1a. Objectives (from AD-416)
The Pennsylvania State University will be the lead institution on this project, and form sub-contracts with USDA-ARS, North Carolina State University, and University of Delaware. A multi-state collaboration will allow diverse farmer involvement over the mid-Atlantic area, and increase the viability and accessibility of research being conducted in ARS. Specific objectives include:1) determining the optimal combination of mechanical (high-residue cultivation and stale seed-bedding) and cultural (crop planting date and maturation variety group) weed/insect pest management strategies in a cover crop-based, organic, reduced-tillage field crop rotation in the Mid-Atlantic region; 2) assessing the economic, environmental, and energetic trade-offs between crop, pest, and soil management in these cover crop-based, reduced-tillage, organic field cropping systems; and 3) increase farmer adoption of cover crops and reduced-tillage strategies in organic field crops through farmer-participatory research trials examining a range of organic corn and soybean maturity groups from early to late maturing varieties.
1b. Approach (from AD-416)
The large plot on-station field experiments will be conducted at Rock Springs, Pennsylvania and Beltsville, Maryland and all institutions will coordinate two on-farm research trials. The on-station cropping system experiment will represent a typical three year field crop rotation of the Mid-Atlantic region. The cropping system experiment contains three entry points in the rotation so that every crop phase of the rotation is present each year. The component trials conducted on-farm will support objectives being evaluated at the on-station research experiments. This information will be used by both ARS and the Cooperators to enhance stakeholder adoption of such important environmental practices. All institutions will increase farmer adoption of these practices through traditional extension and outreach channels, on-farm and on-station field days and demonstrations, extension publications, and the national extension web resource eOrganic.
3. Progress Report
This multi-year, multi-institute project that evaluates reduced-tillage organic grain production was initiated in the fall through establishment of weed seedbanks, cover crop planting, and cereal cash crop. All crop phases of a three-year corn-soybean-wheat rotation are present each year. Therefore, experimentation this year included evaluation of cover crop termination, mechanical cultivation, and crop maturity date on all crop commodities, weed and pest populations, and soil parameters. A farmer advisory board meeting was hosted by BARC. Collaborator meeting to address the on-station systems trial was held via tele- and video-conference calls to address management treatments, methodology, and sampling protocols.