Welcome to Scribd, the world's digital library. Read, publish, and share books and documents. See more
Download
Standard view
Full view
of .
Save to My Library
Look up keyword
Like this
1Activity
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
Transitioning to Organic Production - Ohio Ecological Farmer

Transitioning to Organic Production - Ohio Ecological Farmer

Ratings: (0)|Views: 36|Likes:
Published by FloramariaSmith
Transitioning to Organic Production - Ohio Ecological Farmer
Transitioning to Organic Production - Ohio Ecological Farmer

More info:

Published by: FloramariaSmith on Aug 21, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

Availability:

Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less

08/06/2013

pdf

text

 
Introduction to Organic Farming
PART 1
01/07
THE NATIONAL OUTREACH ARM OF USDA-SARE
WHEN JOHN VOLLMER,A THIRD-GENERATION TOBACCO FARMER
in Bunn,N.C.,decided to stop growing tobacco andstart raising strawberries organically,it was an unex-pected move for someone who describes himself as a“chemical-oriented farmer.”Yet,Vollmer,whose mainpriority was finding a way to keep the family farm inthe family,recognized that organic production mightbe a route to greater profits.“It was not an easy transition for me to think inother ways,said Vollmer,a former agriculturalchemical salesman.Yet,as he read books on organicsoil management,he soon found himself fascinatedby organic farming concepts.Over the next two years,he built soil organic matter with compostsand cover crops and carefully researched organictechniques.Then he began his transition.Since then,his two acres of organic strawberrieshave been so successful that Vollmer brought another 25 acres into mixed fruit and vegetable productionusing the same soil and pest management techniques.While he has not certified that new acreage becausehe still wants to apply agri-chemical sprays if needed,he now considers himself more organic than conven-tional in the new field.In fact,asked whether he hasany doubts about organic farming,Vollmer replied thathe has only one:whether he should be transitioningthose 25 acres now – or later.Vollmer typifies the enormous changes that haveoccurred in organic farming over the last 20 years.Two decades ago,it would have been impossible topredict the huge expansion of the organic industry.Since 1990,according to industry sources,growthin the organic retail sector has equaled or exceeded20 percent per year,compared with 1 percent in theoverall food industry.In 2005,according to the
 Nutrition Business Journal 
,organic sales reached $13.8 billion,
CONTENTS
I
NTRODUCTION TO
O
RGANIC
F
ARMING
1
ROFILE 
:
F
ROM
T
OBACCOTO
F
RESH
F
RUIT
, N.C. G
ROWER 
ETOOLS TO
EAP
O
RGANIC
P
ROFITS
5O
RGANIC
F
ARMING
S
YSTEMS
O
VERVIEW
6
ROFILE 
:
U
TAH
O
RGANIC
G
RAIN
P
RODUCER 
B
UILDS ON
L
AST
G
ENERATION
S
S
UCCESSES
9T
HE
E
CONOMICS OF
O
RGANIC
P
RODUCTION
14
ROFILE 
:
N
EW
I
OWA
O
RGANIC
C
ROP
/L
IVESTOCK
F
ARMERS
W
IN
O
VER 
S
KEPTICS
17M
AKING THE
T
RANSITIONTO
O
RGANIC
P
RODUCTION
21
ROFILE 
:
C
ONNECTICUT
C
O
-
OP
E
XPANDS
O
RGANIC
S
ALES
S
TATEWIDE
25
ESOURCES
30
Published by the SustainableAgriculture Network (SAN),the national outreach armof the Sustainable AgricultureResearch and Education(SARE) program,with fundingby USDA's Cooperative StateResearch,Education andExtension Service.Also available at:www.sare.org/bulletin/organic
Opportunities in Agriculture
Growing an array of crops remains one of the hallmarks of successful organic farming. Diverse rotations improvesoil fertility, break up pest cycles and provide many marketing options.
– Photo by Jerry DeWitt 
Transitioning to Organic Production
 
