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 Farm?!!

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 manager

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.
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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 systems.

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. [log in to unmask]">

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)

 [log in to unmask]



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