Organic Research Forum

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This page highlights the growing body of research on organic and sustainable farming practices.

The Organic Research Forum at the annual MOSES Organic Farming Conference provides a Poster Gallery and a special track of workshops to bring current research directly to organic and sustainable farmers.


The Organic Research Forum is made possible by a generous grant from the Ceres Trust.


Proof Positive: Research published in the Organic Broadcaster newspaper

Current research project highlights

2015 Organic Research Forum Workshops

2015 Poster Gallery at the MOSES Conference


Current Research

  • Organic Research and Outreach in the North Central Region – 2015
    Produced by the Ceres Trust, the report includes state-specific details about student organic farms; certified organic research land and animals; sources of organic research funding; dissemination of organic research results through field days and peer-reviewed journals; organic education efforts of nonprofit organizations; and other relevant information.
  • Organic Agriculture in Wisconsin 2015
    According to a report from the University of Wisconsin Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems and the WI DATCP, Wisconsin leads the nation in organic dairy and beef production. The report notes that the state has 1,257 certified organic farms, making it the second largest state for organic farming—California is first. The report includes additional statistics about organic agriculture and research in the state, as well as narrative about opportunities and challenges facing the state’s organic farmers.
  • Organic Farmers Pay the Price for GMO Contamination
    Food & Water Watch in partnership with the Organic Farmers’ Agency for Relationship Marketing (OFARM) surveyed farmers in 17 states, finding that contamination from GMO crops is happening and it’s non-GMO farmers who are paying the price.


MOSES Organic Farming Conference

2015 Research Poster Gallery

Poster Winners:
1st Place
Introducing Winter-hardy Green Manures into Organic Soybean-Winter wheat-Corn Rotations:  Effects on Crop Yields and Weed Pressure
Katja Koehler-Cole, Univeristy of Nebraska-Lincoln

2nd Place
The Use of Organic Pinot Noir Grape Extract as a Natural Anthelmintic in Katahdin Lambs
Kimberly Cash, J.D. Caldwell, B.C. Shanks, A.L. Bax, L.S. Wilbers, H.L. Hilsenbeck, A.T. McKnelly, T.A. Drane, K.L. Basinger, J.K. Clark, and H.L. Bartimus, Lincoln University, H.D. Naumann, University of Missouri

3rd Place
Yield Performance and Stability of Dry Edible Beans (P. vulgaris L.):
Recommendations for Minnesota Organic Production
Hannah R. Swegarden, Thomas E. Michaels, and Craig Sheaffer, University of Minnesota 


2015 MOSES Organic Research Forum Workshops

These workshops were presented at the 2015 MOSES Conference. A selection of workshops highlighting research across a broad range of categories also will be offered at the 2016 MOSES Conference, Feb. 25-27 in La Crosse, Wis.

Does It Pay to Irrigate Pasture Here?
Presenters: Tom Kriegl, UW Center for Dairy Profitability and Paul Onan, Onan Dairy Farm

Many dairy and livestock operations use management intensive rotational grazing for controlling feed costs. Yet many believe the cost of irrigation can’t be justified for pasture. Considering that many pastures are dominated by grasses that are not drought tolerant, and we’ve seen a substantial increase in agricultural commodity and input prices since 2006, it’s worth looking at the economic feasibility of irrigating pasture in the Upper Midwest.

E.U. Organic Vegetable Production Innovations
Presenter: Kathleen Delate, Iowa State University

Explore innovations in organic vegetable systems in Italy, which has over 48,000 organic farms and an extensive support system (government, research, and private certification associations) to assist organic farmers in the transition and beyond. We’ll also discuss details on new roller-crimpers, vegetable varieties, and climate mitigation studies.

Managing Fire Blight without Antibiotics
Presenters: David Granatstein, Washington State University, Ken Johnson, Oregon State University, and Jessica Shade, Organic Center

Learn strategies and practices to control fire blight in apple and pear orchards without the use of antibiotics. Several new control materials are available for use by organic growers, but none appears as a stand-alone replacement for antibiotics. See how organic orchardists in Washington State have used a systems approach successfully to maintain compliance for export to the EU. We’ll cover sanitation, vigor control, sequence and timing of control materials, spray coverage, and varietal susceptibility.

Organic Pasture Management for Dairy Production
Presenters: Mark Renz and Erin Silva, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Pastures—critical to organic dairy production—vary widely among farms in their composition and management. These factors, plus soil fertility practices, greatly influence pasture productivity and quality, impacting milk production. We’ll draw from a recently completed research project on 40 organic dairy pastures to show you how to prioritize management practices to improve pasture productivity and quality in the Upper Midwest.

