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Organic Gardening: Challenges and Opportunities

Organic Gardening: Challenges and Opportunities

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Organic Gardening: Challenges and Opportunities

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  1. Organic Gardening: Challenges and Opportunities Carl E. Motsenbocker School of Plant, Environmental and Soil Sciences LSU AgCenter

  2. Sustainable agriculture refers to farm practices that: • provide a more profitable farm, • promote environmental stewardship by protecting and improving soil quality, • reduce dependence on non-renewable resources, • minimize adverse impacts on safety, wildlife, water quality and other environmental resources, • while promoting stable, prosperous farm families and communities (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, 2007). 

  3. US Organic Standard • In October of 2002, the US Congress mandated National Organic Standards. • All products labeled as “organic” meet stringent standards established by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). • US consumers have the force of law behind all organic labeling claims, providing peace of mind that when something says it is “organic”, it will meet the strict standards set by the USDA.

  4. US Organic Standards • Land on which organic food or fibers are grown must not have had prohibited substances applied • (such chemical pesticides and fertilizers) for three years prior to certification. • Farmers and processors must keep detailed records of methods and materials used in growing or processing organic products.

  5. US Organic Standards • A third party certifier approved by the USDA must inspect methods and materials annually. • All handlers and farmers are required to maintain an Organic Handling Plan detailing their management practices. • Under the USDA regulations, In order for a product to be labeled as “organic” it must contain a minimum of 95% organic ingredients.

  6. Categories of organic products The USDA three categories of organic products: 100% Organic Made with 100% organic ingredients Organic Made with at least 95% organic ingredients, with strict restrictions on the remaining 5% including no GMOs Made With Organic Ingredients Made with a minimum of 70% organic ingredients with strict restrictions on the remaining 30% including no GMOs Products with less than 70 percent organic ingredients may list specific organically produced ingredients on the side panel of the package, but may not make any organic claims on the front of the package.

  7. US Government Organic Standards • The National Organic Program (NOP) • List of allowed and disallowed practices and materials • 3 Major disallowed practices: • GMOs • Radiation • Slewage sludge • Periodic review of materials and review

  8. Growth in organic product sales (US) Year Sale ($ ) 1980 178 million 1989 631 million 1990 1.0 billion 1992 1.2 billion 1994 2.3 billion 1996 3.5 billion 1998 5.5 billion 2001 9.3 billion 2005 20.0 billion (compounded growth rates for the past ten years > 20 % per year)

  9. Why organic gardening is increasing • Public acceptance • Consumer demand • Environmental and health concerns • Sustainable agriculture movement etc. • Local/fresh produce

  10. Organic • “Organic” represents the approach of working with nature to improve soil health and using the most environmentally sensitive products available. • Identifying and understanding nature’s systems and work within those systems.

  11. Nitrogen Cycle Animals N fixation Losses Residues, manures and wastes Fertilizer and rain Gaseous loss Air N2 N2 N20 NO NH3 Soil Microorganisms NO3 Soilorganicmatter Clay minerals Mineralization NO2 NH2 Nitrification NH4

  12. Healthy soils lead to healthy plants; healthy plants produce healthy animals and humans” JI and Robert Rodale “started” the organic movement in the US > 60 years years ago. The idea of adding organic matter and minerals through natural products to improve the health and nutrition of food crops.

  13. Soil Management • Basis of farm and garden productivity and therefore the cornerstone of any ecologically sound approach to farming/gardening. Soils!!!

  14. Understanding the soil system • Soil fertility - soil capacity to nurture healthy plants. Organic / sustainable agriculture aims to protect the soil’s ability to regenerate nutrients lost when crops are harvested. • Regeneration depends on diversity, health, and vitality of the organisms that live, grow, reproduce and die in the soil. • Activities of soil microbes makes available the basic raw materials needed by plants at the right time and in the right form and amount.

  15. Life in the soil • The soil community, and its living organisms, assists in the cycles that permits nutrients to “flow” from the soil to the plant. • Soil microorganisms are the essential link between mineral reserves and plant growth. • The organisms involved: bacteria, fungi, actinomycetes, algae, protozoans, nematodes, mites, earthworms. • The goal of ecological/organic soil management is to assist these microorganisms.

  16. The basic aim of ecological soil management is to provide hospitable conditions for the life within the soil. • Your garden/farm is both the product and producer of soil … and is a “living organism” that achieves its greatest long-term productivity when its natural cycles and processes are enhanced.

  17. Land • Soil type • the best is a sandy loam • soil proportion (clay : silt : sand) • Texture will influence nutrient status, workability, aeration and drainage. • Clay soils - hold water & nutrients, often difficult to work and are poorly drained. • Sandy soils - easy to work & well drained, poor nutrient and water holding capability

  18. Soil depth • Depth to bedrock • Depth to water table • Depth of topsoil (usually 4 to 12” deep)

  19. Soil Fertility • Overall goal: build and maintain proper levels of and balances of soil nutrients • Goal 1: adding fertilizers to the soil to build nutrients up to their proper levels and balances for your type of soil, climate, rainfall, sun exposure, altitude, and cation exchange capacity. • Goal 2: keep those nutrients in the garden area by composting properly and recycling wastes. • Goal 3: use enough nutrients, water, and compost.

  20. Feeding the soil • Adding minerals and organic matter can turn an infertile soil into a fertile soil in a cumulative process. • Two sources of nutrients for the soil – • organic matter (remains of previously living organisms) • finely ground rock particles that is the mineral fraction of the soil. • Nutrients are made available through biological and chemical processes.

  21. Building the soil • Nutrient availability is a result of biological and chemical soil processes that are stimulated by: crop rotations, green manures, and animal manures. Five amendments need to be supplied as raw materials. Especially on POOR soils (Coleman): • Organic matter: compost or manure applied at the rate of 20 tons/acre every other year.

