Organic Agriculture

The educational materials listed on this page are about Organic Agriculture.

Organic agriculture integrates “cultural, biological and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.” Organic and sustainable agriculture often include the use of cover cropscrop rotationuse of tools and machinery for weed and pest management, and conservation tillage. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation and genetic engineering may not be used for food to be certified and labelled USDA organic. Organic livestock must have access to the outdoors and be “fed 100 percent certified organic feed, managed without antibiotics, added growth hormones, mammalian or avian byproducts, or other prohibited feed ingredients.” SARE has many helpful reads including Transitioning to Organic Production, which addresses conversion strategies, organic farming production practices, marketing approaches and federal organic standards for certified organic crop and livestock. SARE’s Crop Rotation on Organic Farms reviews how rotating crops improve soil quality and health and help manage pests, diseases, and weeds.

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Building Soils for Better Crops

The fourth edition of Building Soils for Better Crops—enhanced and expanded—explains how to use ecological principles to build soil health and boost fertility, yields and overall sustainability.

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Supporting Farmer Training Programs in the West

“When I finally came (to ALBA’s Farmer Education Program), I learned so much! How to eat differently, how to plant without pesticides, how to harvest, move the boxes, move the product in the system.”  -Maria Ana Reyes, 2015 graduate of ALBA’s Farmer Education Course. Like Maria Ana Reyes, new and beginning farmers often need technical […]

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Growing the Field for Organic Conservation

As producers work to meet regulations under the National Organic Program (NOP) and become certified organic, they often apply conservation practices that align well with the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) conservation activities, such as green manures, buffer strips, and rotational grazing. NRCS assistance is being sought by both new and established organic farmers to […]

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Climate-Sustaining Agriculture

Often, farmers are willing to make changes in their growing practices to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and their climate impact. Whether conventional or organic, agriculture can be a source of GHG emissions. Those farmers eager to modify their practices may lack the knowledge and tools to make effective choices. According to graduate student […]

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How to Conduct Research on Your Farm or Ranch

This 32-page bulletin outlines how to conduct research at the farm level, offering practical tips for both crop and livestock producers, as well as a comprehensive list of more in-depth resources.

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Organic Production

Capitalize on the booming organic industry. This topic room has resources on organic systems, pest management, animal production, marketing, certification, conservation and much more.

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2015/2016 Report from the Field

Read about SARE-funded work in the areas of sustainable dairy cropping systems, soil health assessments, nutrient management, cover crops, beginning farmers, pollinators, technical assistance programs for women farmers, and more. This edition includes highlights of projects funded through the graduate student program, and the highly regarded Sustainable Agriculture Fellowship, a professional development program coordinated by SARE and NACAA.

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National Continuing Education Program

This program is designed for Cooperative Extension and Natural Resource Conservation Service personnel, and is also open to farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural professionals nationwide. It emphasizes core concepts and a basic understanding of sustainable agriculture, its goals and its relevance to every farming and ranching operation—large or small.

The core of the national continuing education program is a series of three online courses. Take them now.

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Integrated Pest Management in Alabama

  Organic vegetable growers in the Deep South face a constant battle with pests. In Alabama, new information is leading to better crop protection and more profitability, thanks to the work of Ayanava Majumdar, Alabama Extension entomologist and Southern SARE state coordinator. As a SARE state coordinator, Majumdar is tasked with bringing sustainable agriculture information […]

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Cover Crops for Sustainable Crop Rotations

Cover crops are one of the best ways to improve soil health, reduce off-farm inputs and protect natural resources. Find a wealth of educational materials developed out of decades of SARE-funded cover crop research.

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Organic Transition

The profit potential of transitioning to organic production—along with other rewards—has farmers, ranchers and food business owners across the country considering the switch. But successfully managing your business through the multi-year transition process requires careful planning. Use Organic Transition: A Business Planner for Farmers, Ranchers and Food Entrepreneurs to develop an actionable business transition plan that is suitable for yourself, your management team or a lender.

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FARMDATA

FARMDATA is an online system for tracking and reporting crop production data, particularly for organic vegetable growers. The system can be used for keeping records on seeding, transplanting, harvest, cover crops, compost, fertilization, irrigation, pest scouting and spraying activities, packing, distribution and customer invoicing. FARMDATA uses smart forms that help with calculations and remember key data.

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Sustainable Pest Management in Greenhouses and High Tunnels

From 2007 to 2009, Cornell researchers in New York used a SARE grant to study the efficacy of biological insect control in minimally heated greenhouses and high tunnels or hoop houses. This fact sheet reports the results and provides detailed advice on how growers can use natural enemies to manage insect pests in minimally heated greenhouses and unheated high tunnels.

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The Small Ruminant Toolbox

This Small Ruminant Toolbox is a large collection of publications, presentations and other resources that will be helpful to small ruminant producers and educators.
Sarah Fannin standing next to a sweet potato harvester.

The Lucrative Sweet Potato Takes Root

Small-scale tobacco farmers in eastern Kentucky who are looking for alternatives due to changes in the tobacco market are discovering that a relatively easy, often profitable transition lies in sweet potatoes. With relatively low input and capital costs and a short learning curve, they are able to earn gross returns of up to $7,000 per […]