Le Réseau BIO

Plate-forme de réseautage pour les producteurs, transformateurs et commerçants d'aliments biologiques du Québec
Le Réseau BioUn site réalisé grâce à un partenariat
CETAB+ | Centre d'expertise et de transfert en agriculture biologique et de proximitéMinistère de l'Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l'Alimentation du Québec
Bienvenue sur le Réseau BIO, une plate-forme de réseautage pour les producteurs, transformateurs et commerçants d'aliments biologiques et intervenants en agriculture biologique au Québec.

Modifier eXtension Articles,News,Faqs,Events- organic production (anglais)

S'abonner à flux Modifier eXtension Articles,News,Faqs,Events- organic production (anglais)
Mis à jour : il y a 8 heures 17 min

The Role of Cover Crops in Organic Transition Strategies Webinar

ven, 2018/10/26 - 01:48

About the Webinar

The transition to organic certification can take different paths. In this webinar, the relative value and benefits of cover cropping during the transition to organic vegetable production will be discussed.

Slides from the webinar as a pdf handout available here.

Dr. Brian McSpadden Gardener works as plant pathologist and microbial ecologist at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, where he also directs the  the Organic Food Farming Education and Research program. His research focus on the influence of microorganisms on soil and plant health particularly in organic systems. Find his website at http://plantpath.osu.edu/mcspadden-gardener-lab/

About eOrganic

eOrganic is the Organic Agriculture Community of Practice at eXtension.org. Our website at http:www.extension.org/organic_production contains articles, videos, and webinars for farmers, ranchers, agricultural professionals, certifiers, researchers and educators seeking reliable information on organic agriculture, published research results, farmer experiences, and certification. The content is collaboratively authored and reviewed by our community of University researchers and Extension personnel, agricultural professionals, farmers, and certifiers with experience and expertise in organic agriculture.

Title: The Role of Cover Crops in Organic Transition Strategies
Date: Tuesday, March, 6, 2012
Time: 2:00 PM - 3:15 PM EST

System Requirements

PC-based attendees
Required: Windows® 7, Vista, XP or 2003 Server
Macintosh®-based attendees
Required: Mac OS® X 10.5 or newer

Java needs to be installed and working on your computer to join the webinar. If you have concerns, please test your Java at http://java.com/en/download/testjava.jsp prior to joining the webinar. If you are running Mac OS X 10.5 with Safari, please be sure to test your Java. If it isn't working, please try Firefox (http://www.mozilla.com) or Chrome (http://www.google.com/chrome).

 

This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.

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Using the eOrganic Organic Seed Production Tutorials Webinar

ven, 2018/10/26 - 01:48

 

Watch a recording of the "Using the eOrganic Organic Seed Production Tutorial" webinar below:

About the Webinar

Webinar participants can expect to learn about the Organic Seed Production tutorials, and how to most effectively access in-depth organic seed production information available through this new eOrganic course created by Organic Seed Alliance. Find the tutorials at http://campus.extension.org/course/view.php?id=377.

About the Presenter

Jared Zystro is the California research and education specialist for Organic Seed  Alliance. Jared designed the eOrganic Organic Seed Production Tutorials.

About eOrganic

eOrganic is the Organic Agriculture Community of Practice at eXtension.org. Our website  at http:www.extension.org/organic_production contains articles, videos, and webinars for farmers, ranchers, agricultural professionals, certifiers, researchers and educators seeking reliable information on organic agriculture, published research results, farmer experiences, and certification. The content is collaboratively authored and reviewed by our community of University researchers and Extension personnel, agricultural professionals, farmers, and certifiers with experience and expertise in organic agriculture.

Find all upcoming and archived eOrganic webinars at http://www.extension.org/pages/25242

This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.

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Webinar: Can we talk? Improving weed management communication between organic farmers and Extension

ven, 2018/10/26 - 01:48

About the Webinar

Understanding how farmers make decisions, not just what decisions they make, can improve our communication with farmers and our ability to provide relevant information that builds upon their existing knowledge, perceptions, and values. Sarah Zwickle and Marleen Riemens will discuss their research on organic farmers’ weed management beliefs, perceptions and behaviors, and how it can contribute to our research and extension efforts with organic farmers. This webinar was recorded on November 13, 2012.

Slides from the webinar as a pdf handout

http://create.extension.org/sites/default/files/CanWeTalkWebinar.pdf

About the Presenters

Sarah Zwickle is a research assistant in the School of Environment and Natural Resources at the Ohio State University. Her master’s research on the weed management decision-making process of organic farmers has served as the foundation for the extension and outreach efforts of the OREI project “Mental Models and Participatory Research to Redesign Extension Programming for Organic Weed Management”.

Marleen Riemens is a weed scientist at the Netherlands’ Wageningen University & Research Centre. For the past few years, her research has extended its scope to include the relationship between weed pressure on organic farms and organic farmers’ weed management behaviors and beliefs.

Find all upcoming and archived eOrganic webinars at http://www.extension.org/pages/25242

This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.

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Plan For Marketing Your Organic Products Webinar

ven, 2018/10/26 - 00:32

About the Webinar

Growing great food is only half the battle to achieve farming success. You also have to be an effective marketer. As the 2011 growing season winds down for many farmers, the cooler months provide a great opportunity to plan and prepare for next year’s marketing efforts. This webinar is designed to help small to mid-scale farmers who market directly develop a useful and cost-effective marketing plan.

Download the presentation slides (pdf)

Find all upcoming webinars and webinar recordings from eOrganic

About Susan Smalley

Susan Smalley is an original incorporator of Michigan Food and Farming Systems (MIFFS), a Michigan not-for-profit corporation and a founder of the Michigan Farmers Market Association (MIFMA). She recently retired from Michigan State University, where her various roles ranged from Extension agent to Director of the C.S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems. Much of her MSU work focused on direct marketing food locally and regionally from small and mid-sized farms. Since her MSU retirement, she works as a consultant on food and farming projects.

About eOrganic

eOrganic is the Organic Agriculture Community of Practice at eXtension.org. Our website at http://www.extension.org/organic_production contains articles, videos, and webinars for farmers, ranchers, agricultural professionals, certifiers, researchers and educators seeking reliable information on organic agriculture, published research results, farmer experiences, and certification. The content is collaboratively authored and reviewed by our community of University researchers and Extension personnel, agricultural professionals, farmers, and certifiers with experience and expertise in organic agriculture.

Title: Plan for Marketing Your Organic Products
Date: Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Time: 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM EDT

This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.

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Root Media and Fertility Management for Organic Transplants Webinar

ven, 2018/10/26 - 00:32

 

PDF handout for this webinar

About the Webinar

In this webinar, John will focus on helping farmers understand simplified root media and fertility management options for high quality transplants.  Topics covered include: 1) growing container options, 2) selecting and blending root media components and amendments, 3)  water soluble and mid-crop nutrient sources, 4) compost as a primary, on-farm or locally available root media and nutrient management tool, and 5) how irrigation methods impact root media and nutrient management. 

