Field Day to Discuss Best Methods for Transitioning to Organic

Event to be held Aug. 21 at the Neely-Kinyon Memorial Research and Demonstration Farm

August 10, 2018, 10:26 am | Kathleen Delate

AMES, Iowa – Iowa State University Extension and Outreach’s Organic Ag Program will discuss best methods for transitioning into organic corn and soybean production during a field day at the Neely-Kinyon Memorial Research and Demonstration Farm Field Day, Aug. 21. The event will be held from 4-7 p.m. at the research farm near Greenfield.

Delate speaking to field day crowd.The field day will begin at 4 p.m. with a farm tour, followed by a light meal at 5:30 p.m. A question and answer session with ISU Extension and Outreach and industry experts will take place after the meal, discussing organic certification, markets and strategies for success.

The Organic Ag Program has studied best management practices for maintaining high yields while enhancing soil and water quality for transitioning and certified organic farmers. Through timely weed management, longer crop rotations and appropriate manure-based fertilization, the program has demonstrated comparable organic corn, soybean, oat, alfalfa, vegetable and fruit yields compared to conventional crops. Greater soil quality has been shown through the use of extended crop rotations, cover crops and compost applications, in addition to organic no-till farming.

Speakers will include Kathleen Delate, professor and extension organic specialist in horticulture and agronomy at Iowa State, who will discuss organic grain, forage and vegetable crops.

Cynthia Cambardella, soil scientist with the United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service, will present on enhancing soil and water quality through organic practices. Cambardella has documented a 50 percent reduction in nitrate loading from organic vs. conventional fields at her Ames research site.

Paul Scott, corn breeder with USDA-ARS, will discuss his efforts in breeding corn under organic conditions to develop high-performing hybrids.

In addition to the organic cropping systems research, Tim Daley, agronomist with Stonebridge Ltd., will discuss issues facing producers this summer, including insects, disease and herbicide drift. Daley will also discuss weather issues stemming from a wet spring and drought in July, which has affected both planting and now, potentially, yields from moisture stress in southern Iowa.

The organic agriculture industry continues to grow and was listed as a $50 billion industry in the United States in 2018, with a 7 percent increase in the number of organic businesses. Farmers across the Midwest are increasingly interested in transitioning to organic production to reap the premium prices and enjoy the environmental benefits organic has demonstrated, such as higher soil quality. Organic soybeans are currently priced at $19 per bushel and organic corn is $10 per bushel. According to the Organic Trade Association, organic farms across the U.S. are 35 percent more profitable than their conventional counterparts.

Directions to the Neely-Kinyon Memorial Research and Demonstration Farm (2557 Norfolk Avenue, Greenfield): Two miles south of Greenfield on Highway 25, one mile east, and a half mile north.

Contact Kathleen Delate at or 515-294-7069 for more information. The field day is supported by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture and the USDA-National Institute of Food and Agriculture-Organic Ag Research and Extension Initiative. Additional information on organic research is available at


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