and Goliath battle ends with the little guy striking a blow for
The Minnesota Pipe Line Company has backed off plans to route an
oil pipeline through one of the oldest certified organic farms in
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
Additives 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
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
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 the pathogens.
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 lactation
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 comparisons
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.
Student interest 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
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.