Source: WASHINGTON STATE UNIVERSITY submitted to
SUSTAINABLE DRYLAND ORGANIC FARMING SYSTEMS IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST
Sponsoring Institution
National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Project Status
EXTENDED
Funding Source
Reporting Frequency
Annual
Accession No.
0218862
Grant No.
2009-51300-05578
Project No.
WNP06277
Proposal No.
2009-01416
Multistate No.
(N/A)
Program Code
113.A
Project Start Date
Sep 1, 2009
Project End Date
Aug 31, 2014
Grant Year
2009
Project Director
Burke, I. C.
Recipient Organization
WASHINGTON STATE UNIVERSITY
240 FRENCH ADMINISTRATION BLDG
PULLMAN,WA 99164-0001
Performing Department
Crop & Soil Sciences
Non Technical Summary
Dryland organic farming in Idaho, Washington, and Oregon has great potential for growth as well as improved economic and environmental sustainability. The long-term goal of this integrated research and extension project is to foster the development of economically viable and environmentally sustainable dryland organic grain and forage farming systems in the dryland production regions of the Pacific Northwest. To meet this goal, we have two main objectives. Extension Objective: Promote communication among producers, processors, marketers, researchers, and extension educators by building an interactive three-state communications network to enhance the economic viability and environmental sustainability of organic production systems. Extension efforts, guided by input from producers, will include producer-implemented on-farm trials, annual winter meetings, summer field tours, comprehensive producer surveys in the first and fourth years, marketing information, and crop budgets for different crops and climatic zones. Research Objective: Develop economically viable and environmentally sustainable grain and forage cropping and intercropping practices that successfully address three major barriers: weed pressure, lack of fertility, and soil erosion.
Animal Health Component
90%
Research Effort Categories
Basic
10%
Applied
90%
Developmental
(N/A)
Classification

Knowledge Area (KA)Subject of Investigation (SOI)Field of Science (FOS)Percent
1021599107010%
1021640107010%
1041599107010%
1041640107010%
2051599107010%
2051640107010%
2131599107010%
2131640107010%
6011599107010%
6011640107010%
Goals / Objectives
EXTENSION OBJECTIVE: Promote communication among producers, processors, marketers, researchers, and extension educators by building an interactive three-state communications network to enhance the economic viability and environmental sustainability of organic production systems. EXTENSION EXPECTED OUTPUTS: (1) Improved accessibility of information on organic management practices, marketing, economics, and research information through: (A) a tri-state website for dryland organic agriculture, updated with project bulletins, research results, and project presentations, with access to additional organic production and marketing information, and (B) an interactive tri-state electronic network for improved communication among producers, processors, marketers, researchers, and extension educators. (2) Five on-farm trials replicated in field design and across years in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. Results will be published on the tri-state extension website. (3) Trip for PNW producers to regional Organic Association meeting, year 2; Two project winter workshops, years 3 and 4; Four summer farm tours and research field days. (4) Extension bulletins on dryland organic crop rotation options, economics, annual and perennial weed management, intercropping with legumes, and soil fertility. RESEARCH OBJECTIVE: Develop economically viable and environmentally sustainable grain and forage cropping and intercropping practices that successfully address three major barriers: weed pressure, lack of fertility, and soil erosion. RESEARCH EXPECTED OUTPUTS: (1) Development of alternative organic rotations and management practices, including improved management of annual and perennial weeds with minimum-tillage methods. (2) An enhanced understanding of the role of legumes, supplemental manure-based fertility, crop rotation, and intercropping on the weed seed bank, annual and perennial weed severity, soil quality, crop productivity and quality, and profitability of organic production systems. (3) Increased understanding of the roles of mycorrhizae and soil microorganism processes in N and P cycling and the roles of these organisms in soil quality and plant health/productivity. (4) Peer-reviewed journal articles from all three states in journals in the fields of organic agriculture, cropping systems research, weed science, agronomy, soil science, and cereal chemistry. (5) Presentations at meetings of this project, at field tours, and at national meetings by PIs from all three states and by graduate students from WSU and UI.
Project Methods
Our approach to research and extension is based on input from our advisory council and knowledge gained in the prior study. Our scope has broadened, including not only our cropping systems research, but also engaging our growers in on-farm trials, an annual organic farming meeting, field tours, and other outreach activities. Our advisory council, comprised of six organic farmers from WA, OR, and ID and one representative from Small Planet Foods, Inc., an organic food manufacturer, will continue to guide our research and extension efforts. Their major issues are clearly weed control with conservation tillage and fertility. The investigators in this proposal will also be engaged in graduate and undergraduate education. EVALUATION: To evaluate outputs and impacts, mail and web surveys of certified organic producers will be conducted in the first and fourth years to assess the overall impact of the project. In Year 1, we will survey all certified organic wheat, barley, and alfalfa producers, as well as a sample of other certified organic crop, livestock, and integrated crop-animal operations in WA, OR, and ID. In Year 4, we will resurvey the same producers to allow us to measure changes in production practices (e.g., crop rotations, fertility inputs, weed control methods, soil conservation, etc.); agronomic constraints; marketing strategies; economic profitability (e.g., organic price premiums) and risk, and research, outreach, and information needs. This panel survey design will allow us to assess the quality and impact of our project.