Organic Potato Production: From Starts to Storage
Presenters: Ruth Genger and Doug Rouse, University of Wisconsin

Potatoes can be challenging to produce, but knowledge about crop needs and management options can help you achieve a bountiful harvest—and keep it longer in storage. We’ll cover sourcing and handling seed, fertility needs, managing pests and diseases, small-and large-scale equipment options, harvesting and storage. We’ll also discuss standard and specialty variety choices, continuing on-farm potato variety trialing projects in the Midwest, and possibilities for on-farm seed potato production.

Pest Management in Organic Grain Crops
Presenter: Kathleen Delate, Iowa State University

The majority of organic grain crops require little beyond native bio-control agents to keep pests in check. This workshop will focus on all the biological, cultural and organic-compliant treatments available to organic farmers. We’ll also look at research results and farmer experience to judge how effective these treatments are for maintaining a pest-suppressive organic grain system.

Practical Approaches and Research Studies with Swine
Presenter: Tom Frantzen, Frantzen Family Farms

This workshop combines decades of experience with the latest research results to give you practical information to improve your hog operation. Learn about the goals and personal values that guide Frantzen Farms, collaborated on-farm research, and other relevant research information with a focus on forages and grow finish diets.

Vermicomposting for the Cold Climate Farm
Presenter: John Biernbaum, MichiganState University

Vermicompost can be a reliable, affordable source of organic matter containing both soluble and stable nutrients for production of high-value transplant and hoophouse crops. It can be made from on farm or local resources that help close the food cycle loop. We will investigate vermicomposting variables for vigorous, vibrant vegetables, based on four years of hoophouse vermicomposting experience and research at Michigan State University.

Where’s the Beef in Animal Product Quality?
Presenter: Chuck Benbrook, Washington State University

How animals are fed and managed has profound effect on milk, meat, fish, and egg quality—which likely accounts for most of the differences in the nutritional value of organic versus conventionally raised animals. We’ll examine recent meta-analyses that link animal, fish, and human nutrition with health outcomes. You’ll find there’s a surprisingly deep body of evidence pointing to adverse nutritional impacts from conventional livestock and aquaculture systems.


From the Organic Broadcaster:

Research evaluates green manures as fertilizer in organic soybean-winter wheat-corn rotation
September | October 2015

Farmers can grow a green manure crop between winter wheat harvest in July and corn planting the following May. Green manures are plants grown specifically…. Read more.


Research shows farmers use mob grazing for variety of benefits
July | August 2015

For those of us interested in grass-based agriculture, mob grazing is likely not a new concept. We’ve heard the mob-grazing gurus talk at conferences, read the articles…. Read more.


Research shows organic fermented grape extract works as natural dewormer in lambs
May | June 2015

Gastrointestinal nematode parasitism is one of the greatest threats to economic sheep production in the United States. With increased incidences of anthelmintic resistance and constraints of organic production…. Read more.


Research shows biodegradable mulch film slow to degrade in field
March | April 2015

Biodegradable biobased mulch film was added to the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances for organic production in October 2014. Read more.


Research identifies potato varieties that do well on Midwest organic farms
January | February 2015

The potato is an important staple food—globally the fourth largest food crop after maize, wheat and rice.  Read more.


Integrated systems approach needed to control fire blight without antibiotics
November | December 2014

There is no cure for fire blight (FB), and there is no single “silver bullet” (including antibiotics) that will prevent FB infection. Successful non-antibiotic FB control combines….  Read more.


DCF 1.0Research moves forward on ‘organic-ready’ open-pollinated corn
September | October 2014

It has been known, at least since the 1950s, that popcorn cannot set seed if pollinated by yellow field corn. Another closely related plant called teosinte also shares….  Read more.


Research explores potential benefits of mixing cover crops
July | August 2014

The potential benefits of using cover crops are wide ranging and well documented. The potential benefits of using cover crop mixtures, however, have been less thoroughly explored.
Read more.


Research looks to cover crops to alleviate soil compaction, suppress weeds
May | June 2014

Rotary hoeing and in-row cultivation during the grain growing season help suppress weed populations. Read more.


Campbell Cover CropsResearchers evaluate precision cover cropping
March | April 2014

Implementation of specific cover cropping strategies that cost-effectively capture benefits while minimizing challenges is easier said than done. Read more Read more.


211rowflamerResearch highlights best practices for propane-fueled flame weeding
January  |  February 2014

Flame weeding has received renewed interest for its potential in not only organic, but also conventional cropping systems…. Read more.


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