Submitted to: BARC Poster Day
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/18/2000
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Widespread adoption of sustainable farming systems will require that we better understand and address the ecology of farming systems, the socioeconomic constraints to farming systems management, and how to overcome barriers to the development and adoption of sustainable farming systems. The USDA-ARS Farming Systems Project (FSP) at BARC is a long-term mcomparison of seven cropping systems established in 1993 to 1) study the basic biology and ecology of farming systems using a multidiciplinary, systems approach, and 2) address farmer-defined management and production barriers to the development and adoption of sustainable cropping systems in the mid-Atlantic region. The farming systems, which were designed by a team of farmers, extension agents and scientists, are designed to take advantage of regional resources and markets, such as rural and municipal organic wastes, and local demand for organic food and feed grains. The FSP Phas a special emphasis on organic farming systems. Since our current understanding of farming systems relies heavily on reductionistic research conducted within a conventional farming context, these results may not always be fully applicable to organic farms. In fact, there is increasing evidence that the ecological structure and function of organic farms may be fundamentally different than those of conventional farms. A basic understanding of the ecological interactions likely responsible for such differences will allow us to better address the needs of organic farmers. Since these issues are complex, interdisciplinary research is crucial to the success of the FSP. An interdiciplinary research team is being developed towards this end.