Soil Health and Climate Change Research
Climate change is collectively our most pressing issue and there’s never been a better time to weigh-in on why organic is part of the solution. The Organic Center, in partnership with others, is looking to advance a powerful portfolio of soil health and climate change research that delivers undisputable proof points on the positive impacts of organic. Through collaborations with leading research institutions like University of Maryland and UC Berkley, we have a hit list of projects that will fill vital gaps in our knowledge and meet essential needs for on-farm solutions.
The Organic Center released a Pollinator Health report that documents the benefits of organic on pollinator populations. The publication reviews specific cases of pesticide impacts on pollinator health, and discusses the lesser-known benefits of organic farms, such as more diverse habitat for pollinators and an increase in food sources.
Soil Health on Organic Farms
An understanding of methods that build soil health are key to the success of organic farms. A large body of science concludes that organic farming is key to improving soil health yet few studies have synthesized the research to determine the best soil health building practices within organic agriculture. Thus, it can be difficult for organic farmers to draw solid conclusions on specific best-management practices for achieving optimal soil health. The Organic Center is addressing this gap by collaborating with the University of Maryland review the science that evaluates organic methods for building soil health for scientific publication.
Connecting Soil-Friendly Farming Practices with Yield
Different soil building practices do not necessarily have an equitable effect on yields. While most farmers are committed stewards of the land, many operations maintain thin margins of return. Thus, when considering the adoption of new practices, it is important for farmers to be able to evaluate which practices are most likely to promote environmental sustainability while simultaneously maintaining (or increasing) their bottom line. This project quantifies the interaction between different management practices on soil health and yield.
Quantifying Carbon Sequestration on Organic Farms
This project quantifies the effect of different soil building practices on soil carbon to better understand the specific practices employed by organic farmers that have the biggest impact on carbon sequestration. Results from this study will enable farmers to leverage organic techniques to make the biggest impact on mitigating climate change.
Creating Sustainable Strategies for IPM in Southern Organic Rice
This is a collaborative project among researchers at Texas A&M University’s AgriLife Research & Extension Center, Texas A&M Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, USDA’s ARS Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center, University of Arkansas Rice Research and Extension Center, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Department of Agriculture, and The Organic Center. It employs a multi- stakeholder research team to develop a multi-disciplinary approach to developing Integrated Pest Management strategies for organic rice production in the Southern United States.
Balancing soil health and food safety for organic fresh produce production
The Organic Center is collaborating with researchers at USDA, the University of California, Davis, Woods End Laboratories, University of Maine, the University of Minnesota, and Cornell University to further study the use of animal-based manure and compost in organic agricultural practices to prevent the risk of soil pathogens. Funded by a large-scale federal grant, this multi-regional project looks at the interaction of pathogens with soil health on organic farms and is designed to ensure that FDA regulations on food safety incorporate information from organic systems.
Organic Control of Citrus Greening Disease
The Center is collaborating with university professors, USDA scientists, farmers, industry members, and other non-profits on research examining organic alternatives for controlling citrus greening disease. Citrus greening is a disease spread by the Asian Citrus psyllid, and has been negatively affecting both organic and conventional farms. The Center has completed research looking at the efficacy of organic controls for psyllids and antimicrobials, published a report that pulls together existing literature identifying protocols for organic farmers to prevent and reduce the spread of citrus greening, and was recently funded by a USDA OREI Planning Grant to detail organic citrus grower needs and develop a comprehensive research framework for addressing those needs.