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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Organic Soybean Production: Challenges and Perspectives of An Increasing Trend

Authors
item Karlen, Douglas
item Delate, Kathleen - ISU, AGRONOMY & HORT.
item Turnbull, Robert - STONGEBRIDGE, LTD.
item Boes, James - HEARTLAND COOP.

Submitted to: Soybean Research World Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: March 5, 2004
Publication Date: March 5, 2004
Citation: Karlen, D.L., Delate, K., Turnbull, R., Boes, J. 2004. Organic soybean production: challenges and perspectives of an increasing trend. Soybean Research World Conference Proceedings. p. 319-327.

Technical Abstract: Annual organic soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] production in the U.S. has risen to more than 60,000 ha in less than 10 years. This presentation reviews current organic soybean research being conducted in Iowa and elsewhere throughout the U.S., examines challenges that producers must deal with, and shares our perspectives on the increasing trend. Critical challenges associated with organic soybean production include weed control, crop rotation, bean leaf beetles (Ceratoma trifurcata)--primarily as vectors for the seed-staining bean pod mottle virus (BPMV) and other seed-staining fungi such as Cercospora kikuchii and Fusarium--and the nearby use of genetically modified (GM) soybean cultivars. An economic evaluation based on three years of research at the Neely-Kinyon Long-Term Agroecological Research site near Greenfield, IA, revealed that food-grade organic soybean could return $1160 to $1250 ha-1 compared to $235 for conventional soybean grown in a two-year rotation with corn (Zea mays L.). Weed control is generally site-specific, being closely associated with the weed seed bank populations and crop management strategies used prior to converting to organic crop production. The amount of stained soybean seed at the Neely-Kinyon site ranged from 12 to 22% and 7.5 to 10% in 2001 and 2002, respectively. Yields averaged 2.4 to 2.8 and 3.5 to 3.8 Mg ha-l, respectively. Stained soybean seed is currently rejected for food-grade markets (e.g., tofu), but increasing demand for organic meat and a small premium for organic feed-grade soybean has encouraged producers to continue growing the crop. The primary concern that organic producers have regarding GM crops is the increased risk of their crop failing a GM test when sold because of pollen drift or other contamination sources.

Last Modified: 10/30/2014
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