Michigan Organic News list

Happenings and Events:

1.      Year 2006 is breakthrough for organic no-till corn yield

2.      MSU launches Spring Semester 2007 UN Decade of Education for
Sustainable Development speaker series 

3.      Would you like to be included in a list of Organic Farmer
mentors in Michigan???

4.      Needed: Organic Food for Conference in Ann Arbor, MI

5.      Dr. Oran B. Hesterman to Lead New 'Fair Food Foundation'

6.      Corn pest expansion consequence of transgenic crops?

7.      New Year, New "Organic"

8.      Is the FDA's Cloning Proposal Ready for Prime Time?

9.      Look what Massachusetts is doing for their local markets!!

10.  Goodness Greeness - New Partnership Benefits Beginning Farmers

11.  Alternative Energy - Solar Energy

12.  Hey Michigan Farm Business Owners-Ever Consider Wind Power on Your

13.  Sustainable Farm Groups Outline Farm Bill Agenda

14.   Air-freighted food may lose organic label


16.   Grand Rapids Food Film Series Feb 28, 2007

17.  Choices Conference, March 7 at Kellogg Conference Center

18.  2007 Michigan Organic Conference Saturday, March 3, Kellogg
Conference Center, Michigan State University


Note:  MSU has their own version of this crimper for no-till systems
called "Black Magic."  Dr. Dale Mutch had it built and conducts research
with it at Kellogg Biological Station at Gull Lake (SW MI). Are any of
you interested in going there for a demonstration and see how it has
performed in the field. The purpose of this system is to allow a no till
in an organic system; using a crimping system to break vegetation rather
than herbicides. Please let me know so I can begin to make arrangements
for such a visit.

1. Year 2006 is breakthrough for organic no-till corn yield; tops
standard organic for first time at Rodale Institute
Roller system creates moisture-saving mulch from cover crop to suppress
weeds and build soil as it slashes fuel and labor inputs.

New Farm, Jan 07, Rodale 

By Paul Hepperly, PhD; Rita Seidel, project leader; Jeff Moyer, farm

Posted January 12, 2007: Harvest records show last season's
cost-slashing, soil-building, no-till organic corn yields topped
comparable tilled organic and tilled non-organic fields here at The
Rodale Institute.

Using an improved design of its no-till roller-and only a legume
cover-crop for fertility and weed management-the institute's no-till
organic corn plots produced 160 bushels per acre (bu/a), compared to 143
bu/a for tilled organic plots.

This means the one-pass, roll/plant no-till system-with no additional
field passes until harvest-significantly out-yielded normally tilled and
cultivated organic plots that experienced eight or nine field passes
(plowing, disking, cultipacking, planting, two rotary hoe passes and two
to three cultivator passes). Yield on comparable chisel-tilled
non-organic (conventional) plots was 113 bu/a. 

Figure 1: Corn yield comparisons, organic 
plow till, organic no-till and conventional 
chisel till, at The Rodale Institute 2006.

For full details of the system's development here-and how it's spurring
innovation with collaborators across the country- check out our No-till
Plus section <> .

For the past 15 years, TRI farm manager Jeff Moyer has been working with
Dave Wilson (resident agronomist) researchers and operations staff to
actively problem-solve and develop no-till and reduced-tillage
applications that work in our organic production systems. We continue to
improve these systems year by year. The 2006 results verified the
benefits of improvements made in the no-till system in seed placement
and weed management, giving us no-till yield superior to our normal
organic system for the first time. Plot size was about 20 acres each.

The organic no-till figures show the competitive nature of established
organic grain crops-after the required organic transition period and
using well-selected crop rotations-compared with non-organic production

One of the myths about organic agriculture is the common claim that
organic yields cannot equal those of conventional agriculture. For the
past 26 years we have been growing corn and soybeans in replicated,
randomized large plots under organic and conventional farming systems.
Over the long haul, among well-managed organic and conventional systems
in our trial, we have seen that crop yields between these systems are
not statistically different.

This key result was reviewed by panels of scientific peers and published
in the highly regarded international scientific journal Bioscience
(Pimentel et al. 2005).

This year's superior results with the "holy grail" of organic
cropping-organic no-till-show further potential to improve yield using
the innovative low-input crop system where applicable.

Support needed to improve sustainable systems

The long-term documentation from our farm's unique living laboratory
provides results giving us the scientific platform for testing the
limits of organic production strategies. 

It's true that, in the short-term, organic transition can represent a
real management challenge to create healthy, living soil using a
suitable cropping system. The transition also requires new marketing
efforts to capitalize on new crops and crop attributes. 

Despite these challenges, our studies show that, over the long run,
well-executed and entrepreneurial organic agriculture can be completely
competitive with conventional methods for yield and represents real
opportunities for conventional, sustainable and organic farmers alike.

Conventional agro-industrial food production has received virtually all
food and agricultural research support over many decades. With a jump up
to an allocated $3 million per year for the current Farm Bill, organic
is still less 1 percent of the pie. We believe that with additional
research and attention, organic agriculture will surpass the
productivity of high-input agriculture. 

Research, demonstration and field production at The Rodale Institute are
yielding important activities to improve our agriculture and food
systems. Imagine the potential of a more broadly supported initiative.  

2. MSU launches Spring Semester 2007 UN Decade of Education for 

 Sustainable Development speaker series 

at 7:30pm in Erickson Kiva (103), East Lansing, MI (MSU campus)


Speakers in the series:


 March 14, 7:30 pm, 105 S. Kedzie, Dr. Debra Rowe,  President, U.S. 

 Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development,  "Creating a 

 Sustainable Future - What Every Educator and Student Needs to Know"

 April 4, 4:00 pm, 228 Erickson, Dr. Julie Fox Gorte, Vice President and

 Chief Social Investment Strategist, Calvert Group, "Financing Our 

 Future - Higher Ed's Responsibility for Teaching and Practicing 

 Responsible Investing"

 April 11, 7:30 pm, 105 S. Kedzie, Laury Hammel, author of "Growing 

 Local Value: How to Build Business Partnerships That Strengthen Your 

 Community", owner and president, The Longfellow Clubs, "Healthy 

 Individuals and Healthy Communities - How Can Higher Education Help"?


Sponsors for the series include MSU's Office of Campus Sustainability, 

 CS Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems, MSU Auxiliary Services 

 (HFS), Residential Initiative for the Study of Environment (RISE), 

 Sustainable Michigan Endowed Project (SMEP), Department of Educational 

 Administration, Program in Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education, and 

 the Dr. Mildred B. Erickson Chair in Higher, Adult, and Lifelong 

 Education, and the Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability, 

 and Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies (CARRS).


 For more information contact:


 Terry Link, Director

 Office of Campus Sustainability

 Michigan State University

 106 Olds Hall

 East Lansing, MI 48824

 1-517-355-1751 (Phone/fax)

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