Organic Grain Program Research Trials
by Molly Hamilton, Scotty Wells, and Chris Reberg-Horton
This summer the Organic Grain Program at NC State University has many research projects in the ground. The spring has been tough on our team (and many farmers) as we try to get small grains harvested and at the same time plant corn and soybeans–but, it is nearly done. Here is a synopsis of some of our research projects:
- We continue developing the no-till/roll-kill production system for corn and soybeans. Rye and legume cover crops have been roll-killed and corn and soybeans have been planted into the killed cover crop at multiple research locations in the state.
- We have also planted OVT (Official Variety Trial) soybean plots at three locations. We hope this will lead to more, and better yielding, soybean varieties for organic production in the southeast.
- Finally, a soybean study designed to compliment no-till/roll-kill production looks at nitrogen availability to weeds in a system with a rye cover crop killed before a soybean crop. We know that the killed rye cover crop provides a physical barrier and some allelopathy, but can the decomposing rye (and associated fungal communities) tie up enough nitrogen to deplete its availability to weeds and help keep them from competing with the soybean crop? Since soybeans can fix their own nitrogen, can the reduction of residual N in the system decrease late season weed pressures while continuing to hold back early season weeds? We hope to answer these questions.
We look forward to seeing how these trials turn out and to getting more research-based information out to folks in the state. Join us on July 26 at Kinston (see above events) to see some of these research plots, ask questions, and help direct future research!