Progress 09/01/12 to 08/31/13

Outputs
Target Audience: Farm Services and Natural Resource Conservation Service personnel; growers and land owners; regional and commodity specific extension specialists; weed scientists; and agroecosystem managers. Changes/Problems: Nothing Reported What opportunities for training and professional development has the project provided? One of the primary emphases of this grant was to educate graduate students. To date, three graduate students have finished: Julia Piaskowski, Misha Manuchehri and Dr. Kristy Borrelli. Three additional graduate students are currently working on various aspects of the project: Anne Park, Nicole Tautges, and Kendall Kahl. Additional professional development occurred as Louise Laurent learned to conduct grower interviews and develop case studies associated with the on-farm trials funded by this grant. How have the results been disseminated to communities of interest? Results of research, both on-farm trials and research trials, have been disseminated through regional extension presentations and direct grower interactions. What do you plan to do during the next reporting period to accomplish the goals? The final year of the project will include considerable outreach efforts, and also emphasize material production. The newly developed website will be expanded by adding case studies summarizing on-farm experiment outcomes, and the final rotations completed on the Boyd Farm. At the end of the reporting period, we will have accomplished all the goals proposed.

Impacts
What was accomplished under these goals? Cropping system research continued at the Boyd Farm in WA. Additions of poultry manure improved in-season production of small grain crops, while legume cover crops or perennial forage alfalfa improved soil inorganic N levels for subsequent cereal crops. Reduced tillage methods and cover crops were effective for weed control, but weeds continue to be difficult to manage, particularly perennial weeds. Experiments in OR and WA evaluated the ability of intercropped legumes to control pests and improve soil fertility for cereal. Compatible combinations of wheat and legume cultivars are being examined in OR and preliminary findings suggest that wheat yield can increase by 4 to 12% if the right competition/facilitation balance is achieved. Relationships with local organic producers have continued to address constraints to adopting organic practices through on-farm research. In OR, two major crop rotations continue to be examined. Spring wheat (‘Dark Northern’ and ‘Louise’) produced significantly higher yields than winter wheat and spring barley but ‘Dark Northern’ protein percentages were lower than premium grade. Higher spring crop yields were attributed to less weed competition because of an opportunity to kill weeds with an undercutter, while low protein levels were attributed to lower N additions than conventional systems. Extension personnel assisted farmers in WA, OR and ID to conduct their own on-farm experiments and results are being incorporated into case studies. Farmers found that locally available composted manure was affordable and increased available P and K levels, but commercial organic fertilizers were too expensive. Soil properties and earthworm populations were measured in three cropping systems, the organic 3-year wheat-pea hay (IV-B), conventional 3-year wheat-pea hay (V-B), and organic 5-year alfalfa-wheat (I-C). Earthworms and cocoons were collected by hand sieving and sorting to calculate population density, biomass and for species identification. Aggregates stability was measured for .5 - 1 mm and 1 - 2 mm aggregates using a high energy moisture characteristic method. Microbial biomass was measured using a fumigation and extraction method for the top 10 cm of the soil profile. Total organic carbon, total nitrogen, bulk density, and pH were measured to a depth of 150 cm using soil cores extracted with a hydraulic giddings probe. Saturated hydraulic conductivity was measured using a constant head well permeameter (Guelph). Preliminary results showed a trend for greater (P=0.052) earthworm density in the organic wheat-pea crop rotation compared to the conventional wheat-pea. Earthworm densities in the organic alfalfa-wheat rotation were similar to those measured in the organic wheat-pea rotation. There was a trend towards greater aggregate stability in the organic wheat-pea compared to the conventional wheat-pea rotation, however means were not significantly different. Data are currently being analyzed and will form the basis of a MS student’s thesis that will be completed in spring 2014. The effect of organic cropping systems on wheat grain properties, nutritional value, flour properties, and end-use quality are being compared with conventional systems. Samples were analyzed from the Boyd Farm and a similar trial at Montana State University. In general, organic wheat kernels tended to be slightly larger than conventionally grown kernels. Mineral content was slightly lower in Montana organic hard red wheat but slightly higher in Pullman organic soft white wheat. Protein content was often lower in organic wheat. Lower protein is desirable in soft white wheat and greater cake volume was observed from grain produced in low N organic systems. When protein was lower in organic hard red wheat, bread loaf volume was slightly reduced, but protein quality and bread quality was still excellent. Economic analyses indicate that farmers can save money on the cost of fuel and synthetic agricultural chemicals by adopting conservation tillage methods and legume intercropping or rotation methods. Economic evaluations of N inputs provided by legumes are still being determined.

