Systems Studies

Long-term Organic Farming Impacts on Soil Fertility

Cyanobacteria are versatile organisms, able to generate oxygen, pull nitrogen from the air, and survive in virtually every ecosystem on the planet - all on a diet of sunlight, carbon dioxide and water. Researchers at Colorado State University are now putting these solar-powered microbes, commonly known as blue-green algae, to work producing high-quality organic fertilizer.
 

The Florida organic citrus sector: results of a 2003-2004 survey

This report updates and builds on the information provided by the ten-year-old survey results and includes interviews with organic citrus handlers (packers and processors) and exiting growers. The purpose of this project is to collect, analyze, and disseminate economically relevant information on the organic citrus sector in Florida. In particular, the research objectives are:

i. Identify existing acreage, production volumes, and market channels for organic citrus varieties;

ii. Characterize organic citrus growers and their farm enterprises;

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.

Shade-covered high tunnels for summer production of lettuce and leafy greens

Most varieties of greens do not grow throughout the market season in the Midwest because of the 85-degree-plus weather, which persists for much of July, August and September. High temperatures (and resulting problems with dormancy and rapid drying of soil) result in poor crop establishment, and bitterness and bolting of lettuce. Other leafy greens are severely affected by high insect populations. The ability to extend the greens season through the summer heat would benefit local growers while meeting a consumer need at peak market times.

Participatory Evaluation of Organic Production System in Southwestern Louisiana

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.

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