‘Real-Life Application of New Organic Practices’

Organic field days will showcase no-till practices

The University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources will bring back its organic field day for the fifth year in 2017 – with a little bit of a twist.

There will be two different field days this year, both of which will be located at farms of collaborators. The organic field day is normally held at the Bradford Research Center. The two events this year will allow attendees an opportunity to see organic farming in action, with on-farm examples of what organic farming looks like. Both field days are free to attend.

The first field day will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 3, at the farm of Derek and Lyndsey Davis. The farm is located in Nelson, Mo. The second field day will run from 9 a.m. until noon on Thursday, Aug. 10, at the farm of Pieter Los, which is located in Hermann, Mo.

Both field days will focus on using no-till practices without conventional herbicides.

The organic field days will focus on planting and managing cover crops and organic no-till.The organic field days will focus on planting and managing cover crops and organic no-till.

“The MU organic field days this year will be held on the farms of two organic growers to showcase real-life application of new organic practices,” said Kerry Clark, senior research associate. “Derek and Lyndsey Davis are two of a small group of Missouri farmers who are taking on a lot of risk to see if they can make organic no-till work. They were longtime no-tillers who didn’t want to return to tillage when they went organic. Both MU and individuals like the Davis family and Pieter are experimenting with everything from density of cover crops, direction of planting and crimping, types of cover crops, timing of planting and crimping, and weed control in a field with no cultivation or herbicide.”

The field day at the Davis farm will focus on planting and managing cover crops and organic no-till. The farm is located at 22183 Poplar Avenue, Nelson, Mo. The site is four miles northwest of Arrow Rock and 15 miles east of Marshall, Mo.

“It will be very relevant to conventional farmers who are considering incorporating cover crops into their production plans, and who would like management tips,” Clark said. “The Davis family has many years of experience in cover crops and no-till in both organic and conventional production systems. The University of Missouri will also have some relevant equipment available for viewing.”

The field day at the Los farm will focus on organic herbicides and using a between-row mower for weed control in organic no-till or in conventionally-tilled fields. The Los farm is located at 1002 Highway 19 in Hermann, Mo. The farm is six miles north of Hermann and 2.5 miles south of Big Spring, Mo.

“Edamame soybeans, grown as green vegetables, in both tilled and no-till production will also be showcased,” Clark said. “This field day will be of interest to both organic and conventional row crop farmers and vegetable crop growers.”

Each field day will feature tours of organic, no-till fields; results from organic herbicide trials; fields weeded with a tractor mounted between-row mower; information on organic crop production and marketing; and advice from practicing organic growers. There will be several presentations and demonstrations as well, all with a focus on organic farming.

“It is great to see Missouri farmers trying new things to decrease the amount of damage that tillage does to soil structure and organic matter,” Clark said. “Soil is a limited resource that can quickly become too degraded to continue to support the earth’s growing population. Cover crops, whether grown organically or conventionally can be a great resource for returning soil to a more biologically active status.”

Registration is free and open to the public. Pre-registration can be completed by calling or texting Clark at 660-351-4696 or emailing her at clarkk@missouri.edu. Please specify which field day you will attend when registering.

“Although the University of Missouri organic program has been showing organic, no-till at our last four field days, we felt it was time for growers to see it being put to use in real-world situations,” Clark said. “We want farmers to hear about the pros and cons from other farmers – people who put themselves at an economic risk when trying out new ideas. The farmers hosting these field days have experienced both the good and the bad, and will lay the facts out for everyone to hear.”