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Field day focuses on adding organic grain to large-scale farms

Farmer interest is growing in growing organic grain. Many large-scale grain farms throughout the country are transitioning some or all of their acres to organic production, increasing the diversity of their cropping systems as well as the markets that they sell into.

“With prices often two to three times conventional commodity prices, farmers stand to gain after navigating the sometimes challenging transition process,” says Anders Gurda, manager of the Organic Grain Resources and Information Network (OGRAIN) at University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Transitioning to organic grain will be the topic of the upcoming Adding Organic to Large-Scale Farms Field Day, set for Thursday, Aug. 24 from 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. at Wallendal Farms in Grand Marsh, Wisconsin. The field day is hosted by Wallendal Farms, OGRAIN, and the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES).

Wallendal Farms is a leader and innovator when it comes to organic grain. The farm is in the midst of a 10-year effort to convert around one-third of its 3,200 irrigated acres to organic grain, a process that has proven both challenging and rewarding—but worth the investment.

“[Transitioning some of our acres to organic] has helped to make us better farmers on all of our acres,” says Megan Wallendal, the farm’s research specialist.

The field day will cover experiences on Wallendal Farms with organic transition, on-farm research, innovative crop rotations, successful farm transfer to the next generation, and running a parallel (organic and conventional) operation. The farm tour will show on-farm grain storage, conservation tillage, and the machines and implements the Wallendals use for specific applications.

Field day participants will also have the opportunity to tour bean breeding plots with Ken Kmiecik, an independent bean breeder. Justin Morris, regional soil health specialist for USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, will be on hand to demonstrate a rainfall simulator and discuss conservation tillage and cover crops.

“No matter what crop or at what scale you’re currently farming, attendees are going to come away with helpful information and new ideas,” says Harriet Behar, senior organic specialist with MOSES.

Registration is free and includes a free lunch. Register online for this event at mosesorganic.org/aug-24 or call MOSES at (715) 778-5775. Wallendal Farms is located at 2401 5th Avenue, Grand Marsh, Wisconsin.

Sponsors include Allied Cooperative, Family Farms Group, Midwest Organic Services Association, Purple Cow Organics and The DeLong Co., Inc.

OGRAIN is a collaborative effort of the University of Wisconsin-Extension and MOSES. For more information about OGRAIN and its programs, contact Anders Gurda at agurda@wisc.edu or (612) 868-1208.

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