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Organic Cropping Systems Project
Organic agriculture for the future: Designing farms for better soil and pest management.
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Economic Performance of Organic Vegetable Cropping Systems
[12-page, 147K .pdf]

2011 Results
[5-page, 21K .pdf]

2010 Results
[5-page, 21K .pdf]

2009 Results
[4-page, 21K .pdf]

2008 Results
[5-page, 25K .pdf]

2007 Results
[5-page, 23K .pdf]

Organic ridge till vegetables
[4-page, 482K.pdf]

2006 Results
[5-page, 42K .pdf]

2005 Results
[31-page, 186K .pdf]

Vegetable experiment

Cabbage interseeded with bell beans.
Cabbage interseeded with bell beans.
Larger image.
Cornell Organic Farm, Freeville, N.Y.

The vegetable experiment was inspired by Eric and Anne Nordell's farm in northern Pennsylvania. Their system is based on extensive use of cover crops, fallow periods in alternate years and a mixed tillage system with low overall soil disturbance relative to most organic farms.

The vegetable experiment uses a four year rotation: sweet corn > cabbage > lettuce > potato. To control for year-to-year variation in weather, the experiment has two entry points into the rotation. The first entry point began in 2004; the second entry point, in 2005. Each treatment is replicated four times. The land used in this experiment has already gone through a 3-year organic transition period and is relatively high in soil quality, nutrient status, and organic matter.

The experiment has four treatments:
  1. a system that relies on compost for nitrogen, has occasional cover crops and uses conventional tillage (typical practices);

  2. a mixed tillage system that relies on cover crops for N (easily-adopted innovative system);

  3. a mixed tillage system with alternate years in cover crops and fallow, periods to reduce weed populations, build soil quality and provide N (model system);

  4. a ridge-tillage system with cash crops each year that relies on cover crops for N ("next step" system).
System 1 is typical of land-limited growers who rely heavily on compost for soil fertility and soil improvement. System 3 attempts to capture the essential elements of the Nordell's system. System 2 has many of the elements of the Nordell's system (frequent cover crops, low compost, mixed tillage) but may be appropriate for growers who lack sufficient land for alternate years of fallow and cover crops. System 4 explores increased reduction in tillage in a high-cover crop, low-compost system. In addition to reducing primary tillage, the ridge-till system allows controlled wheel traffic and may increase soil warming and early crop 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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