McNay Research and Demonstration Farm

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Organic farming has increased to a $13 billion industry in the United States and continues to expand approximately 20% annually. In Iowa alone, organic acreage has increased from 13,000 in 1995 to 120,000 in 2001. Across the north central region, there has been a great interest in planting organic soybeans on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land, where up to a 300% premium can be obtained compared with conventionally raised soybeans. Regulation of soil organic matter through additions of plant residues and proper crop rotations will determine the long-term sustainability of the system. This project was started in 1999 with the objective of evaluating the biological and economic outcomes of different tillage systems for transitioning CRP land into organic production. Spring moldboard plowing provided the greatest yields over four years of experimentation at the McNay Research Farm. In 2004, after two cycles of a three-year rotation, the organic fields were transitioned to organic adzuki bean, popcorn, and triticale as potential alternative crops for southern Iowa.

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Iowa State University



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