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Organic Cash Grain Yields and Economics - Presentation at NOFA-NY Winter Conference 1-27-13

[10K .pdf]

2010 Results
[6-page, 30K .pdf]

2009 Results
[9-page, 39K .pdf]

2008 Results
[4-page, 23K .pdf]

2007 Results
[45-page, 8.49MB.pdf]

2006 Results
[11-page, 73K .pdf]

2005 Results
[19-page, 236K .pdf]

Grain experiment

Rye and spelt interseeded in corn.
Rye and spelt interseeded in corn.
Larger image.
Cornell Musgrave Farm, Aurora, N.Y.

The cash grain experiment was inspired by the farm of Klaas and Mary Howell Martens near Penn Yan, N.Y. Their system involves minimal use of compost, overseeding red clover into winter grain crops, and careful weed management. Since the experiment is beginning on land that was previously farmed conventionally, it will explore the transition from conventional to organic farming. The experiment uses a three year rotation: soybean followed by spelt in the fall > spelt overseeded with red clover > corn. Each treatment is replicated four times.

The treatments include:
  1. a high compost treatment (easily-adopted innovative system);

  2. a low compost treatment with minimal inputs (ie. reduced cover crops, typical weed control equipment, etc.-typical practices);

  3. a low compost treatment with intensive weed management (model system);

  4. a low compost treatment with ridge tillage ("next step" system);

  5. a conventionally managed treatment on adjacent land (conventional control).
Treatment 1 has relatively high rates of compost applied at strategic points in the rotation. Treatment 2 is like treatment 1 but with lower compost rates and minimal expense for cover crops and equipment. We will cultivate treatments 1 and 2 with tine weeders and a rear mount cultivator. Treatment 3 will be like treatment 2 but will use a belly mounted precision cultivator built according to the Martens' design. If necessary, we will also use flame weeding to control weeds in corn. Crops in treatment 4 will be grown on permanent ridges to control wheel traffic and speed early season growth.

We intensively sample treatment plots for insects, diseases, weeds, soil nutrients, and indicators of soil physical and biological health. Examination of the differences between systems and the changes in the systems through time will indicate relations between soil conditions and pests. We will test specific hypotheses through intensive sampling during particular time periods and laboratory bioassays.

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