  22. Table 1. Average biomass yields and nitrogen yields of several legumes (4). • ________________________________________ • Cover Crop Biomass Nitrogen Tons/acre lbs./acre • Sweet clover 1.75 120 • Berseem clover 1.1 70 • Crimson clover 1.4 100 • Hairy vetch 1.75 110

  23. Best: soil testing- pH, nutrients. (Send a sample to a university or university extension service) • LSU Ag Center Cooperative Extension Service

  24. Fertilizer Analysis (N-P-K) • Percentage of total Nitrogen (N), which is the sum of all forms of nitrogen present. • Available Phosphoric acid (P). • Soluble Potash (K). • A statement of each secondary plant nutrient in the mixture. • Chlorine content stated as a maximum percentage in the mixture.

  25. Organic matter • Vegetables require the richest soils of all farm crops for best quality and growth. • Organic matter is key to the soil - foundation for the microbiological life of the soil.

  26. Organic matter • Source of plant food and physical stability • Opens heavy soils up so they are more easily workable and binds sandy soil so that it holds water better. • The quantity and quality of organic matter is essential for microbial life in the soil. Microbes grow and decay, solubilize minerals and liberate carbon dioxide. • Organic matter in heavy soils allows them to be more easily worked, is a source of plant food, stabilizes the soil physically.

  27. Compost • Well made compost has been shown to have plant growing benefits such as nutrients as well as “suppression of plant diseases and increasing plant resistance to stress”.

  28. Compost • Making compost: • straw bale enclosure 2 - 3 bales high • 2 to 3” layers of straw • 1 to 6”layers of green ingredients • layer of topsoil over the green layer • compost ready in a year and ½, ~ 3 to 6 months in La.

  29. Soil fertility - Compost • Composting is a form of aerobic digestion where original raw substances are transformed into stable humus. • Composted organic matter is used as a long-term soil builder. • Composted manure - long a staple for soil improvement for vegetable growing.

  30. C : N

  31. Green manure crops • Crop grown due to their benefits to the soil. • Soil organic matter • Help protect against erosion • Retain nutrients • Suppress germination and growth of weeds • Cycle nutrients from the lower soil layers to the upper layer • Legumes - provide N to the following crop

  32. What makes a successful organic garden? • Crop selection: • mix of crops /rotation; cool season/warm season crops Average last spring freeze

  33. What makes a successful organic garden? • Stand establishment • Seed quality (organic seed) • Transplant vs. direct seeding

  34. Transplant Mix • Classic soil-based mix • 1/3 mature compost or leaf mold, screened • 1/3 garden topsoil • 1/3 sharp sand • Organic substitute for Cornell Mix • ½ cu. yd. sphagnum peat½ cu. yd. vermiculite10 lbs. bonemeal5 lbs. ground limestone5 lbs. bloodmeal • PVFS 1.5 Cu Ft Organic Potting Soil –Peaceful Valley Gardening Coco fiber (see Coco peat), beneficial mycorrhizae fungi, ms. worm castings, bat guano, bone meal, soybean meal, soft rock phosphate, greensand, fish meal, blood meal, langbenite (K-mag) and kelp meal. OMRI Listed." OMRI — the Organic Materials Review Institute

  35. Eating quality Appearance Pest & disease restce Days to maturity Storage Vigor Performance Standability Ease of harvest Time of harvest Frost restce & hardiness Day length Ease of cleaning Convenience Ease of preparation Adaptability Nutrition Marketability What makes a successful organic garden? Variety selection -cultivars (cultivated varieties)

  36. Biointensive Gardening • Double-Dug, Raised Beds • Composting • Intensive Planting • Companion Planting • Carbon Farming • Calorie Farming • The Use of Open-Pollinated Seeds • A Whole Gardening Method • The Biointensive gardening method is a whole system and all the components of the method must be used together for the optimum effect. John Jeavons, 1995, How to Grow More Vegetables/

  37. Organic Pest Management • Crop pests, weeds, and diseases will be controlled primarily through management practices including physical, mechanical, and biological controls. • When these practices are not sufficient, a biological, botanical, or synthetic substance approved for use on the National List may be used. • The National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances

  38. Insect management • Proactive Strategies (Cultural Controls) • Biological Controls • Mechanical Controls • Pest Identification • Monitoring • Economic Injury & Action Levels

  39. Proactive Strategies (Cultural Controls) • Healthy, biologically active soils (increasing below ground diversity) • Habitat for beneficial organisms (increasing above ground diversity) • Appropriate plant cultivars (and season) • Cultural controls are manipulations of the agroecosystem that make the cropping system less friendly to the establishment and proliferation of pest populations.

  40. Biological Control • Biological control is the use of living organisms —parasites, predators, or pathogens—to maintain pest populations below economically damaging levels, and may be either natural or applied. • Beneficial organisms should be viewed as mini-livestock, with specific habitat and food needs to be included in farm planning.

  41. Pollinators – bees for cucurbits Food sources – part of the food chain Biological control agents for weeds and other insects Enhance soil properties Aesthetic value Beneficial Aspects of Insects

  42. Insects as vectors of plant diseases • Thrips- tomato spotted wilt virus • Aphids- watermelon, squash, cucumber mosaic viruses • Cucumber beetles- bacterial wilt of cucumbers • Grasshoppers- tobacco mosaic virus

  43. Insect Pest Mgt: Cultural Practices • Companion planting/intercropping • Soil tillage- bury insects or expose them to adverse weather • Physical control - hand picking insects • Clean - insect-free transplants • Reflective mulches • Row covers Tomato and marigolds