and Goliath battle ends with the little guy striking
a blow for organic agriculture
The Minnesota Pipe Line Company has backed off plans
to route an oil pipeline through one of the oldest certified
organic farms in the country.
Farmers Martin and Atina Diffly resisted the proposed
project—which would have pumped 165,000 barrels
of oil through their 100-acre Gardens of Eagan Farm
just south of the Twin Cities—on two fronts. They
demanded that the company reroute the pipeline off their
property and install a mitigation plan that recognizes
the special sensitivities of other organic farms along
the proposed route. The farmers scored a double victory.
Two more state schools
ad organic ag to curriculum.
Alfred State College, a technical school in rural western
New York, will be home to the Center for Organic and
Sustainable Agriculture with help from a $4.9 million
state grant. The center will include a working 140-cow
dairy farm, applied research, will utilize cutting-edge
alternative energy, and will house the state’s
first degree program in organic agriculture.
And the University of Florida is the third land-grant
university in the country—just behind Washington
State University and Colorado State University—to
offer an undergraduate academic degree program in organic
agriculture, with classes under way this fall.
boost pathogen growth in compost tea
Federal research scientists say additives in compost
tea may increase the risk of increasing pathogenic bacteria,
including E. coli strains.
An Agricultural Research Service report says soluble
kelp, fish hydrolysates, humic acid, rock dust and proprietary
nutrient solutions can spur unwanted bacteria growth
as well as microbes that some farmers feel are beneficial
and necessary to enhance soil and inhibit foliar pathogens.
Their tests showed that compost with low numbers of
pathogens brewed aerobically for tea without the additives
produced tea with undetectable levels of the pathogens,
but that, in general, the additives allowed growth of
committee compost tea recommendations
Unmet organic dairy demand
creates opening for non-BST, non-organic
Two of New England’s biggest commercial dairies
are demanding that their regional farmer cooperatives
provide them with milk from cows that have not been
injected with rBST—the synthetic hormone used
for many years to boost milk production by extending
Dean Foods and H.P. Hood will start distributing milk
with labels pledging “no artificial growth hormones.”
By creating this new stream within the conventional
market, they hope to satisfy the chief concern of consumers
going organic and do so at less than half the retail
price of organic milk.
"The phenomenal success of organic milk, with
growth rates of 20 percent or more, is driving our demand
for milk from cows not treated with artificial growth
hormones," said John Kaneb, the chief executive
of Hood, based in Chelsea, Massachusetts.
Long rotation beats
continuous corn for soil health and profit in Midwest
Farmers who want to maintain soil quality may want
to get back to planting extended rotations of grain
and forage crops.
Data collected nearly a decade ago as part of a project
funded by the Leopold Center show that crop rotations
covering at least five years, and which include at least
three years of forage crops interspaced with corn and
soybean, resulted in higher soil quality ratings than
either continuous corn or a two-year corn/soybean sequence.
The longer-term rotations had an additional benefit:
They were more profitable than continuous corn production.
Land Grant Universities
add to organic research foundation
lists eight currently available publications summarizing
university research on organic weed management in its
September-October e-newsletter. Included are two items
each from four geographical regions. Other farm-group
and government organic weed-research sources and documents
are listed as well.
in eating fresh fruits, veggies a hard sell until puberty
The first analysis of the Mississippi Fruit and Vegetable
Pilot Program shows mixed results in consumption after
more fresh produce was made available in 25 school food
programs in the 2004-2005 school year.
Eighth- and tenth-grade children ate more fruit when
it was offered free throughout the school day, but fifth
graders actually ate less produce, according to a recently
released study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Analysis with the report says student response could
have been enhanced if support activities had been carried
out more evenly and more extensively. Other reports
say engaging students in growing food and knowing more
about where food comes from significantly increase positive
response to new introductions of fresh vegetables.
ARS: Organic grains more
profitable in Minnesota, even through transition
It looks like Minnesota grain farmers could make more
money by switching to organic grain crops. That's the
conclusion of an unusual four-year study that analyzed
both economic risks and transition effects of switching
to organic farming.
The Agricultural Research Service study compared an
organic corn/soybean rotation and an organic corn/soybean/spring
wheat/alfalfa rotation—half grown with conventional
tillage and half with strip tillage—with a corn/soybean
rotation using conventional tillage.
Computer simulations projected costs, yields and risks
over a 20-year period, using yield and economic data
from the four-year study, as well as crop price records
of recent years.
Records showed that organic crops fetched much more
than conventional crops: soybeans, up to $14 more per
bushel; corn, up to $3 more; and wheat, up to $5 more.
Organic alfalfa hay is too new to have a track record,
so researchers recorded it as selling for the same price
as conventionally grown hay.