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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Project Type: Appropriated

Start Date: Jul 01, 2004
End Date: Jun 30, 2009

Develop ways to improve organic production systems and to provide guidelines and knowledge for conversion of conventional systems to organic systems. Comparisons of soil and plant health and food quality between the two systems will be made. Research protocol will accommodate the expectation that certain problems will arise in the field program that will require more fundamental experiments to facilitate the understanding of the organic system. As boll weevil research diminishes, research emphasis will be focused on cotton pests and insect pests on other crops grown in the Cotton Belt. Develop new economically and environmentally beneficial production strategies for organic vegetable production. Develop protocols that correlate to regional market demands and accommodate introduction of a new sweet corn cropping phase into current cover crop-cash crop rotations being evaluated. Quantify the chemical and biological effects of compounds in organic amendments or those derived from cover cropping that influence plant development and growth. Determine the optimum fertility management practices for sweet corn that promote soil quality and provide flexibility for growers to transition to a new cropping sequence. Assess the possible impacts of soil amendments and/or cover crops under study by other unit scientists, on insect pest populations and damage to the crop. Quantify the physical effects of cover crop residues and other soil management practices on sweet corn light interception and water use efficiency.

Improve soil organic matter content, available plant nutrients, soil health and productivity through a variety of cover cropping systems (such as summer cover crops, sorghum and cowpea; and fall cover crops - black oats and hairy vetch). Modify soil environment by different cover crops and assess changes in distribution and activity of microbes in the soil and rhizosphere, and their impact on plant growth and development. Develop management strategies, such as use of particle-based reflectant materials, microbial inoculants, mulches, and irrigation scheduling to reduce abiotic and biotic stress in order to improve yield and quality in fruit and vegetable crops. Examine effects of soil and water conditions on the biochemistry of the plant influencing the host plants' vulnerability and the pests' capacity to cause economic crop loss. Integrted practices will be developed for organic sweet corn that promote soil health, provide acceptable levels of weed and insect control, and synchronize sweet corn production with regional market demands.

Last Modified: 4/17/2014
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