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With funding to increase support for organic farming research at land grant universities, organic growers have collaborated with faculty and administrators to develop an undergraduate, interdisciplinary minor at the University of Florida. Required introductory courses focus on general concepts of organic and sustainable farming, alternative cropping systems, production programs, handling, and marketing issues. An advanced horticulture course requires intensive examination of certification procedures, farm plans, soil fertility, and crop management, all of which are integrated into a required field project. Extension faculty have also fostered development of this new curriculum by coordinating regional workshops and field days in collaboration with organic growers and by developing educational materials on organic certification and related issues.

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.8. Saffron crocus is often grown in arid, infertile soils, but fertile soil is the basis for good saffron production ( Gresta et al., 2008 ), and boosting the soil’s organic matter is one of the most substantial factors for maximizing saffron yield ( Yarami

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80 COLLOQUIUM 2 (Abstr. 636–642) Organic Horticulture

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Based on citizen demand, Iowa State Univ. (ISU) established the first organic specialist faculty position at a U.S. Land Grant Univ. in 1997, as a shared appointment in the departments of horticulture and agronomy, with a 70% Extension and 30% Research split. A series of Organic Agriculture Focus Groups was convened in 1998 to help direct the new organic research and Extension program at ISU. Partnerships with the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture and the College of Agriculture facilitated the ISU sustainable agriculture Extension leader and organic specialist's participation in an extensive focus group dialogue with a diverse group of farmers (organic and conventional), agribusiness professionals, bankers and consumers in six agricultural communities across Iowa. Paramount in the needs assessment was the establishment of organic research sites, both on-farm and at research stations across the state, to demonstrate the economic and environmental benefits associated with organic farming practices over the long term. Specific outcomes-based Extension needs were articulated, which led to the development of an annual schedule of organic workshops, field days and conferences. In 2001, in a survey of 300 farmers, 90% of respondents reported an increase in soil quality and 67% reported a 6 to 30% increase in farm income as a result of organic farming practices. The success of Land Grant Univ. organic programs will be dependent upon administrative support, sufficient resources, and community involvement in the decision-making process.

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Traditionally, the tropical plantation crops such as tea and coffee are intensively cultivated. The increasing concern about the environment, ecology, and the realization that the continued use of chemical inputs is causing the starvation of soils are forcing us to look into alternatives such as sustainable farming. Being perennial crops, there are no examples to follow in the case of plantation crops. By trial and error, we have switched over to organic cultivation of 340 ha of tea and 34.5 ha of coffee. The produce from these, i.e., black teas and arabica and robusta coffees, are being cultivated, processed, and packed conforming to most-stringent organic standards and world-renowned certification authorities, such as IMO, IFOAM, MOA, et. al. have vouchsafed their authenticity. The strategies adopted, methodologies of farming, economics, and the benefits accruing from such farming will be discussed.

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Organic agriculture has expanded to a $13 billion industry in the United States in 2005, continuing the nearly decade-long trend of 20% annual growth. Despite the growth in organic agriculture, our scientific knowledge of organic agriculture farming systems remains limited. Interest in sustainable and organic education at the university level has increased in recent years. To help address this need, the Iowa State University Graduate Program in Sustainable Agriculture (GPSA) was established in 2001 to meet three principal objectives: 1) provide students with the analytical and problem-solving skills required to meet the challenges confronting agriculture in the 21st century; 2) develop an innovative interdisciplinary and interdepartmental approach to graduate education; and 3) position Iowa State University at the forefront of institutions conducting research and extending knowledge about sustainable agricultural systems. As of 2004, more than 70 faculty from various departments and 29 students have participated in the program. Students have the opportunity to investigate organic issues within the context of the five new GPSA courses and to conduct organic agriculture farming systems research in thesis and dissertation studies. Producers and agricultural professionals are involved with GPSA students through the curriculum and on-farm research. Research questions involving optimizing crop or livestock production, plant protection, soil quality, and socioeconomic benefits of farming systems constitute typical theses.

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Since World War II, U.S. agriculture has reduced production costs by substituting petrochemicals for labor. Adverse impacts from chemical intensive agriculture include increased pest levels, groundwater and surface water contamination, soil erosion, and concerns about harmful levels of pesticide residues. Sustainable farming programs such as integrated crop management (ICM) and organic farming encourage farmers to use systems that reduce the adverse impacts of chemical agriculture. However, before farmers adopt an alternative system, they must determine that economic benefits from the alternative farming activities exceed the costs incurred. Unfortunately, relatively few studies have compared the cost of organic crop production with conventional production systems. Results of these studies are mixed. In some studies, organic systems are more profitable than conventional systems with organic price premiums, but are not economically viable without price premiums. In one long-term study, the organic system was more profitable than a conventional one if the cost of family labor was ignored, but less profitable if it was included. In some studies, net returns were higher for ICM than for conventional or organic systems, but in others, they were higher. Results also vary on a crop by crop basis.

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A 2-year field study was conducted within the Sustainable Agriculture Farming Systems Project at the Univ. of California, Davis, to evaluate the effects of long-term conventional (CONV), low-input (LOW), and organic (ORG) production practices on processing tomato fruit mineral composition and quality. To establish relationships between soil chemical properties, soil water content, fruit mineral composition, and quality, this study characterized soil chemical properties and monitored soil water content through each tomato season. Soil total C, N, soluble P, exchangeable Ca, K,and Na were higher in the organic system than in the conventional system. Higher soil electrical conductivity was found in the CONV system compared to the other systems. Low input plots had soil characteristics intermediate to the other farming systems. Marketable and unmarketable yields were similar among the farming systems. Fruit N and Na were lower in the organic and low-input systems than in the conventional system. Fruit P and Ca contents were higher in the organic system than in the conventional system as a result of 11 years of manure applications. Soluble solids content, titrable acidity, color, and soluble solids yield were lower in 1998 in the organic system than in the conventional system, while no differences were found in 1999. Soil water content during the ripening stage was the major factor affecting the soluble solids content of the organic system. In the low input and conventional systems soluble solids content was most related to soil exchangeable Ca and EC, respectively.

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The Sustainable Agriculture Farming Systems (SAFS) Project was established in 1988 to study the transition from conventional to low-input and organic farm management in California's Sacramento Valley. We evaluated the effects of these alternative farming systems on soil compaction, water-holding capacity, infiltration, and water storage in relation to tomato yield and fruit quality within the SAFS cropping systems comparison 10 years after it had been established. Soil bulk density (0-15, 15-30, 30-45, and 45-60 cm) was not significantly different among the farming systems. In situ water-holding capacity at 24, 48 and 72 h after water application was significantly higher in the organic system at all times and depths except 45-60 cm. Cumulative water infiltration after 3 h in the organic and low-input cover crop-based plots was more than twice that of the conventional system. The more rapid infiltration in the low-input and organic systems resulted in increased total irrigation needs, more water stored in the soil profile throughout the 30 days before harvest, and lower fruit soluble solids and titratable acidity in these systems relative to the conventional system. Yields were not significantly different in the organic, low-input, and conventional systems during either 1997 or 1998.

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Green manure (GrM) crops are important for improving or maintaining soil fertility in organic farming. Nitrogen fixing species are essential for organic farming systems intended to be self-sufficient with respect to N. A typical practice in organic

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