Project Number: 6022-63000-005-012-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement
Start Date: Nov 15, 2018
End Date: Sep 28, 2021
If funded, this project will provide long-term nutrient and water-smart solutions that improve the sustainability of two promising specialty crops (sweet corn and edamame). This proposed research will also provide novel nutrient management options to new and beginning veteran farmers to decrease nutrient losses from Arkansas’ most abundant organic nutrient source, poultry litter.
Little information exists on appropriate seeding distance from the subsurfer poultry litter bands (described above) that maximizes crop and soil health and yield. Therefore, the experiment will include planting edamame and sweet corn in rotation 5, 10, and 15-in from sub-surface banded poultry litter rows compared to surface-applied litter (control), in both rainfed and irrigated environments over two years. In addition to crop yield under water available and limiting systems, crop quality assessments (i.e., lipid and protein contents for edamame and sugar and starch contents for sweet corn) will be measured based on nutrient management. Poultry litter will be applied at a 150 lb ac-1 rate of N to meet the crop needs. Crops will be maintained under organic crop production requirements with all nutrient, pest, and disease management following certified organic procedures. Once results are obtained, the optimum nutrient and water management information will be used to develop two extension and outreach bulletins (one for edamame and one for sweet corn), as well as two technical papers, all of which are essential before having this innovative organic specialty crop approach listed as an Natural Resource Conservation Service Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) practice. Consequently, one of the project goals includes technology transfer for EQIP producer involvement. Through farm-scale demonstrations at field day events, economic assessments of this conservation technology, and technical guidelines provided to producers, we aim to utilize lessons learned through this Specialty Crop Block Grant to leverage eventual EQIP eligibility for the most economical and effective management practice for reducing nutrient losses and improving yields. Our Specialty Crop outreach activities will be coupled with an existing program at the University of Arkansas (“Beefing Up Livestock, Poultry And Agroforestry Enterprises For Military Veteran Farmers”), which has currently reached over 5,000 veterans in the Southern U.S., including Arkansas, North Carolina, and Missouri, through workshops, internships, research, and training. We will add additional poultry litter management online modules, one each for organic edamame and organic sweet corn production. Finally, we will deliver information learned in this project to beginning veteran farms in the “Armed to Farm Boot Camp” during year two.