2
accounting for approximately 2.5 percent of total U.S.food sales.Following the establishment of federal USDAstandards for organic production in 2002,industry expertsexpect annual growth of 20 percent well into the nextdecade.“The food industry clearly continues to be excitedabout the organic sector,said Catherine Greene,anAgricultural Economist with the USDA EconomicResearch Service,who has been tracking growthpatterns of the organic industry since the late 1980s.Fueling this rapid increase in organic sales are largenumbers of consumers who want organic food;accord-ing to a market survey by SPINS,68 percent of consumershave tried organic products.Consumers also wantorganic foods across a range of categories,includingpre-packaged meals,salad dressings and even pet food.In response to this explosive increase in demand,acreage in certified organic cropland and pasture morethan quadrupled between 1993 and 2005,according toUSDA estimates.While organic acreage is still only 0.5 percent of the total U.S.agricultural acreage,someproduction sectors are much higher.For example,3,6and 4 percent of all apples,carrots and lettuce,respec-tively,are grown organically.
W
HATIS
O
RGANIC
F
ARMING
?
THE USDA DEFINES ORGANIC AGRICULTURE AS A PRODUCTION
system that is managed to respond to site-specificconditions by integrating cultural,biological,andmechanical practices that foster cycling of resources,promote ecological balance,and conserve biodiversity.More specifically,organic farming entails:
Use of cover crops,green manures,animalmanures and crop rotations to fertilize the soil,maximize biological activity and maintain long-term soil health.
Use of biological control,crop rotations and other techniques to manage weeds,insects and diseases.
An emphasis on biodiversity of the agriculturalsystem and the surrounding environment.
Using rotational grazing and mixed forage pasturesfor livestock operations and alternative health carefor animal wellbeing.
Reduction of external and off-farm inputs andelimination of synthetic pesticides and fertilizersand other materials,such as hormones andantibiotics.
A focus on renewable resources,soil and water conservation,and management practices thatrestore,maintain and enhance ecological balance.Many organic farmers,including Wende Elliottand Joe Rude of Colo,Iowa,view organic productionas a means to work with the environment andmaintain the balance of their ecosystem.“Naturalsystems work hard if you incorporate biodiversity into your operation instead of fighting it,said Rude,who co-farms 125 acres of pastured poultry,corn,hay and alfalfa.Using nature as a model for the agriculturalsystem – recycling nutrients,encouraging naturalpredators to manage pests,increasing plant densitiesto block weeds – organic farmers don’t merely substi-tute non-toxic materials for pesticides and fertilizers,but rather consider the farm as an integrated entity,with all parts interconnected.When livestock and poultry are incorporated intoorganic systems,the potential for diversification andintegration is even greater:Livestock feed on grassesand mixed forages,both of which help improve soilstructure.At the same time,livestock provide manureto fertilize soil,and can be used to “cull”any non-harvestable crops.
TABLE 1: U.S. CERTIFIED ORGANIC PRODUCTION
 Year199220002005U.S. certified farmland (acres)
Pasture
/
rangeland532,050557,1672,281,408Cropland403,4001,218,9051,722,565
Total935,4501,776,0734,003,973Certified organic livestock (number)
Beef cows6,79613,82970,219Milk cows2,26538,19686,032Other cows
1
n
/
an
/
a58,172Hogs & pigs1,3651,72410,018Sheep & lambs1,2212,2795,347
Total livestock11,64756,028229,788Certified organic poultry
Layer hens43,9811,113,7462,031,056Broilers17,3821,924,80711,225,879Turkeysn
/
a9,138144,086Other
/
unclassifiedn
/
a111,359792,249
Total poultry
2
61,3633,159,05014,193,270Total certified organic operations
*
3,5876,5928,445
1. Includes unclassified cows and some young stock.2. Total poultry includes other and unclassified animals.* Number does not include subcontracted organic farm operations.Numbers may not add due to rounding.
Source:
Economic Research Service, USDA
.
 