About John Biernbaum

John Biernbaum has taught greenhouse management and crop production for over 25 years and the last 15 years has used his experience to develop the year-round MSU Student Organic Farm and organic farming related courses including Compost Production and Use and Organic Transplant Production. His knowledge of organic transplant production comes from visits to dozens of farms across the US, personal experience and experimentation, and working with farmers to enhance year-round organic specialty crop production.  
 

About eOrganic

eOrganic is the Organic Agriculture Community of Practice at eXtension.org. Our website at http:www.extension.org/organic_production contains articles, videos, and webinars for farmers, ranchers, agricultural professionals, certifiers, researchers and educators seeking reliable information on organic agriculture, published research results, farmer experiences, and certification. The content is collaboratively authored and reviewed by our community of University researchers and Extension personnel, agricultural professionals, farmers, and certifiers with experience and expertise in organic agriculture.

View the eOrganic webinar schedule, and find recordings of all webinars at http://www.extension.org/pages/25242

System Requirements
PC-based attendees
Required: Windows® 7, Vista, XP or 2003 Server
Macintosh®-based attendees
Required: Mac OS® X 10.5 or newer

 

This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.

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October 2018

mar, 2018/10/23 - 16:13
New eOrganic articles

eOrganic organized a Planned Oral Session and Student Article Competition at the American Society for Horticultural Science Conference in August. Three of the winning articles appeared in our September newsletter, and the remainig two have now been published:

Options for Including Cover Crops in High Tunnel Rotations in the Northern United States, submitted by Charlotte Thurston of the University of Minnesota. Learn about using cover crops in high tunnels to improve soil health, as well as some challenges and management considerations.

Food Hub Feasibility in Oregon’s Mid-Willamette Valley: Interviews with Conventional and Organic Small and Mid-Sized Farmers, submitted by Eliza Smith of Oregon State University. Researchers conducted inteviews and surveys to assess the potential of implementing a food hub, and learned about the importance of assessing the needs and concerns of farmers, as well as consumer demand for local products.  

New eOrganic webinars in Fall/Winter 2018-9

Register now for the many upcoming webinars this season. In addition to several ongoing webinar series that we are conducting in partnership with the Organic Farming Research Foundation on soil health we are also offering two new webinars from the eOrganic dairy team, a webinar on identifying birds on farms, and two webinars on risk management. We'll be adding more webinars throughout the winter and will keep you posted so that you can reserve your spot! Register for any of the webinars at the links below or find them all listed at Webinars by eOrganic.

Soil Health and Organic Farming Webinar Series. Attend as many of these soil health webinars as you wish with one registration. The next one is on November 14, on Plant Genetics, Plant Breeding and Variety Selection. Archived presentations of past webinars in this series can be found at the webinar registration link page above and on the eOrganic YouTube channel as a playlist.

Organic Farming and Soil Health in the Western U.S. Webinar Series: Attend as many of these Western U.S. webinars as you wish with one registration. The first one is on October 24, on Ecologial Nutrient Management for Organic Production in the Western Region.

Molasses as the Primary Source of Energy for Grazing Dairy Cows, on December 11, by Kathy Soder, USDA ARS

Grass-Fed Dairy: Opportunities and Challeges in this Rapidly Growing Market, on December 12, by Heather Darby, University of Vermont and Sarah Flack, Sarah Flack Consulting

Identifying Birds on the Farm, on January 15 by Olivia Smith, Washington State University

Lower Financial Risk by Increasing Soil Health, on January 16 by Mark Schonbeck ,Organic Farming Research Foundation.

Hail Can Happen: Insurance Options for Organic Farms, by Michael Stein, Organic Farming Research Foundation

Organic Transition Resources for Educators

The University of Minnesota and partners on the Organic Transition Project are excited to announce the release of a new set of online learning materials. Intended for farmers in transition or considering transitioning, as well as students, educators, and agricultural professionals, these materials provide up-to-date and accurate information with an Upper Midwest emphasis, and are designed to help overcome the challenges and mitigate the risks associated with transitioning to organic farming. The full set of free online materials and resources is available at http://organictransition.umn.edu.

The project explores production, marketing, and regulatory topics through interactive educational modules and decision case studies. Modules focus on the fundamentals of organic farming practices and transition. Important production topics covered include rotation, soil fertility, and weed and pest management. Marketing and regulatory modules cover finding and accessing markets, organic certification and record-keeping, and preventing GMO contamination. Decision case studies engage learners through open-ended narratives that highlight real-life dilemmas that organic and transitioning farmers from the Upper Midwest have faced, from deciding whether to transition livestock to confronting persistent weeds or pesticide drift.

The Organic Transition Project team includes members from University of Minnesota, the Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES), the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems, and eOrganic. Our project was funded by USDA-NIFA.

New Roasted Barley Tea Research Bulletin

Last year, the NIFA OREI funded project Multi-Use Naked Barley for Organic Systems posted a bulletin about how to prepare roasted barley tea. This year, a new bulletin explores the effects of variety and method of preparation on roasted barley tea flavor. Learn about results of experiments and sensory evaluations with different naked barley genotypes conducted in 2018 with a new roasting system and different methods of brewing. Find them both at https://eorganic.info/node/23566

NIFA 2018 Organic Research Grant Awards

NIFA recently announced 25 grants that support farmers and ranchers grow and market high quality organic food, fiber, and other products through the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) and Organic Transitions Program (ORG). Fifteen OREI grants totaling $17 million helps fund research, education, and extension projects to improve yields, quality, and profitability for producers and processors who have adopted organic standards.Ten ORG grants totaling $4.48 million supports research, education, and extension efforts to help existing and transitioning organic livestock and crop producers adopt organic practices and improve their market competitiveness. eOrganic is proud to be parterning with the following newly funded projects  to inform you about their findings with publicly available articles, videos, webinars and websites!  Learn more about these and other 2018 NIFA OREI projects here and NIFA ORG projects here.

  • Catalyzing an Open-Community Research and Education Program to Leverage the MIcrobiome for the Advancement of Organic Livestock Production, Using Mastitis as a Test Case. University of Minnesota. Principal Investigator: Noelle Noyes. 
  • Creep Stop: Integrating Biological, Cultural and Mechanical/Physical Tools for Long-term Suppression of Creeping Perennial Weeds in Northern Great Plains and Pacific Northwest Cropping Systems. Montana State University. Principal Investigator: Pat Carr.
  • Northern Vegetable Improvement Collaborative (NOVIC) 3. Oregon State University. Principal Investigator: James Myers.
  • Development and IMplementation of Biological Control Tactics for Key Vegetable Insect Pests in the Southeastern U.S. Clemson University. Principal Investigator: Rebecca Schmidt-Jeffris.
  • The Organic Grain Conference: Building a Nexus of Collaboration for Organic Farmers, Industry Experts and Researchers. The Land Connection Foundation. Principal Investigator: Mallory Krieger. 
  • Furthering the Development and Implementation of Systems-Based Organic Management Strategies for Spotted Wing Drosophila. University of Georgia. Principal Investigator: Ash Sial. 
  • Advancing Grass-fed Dairy: A Whole Systems Approach to Enhancing Productivity, Quality and Farm Viability in the U.S. University of Vermont. Principal Investigator: Heather Darby.
Publicize Your Organic Research in the eOrganic Newsletter

Our newsletter reaches approximately 12,000 subscribers, many of whom are actively involved in organic production, research, education and agricultural services. Our goal is to foster information sharing within the organic research and outreach community, so if you have organic farming research and extension publications that are publicly available, that you would like to share with a wider audience please let us know. We also publish articles on our public website at http://extension.org/organic_production and videos on the eOrganic YouTube channel that are peer reviewed and checked for organic certification compliance. If you are interested in submitting an article, please contact us

eOrganic Mission

eOrganic is a web community where organic agriculture farmers, researchers, and educators network; exchange objective, research- and experience-based information; learn together; and communicate regionally, nationally, and internationally. If you have expertise in organic agriculture and would like to develop U.S. certified organic agriculture information, join us at http://eorganic.info

eOrganic Resources

Find all eOrganic articles, videos and webinars at http://extension.org/organic_production

Connect with eOrganic on;Facebook and Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube channel!

