On-Farm Research and Extension to Support Sustainable Nutrient Management of Organic Grain Cropping Systems in the Mid-Atlantic Region
Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory
2010 Annual Report
1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
The long-term goals of this project are to improve nutrient management on organic grain farms of the mid-Atlantic region and to synthesize and disseminate the most current research-based knowledge addressing the most critical aspects of organic production in the region. Specific objectives are to:.
1)develop component technologies and integrated management strategies to improve nutrient management and increase environmental performance of organic grain farms;.
2)increase economic returns for organic grain farmers by incorporating improved nutrient management programs into their cropping systems; and.
3)disseminate knowledge gained from on-farm and on-station organic grain crop research using on-farm field days, regional workshops, and the eOrganic website.
1b.Approach (from AD-416)
Research to address Objectives 1 and 2 will be conducted on six organic farms chosen to represent the range of environmental conditions and management systems in organic grain cropping systems of the mid-Atlantic region. Replicated plots will be established on each farm using a 3x4 factorial design in which one factor is annual winter legume type or perennial legume management and the second factor is manure application timing and method. Specific options will vary by farm and will be selected by farmers to match their specific production systems. Impact of the treatments on summer crop production and soil nutrient contents will be measured to assess which combination of management options maximizes nitrogen use efficiency from legumes plus manures while minimizing soil phosphorus loading. Enterprise budget analyses will be conducted for all treatment combinations to determine which management methods optimize economic performance. Research results will be shared using on-farm field days. Annual organic grain and forage crop workshops will be held to discuss organic grain production. Data from proposed on-farm studies and existing on-station organic research conducted in SASL will be incorporated into the eOrganic website.
We initiated replicated research trials on five organic farms in Maryland to develop best management practices for soil fertility under organic management practices. We hired a postdoctoral associate to conduct this research and are currently in the process of selecting a support scientist to aid with the research and to develop a website as part of the national eOrganic interactive outreach program. ARS scientists involved in this project were instrumental in organizing a workshop on organic grain production in Queen Anne’s County, Maryland, March 9, 2010.