Surviving the Drought with Organic Practices

Jane Sooby's picture

Despite the drought that has been withering his neighbors' fields, organic farmer Klaas Martens, is anticipating a year of good crop yields and way above average crop income.

The reason?

Klaas isn't locked into the typical corn/soybean rotations that his neighbors are. The diversity of crops that he grows allows him to be more flexible in dealing with what the weather hands him. Because spring came early and hot this year, Klaas was able to harvest spring grains early and then plant a second crop into his fields. He chose drought and heat-tolerant forage crops like buckwheat, sorghum, and forage soybeans as his “double crops,” all of which are doing well. An added benefit is that the forages will be in great demand because the drought has reduced availability of feed grains and pasture.

Elsewhere in the country, organic farmers are having mixed results under drought conditions. In general, crops are maturing earlier but that also means that pastures are drying up faster. In many areas, even irrigated vegetable production is a challenge due to the double whammy of low rainfall and high temperatures.

OFRF's Organic Farming for Health & Prosperity report documents that organic  practices build more “resilient” soils that retain moisture longer, allowing organic farmers to have yields when non-organic crops are failing.

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