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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Organic Agriculture

Organic Agriculture

Ceres Trust- Maximizing ecosystem services of the soil food web in organic farming systems

The Ceres project is a two year project for the years 2013 and 2014.  In this project we are looking at several different criteria including earthworm diversity, soil biological activity, soil organic matter, green house gas, and ammonium volatilization. 


The plots are planted with and cover crop cocktail that is made up of 10 different types of cover crop seeds, such as winter peas, cow peas (black eyed peas), cereal rye, radish, crimson clover, and rapeseed.  This cover crop helps to improve soil health and also reduce weeds.  In the spring the plots are planted with 2 organic agronomic crops Sweet Sorghum (sweet corn) and Butternut Squash.  The corn and squash are harvested between August and Late September, and are then graded.



USDA Organic Transition Grant- Assessing, modeling, and maximizing ecosystem services in long-term organic and transitioning farming systems

This grant is in currently in progress it was started in the fall of 2012 and will be completed in 2015.  For this particular project we are test for a variety of properties.  One of the properties that we are evaluating and testing is soil quality physical properties.  Soil quality physical properties include particulate organic matter (POM), and soil organic matter (SOM).  We are also measuring greenhouse gas emissions and ammonia volatilization.


The plots in this grant are split plots and have 3 crop rotations:

  1. Soybean→ Spelts/Cover Crop Cocktail→ Corn/Rye
  2. Corn/Rye→ Soybean→ Spelts/Cover Crop Cocktail
  3. Spelts/Cover Crop Cocktail→ Corn/Rye→ Soybean

We also are studying the effects of conventional tillage versus no-till in these plots.