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Upcoming UW organic ag field days will cover row crops and pastures, vegetable production

University of Wisconsin-Madison agricultural researchers will host two organic-focused field days in the Madison area this summer.

The first will be held at Arlington Agricultural Research Station on Tuesday, Aug. 23 from 1:00-4:30 p.m. and will focus on row crops and pastures. The second, set for West Madison Agricultural Research Station on Sunday, Sept. 11 from 2:00–5:00 p.m., will cover organic vegetable production.

“The transition to organic requires know-how and strategy. Fortunately, tools exist that can help farmers successfully navigate the changes in production and achieve strong organic yields during the first year of organic certification—and beyond. The university research we share at these field days can contribute to any organic farmer’s toolbox,” says Erin Silva, UW-Madison assistant professor of plant pathology and UW-Extension organic production systems specialist, who organized the August field day.

The Aug. 23 Arlington Organic Pasture and Row Crop Field Day held at Arlington Agricultural Research Station will focus on organic row crop production and organic pasture management. A highlight will be a presentation on the roller-crimper technique, an approach that involves knocking down and planting directly into a cover crop mulch to help smoother weeds. Attendees will be able to view how this approach works with early and late soybean planting dates, various soybean varieties and rye varieties.

Attendees can also evaluate the organic treatments used in the Wisconsin Integrated Cropping Systems Trial (WICST). Managed for 26 years using low-input and organic techniques, this long-term field trial demonstrates that organic production can be successful over extended years of management, achieving yields as high as 90 to 95 percent of conventional management.

Additional details: This event is free. RSVPs would be appreciated and can be directed (along with questions) to Erin Silva at emsilva@wisc.edu or (608) 890-1503. The registration table will open at 12:30 p.m. on the day of the event. Arlington Agricultural Research Station is located at N695 Hopkins Road, Arlington Wisconsin.

The Sept. 11 West Madison Organic Vegetable Research Showcase at West Madison Agricultural Research Station will cover plant breeding and variety selection for organic systems. This interactive event, which is geared toward vegetable farmers, will highlight the many organic vegetable variety trials that are being conducted on the station’s 10+ acres of certified organic land.

Featured variety trials include those being grown as part of the Northern Organic Vegetable Improvement Collaborative, which focuses on breeding new varieties and identify the best performing existing varieties of spinach, sweet corn, bell peppers, acorn and delicata squash, cabbage and tomatoes. Other trials involve beets, carrots, potatoes, sweet and culinary corn, and hoop house tomato production.

Participants can also view the progress of the Seed to Kitchen Collaborative, a UW-Madison-led collaboration among area chefs, farmers and plant breeders to develop improved vegetable varieties with characteristics important to local food systems. The project is led by Julie Dawson, UW-Madison assistant professor of horticulture and UW-Extension urban and regional food systems specialist, and involves over 400 varieties of 12 different crops in research trials. For more information, visit: dawson.horticulture.wisc.edu/chef-farmer-plant-breeder-collaboration/.

Plant breeders, pathologists, entomologists, seed company representatives and fellow farmers will be on hand to discuss issues and answer question. Participants will also have the opportunity to participate in vegetable flavor evaluations.

Additional details: This event is free. RSVPs are requested at: http://go.wisc.edu/organicveg. Questions can be directed to Julie Dawson at dawson@hort.wisc.edu. West Madison Agricultural Research Station is located at 8502 Mineral Point Road, Verona, Wisconsin.