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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Booneville, Arkansas » Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center » Research » Research Project #439746

Research Project: Development of Foundational Organic Research, Outreach and Education for the Mid-South Region

Location: Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center

Project Number: 6020-21310-011-063-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Dec 3, 2021
End Date: Jun 30, 2025

The long-term goal of this project is to generate high-quality research data in support of organic crop production in the Mid-South region of the United States. In so doing, the current data research gaps can be filled, providing a higher level of support to farmers throughout the region who may wish to transition to organic production. Specifically, a plot-scale experiment will be conducted to 1) evaluate optimum organic management practices in a soybean(commodity)-sorghum(food grade)-soybean(food grade) crop rotation under different management and tillage systems, to include integration of livestock 2) identify tradeoffs associated with a conservation management systems emphasizing cover crop use and residue accumulation, integrated enterprise (crop-livestock) system emphasizing cover crop use for livestock grazing and grazing of crop residues, and a profit-driven system emphasizing dual crop harvests per growing season; 3) to quantify forage quantity and quality and feasibility of integrated organic crop-livestock systems for the region. Crop yield, cover crop productivity, weed and pest pressure, soil health, forage and residue quantity and quality, and economic feasibility will be evaluated.

The project will be designed with four components: - A small-plot research plan implemented at USDA ARS' Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center. These experimental plots will evaluate a suite of replicated management and tillage systems (as described above in Objective section). - A demonstration farm research plan implemented on organic crop production focused on the Mid-South. This practical and applicable research will use large-block on-farm research and collaboration with farmers to produce quality and practical research in an applied setting. - A research plan implemented for optimization of organic management through soil mapping fingerprinting conducted at USDA ARS' Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center. - An education and outreach plan through engagement of farm audiences, extension services, agriculture groups and others who may have interest in organic agricultural products. Activities will involve local farmers and youth, on-farm research, coordinating education efforts with cooperative extension services, and proactively sharing research information with groups and companies in neighboring states. Additionally, as part of the outreach and education, organic certification will be undertaken as part of the overall education process for interested farmers participating in the on-farm research effort.