A Community Based Approach to Extension In Organic Agriculture

2001 Annual Report for EW99-013

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 1999: $10,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2002
Region: Western
State: Idaho
Principal Investigator:
Mir M. Seyedbagheri
University of Idaho, Elmore County Extension

A Community Based Approach to Extension In Organic Agriculture


This project was initiated to educate growers and agricultural professionals about the crop management needs of organic growers and other growers who are using the principles of sustainable agriculture to develop alternative crop management methods. Demonstration trials were established on grower fields in Lincoln and Elmore Counties. The Lincoln County location was an organic farm with compost applied in strips through the field. The treatments were chicken compost (1 pass) and dairy compost (2 passes). The Elmore County locations included and organic farm and a conventional farm. Nitrogen mineralization through the growing season was determined with the buried bag method at each location. Results were disseminated to growers and agricultural professionals at local and regional levels.

Objectives/Performance Targets

  1. To educate agricultural professionals about the special needs of organic growers

    To demonstrate the use of organic amendments to provide nutrients and biological
    pest control

    To educate growers and agricultural professionals about natural cycles related to
    organic agriculture

    To foster a more sustainable agriculture by integrating some of the cultural methods
    used by organic growers into conventional systems

    To make a dialogue between the community of conventional growers and the community of
    organic growers

    To measure the impact of PDP training on agricultural professionals and growers


Results of mineralization studies showed that substantial amounts of nitrogen are mineralized from midsummer to early fall (Table 1). Soil foodweb analyses demonstrate the natural cycles operating in the agroecosystem (Table 2). These results are being used to develop best management practices for potatoes and other irrigated crops in Southern Idaho. This information will allow organic growers to achieve maximum benefit from crop rotation and organic amendments as the primary source of plant nutrients. In conventional systems, some of the methods of organic agriculture can be integrated with conventional methods to optimize economic returns from fertilizers. Although the trials were done in potatoes, the principles are applicable to other integrated row crops grown in southern Idaho.

Information from this project was presented at several meetings including
the Idaho Crop Production Association (January 2-3, 2001), University of Idaho Potato School (January 17-18, 2001), the Minidoka County Fieldman meeting (May 10, 2001), the National Organic Tree Fruit Symposium (May 31-June 1, 2001), the Idaho Groundwater Technical Conference (October 1-2, 2001), the Idaho Association of Plant Pathology (November 7, 2001), and the Fresno Actagro Conference (November 11-16, 2001). Small group tours of local fieldman and growers were conducted during the growing season where results of mineralization trials were presented and crop management implications were discussed for the various crop management systems used for irrigated row crops in southern Idaho. The time course of nitrogen mineralization was emphasized but compost quality factors were also discussed such as C:N, salt content, nutrient content and residual N. These tours brought together members of the agricultural community involved in both organic and conventional production. This provided for an interaction and exchange of ideas.