An important aspect of organic farming is to minimize the detrimental impact of human intervention to the surrounding environment by adopting a natural protocol in system management. Traditionally, organic farming has focused on the elimination of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides and a reliance on biological cycles that contribute to improving soil health in terms of fertility and pest management. Organic production systems are ecologically and economically sustainable when practices designed to build soil organic matter, fertility, and structure also mitigate soil erosion and nutrient runoff. We found no research conducted under traditional organic farming conditions, comparing bareground monoculture systems to systems incorporating the use of living mulches. We will be focusing on living mulch studies conducted under conventional methodology that can be extrapolated to beneficial uses in an organic system. This article discusses how organic farmers can use living mulches to reduce erosion, runoff, and leaching and also demonstrate the potential of living mulch systems as comprehensive integrated pest management plans that allow for an overall reduction in pesticide applications. The pesticide reducing potential of the living mulch system is examined to gain insight on application within organic agriculture.
In the past decade, organic production has become a growing segment of the healthy food market. Organic farming is expanding gradually in many countries, and consumption of organic products is gaining a huge importance in the developed countries, such as the U.S., countries in the European Union (EU), Canada, and Japan. The increase of domestic market demand in developed countries and export potential for developing countries has stimulated organic agricultural production. In this report, we briefly examine the development of the world organic market and examine regulations with regard to production and certification. We also provide a detailed review of the current structure of organic food production and marketing in Turkey, a developing country with advantages to increase organic production. The overall picture of organic products in Turkey seems very positive. The size of the domestic market for organic products is estimated to be $3 to $5 million, with annual growth projected to be about 50% for the next 5 years. Eighty percent of current production in Turkey is export-oriented. The EU has been the main export destination. The positive market outlook will no doubt create a renewed interest in organic products among Turkish farmers and policy makers.
How do you teach community supported agriculture (CSA) principles, small-scale organic farming, and local food issues at a major land grant university and develop related small-scale farming research and outreach? You create a place and opportunities for students, staff, and faculty to work together with the soil and plants to raise food in a non-classroom farm setting. After several years of discussion and obtaining funding, the Michigan State University (MSU) Student Organic Farm (SOF) CSA started in May 2003 with 25 memberships and increased to 50 after 1 year. The farm allows experiential learning of CSA management, crop selection, scheduling, maintenance, harvest, and organic farming methods. The CSA helps many MSU students and faculty see the value of supporting local organic food systems. With more than 3 years of experience working with students to run the SOF and the CSA, we are in the process of developing an organic farming certificate program. A total of 40 credits will include 12 months on campus plus a 16-week on-farm internship. The program has three major components: 1) organic farming courses with seven one-credit courses; 2) horticultural crop production courses with eight courses for a total of 15 credits; and 3) approximately 20 credits of experiential course work combined with classroom and independent learning.
Conventional agricultural systems increase per-area food production, but deplete natural resources and degrade both crop and environmental quality. Many of these concerns are addressed by sustainable agricultural systems, integrated pest management, biocontrol, and other alternative systems. Environmental and social concerns have escalated the need for alternative agricultural systems in the last decade. One alternative, the organic farming system, substitutes cultural and biological inputs for synthetically made fertilizers and chemicals for crop nutrition and pest management. Practices used for crop and pest management are similar during transition from conventional to organic farming systems, but produce is not certified to be organic during the transition period. During the transition from conventional to organic farming, growers may face pest control difficulties and lower yields when conventional practices are abandoned. The objectives of this paper are to 1) give an overview of the reasons for converting to organic farming and the challenges that growers face during the transition period, 2) outline some potential strategies for crop, soil, and pest management, and 3) list guidelines and recommendations for pest management during the transition to organic farming. Implementation of crop and pest management practices depends on geographical location, climate, available onsite resources, and history of the land. During transition, growers rely on cultural mechanisms and on organic and mineral sources to improve soil fertility, to build a population of natural enemies to suppress pest populations. Pest management practices during the transition period that reduce pest populations to economically manageable levels include crop rotation, cultivation, cover crops, mulches, crop diversification, resistant varieties, and insect traps. These practices also enrich the soil biota and increase crop yields before produce is certified organically grown.
More than 50 agents participated in a series of workshops that were offered as in-service training and as a graduate level North Carolina State University (NCSU) course worth four credits. The Organic Unit at the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS), a 100-acre (40-ha) facility dedicated to research and education in organic farming systems, served as a home base for training activities. These training activities consisted of lectures, hands-on demonstrations, group discussions, field trips, and class exercises. Two unique features of the workshops were the interdisciplinary, team teaching approach and the emphasis on integration of information about interactions among production practices. This well-received, successful training program will serve as a model for future extension training. A training manual, slide sets, extension publications, and an organic farming web site are being created to provide agents with the resource materials they need to conduct county-based educational programming in organic production systems and enterprises. The model for extension training presented in this report is an effective means for engaging county agents in continuing education and professional development. Interdisciplinary teaching teams allow for a full, integrated treatment of subject matter and present a whole systems perspective to agents. Regularly scheduled, intensive sessions that accommodate busy calendars and utilize time efficiently provide a strong incentive for regular attendance. Awarding graduate level university credit hours for completion of required course work attracts and retains prospective student and agents. Encouragement of active participation by agents through hands-on field activities, open discussion of issues that impact agricultural and rural life, and field trips to view concepts presented in a real world context ensure that educational goals are fulfilled and that active learning takes place. This model should be used in future extension training programs.
changes significantly as a function of these exogenous factors and farming system choices, in some cases exacerbating impacts on nutrient density and in other cases ameliorating them. For example, Yanez et al. (2008) showed that organic production can
A question/answer discussion session was conducted at the conclusion of the workshop “Pest Management During Transition to Organic Farming Systems”. The following categories were used to summarize the discussion: 1) questions and answers related to cultural and biological practices and their effects under various climatic conditions, 2) recommendations for pest management, and 3) future research needs. While many tactics are available, selecting and adopting the most suitable approach depends on soil conditions of the land, location, and the availability of the resources at affordable prices. Definitely, more research studies are needed on 1) weed seed banks under various cultural practices at different regions, 2) relationships between soil nutrients, and pest control, and 3) approaches to increase profitability of organic production during the transition period.