Publications

  • Type: Journal Articles Status: Submitted Year Published: 2014 Citation: Borrelli, K.A., R.T. Koenig, I.C. Burke, R.S. Gallagher, D. Pittmann, A. Snyder and E.P. Fuerst. In review. Wheat yield and quality following legume and cereal-based cropping systems during the transition to organic production in the dryland region of the inland Pacific Northwest. Sust. Ag. Food Syst.


Progress 09/01/11 to 08/31/12

Outputs
OUTPUTS: Research continued at the Boyd Farm in WA. Poultry manure improved in-season production of small grain crops, and legume cover crops or perennial forage improved soil inorganic N levels for subsequent cereal crops. Reduced tillage methods and cover crops effectively controlled weeds, but weeds continue to be difficult to manage. Experiments in OR and WA evaluated the ability of intercropped legumes to control pests and improve soil fertility for cereals. Compatible combinations of wheat and legumes are being examined in OR and preliminary findings suggest that wheat yield can increase by 4 to 12% if the right balance is achieved. Soil moisture and wheat yield were not reduced in WA when a pea intercrop was removed at maturity, and a reduced tillage inter-row implement was effective at removing intercropped cover crops and weeds. At a second location, an in-season pea intercrop did reduce soil moisture and wheat yield. No value for legume intercrops to provide N has been found. Relationships with local producers address constraints to adopting organic practices with on-farm research. In OR, spring wheat (variety Dark Northern and Soft White) produced higher yields than winter wheat and spring barley but 'Dark Northern' protein percentages were lower than premium grade. Higher spring crop yields were attributed to less weed competition because an undercutter could be used, and low protein levels were attributed to lower N additions than conventional systems. Extension personnel assisted farmers to conduct on-farm experiments and share results at field tours and workshops. Locally available manure was affordable and increased available P and K, but commercial organic fertilizers were too expensive. When management practices increased crop residue inputs and plant available N, numbers and diversity of novel microorganisms that control N and C cycling increased at Palouse Conservation Field Station, WA. Earthworm density was similar in the alfalfa rotation at Boyd Farm, but results were variable. Earthworms are being identified to the species level and soil aggregate stability is being analyzed. Organic cropping systems effects on wheat grain properties, nutritional value, flour properties, and end-use quality are being compared with conventional systems. Samples from the Boyd Farm and a similar trial at Montana State University, demonstrated that organic wheat kernels were often larger than conventionally grown kernels. Mineral content was slightly lower in Montana organic hard red wheat but slightly higher in Pullman organic soft white wheat. Protein content was lower in organic wheat, but low protein is desirable in soft white wheat and cake volume was greater from grain produced in low N organic systems. Lower protein in organic hard red wheat reduced bread loaf volume, but protein and bread quality were still excellent. Economic analyses indicate that farmers can save money on fuel costs and synthetic agricultural chemicals by adopting conservation tillage methods and legume intercropping or rotation methods. Economic evaluations of N inputs provided by legumes are still being determined. PARTICIPANTS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period. TARGET AUDIENCES: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period.

