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The Organic Horticulture Production System


Compost may reduce the incidence and severity of some diseases. * The composting process itself helps to reduce the odor of raw materials, ie manure. – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Organic Horticulture Production System

The Organic Horticulture Production System
Heather Friedrich University of
Organic Production Principles
  • Defined according to the National Organic Program
    (NOP) as
  • an ecological production management system that
    promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological
    cycles and soil biological activity. It is based
    on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on
    management practices that restore, maintain and
    enhance ecological harmony.
  • Production is based on a holistic biological
    system not input substitution
  • Soil based system

Organic Production Principles
  • Management-intensive Routine observation of
    plant health weeds
  • Rule of Thumb No synthetic fertilizers or
    pesticides (including urea or Round-Up) few
    exceptions eg. pheromones
  • Rule of Thumb Only naturally based products, few
    exceptions eg. lead, arsenic, nicotine
  • No GMO seeds or irradiated products

Feed the soil to feed the plant
  • Build/maintain healthiest soil possible through
  • Crop rotation including cover crops
  • Tillage
  • Fertilizers
  • Mulch
  • Irrigation
  • Weed management
  • Insect, Arthropod Disease management

What goes on in the soil that is so important?
Elaine R. Ingham The Soil Biology Primer 
Soil Fertility Management
  • Compost animal-based provides more N
  • Manure cannot be applied less than120 days prior
    to harvest for a food crop
  • Cover crops Legume/Grass mixtures
  • Fish emulsion, seaweed
  • Plant based fertilizers
  • Alfalfa meal
  • Soybean meal

Soil food web!!
Field pea-oat-mustard cover crop
Benefits of Compost
  • Nutrient recycling
  • cornerstone of ecologically-based farming
  • Assists in moisture retention in soils
  • Slow-release of nutrients
  • May reduce disease incidence due to an increase
    of microbial populations
  • may out-compete disease causing organisms

Benefits of Compost
  • Helps reduce odors of original feedstocks
  • Destruction of weed seeds and pathogens
  • Destruction of potentially harmful microorganisms
    such as E.coli 0157h7 or salmonella

Compost Rules for Organics
  • Can be applied to a crop at any time if it was
    composted according to NOP rules
  • Made with plant or animal materials
  • No biosolids or any other unapproved inputs
    (refer to National List)
  • CN ratio of 151 to 401
  • In-vessel or static aerated pile system must
    reach a minimum of 131F for at least 3 days
  • A windrow system must reach at least 131F for 15
    days and be turned at least 5x so that that all
    materials reach temp
  • must be cured or aged
  • If compost does not meet standards, follow the
    same rules as raw manure

Crop Rotations annual crops
  • Rotation must include a cover crop and work to
    maintain or improve soil organic matter
  • Consider crop nutrition, soil fertility
  • Interrupt insect, weed and disease cycles
  • Pests unable to find hosts when crops are changed
  • Change the crop ecology shallow/deep roots,
    cold/warm season, row/drilled crops, foliage
    density, heavy/light feeders

10 Year Rotation SchemeAlex and Betsy Hitt,
Chapel Hill NC http//
Planting Diversity
  • Efficiency
  • space
  • soil
  • water
  • reduces insects pressure
  • increases beneficial insects

Early season spring greens and garlic
Mixed lettuce greens gladiolas
Perennial CropsSoil building Biodiversity
  • Groundcover management mixed spp
  • Mulches
  • Cover crops in strips
  • Insectary plantings

  • Understand the biology of weeds
  • annual, fixed perennial, wandering perennial, the
    lifecycle, establishment
  • Good soil for crops good for weeds
  • Action
  • Remove or Prevent establishment --change the
  • Many little hammers approach

WEEDS! Little Hammers
  • Crop rotation cover crops
  • -remember crop ecology
  • Cultivation (timely) hand-hoe, rototilling,
    cultivators, hoeing - dust mulch
  • Mulches straw, fabric, wool, flax, plastic
    (landfill issues)
  • Flamer
  • Organic herbicides
  • Biodiversity insects, animals eat weed seeds

Mechanical Weed Control
  • Cultivation (timelyshallow) hoe, cultivators
    - dust mulch
  • Push-pull hoes
  • ergonomic handles
  • Hand scrapers and cultivators for tight spaces
  • Rototilling, multivators, tine basket weeders
    can get close and in-btw plants
  • Exhaust root system (perennial weeds) deplete
    storage reserves
  • Requires 6-8 timely treatments in yr 1, then 3-5
    the following year

Tillage Soil Health
  • Criticism of organic agriculture is use of
  • Negative effects of tillage, offset by the use of
    cover crops and additions of organic matter
    (compost, manures, mulch, etc)
  • USDA-ARS research showed organic methods can
    increase Organic Matter more than conventional
  • Must use caution against excessive tillage

  • Prevent seeds from germinating, can smother out
    some weeds
  • Conserve water, minimal soil disruption,
  • Use local resources straw, fabric, wood,
    newspaper, plastic/landsc. fabric
  • Be careful of weed seeds in straw
  • Especially good for perennial systems
    blueberries, blackberries, flowers, trees
  • Living mulches eg plant fall clover crop, mow
    at flowering to kill it, plant into residue

