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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Strategies to Improve Soil and Pest Management in Organic Vegetable Production Systems

Location: Crop Improvement and Protection Research

Project Number: 5305-21620-012-00
Project Type: Appropriated

Start Date: Nov 08, 2008
End Date: Nov 07, 2013

Objective:
Objective 1 Develop ecologically-based soil and pest management strategies that enhance soil quality, nutrient cycling, and profitability, and reduce off-farm inputs in high-value, organic vegetable production systems. Sub-objective 1.A. Evaluate the effects of cover cropping frequency and compost application on soil quality, vegetable yield and quality, and system profitability. Sub-objective 1.B. Evaluate the effects of a legume-rye mix versus non-legume cover crops on vegetable yield. Sub-objective 1.C. Evaluate the effects cover crop seeding rates on weed density and weed management costs in subsequent vegetable crops grown in rotation sequences. Objective 2 Evaluate the energy efficiency, costs, and effectiveness of standard and alternative technologies and strategies for managing cover crop residue in high-value organic vegetable production. Sub-objective 2.A. Compare fuel use, labor costs, and agronomic effectiveness of cover crop residue incorporation with standard primary tillage implements (disc-and-chisel) versus with an alternative implement (spader). Sub-objective 2.B. Evaluate the roller-crimper implement for killing cover crops on beds for no-tillage organic vegetable production.

Approach:
Organic production is increasing in the U.S., a response in part to public concerns about agricultural sustainability, food safety, & environmental quality. While farmers may consider moving to an organic system, continuity of economic viability during the transition from conventional to organic farming systems is a serious challenge. There is little scientific, organic-based information for farmers as they choose among the options available for the build-up of soil organic matter, maintenance of soil fertility, crops and cultivars, and disease and insect pest management practices. Improved understanding of the processes that occur during the transition to mature organic production systems is necessary to ensure the economic success of organic farming systems.

Last Modified: 9/23/2014
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