Impacts
Impact has been limited. Farmers conducted individualized on-farm research trials to address common restraints facing dryland organic grain producers and shared outcomes with other farmers at field days and workshops. The primary impact of our research has been to enable our grower collaborators to improve their current production systems or experiment with non-standard practices where they would otherwise be able to.

Publications

  • Borrelli, K. Ott. 2012. Rotational cropping systems for nitrogen management and weed control in dryland organic wheat production. Washington State University. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, pps. 141.
  • Manuchehri, M. 2012. The relative competiveness of spring crops in a dryland organic system in eastern Washington. MS Thesis.
  • Borrelli, K., R. Koenig, R.S. Gallagher, D. Pittmann, A. Snyder, I. Burke, L. Hoagland, and E.P. Fuerst. 2012. Alternative strategies for transitioning to organic production in direct-seeded grain systems in eastern Washington II: Nitrogen fertility. J. Sust. Ag. 36:461-477.
  • Borrelli, K., R. Koenig, I. Burke, D. Pittmann, and E.P. Fuerst. 2012. Managing soil nitrogen and weeds using legume and cereal-intensive cropping systems during the transition to dryland organic wheat production in Eastern Washington State. Washington State University Field Day Abstracts. Department of Crop and Soil Science Technical Report 12-1. pps. 43-44. [Online].
  • Manuchehri, M.R., K.A. Borrelli, E.P. Fuerst, D.L. Pittmann, R.T. Koenig, I.C. Burke. 2012. Fertility and cropping system effects on spring annual weeds in Eastern Washington dryland organic systems. [Online].


Progress 09/01/10 to 08/31/11

Outputs
OUTPUTS: Based on input from the advisory panel, five on-farm trials were conducted to date. Trials in Idaho (ID) compared different rates of compost applications. In the first year, a 10 T/A compost application doubled phosphorus mineralization compared to the control. Based on one year of data, it appears to be economical and effective to use dairy compost on dryland organic alfalfa to build soil residual P and K levels. Washington (WA) trials focused on a comparison of organic fertilizers in a wheat-fallow rotation. There was no agronomic advantage from the organic fertilizer applications. The high cost of fertilizer meant that net returns were the same or lower than the control. One Oregon (OR) trial addressed crop rotations, cover crops, tillage, and weed control using some of the same approaches identified as effective in the research plots near Pullman, WA. In two years, two spring wheat cultivars produced significantly higher yields than winter wheat and spring barley. Although N applications increased by 3.5 lbs N per acre from 2010 to 2011, the total applied each year was much lower than the 40 to 60 lbs N/A that is usually applied under conventional production. Weed pressure was reduced substantially in each rotation when spring crops were planted, and reduced yield in winter wheat was largely attributed to high weed infestations. Higher spring wheat yields could be attributed to less weed competition. Planting in the spring provided the opportunity to kill weeds using an undercutter implement. The second Oregon trial focused on the demonstration of bindweed control using the mite, Aceria Malherbe. The objective was to determine the best time of year to collect and redistribute the mite to obtain the greatest probability of establishment for use on organic wheat farms. To date, establishment has not been effective, apparently due to the poor adaptability of the mite to the area of introduction. Differences in soil microbial community structure resulting from land-use management, carbon, and nitrogen inputs and climate have been identified using 454 pyrosequencing technology coupled with veioinformatics and qPCR. The effect of organic cropping systems on wheat grain properties, nutritional value, flour properties, and end-use quality are being compared with conventional systems. In addition to analyzing samples from our own trial in Pullman, we are analyzing samples from a similar type of trial from Montana State University. Results varied by year and location. However, a few general trends were observed. Organic wheat kernels tended to be slightly larger. Minerals content was slightly lower in Montana organic hard red wheat but slightly higher in Pullman organic soft white wheat compared to conventional controls. Protein content tended to be lower, though not always, in organic wheat. Long-term organic cropping systems research continued near Pullman, WA, to identify profitable and sustainable cropping systems for the region. Research evaluated crop rotations, fertility practices, and integrated strategies for conservation tillage weed management. Intercropping research is being conducted in both OR and WA. PARTICIPANTS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period. TARGET AUDIENCES: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period.

