The first of four University of Nebraska-Lincoln organic research farms has received certification from the Organic Crop Improvement Association International.
Certified organic research will now occur on the 75 acres of university-managed grain and legume cropland at the High Plains Agricultural Lab near Sidney, says Liz Sarno, UNL Extension educator and the organic project coordinator.
Crops will include wheat, proso millet, peas, forage and green manure crops.
The project, entitled Improving Organic Farming Systems across Nebraska Agroecoregions, will lay the foundation for long-term organic farming research at UNL.
"The overall purpose of the project is to develop research-based solutions to production problems on organic farms," Sarno says. "This will help farmers in the area and serve this group that typically receives less attention than mainstream agriculture."
The research at this location will focus on the semi-arid ecosystem of the High Plains.
"This improved capacity for research by the University of Nebraska will help Nebraska organic producers meet the 15% annual increase in demand by consumers for organic products," says Ken Disney, an organic farmer from Lodgepole.
The project began in October 2005. A team of UNL researchers received a $750,000 grant from the USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service's Integrated Organic Program to expand organic farming research and education, enhance collaborations with growers and develop science-based information for organic food production.
Areas at three other research farms at UNL's South Central Agricultural Lab near Clay Center, the Haskell Agricultural Lab near Concord and the Agricultural Research and Development Center near Mead are in transition and should be certified in about two years.