Have a question about organic farming? Use the eXtension Ask an Expert service to connect with the eOrganic community to get an answer!

 

 

This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.

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Grass-Fed Dairy: Opportunities and Challenges in this Rapidly Growing Market

mar, 2018/10/23 - 13:24

Join eOrganic for a webinar on Grass-Fed Dairy: Opportunities and Challenges in this Rapidly Growing Market, by Heather Darby and Sarah Flack. The webinar takes place on December 12, 2018 at 11AM Pacific, 12PM Mountain, 1PM Central, 2PM Eastern Time. It's free and open to the public, and advance registration is required. 

Register now at: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_-DAEfW4FSj2FPQe4IqqQFQ

About the webinar

Heather Darby (University of Vermont) and Sarah Flack (Flack Consulting) have been working with local cooperatives and dairy farmers to identify both the opportunities and challenges found with grass only milk production. Through funding provided by USDA Northeast SARE and USDA NERME grants they have been able to develop baseline production data from grass-only farms in the Northeast. This presentation will cover the recent history and rapid growth in grass-only milk markets in the U.S. In addition, preliminary data that highlights the range of production/management systems on these dairy farms will be presented. Finally the webinar will share goals and objectives of the newly funded USDA OREI grant led by UVM, UNH, USDA ARS, and Tufts University to further explore grass only dairy in the U.S.

About the presenters

Heather Darby is an agronomist at the University of Vermont Extension where she conducts applied research and outreach on farm-based fuel, forage, and grain production systems in New England. Heather's research has focused on traditional and niche crop variety trials, weed management strategies, and cropping systems development. Her farmer outreach programs have focused on soil health, nutrient management, organic grain and forage production, and oilseed production. In addition, Heather leads the eOrganic dairy team and also operates a certified organic farm with her husband in northern Vermont.

Sarah Flack is a national consultant on grass-based livestock farming and lives in Fairfield, Vermont. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Agriculture and Biology and her Masters of Science degree in Plant and Soil Science from the University of Vermont (UVM). She also has post graduate training in organic certification, business management, Holistic Management, animal welfare, organic production practices and much “on-the-job” farm experience. For the past 14 years, she has worked as an independent organic certification inspector, and has also served on OMRI's Livestock Review Panel for the past 2 years. For 8 years, she worked as an organic livestock technical assistance provider for the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT) and for 5 years she was the Vermont Pasture Network Facilitator at the UVM Center for Sustainable Agriculture. Sarah grew up on a grass-based livestock farm in northern Vermont and farmed with her family for many years where she gained hands-on experience with sheep, dairy cows, beef cattle, pigs, poultry, and goats as well as with vegetables, medicinal herbs, pasture management and forest management.

About eOrganic

The eOrganic eXtension website at http:www.extension.org/organic_production is for farmers, ranchers, agricultural professionals, certifiers, researchers and educators seeking reliable information on organic agriculture, published research results, farmer experiences, and certification. Our current content is focused on general organic agriculture, dairy production, and vegetable production. The content is collaboratively authored and reviewed by our community of University researchers and Extension personnel, agricultural professionals, farmers, and certifiers with experience and expertise in organic agriculture.

 

 

This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.

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Identifying Birds on the Farm

mar, 2018/10/16 - 18:50

Join eOrganic for a webinar on identifying birds on the farm, by Olivia Smith of Washington State University! Like all eOrganic webinars, this one is free and open to the public, and advance registration is required. It takes place on January 15 at 2PM Eastern, 1PM Central, 12PM Mountain and 11AM Pacific Time. 

Register now at https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_BRNN_4RxT7eIRr4nuzA4_Q

About the Webinar

Wild birds are common inhabitants on every organic farm, but identification can be tricky. Participants will learn how to identify common farmland birds, their primary diets, and what their habitat requirements are. Learning to identify and attract beneficial insectivores and identify and discourage pests can help to maximize the benefits of wild birds while minimizing risks. The webinar will conclude by providing additional resources for wild bird identification and management for participants interested in continued education. North America holds over 400 breeding bird species, so the webinar will only cover the most common found in agricultural settings.

About the Presenter

Olivia Smith is a PhD candidate at Washington State University. Her research is focused on the role of wild birds in organic agriculture, with an emphasis on how farm management and the habitat around a farm shape the functional role of the bird community.

Funding for this webinar was provided by the NIFA OREI grant Avian Biodiversity: Impacts, Risks And Descriptive Survey.

 

This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.

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Organic Dairy Production Systems

jeu, 2018/10/11 - 16:00

This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.

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Herd Health on Organic Dairy Farms

jeu, 2018/10/11 - 16:00

This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.

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Molasses as the Primary Energy Source for Grazing Dairy Cows

jeu, 2018/10/11 - 15:43

 Please join eOrganic for a webinar on Molasses as the Primary Energy Source for Grazing Dairy Cows, which will take place on December 11, 2019 at 11AM Pacific Time, 12PM Mountain, 1PM Central, and 2PM Eastern Time. The webinar is free and open to the public, and advance registration is required. 

Register now at https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_KHJJ75h3RzifWYceaynfKQ

About the Webinar

Grassfed dairy farms often seek alternative energy sources to maintain or improve cow health and productivity, and farm profitability. Molasses is one of the few energy sources allowed under grassfed labels; however, few recommendations were available for farmers. This webinar will present a summary of research from the USDA-ARS, USDA-NRCS, and the University of New Hampshire that evaluated the use of molasses in grassfed dairy systems that was conducted as a result of farmer questions regarding molasses supplementation.

About the Presenter

Dr. Kathy Soder is an animal scientist at the USDA Agricultural Research Service's (ARS) Pasture Systems and Watershed Management Research Unit in University Park, Pennsylvania. There, she conducts a variety of research projects to evaluate the effects of diverse pasture systems on grazing behavior of ruminants, and how farmers can use these systems to optimize forage and animal productivity.

System Requirements

This webinar will be conducted using Zoom. You can watch and listen in via your computer or call in by phone (pay call). Zoom works well on most computers, tablets and smartphones, but if you would like more details, please see https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&query=system+requirements

 

This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.

