Fifteen years into their farming career, Mike and Terra Brownback were torn. If they continued their farrow-to-finish hog operation, they’d be financially secure and could keep their family of five on the farm. But if they followed their dream, their original motivation to become farmers, they would get out of the hog business and start growing produce.
Growing winter cover crops can be a challenge for organic vegetable growers who have to terminate the cover crops in time to seed their early spring cash crops. Since soils in spring are often too wet to allow for the use of heavy machinery, organic growers are faced with a dilemma of how to kill their cover crop. This “kill-till dilemma” is the impetus behind a SARE-funded study conducted by Ray Weil, a professor of environmental science and technology at University of Maryland, and Natalie Lounsbury, a graduate student in his lab. This study was the focus of the first webinar in Penn State Extension's 'Cover Crop Innovations Webinar Series,' which will be running through the end of March 2013.
Last year marked the 50th anniversary of the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, a work that influenced the creation of the US Environmental Protection Agency and how people everywhere think about pesticides and other chemicals in the environment.,
No one wants to spend more money on fertilizer than they have to. But we all know that without enough fertility the bottom line suffers. Too much fertilization and we risk contributing to the pollution of our waterways. Most organic growers do an excellent job of using their experience to accurately predict appropriate fertility applications based on their long term soil test trends and how well their crops perform. A study initiated last year aims to help further refine organic fertility recommendations.
Check out the wide variety of sustainable agriculture events organized by Penn State Extension.