Organic sales continue to increase in the U.S., with the organic industry listed at $39.1 billion at the last census. Organic corn and soybean continue to dominate organic grain markets, but organic wheat, oats, spelt and other crops are traded both locally and internationally. Annual certified organic soybean production in the U.S. was listed at 125,621 acres in 2011 (NASS, 2012), which remains insufficient to meet the demand for soy-based organic food and animal feed in the U.S. Foreign countries have been increasingly supplying the U.S. with organic grains to meet this demand, and in the first part of 2015, imports of organic soybeans have increased 50% over the previous period. In order to increase the transition to organic grain production, producers need science-based results demonstrating the benefits of organic production in terms of yields, soil/water quality improvements, and economic performance. Long-term organic farming system trials across the U.S. have proven useful in providing supporting evidence for successful transition from conventional to organic practices. The Iowa State University Long-Term Agroecological Research (LTAR) experiment was established in 1998 with local farmer input on design and management, and employs annual farmer evaluation of progress and future plans. The organic system in the LTAR, which includes perennial forage crops and small grains rotated with corn and soybeans, has shown organic yields, particularly those from longer rotations, equivalent to conventional yields. Over all years, organic returns have averaged twice those of conventional returns. In addition to yield comparisons, necessary for determining the viability of organic operations, ecosystem services, such as soil carbon capture, nutrient cycling, pest suppression, and water quality enhancement, have been documented for organic systems. Outcomes from long-term trials have been critical in determining factors underlying less than optimal yields in organic systems, which typically involved inadequate weed management and insufficient soil fertility in certain sites. Because of strong demand, organic corn is currently selling for $11.88/bu and organic feed-grade soybeans are $24.83/bu. Feed-grade oats are $5.47/bu and feed-grade wheat is $8.81/bu. Economics will play a key role in encouraging transition to organic, as conventional grain prices are returning a third to half of organic prices, with input costs also increasing.
October 06, 2015
American Society of Agronomy
Crop Management : 1.00
Soil Science Society of America
Professional Meetings: 1.00
Member/Certified Professional Price:$25.00