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Organic Farming and Soil Health in the Western U.S. Webinar Series

mar, 2018/10/09 - 17:59

Please join the Organic Farming Research Foundation and eOrganic for a series of eight free webinar trainings on organic farming and soil health in the Western U.S. The webinar trainings will target agricultural professionals including Extension personnel, other agency personnel, and agricultural consultants in an effort to increase expertise in organic practices that promote soil health. This series is a perfect complement to the farmer guides OFRF has produced on organic soil health practices, as the webinars will highlight soil health research and practices specific to the Western Region. The goal of the trainings is to address the need for region-specific resources and knowledgeable Extension services related to organic soil health, biology, nutrient cycling, and more!  All webinars take place at 11AM Pacific Time (12PM Mountain, 1PM Central, 2PM Eastern).

Register now for the entire series at this one link You can attend all or as many of the webinars in the series as you wish with just one registration. https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_3WpTgnIeRm6hVuloGk2vGg

Dr. Mark Schonbeck of the Organic Farming Research Foundation will be joined by experts in the Western Region to review the most recent soil health research and practices relevant to the Western Region. The webinars will provide an overview of the topic, best practices for the Western Region, in-depth analysis of the latest research, and an extensive question and answer session after each presentation.

October 24, 2018: Ecological Nutrient Management for Organic Production in the Western Region.

Co-presenter: TBD
This webinar will explore the role of the soil food web in nutrient cycling and provisioning, and practical strategies for optimizing the availability of limiting nutrients, such as nitrogen, for soil health, organic crop production, and water quality. We will summarize recent research on nitrogen management for organic vegetable and strawberry production in maritime, Mediterranean, and semiarid climates.

November 21, 2018: Ecological Weed Management for the Western Region

Co-presenter: TBD
In this webinar we will focus on integrated organic weed management strategies that help desired vegetation outcompete weeds, build soil health, and reduce the need for soil disturbance. In addition, we will summarize outcomes of recent research into organic management of field bindweed and other major weeds of Western Region cropland and rangeland.

January 23, 2019: Practical Conservation Tillage for Western Region Organic Cropping Systems

Co-presenter: TBD
This webinar will discuss practical approaches to reducing the adverse impacts of tillage and cultivation on soil life and soil health. We will also cover recent research into newer tillage tools and minimum-till strategies for Western Region organic vegetable, fruit, and field crop production.

February 27, 2019: Selecting and Managing Cover Crops for Organic Crop Rotations in the Western Region

Co-presenter: TBD
This webinar will discuss best cover crops, mixes, and management methods for optimum soil health and organic cash crop production in the Western Region. We will explore in greater depth the special challenges that farmers face in adding cover crops to dryland cereal grain rotations and other moisture-limited cropping systems.

March 27, 2019: Breeding New Cultivars for Soil-enhancing Organic Cropping Systems in the Western Region.

Co-presenter: TBD
This webinar will summarize plant breeding endeavors toward improved vegetable, specialty grain, and other crop cultivars for organic producers in the Western Region, and practical resources to help organic producers obtain the best available seed varieties for their needs. We will also explore emerging opportunities to develop new cultivars for nutrient and moisture use efficiency, competitiveness toward weeds, and enhanced interactions with beneficial soil biota.

April 17, 2019: Preparing for Drought: The Role of Soil Health in Water Management in Organic Production

Co-presenter: TBD
With climate change exacerbating water scarcity issues throughout the Western U.S., organic producers urgently need practical information on best irrigation and soil moisture management. This webinar will explore the role of best organic soil health management in water conservation and water quality, with emphasis on practical research outcomes for the Western Region.

May 29, 2019: Meeting Weather Challenges in the Western U.S.: Organic Practices to Mitigate and Prepare for Climate Change

Co-presenter: TBD
This webinar will explore the capacity of sustainable organic systems to sequester soil carbon, minimize agricultural greenhouse gas emissions, and help organic cropping and livestock operations withstand the impacts of climate disruptions already underway. Our presentation will include a summary of recent research findings and practical implications for the Western Region.

June 12, 2019: Soil Biology for the Western Region: Organic Practices to Recruit and Nurture Beneficial Biota in the Soil

Co-presenter: TBD
This webinar will examine the roles of the soil food web and key components thereof in promoting soil health and fertility and sustainable organic crop production. Recent research conducted in organically managed soils in the Western Region will provide the basis for practical guidelines for best soil food web management in organic farming and ranching systems.

Funding for this webinar series is being provided by Western SARE. 

This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.

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Performance of Organic Treatments in Long-Term Systems Trials: Organic Benefits and Challenges In the Face of Climate Change Webinar

mar, 2018/10/09 - 16:42

 

About the Webinar

Long term systems trials provide a wealth of data on the impacts of production management on crop performance and the agroecosystem. In this webinar, Dr. Erin Silva will discuss 20+ years of data from the Wisconsin Integrated Cropping Systems Trial, focusing on yield, economic, and soil quality data from the organic treatments. Impacts of recent flooding and drought events on organic performance will be included, as well as lessons from the data as it relates to refining the organic production system for long-term sustainability.

Handout of the slides for this webinar

Footnotes

Wisconsin Integrated Cropping Systems Trial Project Website

Carbon sequestration data from the UC Davis Agricultural Sustainability Institute

About the Presenter

Dr. Silva is the Organic Production Scientist and the Associate Director of the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research and outreach program focuses on no-till organic production, cost-of-production determination for diversified vegetable growers, and variety selection for organic growers.

Find all upcoming and archived eOrganic webinars at http://www.extension.org/pages/25242

 

This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.

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Options for Including Cover Crops in High Tunnel Rotations in the Northern United States

sam, 2018/10/06 - 13:00

eOrganic authors:

Elizabeth Perkus, University of Minnesota

Anne Pfeiffer, University of Minnesota

Charlotte Thurston, University of Minnesota

Fucui Li, University of Minnesota

Julie Grossman, University of Minnesota

Introduction

High tunnels are a popular tool used to extend the growing season, particularly for organic vegetable, flower, and fruit growers (Pool and Stone, 2014, 2015). Their popularity is no surprise given increased yield and quality for many kinds of produce, in addition to a price premium for fresh, local products outside of the typical growing season. Construction expenses for high tunnels can be prohibitive for some growers, but beginning in 2009, the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) has funded a cost-share initiative for high-tunnel construction through the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) that has resulted in over 10,000 new high tunnels since the start of the program (USDA-NRCS, 2018).

A growing number of farmers have begun to notice certain production problems unique to high tunnels; namely, an increase in some soilborne diseases, foliar diseases associated with greenhouse production, and an overall decrease in soil health (Fig. 1). The combination of these issues can decrease plant productivity over time. The soil health issues in particular include a loss of organic matter (which leads to degraded soil structure) and an increase in soil salinity from irrigation under dry conditions (eXtension Foundation, 2013; Magdoff and VanEs, 2009). Another challenging aspect is the increased growth rate of weeds due to increased heat in high tunnels (Blomgren et al., 2007). Intensive cropping cycles also require frequent fertilizer inputs, which for organic growers consist of compost, manures, or other animal byproducts. These organic inputs often provide phosphorus that exceeds plant nutritional needs (eXtension Foundation, 2016).