Paper mulch in lilies snapdragons Rowcover over
tomatoes and landscaping fabric between rows
Wood chip mulch laid over newspapers in walk way
Wood chip mulch, possibly free resource
leaf mulch applied in fall to perennial flowers
Other methods of weed control
  • Flamer especially handy during wet conditions
    no mechanical tools
  • Broadleaf weeds more susceptible to flaming
  • Organic herbicides
  • Matran, Burnout II, Green Match, others
  • Phytotoxic burn plant tissue
  • Thoroughly coat weed
  • Non-selective

Crop selection
  • Some crops are more competitive against weeds
    than others
  • Rapid germination, growth, dense canopy
  • Use transplants vs direct seeding for crops if
  • Transplant or plant into a clean bed
  • Allow a flush of weeds to emerge then till under

Insect Weed Interaction
Cover crops in Weed Management How do they work?
  • Smother weeds by out competing light, water,
  • Release allelopathic chemicals that suppress weed
  • As they decompose, abundant microbial communities
    suppress germination
  • prevent soil erosion
  • aka green manure
  • Recycle and scavenge nutrients
  • Provide organic matter

Cover crops
  • How to incorporate into annual rotation
  • Time Space niches
  • Time - plant cover crop before or after harvest
    of main crops (eg. plant buckwheat between spring
    greens and fall tomatoes)
  • Space plant low growing cover crop within main
    crop, after establishment (eg. plant legume into

Cover crops for Southeast
  • Summer cover crops plant after frost
  • Annual lespedeza
  • Soybeans
  • Southern peas
  • Buckwheat
  • lespedeza
  • Sorghum-Sudangrass
  • Winter cover crops plant in Fall
  • Hairy vetch
  • Crimson clover
  • Subterranean clover
  • Austrian winter pea
  • Grain rye, wheat, oats
  • Brassicas (radish, turnip)

Crimson clover
Insect Management
  • Crop rotation healthy soil
  • Enhance natural plant defenses
  • Prevention - clean up after harvest destroy all
    infested fruits/vegetables
  • Row covers - keep pests out put over plants when
    young and remove at flowering
  • Companion planting and trap crops
  • Harvest early variety selection
  • Know your pest--life cycle, natural enemies,
    relationship with climatic conditions--and manage
    at vulnerable period

Biological Control
  • Critical component of organic insect management
  • Natural enemies (predators, parasites, nematodes
    and pathogens) exist for nearly every pest
  • Conservation of beneficials is key
  • Augmentation (purchased beneficials) can work in
    certain cases (e.g. greenhouses)

Michigan Field Crop and Pest Ecology and
Management , 2000
Trichopoda pennipes
Conservation of Beneficials
  • Maintain adequate supply of food (prey, pollen,
    nectar) through plant diversity in the farm
  • Insectary plants buckwheat, clovers, herbs-dill,
    mint, yarrow flowers- gaillardia, allysum,
  • Use of toxic pesticides limited to outbreaks

Approved Treatments
  • Use as last resort--may affect beneficials
  • Check with Certification Agency
  • Check with National List
  • Check with Organic Materials Review Institute
  • Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), lepidopteran
  • Botanical insecticides pyrethrum, sabadilla,
  • Other natural treatments D.E., garlic, hot
    pepper, vegetable oils and soaps

Disease Management
Disease Triangle for disease to occur, all 3
must be present
Disease Management
  • Crop rotation healthy soil
  • Disease resistant/tolerant cultivars breeding
  • Pruning spacing- promote air-flow
  • Removal of diseased leaves/plants - sanitation
  • Compost application compost tea
  • Organic fungicides baking soda,
    garlic, milk efficacy dependant on several
  • Serenade Bacillus subtilis
  • powdery mildew, early late
    blight, gray mold

Compost for Disease Suppression
Organic Breeding
  • Seed breeding under organic conditions
  • Organic Seed Alliance, Abundant Life, Save Our
    Seeds, Cornell - Public Seed Initiative, Seeds of
  • Organic producer involvement
  • Organically bred varieties can thrive under less
    than optimum conditions -seedling vigor,
    efficient nutrient uptake
  • Have multiple gene resistance -cuticle thickness,
    trichomes, phenols

  • Ag groups SSAWG
  • Annual conf
  • Resources
  • Local Extension office
  • Field days
  • Local Farmers Market
  • Internet
  • Organic Farming Research

  • This presentation address general organic
    production practices. It is to be to use in
    planning and conducting organic horticulture
    trainings. The presentation is part of project
    funded by a Southern SARE PDP titled Building
    Organic Agriculture Extension Training Capacity
    in the Southeast
  • Project Collaborators
  • Elena Garcia, University of Arkansas CESHeather
    Friedrich, University of ArkansasObadiah Njue,
    University of Arkansas at Pine BluffJeanine
    Davis, North Carolina State UniversityGeoff
    Zehnder, Clemson UniversityCharles Mitchell,
    Auburn UniversityRufina Ward, Alabama AM
    UniversityKen Ward, Alabama AM UniversityKaren
    Wynne, Alabama Sustainable Agriculture Network
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