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Grants fuel organic farming research

Buckwheat is a warm-season cover crop.

Buckwheat is a warm-season cover crop.

From a June 10 Cornell Chronicle article:

Cornell researchers will study the use of cover crops in organic farming and how different organic farming practices affect yields, both with new funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Organic Research and Extension Initiative (USDA-OREI).

“Organic agriculture research has taken a long time to be taken seriously in the scientific community, though there are a great number of interesting scientific questions well-suited for study, and now we are getting real money to do that research,” said Thomas Bjorkman, associate professor of vegetable crop physiology, who is project director for an $894,000 four-year grant from the USDA-OREI to study how summer cover crops such as buckwheat, sorghum-sudangrass and mustard can improve the biological processes underlying organic agriculture and how to transfer such knowledge to farmers. …

The research will determine appropriate production procedure, seeding and planting dates, and expected benefits to farmers from cover cropping. The researchers also will work with farmers to find the easiest methods for integrating such crops into their production systems.

“We want people to have success from the get-go,” said Bjorkman. …

Charles Mohler, a senior research associate in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, also received a four-year USDA-OREI grant for $1.4 million to continue two experiments, one for grains and the other for vegetables, that began in 2005 to compare various organic growing strategies.

“We are mimicking what four different farmers would do, for both experiments,” to see which methods maximize net profits, effectively cycle nutrients and build healthy soil, said Mohler. …

Read the whole article.

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