High demand for organic livestock feed and food-grade grain along with continued double-digit growth in the organic marketplace are creating opportunities for more farmers to grow organic—opportunities that are even more appealing in light of the current low prices for commodity grains.
To help farmers learn about growing organic grain, the Organic Grain Resources and Information Network (OGRAIN) and the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) are offering four field days this summer covering the tools, activities and inputs needed for successful organic grain production. The field days are set for July 7, July 28, August 11 and September 15. Additional event details are below.
“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, you’ll find what you’re looking for in these field days,” says Anders Gurda, associate researcher in the UW-Madison/UW-Extension Organic and Sustainable Cropping Systems Lab and program coordinator for OGRAIN.
Each field day will feature invited speakers including farmers, researchers, agency personnel and industry representatives. They will all include an engaging farm tour, as well as 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, attendees will also learn about marketing opportunities, organic transition and certification, Whole Farm Revenue Protection crop insurance and enterprise budgeting.
Significant barriers prevent many producers from making the leap to organic grain production. “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,” explains Harriet Behar, organic specialist with MOSES.
“Farmers can avoid the roller coaster of commodity prices from year to year by growing and selling organic grain, with the added bonus of producing the crops in an environmentally responsible manner. These field days will be time well-spent for all attendees,” says Gurda.
Field days are available to anyone with an interest in learning more about organic grain production. However, the events emphasize the needs of beginning farmers who have been farming for fewer than 10 years.
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 UW-Madison Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems, the UW-Madison Farm and Industry Short Course, the UW-Madison/UW-Extension Organic and Sustainable Cropping Systems lab and MOSES.
OGRAIN/MOSES organic grain field day calendar:
Organic Small Grains Production, Milling, and Marketing
July 7, 2016 (10-3pm)
Dolan Farms, Dodgeville, WI and Lonesome Stone Milling, Lone Rock, WI
Managing Risk in Organic Production
July 28, 2016 (9-4pm)
Goldmine Farms, Pana, IL
An Organic Grain Toolbox: Weed control, crop rotations, cover crops, soil health, human health, and enterprise budgeting
August 11, 2016 (9-4pm)
Cooksville Community Center/Doudlah Farms, Evansville, WI
Managing Organic Crops on a Large Scale
September 15, 2016 (1-4pm)
Fairview Farm, Cottonwood, MN
For more information about the field days and to register, visit mosesorganic.org or call (715) 778-5775. Some field days require pre-registration and/or a fee for a lunch.
For more information about OGRAIN and its programs, contact Anders Gurda, firstname.lastname@example.org, (612) 868-1208.