Many of these problems could be addressed by including cover crops in high-tunnel crop rotations. Cover crops are known to increase organic matter, disrupt disease cycles, and, in the case of legumes, add nitrogen through symbiosis with rhizobia bacteria without increasing salinity or phosphorus to the same degree as manure, compost, or fertilizers (Treadwell, 2009; Zieminski, 2018; Monfort et al., 2007; Zhou and Everts, 2007). Research exploring cover crops in high-tunnel crop rotations is relatively new, but initial findings are encouraging. The primary challenge for farmers who want to grow cover crops in their high tunnels is how to balance the time required to grow a cash crop and a cover crop. In this article, we will discuss management basics, benefits and challenges, and seasonal options for including cover crops in high-tunnel rotations in the northern United States, drawing on the combined farming and research experience of the authors in the Northeast, Midwest, and Pacific Northwest.

Figure 1. High-tunnel soil showing poor soil quality with compaction and surface cracking. Photo credit: Elizabeth Perkus, University of Minnesota.

General Management Considerations

The basic operations of growing a cover crop in the high tunnel are similar to growing a cover crop in the open field: planting, growth, and termination—though some specifics are slightly different. Growers can plant larger areas by broadcasting and raking seeds in to ensure good seed-soil contact, or between rows using a walk-behind direct seeder for more uniform stands (Fig. 2). Following planting, irrigation must be supplied, as the plastic cover on the high tunnel excludes rain. Irrigating cover crops is best done with an overhead source because drip tape needs to be removed before termination. However, if high temperatures make overhead irrigation impractical or the tunnel is constructed with water-sensitive materials, such as untreated wood, the task of removing drip irrigation before termination may be worthwhile. 

Figure 2. Walk-behind six-row direct seeder. Photo credit: Emily Swanson, University of Minnesota.

Termination is a more intensive task and can be difficult in a high tunnel, especially with high biomass cover crops which may be very large by the termination date (Fig. 3). As with any cover crop, it is important to monitor each species and terminate all the cover crops before the initiation of seed set. This will provide the greatest nitrogen contribution, as nitrogen will still be stored in vegetative tissue instead of sequestered in seeds. This will also prevent cover crops from self-seeding and becoming weeds in the tunnel later. The most common method for cover crop termination in high tunnels is mowing, then tilling to incorporate biomass after a few days of drying the plant material on the soil surface. The drying period after mowing makes the cover crops easier to till into the soil. If field-scale mowing and tillage equipment is too large for the high tunnel, it is important to find a balance of machinery that will both fit into the tunnel and completely terminate the cover crops. Walk-behind flail mowers and small riding mowers work well, but smaller equipment, like a regular push lawn mower, will only work on low-biomass cover crops. Another option is to use a weed whacker to terminate taller-growing cover crops, then use the cut biomass as a surface mulch or chop the material more finely with a push lawn mower prior to incorporation. Many cover crops require tillage for complete termination, especially if they are mowed before flowering.

 



Figure 3. Overwintered cover crops in high tunnel. Photo credit: Elizabeth Perkus, University of Minnesota.

Once the cover crops have been fully incorporated, it is best to wait about 5–14 days to plant the following cash crop. During this time the fresh biomass in the soil will begin to break down, increasing soil moisture and the community of decomposers. In the first days of decomposition, nutrients may be less available for crops. Also in this environment, newly planted seedlings or germinating seeds can be subject to rot or predation (Dufour et al., 2013).

Summary: Cover Crops in High Tunnels

Benefits

Challenges

●     Increase diversity in crop rotation

●     Improve soil tilth

●     Fix nitrogen (legumes)

●     Increase soil organic matter

●     Impact soil salinity minimally

●     Shade out weeds

●     Disrupt some soilborne pests/diseases

 

●     Timing to ensure full cash crop seasons

●     Termination if field equipment does not fit in tunnel

●     Supplying soil moisture in winter if irrigation lines shut off to avoid frozen plumbing (not an issue in all zones)

●     Increased habitat for rodents, birds, and possibly insect pests

Seasonal Windows Fall-planted Winter-Kill

Fall-planted cover crops that are intended to winter-kill may be a great option after an early or main-season summer crop. These winter-kill species are chosen to put on a quick flush of biomass in the fall and then die back in late fall or winter with the arrival of freezing temperatures. In climates without prolonged freezing temperatures, a winter-kill rotation may not be possible. Winter-killed cover crops require no mowing equipment after establishment, so they work well for growers who operate with less mechanization. They are also ideal to precede an early spring crop since the winter-killed residue will provide some amount of soil cover but not require active spring termination, leaving the soil ready for early spring planting. Growers who choose to incorporate remaining residue in the spring will need to use some tillage, which could be manual or mechanized. To maximize the soil health and early-spring planting benefits of a winter-killed cover crop, it is important to choose a species with low spring residue that will not require extensive tillage nor tie up nutrients in decomposing plant material (Dupont et al., 2018).

Winter-killed cover crops can provide several benefits including fall weed control, organic matter contributions, and soil compaction mitigation (Johnson, 2016). Species selection for winter-kill cover crops is region-specific, since timing and severity of cold temperatures will vary widely by growing zone. The high tunnel buffers cold temperatures, allowing some species to survive in the tunnel where they would not survive open field conditions. In these situations, winter-kill could be achieved by opening sidewalls to lower temperature, and minimizing irrigation inputs to force senescence. Depending on timing, drought may induce cover crops to set seed quickly, so this technique should only be used before flowering.

Species selection for winter-kill cover crops will depend first on grower goals, which are typically organic matter input, weed control, pest control, or nitrogen fixation. Tillage radish (Raphanus sativus) is an excellent winter-kill cover crop choice based on its ability to reduce soil compaction, scavenge fall soil nutrients, and leave very little spring residue. However, tillage radish has been observed to survive winters in high tunnels in zones 4b and warmer, so growers in many regions will need to monitor this species closely. Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) is also a quick-growing, frost-sensitive crop that is effective at weed control and improving soil aggregation. Oats (Avena sativaa) are a common winter-kill grass species in cold climates, and when paired with a frost-sensitive legume like cowpea (Vigna unguiculata), they can form a mix that provides nitrogen fixation, organic matter, and weed control. 

Fall-planted Overwintered

Overwintered cover crops fit well into rotations with a winter fallow period. They are seeded in the fall, survive the winter, grow rapidly in the spring, and are terminated and incorporated in spring just before the cash crop is planted. Ideally, the cover crop should be flowering at termination. Overwintered cover crops fit best prior to a warm-season cash crop planted in the mid to late spring, such as tomatoes or peppers. Overwintered cover crops can improve soil quality and cash-crop productivity, and can increase soil microbial activity (Rudisill et al., 2015). A study in Arkansas found that high-tunnel tomato yield increased in plots following an overwintering legume cover crop compared to control plots with no cover crop (Freeman, 2016).

Timing of fall sowing and species selection for overwintered cover crops depends on the summer use of the tunnel. If tunnels are used to extend the summer growing season, growers may wish to plant cover crops fairly late in the fall. The increased daytime temperature and buffered nighttime lows in a tunnel allow later planting of fall cover crops than would be feasible in the open field. However, in cold climates, it is ideal to plant the cover crops as early as possible in the fall so they are able to establish some robust growth before temperatures become limiting. One way to have both season extension and longer cover crop growth is to interseed an overwintering cover crop into the existing summer crop (Fig. 4). The summer crop can be removed when its production is finished and the cover crop can continue to grow throughout the winter. 



