Blog posts by research

Written by Guest Blogger on Monday, December 5, 2016 on food safety, research

USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) is researching how the produce industry will fare economically under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), and grower participation in the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) 2016 Vegetable Chemical Use Survey is vital to the success of the study. You may have received a postcard notifying you that you were selected to participate in this survey. It is being distributed randomly to vegetable growers in 19 states. One question on the survey covers biological pesticides. Other questions ask about practices commonly used by organic growers...
Written by Guest Blogger on Monday, December 5, 2016 on research

University of California, Davis (UC Davis) researchers are looking for certified organic producers to participate in a multi-regional study to assess current management practices used by the organic industry related to adding raw or untreated manure to crop fields. The goal of our study is to provide organic farmers with science-based effective strategies that limit food safety risks when using valuable raw manure-based soil amendments. UC Davis researchers will visit cooperating farms eight times over the 2017-2018 growing season. They will collect produce, water, soil, and manure samples....
Written by Guest Blogger on Friday, October 21, 2016 on pests and pesticides, research


A California Deptartment of Food and Agriculture grant proposal, Biological Control of Bagrada Bug, Bagrada Hilaris (Pentatomidae), was selected for funding by the 2016 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. This project will provide a sustainable pest management strategy for suppressing this pest in California. First reported in the United States in 2008, the bagrada bug has spread throughout agricultural areas of Imperial and Riverside counties, up through the Central Valley, and along the coast from San Diego to Monterey Bay. Currently, the only means for controlling this pest is the use of...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, August 22, 2016 on advocacy, policy, research

The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) has completed its analysis of federally-funded organic research projects and released the findings in the report Taking Stock: Analyzing and Reporting Organic Research Investments 2002-2014. OFRF analyzed 189 organic research projects that were funded by USDA’s Organic Research and Extension Initiative and Organic Transitions competitive grants over the course of 13 years, representing $142.2 million of research funds. About 70 percent of the studies looked into organic crop production, another 20 percent examined crop-livestock systems, and 10...
Written by Guest Blogger on Monday, August 15, 2016 on pests and pesticides, research


Cole Crops

As part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service’s efforts to develop a biological control program for the bagrada bug, the laboratory of Dr. Brian Hogg at the USDA in Albany, California, is investigating whether any native predators or parasitic wasps attack bagrada bug eggs. The laboratory is currently looking for organic farms growing cole crops in the Central Valley to include in its survey. Any cole crops will work for the study, although fields with a history of bagrada bug infestation would be ideal. The study involves placing frozen bagrada bug eggs (...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, July 25, 2016 on advocacy, general organic, policy, research

The Rodale Institute in Pennsylvania began a side-by-side comparison of organic and conventional farming back in 1981. Today, the data collected in Rodale’s Farming Systems Trial show that organic farming produces competitive yields, builds higher levels of soil organic matter, retains more soil moisture, and is more profitable compared to conventional practices. The Farming Systems Trial also suggests that organic systems produce higher yields than conventional under drought conditions. Yield data from five years when rainfall was below average showed that organic corn yielded 31 percent...
Written by Guest Blogger on Monday, May 23, 2016 on grower, livestock, research

The growing numbers of small-scale farms (SSFs)1 and peri-urban and urban animal agriculture farms (UA)2 has increased the need for Extension specialists and veterinarians focused on small-scale and backyard livestock production. We are seeking your help in this needs assessment regarding animal health concerns on SSFs and UA in California, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington state. This study is led by Dr. Alda Pires (University of California), Dr. Dale Moore (Washington State University), and Dr. Ragan Adams (Colorado State University). The increasing popularity of local food production and...
Written by Guest Blogger on Monday, January 11, 2016 on marketing, research

The newly published research titled, “Organic Producer Perspectives on California State Mandated Marketing Programs and Implications for a Federal Organic Promotion Order”, examines the role of government mandated marketing programs in promoting certified organic produce in California. The two researchers, Tina Cosentino and Gregory Baker, set out to document organic growers’ perspectives on agricultural marketing programs in California and to evaluate the benefit of those programs. This research is timely as the Organic Trade Association (OTA) is conducting a multi-year national effort to...
Written by Guest Blogger on Monday, January 11, 2016 on research, seeds


University of California Davis and Organic Seed Alliance are working to develop new varieties of tomatoes, peppers, and dry beans specifically suited to the needs of organic farmers in California. In order to develop these varieties, the Organic Seed Alliance needs your help to understand your specific organic production needs and have developed a survey to gather your suggestions. The results of this survey will help direct this substantial organic breeding effort for the next several years. If tomatoes, peppers, or beans are important to your farm, please consider taking 15 minutes to...
Written by Zea Sonnabend on Monday, December 7, 2015 on advocacy, policy, research, seeds

It is a challenge for organic growers in California to find seed varieties that perform well in organic conditions, due to the fact that most plant breeding has been done for conventional production. This need for organic-specific vegetable varieties is being addressed by a new organic plant breeding project at the University of California, Davis, funded by a federal Organic Research and Extension Initiative grant. The project will focus on developing organic tomato, bean, and pepper varieties. Cultivars will be developed on CCOF-certified organic land at UC Davis’s student farm. The plan is...
Written by Guest Blogger on Tuesday, November 17, 2015 on marketing, research

As organic researchers, we are very excited about the prospect of organic check-off funds going towards supporting research to help us address U.S. organic farmers’ most pressing needs to increase production of organic food, feed and fiber. For years, we have fought the federal government and our state universities for every organic research dollar. Traditionally, organic research has been woefully underfunded. Unfortunately, this lack of funding has a real impact on organic producers, and translates into a lack of methods and tools useful for current organic farmers and reduced support for...
Written by Guest Blogger on Monday, October 5, 2015 on advocacy, general organic, research

National policies, issues, and institutions affect organic farmers, yet we lack a strong presence to ensure that the certified organic farmer’s viewpoint, needs, and concerns are represented in the national arena. To address this situation, several organic farming organizations have been discussing building a more effective and clearer voice for certified organic farmers. We are proud of certified organic’s growth and growing prominence in the marketplace, and believe now is the time that farmers, who are at the core of this success, establish a focused and strong voice. To ensure we are...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, August 31, 2015 on policy, research

The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) announced that it will keep its National Survey of Organic Farmers open through September 14, 2015.Please take a few minutes to fill out the survey.The 34-question survey focuses on certified organic farmers’ research needs and also collects information on the organic community’s experience with GMO contamination, pesticide drift, and food safety issues.Widespread participation by organic farmers across the country will ensure that research needs of all types and scales of certified organic production are recorded. Survey results inform...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, August 24, 2015 on food safety, policy, research

A new study out of the University of California, Berkeley shows that removing vegetation adjacent to farms on California’s Central Coast has not reduced the incidence of E. coli found in fresh produce. Instead, the reverse is true: farms that retained nongrazed riparian or other natural vegetation types had significantly lower prevalence of generic E. coli in water and pathogenic E. coli in produce.These results contradict the conventional wisdom that developed in 2006 when spinach contaminated with pathogenic E. coli entered the stream of commerce and caused three deaths and 205 illnesses....
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, August 10, 2015 on policy, research

If you haven’t had the opportunity to weigh in on Organic Research Priorities using the Organic Farming Research Foundation's (OFRF) national survey, we highly recommend doing so. The confidential survey asks for data on farm size, production, and location; detailed information about organic farming challenges; and farmers’ most pressing information needs on topics such as pest control, soil health, water conservation strategies, pesticide drift, and GMO contamination of organic crops.In addition to the OFRF national survey, CCOF is conducting in-person focus groups with CCOF chapters across...

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