ASK Jeff: The Rodale Institute’s farm manager, Jeff Moyer, answers your hardcore farming questions

Can you create a sustainable organic cropping system without animal manure?

Posted September 28, 2004

What Jeff brings to the table

Jeff Moyer, who’s been the farm manager here at the 333-acre Rodale Institute research farm for more than a quarter of a century, receives lots of mail from farmers just like you asking for advice. Jeff’s hands-in-the-dirt experience over the past 26 years has run the gamut from refining the farm's cover cropping and crop rotation systems (including managing 270 acres in a rotation of corn, small grains, hay, and edible soy beans for a Japanese market) to overseeing The Rodale Institue Farming Systems Trial®, the world’s longest running side-by-side comparison of organic and conventional agriculture. We thought it would be fun and informative to share some of these farmer-to-farmer exchanges, and Jeff’s practical wisdom, with our readers … and we’ll be doing it on a regular basis.

Got a question of your own? Send it to Jeff at:

Dear Jeff,

My name is Che Axum and I have a question about soil management. Could you effectively create a sustainable organic farming crop system in the southeast (Maryland) without using animal manures? Could this system be created and maintained with the use of organic fertilizers and different cover crops (green manures) and rotations?

Mchezaji Axum

Dear Mchezaji,

The short answer is “yes.” The longer answer will involve much more information on what you expect to grow, acreage, resources at hand including equipment, capital, time, storage, etc.

The fact that green manures and cover crops can supply all the nitrogen and carbon to the system is documented. We would need to take a closer look at all the aspects of your operation to design a workable system.



Have some questions to Ask Jeff? E-mail him directly at