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Organic Agriculture

August 18, 2011

Organic buttercrunch lettuce at Foundation Farm, Eureka Springs, AR

Organic production continues to be a small, but growing segment of US agriculture.  We have only begun to explore the multitude of research questions to determine how these complex organic systems function and how to improve them.  The science behind organic agriculture is expanding significantly due to USDA competitive research programs like the Organic Research and Education Initiative  and the regional SARE  grant programs.  The Organic Farming Research Foundation has also funded organic research for many years.  Our research programs have benefited from these funding sources.  Much of the results from organic research across the country has been aggregated at a wonderful resource at eOrganic which is housed at eXtension.  Two of my frequented places are the YouTube videos  and webinars.

Most of the resources available on organic production are not from Arkansas and therefore may not be applicable, but some of it can be adapted to our conditions, especially if it is from the southern region. There are more resources available on organic vegetable production and grain production but few for fruits, especially tree fruits in the south.

A couple of years ago we teamed up with North Carolina State University, Clemson University, and Auburn University in an organic horticulture training project. This website was developed out of materials for in-state and regional trainings so that Extension agents, NRCS and other agriculture professional could use these resources to help teach the principles of organic production.

If you’re interested in learning more about organic horticulture production, the AR-SARE program will be hosting an organic in-service training in Little Rock on November 17, 2011. You can register at http://learn.uaex.edu.

Below is a list of some website and resources that I have found useful over the years.

Organic Horticulture Training for the Southeast

eOrganic

eXtension

NCAT- ATTRA

SARE books

SARE’s searchable database of funded projects

Growing for Market an exceptional publication for direct market producers with information on production and marketing, based out of Lawrence KS. Lots of good free material on their website and great books for sale in their store.

North Carolina State University, Center for Environmental Farming Systems project

Cornell University has developed several organic production guides the last two years for fruits and  vegetables. These include: Apples, blueberries, grapes, strawberries, snap beans, carrots, cole crops, cucumbers and squash, lettuce, peas, potatoes and spinach.  These are available online, free for downloading.

Cornell University, Resource guide for organic insect and disease management , cultural control and chemical control with organic pesticides Brassicas, curcubits, lettuce, solanaceous, sweet corn; nice pictures of insects and diseases on crops – help identify problems, material fact sheets on organic pesticides;

Crop Planning for Organic Vegetable Growers business planning – setting and meeting realistic financial goals,

Arkansas NRCS, Organic Initiative

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