3. Organic Farming at the NCRS
Did you know that there are some certified organic fields at the North Central Research Station?
It took several years to get here, but this fall we will be harvesting some certified organic corn. That means no crop protection and no manufactured fertilizer. And yes, I'm nervous. It began with delivery and custom application of an organic compost blend of mostly layer manure. Then work it into the soil. But first, wash the tillage equipment and tractor to prevent any soil from our non-organic fields finding its way into an organic field. Then plant organic corn seed with a clean planter. Then, run over the field trip with our Tine Weeder for any small weeds. Within several days the corn emerged along with some small weeds. Time for another tillage trip with the Tine Weeder. It does a nice job, but then it’s time to start with a regular cultivator. Each field is cultivated several times until the corn gets too tall. The fields look nice but it will miss the weeds in the row. As the corn grows, it is hoped that the shade will suppress more weed growth. But weeds will always be a part of it, and that is hard to get used to.
The North Central Research Station is available to conduct testing of organic products and practices to obtain information to support organic crop production. Additionally, we are also able to conduct performance tests on products that are not yet certified organic, but are in need of data to support that next step. Of course those products cannot be tested in an organic setting, but they can be tested in regular conventional plots to get performance data. The North Central Research Station stands ready to conduct trials for you in conventional, and now in organic experiments.
(Jerry Wilhm. July 8, 2020)