The effects of topdressing organic nitrogen on wheat protein

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2010: $11,540.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2010
Region: Northeast
State: Vermont
Project Leader:
Dr. Heather Darby
University of Vermont Extension

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: wheat


  • Crop Production: organic fertilizers
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture
  • Soil Management: nutrient mineralization

    Proposal abstract:

    The demand for local organic food is steadily increasing throughout Vermont and New England. Consumers are asking for bread baked with locally grown wheat; however bakers have been slow to incorporate local wheat flour because of the challenges associated with obtaining grains that consistently meet bread-baking standards. Addressing the quality issue is essential for expanding the bread flour market in the northeast. One of the major quality factors facing Vermont grain producers in protein content. Much of the wheat currently produced in Vermont have protein levels below what most commercial mills would consider suitable for flour production. The amount of protein in wheat depends largely on soil nitrogen availability during plant growth. Higher protein levels generally result in improved baking characteristics. Assuring adequate available nitrogen (N) for grain yield and protein are the primary challenges of organic winter wheat production. Topdressing N to increase protein quantity and quality is recommended for conventionally grown wheat, but the effectiveness of topdressing organic N sources needs evaluation. We will conduct an on farm trial to assess the effectiveness of different topdressing strategies to boost grain protein.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Through this research project we will explore the relationship between topdressing organic nitrogen amendments, application times and how these factors influence the quality and quantity of grain protein. In doing so, it will contribute to the long-term profitability and sustainability of organic agriculture and farms in Vermont and the Northeast.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.