Sustainable cropping systems research and extension has gained momentum at Penn State with the ‘Triad’ projects collaborating to host the 2nd Annual Sustainable Cropping Systems Triad Symposium and the Strategies for Soil Health and Nutrient Conservation Research Tour in recent months.
Local polenta, wheat, berries, pasta, and flour? Thor Oechsner explained at the recent Penn State Extension Organic Crop Production Tour in the Finger Lakes Region, New York, how he grows a wide variety of crops, not only for feed, but flour, bread, pasta and pastries.
Agriculture as we know it consists of acres upon acres of plentiful fields and perfectly aligned cash crops.
Sustainable agriculture has grown beyond a fringe movement to a concept that is embraced by an increasingly diverse group of stakeholders. Although there are many positive aspects to this growth, the sustainable agriculture message has become somewhat diluted, in part through appropriation of the term by a broad array of special interest groups. The goal of the “Building Capacity and the Voice for a Stronger Sustainable Agriculture Movement” workshop at the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture’s 21st Annual Farming for the Future Conference was to examine the current situation and craft an inclusive message to promote agriculture that is environmentally sound, profitable, and supports communities.
One of the major topics of debate in today’s agriculture and food system is the use of crops for food versus fuel. Susquehanna Mills in Montoursville, PA is pioneering a middle-road in this debate, using canola to create a full-circle food and fuel crop.
At a recent Women's Agricultural Network workshop at the Rodale Institute in Kutztown, PA, Penn State Extension's Maryann Frazier, provided an update on research into the mysterious complex affecting honey bee populations known as Colony Collapse Disorder.
On September 16th, the Sustainable Agriculture Working Group hosted Thor Oechsner, owner of Oechsner Farms and founding partner of Farmer Ground Flour and Wide Awake Bakery, as the fifth speaker in the Sustainable Agriculture Seminar Series. An energetic farmer with a good sense of humor, Thor enlightened and entertained the audience with the story of his farm, mill, and bakery.
Organic milk, meat, poultry and eggs represent some of the fastest growing sectors of the organic market. Because agricultural feed ingredients in the diets of certified livestock must be organically produced, growth in the retail organic market has resulted in increasing demand for organic feed grains and forages, creating opportunities for Pennsylvania growers. Typically, there is a price premium for organic feed grains. In the past, prices for organic feed grains have reached 50 to 150% above conventional prices.
Researchers in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences have been awarded a $2.3 million grant by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to investigate how certain cover crops and rotations can improve production of organic commodities. The study's goal is to determine whether diverse cover crop mixtures -- as opposed to a single-species cover cropping -- can enhance ecosystem functions in a corn-soybean-wheat cash crop rotation that produces organic feed and forage, according to project leader Jason Kaye, associate professor of soil biogeochemistry.