Impacts
Minimally invasive surface tillage practices for weed management, developed in our research, have been adopted by a grower near Fairfield, WA. A precision weed management tool developed in our research was adopted by a grower near Pendleton, OR. There is an increase in dairy compost use on dryland organic alfalfa in southern Idaho. As a result of our annual investigator - advisory panel meeting, a dryland organic grain production conference was organized to facilitate networking and discussion among the growers and a wider audience at the annual Tilth Conference in Yakima, WA.  

Publications

  • Ott-Borrelli, K., Koenig, R. T., Gallagher, R., Pittman, D., Snyder, A., Fuerst, E. P, Burke, I.C. and Hoagland, L. 2012. Alternative Strategies for Transitioning to Organic Production in Direct-Seeded Grain Systems, Eastern Washington II: Nitrogen Fertility. J. Sustain. Agr. (Accepted for publication).
  • Ott-Borrelli, K., Koenig, R. T., Burke, I, Gallagher, R. and Fuerst, E. P. 2010. Crop and soil nitrogen dynamics of nine rotation systems during the transition and certified organic phases of dryland grain production. ASA Annual Meeting. Available online: http://a-c-s.confex.com/crops/2010am/webprogram/Paper60821.html
  • Borrelli, K., Koenig, R. T., Burke, I., Fuerst, E. P. and Gallagher, R. 2011. Nitrogen Dynamics In Nine Rotation Systems From Transition to Certification of Organic Dryland Grain Production. ASA Annual Meeting. Available online: http://a-c-s.confex.com/crops/2011am/webprogram/Paper66429.html
  • Fuerst, E. P., Burke, I., Huggins, D., Gallagher, R. Borrelli, K. Pittmann, D. and Koenig. R. T.. 2010. Dryland organic weed management strategies in eastern Washington. ASA Annual Meeting. Available online: http://a-c-s.confex.com/crops/2010am/webprogram/Paper61908.html
  • Gallagher, R., Pittmann, D., Snyder, A. M., Koenig, R. T., Fuerst, E. P., Burke. I. and Hoagland, L. 2010. Alternative strategies for transitioning to organic production in direct-seeded grain systems in Eastern Washington I: Crop Agronomy. J. Sustain. Agr. 34:483-503.
  • Hunter, L.A. and Kinder, C. A. Building an Interactive Three-state Communication Network Between Producers, Researchers, and Extension Educators. University of Idaho Extension Annual Conference, Burley, April 13-15, 2010. (Oral presentation and submitted abstract discussing the grant/partnership existing between WA,ID, and OR).
  • Hunter, L.A., Falen, C.L., Kinder, C.A., and Moore, A. Phosphorous and Potassium Availability from Dairy Compost in Dryland Organic Crop Production. 10th Annual Western Region County Agriculture Agents Meeting, Kenewick, Washington, October 12-13, 2011. (Oral presentation with submitted abstract/proceedings).
  • Manuchehri, M. R., Fuerst, E. P., Burke, I. and Pittmann, D. 2011. Relative competitiveness of spring crops in Eastern Washington dryland organic systems. Proc. West. Soc. Weed Sci. 64:104.


