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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory » Research » Research Project #419355


Location: Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory

2010 Annual Report

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
Planning for this multi-year project to evaluate reduced-tillage organic grain production has been conducted throughout the year. Both locations, BARC and Penn State, have initiated the transition of 15 acres of land to organic production by homogenizing fields that varied in management history. A collaborator meeting to address the on-station systems trial was held at Penn State in addition to five follow-up teleconference calls to address management treatments, methodology, and sampling protocols. An additional collaborator meeting was hosted by BARC where research collaborators and farmers formalized on-farm research.

4. Accomplishments