3
The old image of an organicfarmer as a small “back-to-the-land” type is long gone.Some organic operations havebeen so successful that theyhave been gobbled up by largemultinationals such as Kraftand General Mills, which haverecognized the powerful marketpotential for organic goods.Other organic farmers haveorganized into successfulcooperatives. The largest organiccooperative in the country,Organic Valley, has more than500 organic farmer-membersacross 13 states and successfullymarkets organic dairy products,beef, pork and poultry.For many farmers, a drivingforce to convert to organicproduction is economic:Organic crops can fetch a pricepremium of anywhere from 25percent to 200 percent or moreover conventionally grownproducts, according to USDA’sEconomic Research Service.However, most organic farm-ers produce crops and livestockorganically because they be-lieve their methods are betterfor the environment. Many seeka safer food supply. “The mainmotivation for us going organicis out of a certain stewardshipethic toward the soil, the earthand ultimately, for mankind,”said Altfrid Krusenbaum, aWisconsin farmer who beganthe transition to organic corn,soybeans, wheat and alfalfa in1990. Krusenbaum was profiledin the University of Wisconsin’s
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Quarterly 
.
In fact, switching to organicfarming requires a major philo-sophical shift. Said Joe Rude, anIowa poultry and crop farmer,“It’s about trying to get theecological system harmoniousand working with it, rather thanoverriding it.” Farmers who turnto organic farming solely tocapture market premiums oftenfail because it does not meansimply substituting one type of inputs for another, such as re-placing a synthetic pest controlwith
Bacillus thuringiensis
orapplying organic fertilizers inplace of synthetic ones.“In organic farming, a mindshift is essential,” agreedBrad Brummond, North DakotaState University extension agentfromWalsh County, who spe-cializes in organic production.“You mustgo from treatingproblems to treating the causesof the problems and recognizethat every decision you makewill affect other aspects of your system.”When deciding if organicfarming might be right for you,consider the list of characteristicsshared by successful organicfarmers:
A commitment to a saferfood supply and protectionof the environment
Patience and goodobservation skills
An understanding of ecological systems
Good marketing skillsand motivation to spendtime seeking out markets
A willingness to sharestories of successesand failures and tolearn from others(information networksare often underdevelopedfor organic farmers).
Flexibility and eagernessto experiment with newtechniques and practices(adapted from a North DakotaExtension publication writtenby Brummond available at:www.ext.nodak.edu
/
extpubs
/
plantsci
/
crops
/
a1181w.htm)
WHAT MAKES A SUCCESSFUL ORGANIC FARMER?
Elliott and Rude,like many organic farmers,want toraise food free of hormones,antibiotics and pesticides.For many years,organic producers and proponentshave claimed that organic farming is gentler on theenvironment.Research now confirms this:
The Sustainable Agriculture Farming Systems(SAFS) project at the University of California-Davis,a 12-year research station experiment comparingconventional and organic systems,showed water infiltration rates to be 50 percent higher in theorganic system.The project,supported by a grantfrom USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research andEducation (SARE) program,also showed that theorganic system had one-third the amount of water movement into surface and groundwater as theconventional system.The organic system was moreefficient at storing nitrogen and had positive effectson soil quality,including higher biological activity and a doubling of organic matter in 10 years.
An organic cropping system consumed three to four times less energy than a conventional system,whilealso producing six times more biomass per unit ofenergy consumed in a South Dakota State University comparative trial at the Northeast Research Stationnear Watertown.
A SARE-funded study evaluating pesticide and nutrientloads in subsurface drainage on organic and conven-tional farms in Illinois found less nitrate,chloride andatrazine in the water draining from the organic fields.More recent research also shows that organicfarming systems can be equally productive andeconomically competitive with conventional systems,and in some cases,more resilient.Consider that:
A study comparing long-term established organicand conventional tomato farms in California’sCentral Valley found comparable yields.
An article published in the
Organic Farming Research Foundation Bulletin
reviewing data from sevenuniversities and two research station experimentsverified that organic corn,soybean and wheat yielded,on average,95 percent of conventional.
Many studies have shown that organic systemsperform better than conventional ones under drought conditions.
H
ISTORYOF
O
RGANIC
F
ARMINGINTHE
U.S.
J.I Rodale,founder of the Rodale Research Instituteand
Organic Farming and Gardening
magazine,iscommonly regarded as the father of the modern organicfarming movement.Beginning in the 1940s,Rodale

You're Reading a Free Preview

Download
/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->