Progress 09/01/09 to 08/31/10

Outputs
OUTPUTS: An advisory council comprised of growers from Washington, Idaho, and Oregon was formed and met with university personnel from all three states. Grower input was obtained in order to set priorities for research and extension efforts. Six of the advisory council members have on-farm trials, discussed below. Multi-year on-farm trials were established in Washington, Idaho, and Oregon, two trials in each state. Trials in Washington are evaluating commercial organic fertilizers; trials in Idaho are evaluating rates of manure application and crop responses; one trial in Oregon is evaluating crop rotations, cover crops, tillage, rotation, weeds, and nitrogen using two tillage systems; the other trial is a demonstration study on biological control of bindweed by the mite, Aceria malherbe. Other extension activities included a survey of organic agriculture in Idaho, multiple tours of the Pullman, Washington research site, and presentations at the meetings of the American Society of Agronomy and Pacific Northwest Direct Seed Association. Long-term organic cropping systems research is being conducted near Pullman, Washington to identify profitable and sustainable cropping systems for this region. Research is evaluating crop rotations, fertility practices, and integrated strategies for conservation tillage weed management. Intercropping research is being conducted in Pendleton, Oregon. PARTICIPANTS: Individuals: Project Director: Ian Burke (revised 9/2010). Investigators: E. Patrick Fuerst, Richard Koenig, Kathleen Painter, Diana Roberts, Ann-Marie Fortuna, Stephen Machado, Byung-Kee Baik, Jessica Goldberger, and Jodi Johnson-Maynard. Others involved in project: Cindy Kinder, Lauren Hunter, both U of Idaho extension; Dennis Pittmann and John Rumph, both WSU agricultural research technicians. Partner Organizations: Washington State University, University of Idaho, and Oregon State University. Collaborators and Contacts: Grower Advisory Council: Lou Anderson and Matt Mclam (Idaho), Eric Nelson, David Stelzer, Cliff Bracher, and Paul Bracher (Oregon); and Gregg Beckley, Eric Zakarison, Owen Jorgensen, David Ostheller, and Alec McErlich (Washington). Training and Professional Development: The following graduate students are working on this project: Misha Manuchehri (M.S.), Kristy Ott-Borrelli (Ph.D.), and Julia Piaskowski (Ph.D.). We employed the following undergraduate students on our project: Jason Parsley, Madeline Richardson, and Nick Boydston. TARGET AUDIENCES: Target Audiences: dryland organic farmers in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. Efforts: Meeting with previously mentioned members of advisory council; several tours of our field research site; implementation of previously mentioned on-farm trials. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: Not relevant to this project.

Impacts
Adoption of surface tillage practices for weed management, developed in our research, by a grower near Fairfield, WA. Adoption of a precision weed management tool developed in our research by a grower near Pendleton, OR.

Publications

  • Fuerst, E.P., R.T. Koenig, J. Kugler, K. Painter, M. Stannard, and J. Goldberger. 2009. Organic Alfalfa Management Guide. Washington State University Extension Bulletin EB2039E. http://cru84.cahe.wsu.edu/cgi-bin/pubs/EB2039E.html
  • E. P. Fuerst, I.C. Burke, D. Pittmann, R.T. Koenig, D. Huggins, D. Collins, C. Cogger, A. Corbin, and C. Benedict. 2010. Organic Conservation Tillage Practices: Innovations and Implications for Grain, Vegetable, and Conventional Farming Systems. Poster at Pacific Northwest Direct Seed Association Annual Meeting, January, 2010.
  • E.P. Fuerst, I.C. Burke, D.R. Huggins, R.S. Gallagher, K. Ott-Borrelli, D. Pittmann, and R. T. Koenig Dryland Organic Weed Management Strategies in Eastern Washington. Abstract, American Society of Agronomy Annual Meeting, November, 2010.
  • Goldberger, J.R. 2010. Certified Organic Production: The Experiences and Perspectives of Idaho Farmers. http://csanr.wsu.edu/publications/SPNW/SPNW-v8-n2.pdf; http://csanr.wsu.edu/publications/researchreports/idaho_certified_org anic_survey_2010.pdf
  • Gallagher, R.S., A. Snyder, R.T. Koenig, I.C. Burke, and L. A. Hoagland. 2010. Alternative strategies for transitioning to organic production in direct-seeded grain systems in eastern Washington I: Crop agronomy. J. Sustainable Agric. 34:483-503.