Figure 4. Vetch/rye/radish mix seeded between yellow bell peppers. Photo credit: Elizabeth Perkus, University of Minnesota.

Overwintering cover crops in cold climates require special attention to moisture and temperature management. Maintaining adequate soil moisture can be a challenge during winter in high tunnels since most tunnels are not equipped with a non-freezing water source for winter irrigation. For this reason, regions with cold, dry winter weather may see rapid desiccation of unfrozen soil. To address this, cover crops should be thoroughly watered right before the water supply is shut off for winter. At this point the sides of the tunnel should be rolled down and secured, and the doors closed. These steps can help prevent water loss from evaporation and wind, though this may not be necessary in regions with warmer, more humid winters.

Dramatic winter temperature fluctuations in the tunnel create a unique temperature environment for plants. Sunny days can raise the temperature in the tunnel much higher than outside temperatures. However, due to the minimal insulation of high tunnel plastic, nighttime lows in the tunnel will be similar to outside. Unlike plants in the open field in northern regions, high tunnel cover crops do not have an insulating blanket of snow. Using row cover within the high tunnel is a management technique to combat both moisture loss and temperature extremes (Fig. 5). This insulating layer holds heat in the soil, helps retain soil moisture, and mitigates air temperature fluctuations.



Figure 5. Row cover supported by low tunnel hoops over cover crops in the high tunnel. Photo credit, Charlotte Thurston, University of Minnesota.

Since overwintering cover crops in the high tunnel will experience low temperatures similar to crops in the open field, varieties should be selected for winter hardiness. Legumes such as hairy vetch (Vicia villosa) and red clover (Trifolium pratens) and grasses like winter rye (Secale cereale) are suitable for overwintering in high tunnels across the United States. Subterranean (Trifolium subterraneum) and Crimson clover (Trifolium incarnatum) will more reliably overwinter in USDA Hardiness Zones 6 and above (Young-Mathews, 2013.). In the spring, overwintering cover crops will grow quickly in response to higher temperatures and increasing light. If row cover is used, it can be removed as soon as night temperatures are reliably above freezing. Due to this accelerated spring growth, cover crops may be ready to terminate by March–April, depending on the region. Some cover crop species may harbor cash-crop pathogens, such as the Erysiphe genus of powdery mildew that can infect both clovers and cucurbits, so growers should consider this when choosing cover crop species (Mahr, 2016).

Spring-planted

Spring-planted cover crops could fit well into a high-tunnel rotation for growers who have a late fall crop and plan to start their summer crops in late spring. Cold-tolerant species, such as hairy vetch, red clover, field pea (Pisum sativum), winter rye, and oats, can be planted as soon as the soil can be worked and will withstand early spring frost without supplemental heat. A spring cover crop will not grow to full size or maturity before termination time. This younger plant material has more nitrogen and less carbon, so it will break down quickly in the soil. The cover crop will be approximately 1/3—1/2 the size of overwintered cover crops, but can still provide soil health benefits . Legumes can supply some nitrogen, and grasses or broadleaf species can shade out weeds. A study in Minnesota found that spring-planted red clover provided 23.7—30.8 kg N/ha, and a hairy vetch/rye mix was able to reduce weeds (Perkus, 2018). A study in Japan found that spring-planted legume and non-legume cover crops increased soil carbon, an important factor in overall soil health, without reducing tomato yield (Hajime et al., 2009). The major challenge is the reduction in early-spring cash-crop growing time, a loss which may not be feasible for growers who rely on early-spring salad greens or other early-season crops. However, spring-planted cover crops could be a good fit for growers who have one or more unheated tunnels that are not in production in the first few weeks or months of spring.

Summer-planted

Summer-planted cover crops can be a helpful tool in high tunnels where cash crops are not grown during the summer season because the tunnel environment may be too hot for other crops to grow well, or where a summer cash crop cannot earn a price premium at market. Summer covers may fit well after an overwintered or early-spring crop and before a fall-planted crop. Summer cover crops can be helpful in controlling weed growth during a summer fallow period, breaking up soil crusts, and adding organic matter to the soil.

Species used for summer cover crops, especially those planted in early summer, will need to be fast growing and heat tolerant. Buckwheat is a natural choice for a quick-summer cover crop. It puts on biomass quickly, effectively suppressing weeds and supporting soil aggregation (Bjorkman, 2018a). Buckwheat is relatively easy to manage and can be terminated inside a tunnel with minimal mechanized equipment, but needs to be carefully monitored for flowering and seed set so as not to become a weed. For nitrogen fertility, a warm-season legume such as cowpea or sunn hemp (Crotalaria juncea) are good options. Both do well in hot weather and can accumulate noteworthy levels of N and biomass in just 45 days. Sunn hemp may have the added advantage of interrupting the life cycles of some soilborne pathogens and nematodes (Penn State Extension, 2018). If tunnels have the large doors or removable endwalls needed to accommodate larger equipment for termination of high-biomass cover crops, grasses such as sudangrass (Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moenchr), pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum), or Japanese millet (Echinochloa esculenta) may be good options for biomass accumulation and the addition of large amounts of organic matter to soil. If planting is delayed until mid or late summer, growers may also choose cooler-season legumes or brassicas to seed in the tunnel, similar to planning for overwintering cover crops (Bjorkman, 2018b). Aside from choosing cover crop species that can be reasonably managed with the available equipment, the biggest challenge with summer cover crops is fitting them into available windows between cash crops.

Intercropping/Living mulch 

Another method for integrating cover crops into high tunnels throughout the season is to plant between cash crops spatially, rather than rotating the crops over time. The strategy of growing two crops simultaneously is called intercropping, and the cover crop is often referred to as a living mulch. Low-growing cover crops can be planted in pathways between the beds. These pathway crops can help reduce compaction, increase soil organic matter, and reduce muddiness in wet areas or when overhead irrigation is used. Pathway crops also reduce the need for weed management between crop beds (Magdoff and VanEs, 2009). After a season of growth, the beds and the pathways can be flipped, tilling in the cover crops and making that area the new beds for cash crops, while planting the previous beds to cover crops to become the pathways for the next season.

Low-growing perennial clovers and low-maintenance grasses are best for pathway crops. These species will not shade larger cash crops such as tomatoes and peppers, are shade-tolerant, and are resilient to frequent traffic. Some grass species also have the advantage of quick establishment in the spring (Curran et al., 2006). However, they may need to be mowed to prevent seed set. Though pathway crops provide benefits, there are a few potential challenges. The additional ground cover in the tunnel during cash-crop growth can encourage fungal diseases by retaining moisture, especially on heavy clay soils. The added vegetation also may create habitat for pests, leading to possible cash-crop damage. Additionally, even if maintained by mowing or frequent traffic, pathway crops may spread into cash-crop beds, becoming a weed issue.



Figure 6. Red clover seeded in a pathway. Photo credit: Elizabeth Perkus, University of Minnesota.

