Organic Farming Production Discussion Board

If you have questions related to organic farming, this is the place. Those who share the same question, or have answers and insight into a question are strongly encouraged to share your input.  There is so much knowledge within the Iowa organic community, let's help each other out!   You can click on any of the production topic buttons below to search for just these topics, or just scroll down to see all the posts.  You can also follow this board by signing up for the RSS feed.  To have the discussion board posts emailed to you, sign up with these simple instructions


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Cereal rye CC before soybeans

I posted this question on the PFI list serve, but maybe it could be better answered on the IOA list serve. How do I get on this list serve? I am a new member. Does anyone have any experience with grazing sheep on fall seeded rye cover crop? I read an interesting piece in the Organic Broadcaster recently which made me wonder if what that particular farmer does with beef cattle in central IL, I can do with sheep, on my organic acres that will go to soybeans next spring (page 9, July/August issue). If I plant rye as a fall cover on corn, I would be tilling the rye under next spring (not brave enough to roll it quite yet), before planting soybeans, I am wondering how to properly graze it this fall and winter. Does grazing set the rye back some? Do sheep eat rye? If their diet only consisted of rye for a while would it hurt them? How many sheep are needed per acre to do a good job of grazing it? Any experience with sheep and grazing rye would be helpful. I was considering a winter kill cover crop mix, but now I am curious about cereal rye in organic acres. In the spring, it can get a little sloppy out there to graze the rye. But I imagine that tilling it under would have to be done sooner than later. Any organic farmer members have any experience with tilling rye in the spring before soybean planting? Wendy Johnson

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Where can I find information on roll crimping cover crops?

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Iowa Producer Feedback on the proposed NOP Livestock and Poultry Standards

The USDA National Organic Program recently announced a new proposed Rule on Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices. The proposed rule would clarify existing USDA organic regulations related to livestock and poultry production requirements, thereby ensuring consistency among organic producers and protecting the integrity of the USDA organic seal. READ THE RULE: Federal Register Rule Post https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2016/04/13/2016-08023/national-organic-program-organic-livestock-and-poultry-practices

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Any leads for organic custom hire?

We currently have 20-28 acres that we have been putting up into hay since owning this property. (20years). Before that this land was in CRP for 2-10 years cycles. I am needing any leads for custom hire work to plant this in non GMO or non-round up ready crop. We are not certified organic, but have never used and fertilizers or "Killers" on this property. Any leads would be appreciated! So.Central Iowa

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Is Organic Food Healthier For You?

The Original Journal Article that prompted this post is here:

This was a "meta-study" - or a study about research on a given topic. This might sound silly to you if you are not a researcher, but give me a moment and let me explain why I found it to be an important study.

The problem: There have been many studies of varying quality that try to show that organic foods are better OR no different from conventionally grown foods. Persons who have an agenda that are served by showing organic foods are better are likely to seize on any study that shows organic products in a positive light. Unfortunately, they might be attracted to studies with the most dramatic results but with the poorest study designs. On the other hand, those who are not inclined to favor organics will either find studies that show no difference (again, potentially ignoring study quality) OR they will attack the weaker studies selected by proponents of organic foods. The net result of this is that there is confusion and disagreement about what we know as a result of current research. This leaves us subject to our own preconceived notions and we learn nothing in the process.

The other problem is the fact that it is impossible to study all aspects of food production and quality at once and in one study. By their very nature, highly focused studies are more likely to produce clearer results, but are also less likely to give us a clear picture of the entire situation. A meta-study attempts to connect results within certain parameters.

For example: Let's say I did a study on whether or not plants need potassium to grow and found that they did. With that study only, should we try to grow plants purely in potassium? What about all of the other things required to have healthy plants? Perhaps it would be a good idea to gather the results of studies (a meta-study) about plant growth in an effort to come up with a complete picture of what it takes to grow a plant? My point is that it is important to gather relevant research and try to summarize what is learned on a subject THUS FAR.

This study identified over 300 studies with pertinent results. After reading the British Journal of Nutrition article, I feel comfortable with the approach to the meta study.

What did the meta study conclude?

I boiled it down to a few things.

1. fruits, vegetables and grains grown using organic practices have less chemical residue

2. fruits, vegetables and grains grown using organic practices have more antioxidants - which are good for you.

3. there isn't a health disadvantage from organic fruits, vegetables and grains.

4. there is so much more to learn and this is a worthwhile area of study.

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A while back, I posted on our farm blog about this topic. If you want more background on how I came upon this article, feel free to go there (http://genfaux.blogspot.com/2014/10/is-organic-better-for-you.html)

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Ardent Mills to Help Farmers Double US Organic Wheat Acres by 2019

Interesting development from Ardent MIlls, based in Denver Colorado. It's not clear in this article from how wide a geographic area they will be buying. DENVER, CO, Dec. 15, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Leading the way to meet growing customer and consumer demand, Ardent Mills, the premier flour-milling and ingredient company, is announcing a new organic initiative committed to helping U.S. wheat growers double organic wheat acres by 2019.http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/ardent-mills-to-help-farmers-double-us-organic-wheat-acres-by-2019-300192784.html

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Which crop next in rotation?

I would like some advice on crop rotation. What organic crops are you planting in your rotation? I had Corn, soybeans and wheat in my rotation. I planted corn two years ago, then beans last year. I had planned to plant wheat last fall, but was not able to get my beans out in time, so I did not get wheat planted last fall. What should I do/plant next? Can I plant corn again, after planting it 2 years ago? Or should I plant a different crop this year? If so, what would you recommend to plant? In southern IA? Thank you, Randy

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Simple bee hotels to attract/improve wild pollinators

The idea of bee hotels has been used by many gardeners and farmers to attract wild bees and improve their nesting success during the season. It is also a wonderful tool for education, especially for kids. There are commercial bee hotels that you can purchase (you can google it and many will show up), or you can simply build yours using bamboo or reed stems and scrap wood pieces you find at hardware stores (like the one in this picture!)

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How do you properly store winter squash?

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