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ISU Gets New Grant to Support Organic Soil Research

Iowa State University is awarded money to study the effects of cover crops, soil amendments and reduced tillage on carbon sequestration and soil health in long-term organic vegetable system.

Iowa State University was recently awarded a grant to study the effect of cover crops, soil amendments and reduced tillage on carbon sequestration and soil health in a long-term organic vegetable system.

USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture in late October announced $691,969 in funding as part of its Organic Transitions Program. NIFA awarded more than $4 million through the program that is focused on environmental services provided by organic farming systems that support soil conservation and contribute to climate change mitigation. More information is available at www.nifa.usda.gov/fo/organictransitionsprogram.cfm.

"The research will improve organic vegetable farming practices to optimize pest management, crop quality and profitability, while enhancing soil quality to help mitigate global climate change," says Kathleen Delate, ISU professor of horticulture and agronomy, who is leading the research.

To provide organic farmers with science-based information

The project will provide organic producers with science-based information they can use to make decisions affecting the sustainability of their operations. "The market for organic products is rapidly growing through the U.S. and many producers are adopting organic practices to meet this demand," says Roger Beachy, NIFA director. "Our goal through these projects is to explore factors affecting organic practices to guide producers as they adopt these methods."

U.S. producers are turning to certified organic farming systems as a potential way to lower input costs, decrease reliance on nonrenewable resources, capture high-value markets and premium prices and boost farm income, says Beachy.

Since the late 1990s, U.S. organic production has seen marked growth. More than two-thirds of U.S. consumers buy organic products at least occasionally, and 28% buy organic products weekly. Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and Extension programs, NIFA focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people's daily lives and the nation's future. More information is at www.nifa.usda.gov.

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