Related Projects


Breeding for Organic Production Systems (BOPS)

Related Plant Breeding Projects

As the organic industry in the United States continues to grow, various research projects throughout the country have been increasingly influential. Read below for a synopsis of some of these projects, and visit the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture website to learn more.

The University of Minnesota is currently working on improving soybean and dry bean varieties for organic systems in the Upper Midwest. The focus is to develop organic varieties with enhanced competitiveness with weeds and increased biological nitrogen fixation. Investigators: Orf, J.H.; Michaels, T.E.; Sadowsky, M.J.; Sheaffer, C.C

The Agricultural Research Service in Ames, Iowa is utilizing a grant that will strengthen public corn breeding to give organic farmers hybrids that are optimized to their farming systems. The team is also working on pollen-excluding varieties, which they hope will lead to the development of corn that cannot be pollinated by corn from neighboring fields. This would reduce the level of GMO contamination in organic corn as well as increasing the purity of other market classes of corn. Investigator: Scott, P.

High quality organic bread wheat is the focus of a grant received by the University of Maine. The research team is working with farmers, millers and bakers to develop strategies for organic wheat production that benefit all parties involved. The project is focused on researching wheat cultivars that would satisfy multiple criteria: productivity, profitability, milling and baking needs, quality, and flavor. Investigators: Mallory, E.B.; Darby, H.M.; Gallandt, E.R.; Kersbergen, R.; Camire, M.E.; Bosworth, S.; Halloran, J; Smith, S.; Hazelrigg, A; Lambert, D.

New Mexico State University is working to enhance the economic sustainability of organic peanut farming in the Southwest. This project will pinpoint the problems of organic peanut production in order to improve farm management practices, improve economic performance and meet the demand for organic peanuts by U.S. and international consumers. Investigators: Idowu, O.J.; Mayen, C.; Sanogo, S.; Grover, K.; Ashigh, J.; Uchanski, M.; Trostle, C.; Quinn, J.

On-farm research is being conducted to help organic grain farmers in the mid-Atlantic region to better understand nutrient management in organic cropping systems, developing strategies that would allow farmers to provide enough nitrogen for their crops without overloading the soil with phosphorus. Investigators: Cavigelli, M. A.; Mirsky, S.; Maul, J.E.

Due to the very limited availability of organic hops, Washington State University has received a grant to help identify and develop high quality hop varieties that could be adapted to organic production systems. Currently, this high-value crop requires large amounts of pesticides and nitrogen fertilizer in order to achieve both high yields and good quality. This research should begin to help farmers choose more productive varieties when transitioning into organic hops production, thus helping alleviate the growing demand for organic hops. Investigator: Murphy, K.M.

Ohio State University has received a grant that would incorporate planting a husk-less variety of oats into a farm rotation to help balance the cost of food for pasture-raised organic poultry. These oats are higher in protein than conventional oats and have a pattern of amino acids that suggest they could be the primary cereal grain in poultry diets after they are 3 or 4 weeks of age. The oats could also be sold as an ingredient in multi-grain products, like granola, for human consumption, offering another potential market for this product. Investigators: Lilburn, M. S.; Phelan, L.; Batte, M.; Mariola, M.

Cornell University is working on a project that aims to increase the prosperity of organic grain and vegetable farms. They are looking at different management practices and the effect these practices have on yields, soil health, nutrients, weeds, disease, insects and economics.
Investigators: Drinkwater, L.; Van Es, H.; Kettering, Q.; Nelson, E.; Rickard, B.; Seaman, A.

Pennsylvania State University has received a grant to experiment using diverse cover crop mixtures, or cocktails, to increase biodiversity in cropping systems. The study is being conducted at the university’s research station as well as on three organic farms, enabling the researchers to determine the performance of the diverse cover crop mixtures within realistic management constraints of organic farms. Investigators: Kaye, J.; Barbercheck, M.E.; Mortensen, D.A.; Luthe, D.S.; White, C.M.; Cornelisse, S.A.; DuPont, S.T.; Hartman, D.W.; Hautau, M.M.; Keirnan, N. E.; Schipanski, M.E.

Jennifer Lapidus has taken bread making to the next level. Her work on the North Carolina Organic Bread project has brought wheat breeders, organic grain farmers, millers, and bakers together to make fresh local products for consumers. To learn more about this project, go to www.carolinafarmstewards.org/carolina-ground/