:

Long term vegetable rotation systems using organic production methods and conservation tillage

This experiment is a long term study comparing continuous tomatoes with vegetable rotation under five possible production systems to determine which system is most viable for each vegetable commodity produced. Some vegetables in the southeast can be grown easily with organic production methods (sweet corn, cabbage, broccoli, peppers, etc.) but others have numerous problems (foliar diseases in tomatoes) that will require changes in production strategies. By rotating vegetable crops we are able to see which crops also can be grown under conservation tillage.

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