Nutrient Management in Organic No-Till Systems
Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory
2012 Annual Report
1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
The overall goal for this project is to develop reduced-tillage grain production systems for both sustainable and organic grain farmers where biologically fixed nitrogen is maximized and coupled with supplementary fertility to optimize corn performance in high residue, reduced-tillage environments of the Mid-Atlantic region. Specific objectives include:.
1)determine optimum starter fertilizer delivery rates of animal-based fertility products (pelleted poultry litter, feather meal, ground poultry litter) and organically approved mineral sources (Chilean nitrate) using no-till corn planter fertility delivery systems;.
2)quantify impacts of soil-applied manure-based starter fertilizers on crop quality, yield, herbicide and fertilizer use, farm costs, and environmental parameters;.
3)conduct on-farm demonstration trials that optimize nutrient management in reduced-tillage organic grain systems; and.
4)disseminate knowledge gained from on-farm and on-station reduced-tillage grain crop research using on-farm field days, webinars, and The Rodale Institute New Farm website.
1b.Approach (from AD-416):
Our research objectives will be addressed by conducting on-station experiments at three research stations (BARC, North Carolina State University, and The Rodale Institute), and three organic farms chosen to represent a range of environmental conditions and management systems in organic grain cropping systems of the mid-Atlantic region. Replicated experimental plots will be established at each site consisting of a range of starter fertilizer amendments applied at corn planting into a cover crop mixture consisting of a high and low legume:grass ratio. The starter fertilizer amendments will include both mineral sources of fertility and animal-based products. The amendments will also include mixtures of animal-based products and organically approved mineral fertility sources.
The first year of the project has commenced. We tested the effects of pelleted poultry litter applied as a starter fertilizer for corn across a gradient of grass:legume mixture proportions. Data collected includes corn N uptake at several early growth stages as well as leaf area and weed biomass. We have had several planning sessions among collaborators and have made additional modifications to the project. A graduate student has recently joined the collaboration and will be examining weed dynamics in the project locations.