FIELD DAYS ...

Organic grain field day series

Low commodity prices may prompt farmers to try organic grain

OGRAIN field day participants learn about organic grain production. (Photo by Anders Gurda)

MADISON — Faced with another year of relatively low commodity prices, more farmers may be open to trying something new: transitioning to organic production. To help farmers learn about organic grain production, the UW-Madison Organic Grain Resources and Information Network (OGRAIN) and the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) will host seven field days this summer on successful organic farms across the Midwest, including two events in Wisconsin.

“Whether you’re a conventional producer interested in exploring the transition to organic grain production, a livestock or produce farmer curious about adding grain to your system, or a new farmer wanting to start with organic grain, these field days will be time well spent,” says OGRAIN program coordinator Anders Gurda, an associate researcher in the UW-Madison Department of Plant Pathology.

Each field day will feature invited speakers, including farmers, researchers, agency personnel and/or industry representatives. While some events will begin with more formal presentations, all will incorporate engaging farm tours and plenty of unstructured time for discussion and networking.

The field days will collectively cover many agronomic aspects of organic food- and feed-grade corn, soybean and small grain production. Depending on the field day, participants may also learn about marketing opportunities, organic transition and certification, successful generational farm transfer, Whole Farm Revenue Protection crop insurance and other topics. These field days will also give farmers the chance to ask specific questions about how to add organic grains to their current farming operations.

“Farmers are concerned about yields in organic systems, the organic transition process, and the skills and knowledge necessary for managing a successful organic grain operation,” says Harriet Behar, MOSES organic specialist. “Attending these events is a great start for anyone interested in exploring organics, as well as an opportunity for those already farming organically to come and learn and share.”

All of the field days are free and open to the public. However, most events require advance registration. Details and registration are available online at mosesorganic.org or by calling (715) 778-5775.

The field day series is made possible by a grant from the USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. OGRAIN is a collaborative effort of the University of Wisconsin-Extension, MOSES, UW-Madison Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems, and the UW-Madison Farm and Industry Short Course. Other field day partners include Practical Farmers of Iowa, Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, and North Dakota State University-Extension.

OGRAIN/MOSES organic grain field day calendar:

Two new grains and their uses: Hybrid rye and Kernza
June 29, 2 – 5 p.m.
Frantzen Farm, New Hampton, Iowa

Give peas a chance: Field pea and oat varieties in an organic rotation
July 18, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
NDSU Carrington Research Extension Center, Carrington, North Dakota

Diversified organic rotations and food-grade small grains
July 21, 9 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Bickford Organics and Meadowlark Farm, Ridgeway, Wisconsin

Artisanal grain production
July 24, 1 – 4:30 p.m.
Hazzard Free Farm, Pecatonia, Illinois

Adding organic to large-scale farms
August 24, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Wallendal Farms, Grand Marsh, Wisconsin

Soil fertility in organic grain production
August 30, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Oak Ridge Farms, Pendleton, Indiana

Opportunities in organic farming: Livestock, crop, and vegetable production
September 8, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
PrairiErth Farm, Atlanta, Illinois

For more information about OGRAIN and its programs, contact Anders Gurda, agurda@wisc.edu, (612) 868-1208.

— Anders Gurda, Department of Plant Pathology, CALS, University of Wisconsin-Madison

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