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.
3. Progress Report:
Organic farmers lack adequate approaches to fertilize corn in no-till production systems as 1) legumes alone rarely provide sufficient fertility and 2) there are currently no commercial options for subsurface banding of dry animal manure. We are testing a range of commercially available organic amendments that can be applied in a pelleted form through dry fertilizer boxes that have been commonly used on no-till planters. We have initiated trials throughout the mid-Atlantic region to examine the role of these organic amendments, applied at planting, to meet the nitrogen requirements of corn in an integrated green and animal manure fertility program.