- Agronomic: potatoes
- Fruits: melons
- Animal Products: dairy
- Education and Training: workshop
- Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns
- Production Systems: organic agriculture
- Soil Management: soil analysis, soil quality/health
Organic growers in general and organic vegetable growers in particular rank soil fertility as a top research priority. There have been no comprehensive and detailed studies that document and compare fertility strategies across organic vegetable farms in the north central region. This project will document the soil fertility practices employed by organic vegetable growers in Wisconsin and Illinois, gather specific grower information needs and research questions, generate a set of cases studies highlighting contrasting fertility management strategies, and provide a framework for instituting organic research plots on University of Wisconsin and University of Illinois research farms. Growers will be major participants in developing, implementing and evaluating the project. Methods will include a survey and development of case studies. Publications, field days, and workshops will be used to communicate results and solicit feedback. Outcomes will include increasing the knowledge base of growers and University specialists, changes in grower practices based on an increased understanding of soil fertility management options and their cost and impacts, and increasing organic research acreage on University research farms. The evaluation plan will entail tracking publication requests and feedback, grower involvement, field day/workshop participation, and documenting the development of organic plots and trials at University research stations. A follow-up questionnaire one year after the project will measure changes in fertility management practices.
Project objectives from proposal:
This project will document the soil fertility practices employed by organic vegetable growers in Wisconsin and Illinois, gather grower information needs and research questions, generate a set of cases studies highlighting contrasting fertility management strategies, and provide the framework for instituting transitional organic research plots and fertility trials on University of Wisconsin and University of Illinois research farms.
Short-term outcomes include:
· Increase the knowledge base of growers and University specialists on the range of soil fertility strategies employed by organic vegetable growers and
· Increase awareness among organic growers of soil fertility options available to them and the cost and benefits of different practices and strategies.
Intermediate-term outcomes include:
· Changes in grower practices based on an increased understanding of soil fertility management options and their impacts and
· Increasing organic acreage on University research farms
Long-term outcomes include:
· Enhancing the sustainability of organic farming and
· Engendering future organic research and programming at Land Grant Universities.
Performance targets include:
1. Achieving a satisfactory response rate on the mailed survey.
2. Successfully recruiting 6 farms for a 3-year case study and gathering detailed data on the soil fertility practices.
3. Successfully sponsoring 4 field days at the case study farms and attracting a minimum of 30 attendees for each event.
4. Generating meaningful dialogue and information exchange between university faculty and growers via the field days and the organic farming advisory committee established as part of this grant.