Suitable Cover Crop Varieties for High Tunnels   Legumes Grasses Brassicas Other Winter kill Cowpea(Vigna unguiculata) Oats (Avena sativa) Tillage radish (Raphanus sativus)   Japanese Millet (Echinocholoa esculenta) Overwintering Hairy vetch (Vicia villosa) Winter rye (Secale cereale) Most Brassica cover crops are not reliably winter hardy in northern regions.   Red Clover (Trifolium pratense) Winter wheat (Triticum aestivum) Field pea (Pisum sativum)   Subterranean clover (Trifolium subterraneum)   Crimson clover (Trifolium incarnatum)   Summer Planted Cowpea Sudangrass (Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench) Tillage radish Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) Sunn hemp (Crotalaria juncea) Sorghum-sudangrass (Sorghum × drummondii) Spring Planted Hairy vetch Winter rye Tillage Radish   Clovers (Red, White, Sweet, Crimson, Berseem) Spring wheat (Triticum aestivum) Oats Intercrops/ Pathway Crops Clovers (Red, White, Sweet, Berseem, Crimson) Fescues (Festuca spp.)     Perennial ryegrass (Lolium spp.) Winter rye/ Cereal rye Summary

High-tunnel use is increasing in the United States and throughout the world to extend the growing season and improve produce yield and quality. Due to intensive production, the risk of declining soil health is a growing concern in high tunnels. Adding cover crops to high-tunnel rotations can improve soil quality and, in the case of legumes, decrease the need for nitrogen fertilizer inputs. Cover crops are a useful management strategy for sustainable production in high tunnels, but it is difficult to commit time in the growing season to cover crops at the expense of cash crops. There are many different options for including cover crops in high-tunnel crop rotations in different seasonal windows and as pathways between beds. Growers can choose any of the options that fit into their crop plan either yearly or in a several-year rotation. Management of cover crops is slightly different from the open field, and changes depending on region and seasonal timing, but can be a valuable part of a tunnel production system after some experimentation.

Research reported in this publication was supported by the USDA-NRCS Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program under award number 69-3A75-14-249, and USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program under award number 2014-38640-22156.

References and Citations

 

This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.

eOrganic 25214

Researcher and Farmer Innovation to Increase Nitrogen Cycling on Organic Farms Webinar

ven, 2018/09/28 - 15:27

About the Webinar

The webinar will cover the design and results of an OREI project to assess the variation in how farmers manage nitrogen differently in organic processing tomato production in California, and to learn how their management affects N cycling, soil organic matter, microbial communities, plant root genes for nitrogen assimilation, and yield. We will put these results in the context of nitrogen cycling and availability in organic systems in general and some strategies to increase nitrogen cycling and yields without minimal nitrogen losses. The intended audience is researchers, extension workers and farmers.

Louise Jackson is Professor and Extension Specialist in the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources at University of California Davis. She has a long-term interest in participatory research to understand soil and root ecology. Tim Bowles is a PhD candidate in the same department, and has developed expertise in a diverse set of methods of assessing the heterogeneity amongst farms in plant-soil interactions.

Louise Jackson and Tim Bowles, Department of Land, Air and Water Resources University of California Davis
http://ucanr.edu/sites/Jackson_Lab/
 

Find all upcoming and archived eOrganic webinars at http://www.extension.org/pages/25242

 

 

This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.

eOrganic 8677

Organic Vegetable Production Systems, Marketing and Food Systems in Organic Production

ven, 2018/09/28 - 15:20

This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.

eOrganic T879,874

Marketing and Food Systems in Organic Production

ven, 2018/09/28 - 15:20

This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.

eOrganic T874

Food Hub Feasibility in Oregon’s Mid-Willamette Valley: Interviews with Conventional and Organic Small and Mid-Sized Farmers

ven, 2018/09/28 - 14:59

eOrganic authors:

Eliza Smith, Oregon State University

Javier Fernandez-Salvador, Oregon State University

Introduction

A food hub is a centralized location, either brick and mortar or online-based, that connects farmers and food buyers. Food hubs are becoming an increasingly common model for producers to sell their products in local markets (Colasanti et al., 2018). Food hubs may be a website where farmers post their products for sale, or a physical location that provides services to growers such as aggregation and distribution management, a commercial kitchen, or a USDA meat-processing facility (Colasanti et al., 2018). Food hubs may also be a vehicle to educate the community on the value of buying products from local producers (Cantrell and Heuer, 2014). Food hubs can be especially beneficial to small growers because they provide infrastructure and services that those growers may not have the means to provide on their farms (Conner et al., 2017). In fact, the 2017 Food Hub Survey showed that over 90% of food hubs had “increasing small and mid-sized producers’ access to markets” included in their mission (Colasanti et al., 2018). A previous study showed that food hubs are most successful in metropolitan areas because of their accessibility to growers, wholesale buyers, and retail consumers (Fischer et al., 2013). For example, in Portland, Oregon the nonprofit Ecotrust organizes both an online and physical location food hub. The physical food hub is The Redd on Salmon Street and the online food hub is located at food-hub.org.

Introduction to the Food Hub Feasibility Survey

Salem is the capital of Oregon with a population of 168,000. It is the second-largest city in Oregon, behind Portland. In 2016, the City of Salem proposed a food hub as one option to revitalize a low-income area that was slated for improvement with urban renewal dollars. The city collaborated with ECONorthwest consultants and the local OSU Extension Service Small Farms Program to develop, conduct, analyze, and present the results of a survey of small and mid-sized farmers (both organic and conventional) in the Salem area to assess their interest in a potential food hub. 

The survey consisted of two sections with both multiple-choice and open-ended questions. The first section included general questions about the farming operation (location, acreage, what products they sell, when the products are available for sale, and where they currently sell their products). The second section was designed to assess the farmers' interest in a food hub in Salem, and included questions about farmers' interest in increasing local sales, whether they thought a food hub was needed in the Mid-Willamette Valley, and their top farming challenges. The second section also asked what services a food hub could provide that would benefit them, as well as whether they would be interested in participating in a food hub, where they would ideally like it to be located, and barriers they see to their participation in a food hub. Since this survey was only an initial inquiry to see whether the farmers were interested in a food hub, more specific questions like what farmers would pay for services provided by the food hub were not included.

A total of 19 small and mid-sized farmers (10.5% of the estimated total in the region) were interviewed for the survey, from September 2016 to March 2017; 18 on-site at their farms and one over the phone. While the survey was being developed, a database of small farmers in Oregon's Mid-Willamette Valley was compiled from internet searches, extension contact lists, and county tax assessor data. Survey participants were contacted from this database. As in most research that includes interviews or surveys, the data was limited to responses from farmers that chose to participate. Many of the farmers who responded to the request for an interview had been previously involved with the OSU Extension Service (participated in research, answered surveys, hosted workshops, etc.). A breakdown of what crops/products the survey participants grew or produced is shown in Table 1. 

Table 1. Number and percentage of participants that farm and sell various products 

Sales outlet On-farm Farmers' Market CSA Restaurant Grocery (retail) Institutions Wholesale Online  Other Number of participants that sell via that outlet 7 5 7 6 4 0 8 0 2

Seven of the farmers interviewed were certified organic and the remaining 12 were not. The non-organic farmers were a mix of six conventional farms and six farms that were practicing alternative agriculture (no-spray, ecological, etc.) but were not certified organic. 

