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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: ENGAGING FARMERS IN THE DEVELOPMENT AND EVALUATION OF CORN VARIETIES FOR SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE
2012 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
1)Coordinate collaboration between farmers, and USDA-ARS and Michael Fields Agricultural Institute researchers to research, select, produce and test improved corn varieties for sustainable agriculture; 2)Organize farmer-to-farmer networking and educational opportunities through on-farm research, field days and yearly meetings; and 3)Provide farmer cooperators a platform to increase awareness and interest about the use of and the need for these corn varieties.


1b.Approach (from AD-416):
PFI will interact with a team including USDA-ARS, ISU scientists, and MFAI. PFI will identify farmer cooperators in coordination with MFAI, who will work with technicians and researchers to prepare field test sites and begin selecting corn varieties on-farm. Researchers will train farmer cooperators in on-farm selection techniques and requirements for test-site preparation. PFI will organize a winter meeting specifically focused to update stakeholders of the project on breeding accomplishments, variety improvements, and tasks for the following year. PFI will organize summer field days to demonstrate the different varieties and have farmers present field research findings about variety comparisons. PFI will facilitate on-farm research from design to implementation to analysis of results. Additionally, PFI will continue to coordinate seed increases and feeding trials. We will work closely with ISU Animal Science department and local feed mills to formulate and test new diets using these corn varieties. All data will be consolidated, interpreted, summarized and published in PFI publications, on the PFI website, and in the media. Finally, PFI will create partial budgets of the production of this maize and the potential for feeding it to poultry.


3.Progress Report:

In FY 2012 Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI) arranged: Stakeholder Meetings in Chicago, IL 12/08/11 and in Ames, IA 02/07/2012; field days on 07/07/12 in McCallsburg, IA, 09/13/12 in Jefferson, IA, and 09/14/12 in River Falls, WI.; presented at the Organic Seed Alliance conference in Port Townsend, WA January 18-21, 2012.

Progress for Fall 2011: coordinated the harvest of yield trials and strip trials from on-farm cooperators plots; published a PFI research report of the results; received and cleaned up data from United States Testing Network (USTN) location managers; created a final summary of USTN results and provided to stakeholders. Progress for Spring 2012: coordinated on-farm projects including three yield trials, two strip trials and three open pollinated corn quality assessment; recruited new USTN locations including 32 conventional and nine organic across 11 states in the US; continued USTN organizational development; improved logistics of USTN data collection; coordinated activities of organic corn breeders as part of a grant received to bolster public corn breeding programs and improve the pipeline of improved organic hybrids for market; met with members of the organic plant breeding working group coordinated by the Organic Seed Alliance and published about this project in the Proceedings of the 6th Organic Seed Growers Conference.

This project allows us to bridge the gap between breeders and seed retailers looking to meet the demands of farmers. Potential future collaborations include continuing to coordinate the activities of the expanded public breeder group to bolster their breeding programs, increasing testing and breeding on organic and low-input systems and working closely with the USTN members to bring these hybrids to market.


Last Modified: 10/31/2014
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