Organic Agriculture

The educational materials listed on this page are about Organic Agriculture.

Organic agriculture integrates “cultural, biological and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.” Organic and sustainable agriculture often include the use of cover cropscrop rotationuse of tools and machinery for weed and pest management, and conservation tillage. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation and genetic engineering may not be used for food to be certified and labelled USDA organic. Organic livestock must have access to the outdoors and be “fed 100 percent certified organic feed, managed without antibiotics, added growth hormones, mammalian or avian byproducts, or other prohibited feed ingredients.” SARE has many helpful reads including Transitioning to Organic Production, which addresses conversion strategies, organic farming production practices, marketing approaches and federal organic standards for certified organic crop and livestock. SARE’s Crop Rotation on Organic Farms reviews how rotating crops improve soil quality and health and help manage pests, diseases, and weeds.

Grafting Can Help Control Diseases in Organic High Tunnel Tomatoes

GAINESVILLE, Florida – Grafting can help control diseases in organically grown high tunnel tomatoes, according to the results of a University of Florida study. In the study, funded by a Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SSARE) On-Farm Research Grant, specialty tomatoes grafted onto two disease-resistant rootstocks effectively managed Fusarium wilt and improved the overall […]

New University of Georgia Bulletin Focuses on Cool-Season Organic Vegetable Production

ATHENS, Georgia – In the Southeast, where pests, diseases and weed pressures in the summer make organic vegetable production difficult, more efficient productivity and profitability may be found in shifting cash crop production to the fall. Cool-season vegetable production, combined with warm-season cover crop rotations for soil health, can set growers up for successful production […]

Texas Producer Finds Asparagus Can Be Viable in the South Nearly Year-Round

LYFORD, Texas — A south Texas producer, interested in increasing the diversity of crop production for local farmers, has found that asparagus can be grown in the Texas heat practically year-round by mimicking the “die-back” that occurs in the plants during dormancy in colder climates. With a Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SSARE) Producer […]

Innovations in Large-Scale Trap Cropping for Reducing Insect Pests

Trap cropping is a unique pest prevention system that uses insect behavior to deter pest feeding. Benefits of trap cropping not only include effective pest management, but trap crops can also increase biodiversity, conserve natural enemies and reduce wind damage to main crops.

Getting a Glimpse of Sustainable Agriculture in Tennessee

NASHVILLE, Tennessee – Sustainable agriculture is growing in Tennessee and members of the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SSARE) program got a glimpse recently of the innovations, research, and marketing and productions methods driving that growth. Nearly 50 SSARE staff, members of the Administrative Council, and state ag coordinators were treated to a daylong […]

Video: How a Farmer Used SARE to Develop Virginia’s Organic Ginger Market

The Virginia’s craft brewing industry is bubbling – 58 breweries in 2013 – 103 today. The beverage industry and Asian restaurants both value locally sourced ginger. While a great deal is known about growing this tropical in the warmer eastern coastal plains, Virginia’s Piedmont farmers cannot access these markets. On a December morning, it’s 27 […]

Berries Thrive in High Tunnels, But Be Aware of Pests, According to University of Arkansas Study

FAYETTEVILLE, Arkansas – A University of Arkansas study has found that using high tunnels in berry production can increase yields, extend the harvest season, and improve fruit quality compared to field production. However, care must be taken to manage pests. In the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SSARE)-funded project (LS12-250), “Extending the Market Season […]

Cover Crops Acting as Trap Crops Protect Vegetables from Pests

LIVE OAK, Florida – For farmers in central Florida, planting cover crops in strips as a trap crop alongside cash crops is proving to be a highly effective method for attracting beneficial insects and controlling pests. Farmers have been so pleased with the results that they have fully adopted the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategy […]

Prototype Farm Machine Expands Applications in Organic Vegetable Crop Production

LEXINGTON, Kentucky – University of Kentucky researchers have designed, built and tested a low-cost, mechanized system for organic vegetable production to help small-scale growers reduce their labor costs, increase their scale of operations, reduce input costs and increase production compared to conventional organic production practices. In a Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SSARE) On-Farm […]

Breeding Organic Corn Varieties to Resist GMO Contamination

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee – Breeders with the University of Tennessee are developing organic corn varieties that cannot be contaminated by GMO corn (genetically modified organisms) via cross-pollination. A corn ear from a Ga1s line pollinated with pollen from a GMO corn hybrid (upper ear with no seeds) and the same line pollinated with pollen from a […]

High Tunnel Pest Exclusion System

Insect pests are one of the major problems in organic production systems. Organic IPM practice consists of a three-tiered approach consisting of systems-based practices, mechanical tactics, and biorational insecticides. Mechanical tactics encourage the use of physical barriers for pest exclusion. This bulletin provides preliminary research data and field observations about the success of shade cloths, or high tunnel pest exclusion (HTPE) systems, as a more permanent barrier system around the high tunnels.

Soil Management Using Cover Crops in Organically Managed High Tunnels

In southern climates, high tunnels are typically used for season extension in the spring, fall, and winter. In the hot summer months, if no shade cloth is used to cover high tunnels, it can be difficult to grow anything but the most heat tolerant crops, and it can be uncomfortable to work in tunnels due to the heat. This is an excellent time to incorporate a cover crop, between the late spring and early fall crops. Many cover crops species are adapted to hot southern summers and perform well in high tunnels.

High Tunnel Pest Exclusion System Part II

With the increasing demand for local foods across the Southeast, an increasing number of beginning, as well as experienced producers are producing vegetable crops in high tunnels for direct and whole sale markets. From the insect management perspective, it is extremely critical to adopt pest prevention practices; the high tunnel pest exclusion (HTPE) system is one of the best relatively-low cost pest preventive practices available to producers in the Southeast. This HTPE technology uses a variety of shade cloths for a relatively permanent pest prevention strategy. This bulletin provides information on the use of HTPE systems on the farm.

Cover Crops Effective in Controlling Bermudagrass in Organic Production

GLENWOOD, Georgia – Bermudagrass may be popular among homeowners in the Southeast, but it is widely loathed by vegetable producers – especially those in organic production. As a turfgrass, bermudagrass is valued for its durability, vigorous growth and tolerance to extreme weather conditions. But those characteristics also make it an obnoxious weed. Spreading rapidly by […]

Physical Pest Exclusion with Shade Cloth

Alabama farmer Will Mastin describes his experience using shade cloth on a high tunnel to protect crops from some pests. Mastin’s trials with shade cloth were funded by a grant from Southern SARE. Throughout his project, Mastin worked with Alabama Extension entomologist and Southern SARE state coordinator Dr. Ayanava Majumdar to improve the shade cloth technology. […]

Net Houses Help Farmers in the Fight Against Pests

GRIFFIN, Georgia – For producers seeking to reduce their pesticide applications, practice Integrated Pest Management, or transition to organic production, a new technology is emerging across the Southeast that allows farmers to more effectively manage pests in high tunnels. A new bulletin, produced by Alabama Cooperative Extension and supported by the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research […]

Techniques for Melon Grafting

A fact sheet developed by University of Florida that introduces commonly used grafting techniques to help farmers interested in grafting melon plants achieve a high-graft survival rate.