The same interviewer conducted the interviews with producers for consistency of data collection. Data were analyzed in one and two-way tables by breaking the participants into sub-groups based on farm location, years of farming experience, farmed acreage, products farmed and sold, and organic certification status.

Key Findings from the Survey
  • Three-quarters of the farmer participants had heard the term food hub before the survey. It was important to ensure that all of the survey participants had a common understanding of a food hub, as that would affect their responses.
  • Participants sold their products through a variety of outlets, ranging from farmers' markets to wholesale (Table 2).

    Table 2. Sales outlets that participants use to sell their products

Service the food hub could provide Responded that it would be helpful Community Education 84% Value added processing  74% Aggregation 68% Direct Sales 68%

  • All but one of the farmers interviewed for the survey were interested in participating in a food hub in Salem, Oregon. The producer that was not interested in participating had a variety of long term wholesale buyers and was not looking to expand farm sales.
  • Community education was the most common option chosen by all participants interested in a food hub when asked what services they would like a food hub to provide (Table 3). Value-added processing, direct sales, distribution, and aggregation were of secondary interest to participants (Table 3).

Table 3. Services that farmers said would be helpful as part of a food hub, ranked from highest to lowest percentage of respondents. 

Service the food hub could provide Responded that it would be helpful Community Education 84% Value added processing  74% Aggregation 68% Direct Sales 68% Distribution 63% Transportation 58% Cold Storage  58% Marketing Support 58% Local label 53% GAP/food safety cert. assistance 47% USDA meat processing facility 42% Organic certification assistant 37% Freezer storage  26% Light processing 26% Dry product handling 21%

  • All of the certified organic farmers grew mixed vegetables, which shaped many of their responses from product availability to services they want the food hub to provide. Only 58% of the non-organic farmers grew mixed vegetables.
  • All of the meat producers surveyed said processing is their primary farming challenge because of the limited number of USDA meat-processing facilities in the region that will work with small producers. All seven meat producers surveyed said a USDA meat-processing facility was their top priority for a service the food hub could provide. Two of the seven meat producers surveyed were certified organic. For their meats to be sold as organic after processing, the facility would have to be certified organic in addition to being USDA-certified.  
Farmer Concerns about a Food Hub
  • Three main concerns that emerged from the interviews with both organic and non-organic farmers about participating in the food hub were: 1) they would need to set their prices too low, 2) lack of consumer demand for their products in the geographical area around the food hub, and 3) too much competition from larger farms who would also participate in a food hub.
  • Both organic and non-organic farmers were concerned that end-consumers and/or buyers would not go to the food hub to buy their products. Considering that, they requested that the food hub provide community education about the value of buying local agricultural products.
  • The participant with one of the largest farms in the survey (100+ acres) that has robust transportation and wholesale distribution systems for their organic produce, expressed concern that the transportation limitations of smaller farmers due to fewer vehicles and employees (regardless of certification status) would limit large-volume accounts at the food hub.
  • Large-volume buyers (wholesale) commonly have an interest in purchasing goods at rates lower than direct-to-consumer prices. This decrease in profit margin would not prove sustainable or enticing for small and mid-sized farm operations, causing many of the survey participants to doubt or question the implementation of a similar business model, as reported in the ECONorthwest writeup of the survey results for the City of Salem (ECONorthwest, 2017).
Comparing Organic and Non-organic Survey Participants

It is important to compare the responses from these two groups of participants because organic and non-organic products command different prices, which we expected may affect the farmers' responses.

  • On average, the organic growers had been farming more years than the non-organic farmers surveyed.
  • A much higher percentage of organic farmers did not think a food hub was necessary in the Mid-Willamette Valley (29%) as compared to non-organic farmers (8%). Many of the organic farmers said that they would gladly participate in a food hub, but were worried that there wouldn't be enough people or companies in Salem to buy their products. A lot of the organic farmers take their products to Portland, the largest metropolitan area in the state, to sell them where the demand for organic foods is more mainstream and verified by existing organic sales in the city. Producers surveyed were concerned that it would be more difficult to sell their organic products in Salem and get the price they need for them.
Consumer Demand
  • The report presented by ECONorthwest stressed that overall, consumer energy for the local foods movement is not as strong in Salem as in other parts of the Mid-Willamette Valley (2017). This demonstrates a need for end-consumer education about buying local agricultural products, which was a point that all of the farmers mentioned and considered important.
  • Our study supported this finding, as many survey participants cited a potential lack of demand for locally produced foods by consumers as a factor that could contribute towards hesitation about building a food hub.
Conclusion

Food hubs may be useful and important resources for farmers looking for new local outlets to sell their products. This survey indicated a great interest from small and mid-sized farmers in participating in a food hub. It also collected a variety of concerns from the farmers about price point, consumer education, and competition from larger farms. As backed by other studies and farmer responses, we determined that for a food hub to be successful, farmers' interest in participating must be met by sufficient consumer demand for local agricultural products, and this may be particularly true for organic products. Establishing a food hub is a large undertaking and conducting preliminary surveys to gauge interest from both farmers and consumers is an important first step before investing in more comprehensive assessments. When farmers are considering participation in a food hub, it is important to ask many of the same questions that a survey like this would pose, such as: What services will the food hub provide? What are your price requirements to sell at a food hub? Is the food hub in a convenient location? And, do you see any potential barriers to your participation in a food hub?

Additional Resources
  • National Good Food Network Food Hub Center (The Wallace Center). Provides a variety of resources, including: webinars about existing food hubs, a link to the USDA food hub directory, a food hub consultant database, funding sources for food hubs, and research about food hubs.
  • USDA Regional Food Hub Resource Guide. Summary of what a food hub is, its impacts, economic viability, potential barriers to growth and possible solutions to those barriers. Starting on page 29, there are listings of various funding sources available to help establish a food hub.
  • USDA Agricultural Marketing Service. General information about food hubs and links to resources. The USDA AMS Food Hub Map is a visual representation of the USDA food hub directory.
  • A Food Hub Facility Design Case Study. A case study of the establishment of the Tuscarora Organic Growers food hub in Pennsylvania, focusing on the physical building of the food hub. Includes building dimensions and operational expenses.
  • Healthy Food Access Portal: Food Hubs. This webpage provides an overview of food hubs, including resources, strategies, challenges and food hub success stories from all over the U.S.
References and Citations

This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.

eOrganic 25213

Finding a Pasture Stick in Your Area for Your Organic Dairy Farm

ven, 2018/09/21 - 15:59

eOrganic author:

Debra Heleba, University of Vermont Extension

In the video, "Calculating Dry Matter Intake in Organic Pastures Using a Pasture Stick," speaker Sarah Flack demonstrates how to measure dry matter available from pasture using or pasture or grazing stick.

Sources of Pasture Sticks by State

It is important to note that not all pasture sticks are exactly the same. Sticks from each state and/or region may vary based on different forage species, production, and growth stages  due to climate, elevation, and other factors. Most states and/or regions that have pasture sticks customize them to specifically address their growing conditions.

To find a pasture stick in your state, you can try contacting your local Cooperative Extension grazing educator or local USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office, your local affiliate of the American Forage and Grassland Council (if your state has one), or the national Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative.

 

 

This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.

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