UNL Organic Research Farms Now Certified, Watch for Tours

UNL Organic Research Farms Now Certified, Watch for Tours

May 8, 2009

The Organic Crop Improvement Association International has now certified all four of UNL's organic research farms.

Two UNL Organic Projects

Tours of UNL’s organic research will be conducted at several sites this summer. Growers will be able to see results in the field, visit with researchers, and suggest topics for future research.

Winter Wheat Variety Trial

Previous farmer input led to an organic winter wheat variety study, "Developing Small Grains Cultivars and Systems Optimally Suited for Organic Production," funded by the USDA-CSREES. Stephen Baenziger, Small Grains Breeding and Genetics program leader, and Richard Little, organic wheat breeding specialist and coordinator, are in charge of the project. For more information go to http://organic.unl.edu/wheat/wheat.shtml.

Flaming Weed Control

Another project is looking at the use of flaming to manage weeds in organic crops. In 2008 UNL received an NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant with matched funds from the Propane Education and Research Council for the project, "Reducing Soil Erosion through Thermal Pest Control." Flaming research will be conducted on-farm with four organic producers. Stevan Knezevic, extension integrated weed management specialist at the Haskell Ag Lab, is in charge of the project. For more information on it, visit http://organic.unl.edu/wdflm/wdflm.shtml.

Now "research will be conducted that will give producers information specific to Nebraska organic crop production," said Liz Sarno, UNL Extension educator and organic project coordinator. "Not only will this give us valuable organic crop information, but it will continue to attract new research and new farmers to organics."

Research Sites and Areas of Study

UNL's organic research farms are at the

  • Agricultural Research and Development Center near Mead
  • Haskell Agricultural Laboratory near Concord
  • South Central Agricultural Laboratory near Clay Center
  • High Plains Agricultural Laboratory near Sidney

    The three farms in central and eastern Nebraska have corn, soybeans, and winter wheat in their crop rotation. Each site is also conducting cover crop research, which is of interest to organic producers as well as no-till farmers, Sarno said.

    The western Nebraska farm has winter wheat, proso millet, or sunflower in crop rotation, along with summer fallow. A pea green manure or composted cattle manure is used during the summer fallow period. Research also are studying nitrogen fertility using green manure, composted cattle manure, and Summit 10 liquid fertilizer.

    "Having organic crop ground at these various research farm locations allows each station to follow a crop rotation best suited for that farmer's area," Sarno said. "Researchers can eventually help organic farmers determine what are the best crop rotations, best varieties and cultural practices."

    UNL Organic Information

    The UNL organic project began in October 2005. UNL researchers received a $750,000 grant from the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service's Integrated Organic Program to expand organic farming research and education, enhance collaborations with growers, and develop science-based information for organic food production in Nebraska.

    For information about organic research at UNL visit the Organic Working Group Web site at http://organic.unl.edu or contact Sarno at esarno2@unl.edu or (402) 309-0944.

    Sandi Alswager Karstens
    IANR News Service