Some time ago I posted a request for information on a joint project between
the Rodale Institute and DuPont, concerning the integration of organic
and conventional agriculture. Thanks to those who responded. I have since
obtained the following information. The Project Manager, Mr. Raymond
Forney, gave me permission to put it on the Net. His phone number for
further information is (410) 778-0141 (Chestertown, Maryland).
A SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE PROJECT AT REMINGTON FARMS:
AN ON-FARM RESEARCH, DEMONSTRATION, AND EDUCATION PROJECT IN
TO: Promote a more sustainable agriculture,
BY MEANS OF: On-farm research, demonstration, and education on farming
systems that are productive, economically viable, environmentally sound,
and socially acceptable,
THROUGH: A long-term partnership among farmer, industry, non-profit,
academic and government organizations.
1) Establish a private/public partnership in a jointly planned
research, demonstration and education program to promote
2) Evaluate and demonstrate the profitability, ecological impact and
sustainability of selected cropping systems.
3) Promote the recognition of agriculture as a crucial and responsible
resource use, and enhance public confidence in the farmer as an
agricultural producer and steward of the land, through promotion and
adoption of project findings.
- The main purpose of the project is to communicate results at the
national, regional and local levels.
- Special emphasis will be on broad dissemination of project findings
to inform the agricultural community, the public and government of
the economic, environmental and social implications of a spectrum of
- The project will build on work already done by others, and be
conducted with scientific rigor and quality, to advance technical
- The project will utilize and promote "Best Management Practices"
which can be implemented and demonstrated by farmers.
- Cropping systems will be compatible with wildlife management at
- Cooperators will work together toward common objectives, compatible
with the individual/institutional goals.
- Financial/technical support for this project will be secured and/or
provided by all cooperators and interested parties.
APPROACH AND METHOD
Farming systems. Four farming systems are conducted side-by-side,
each representing a different production approach. The systems
differ in their rotation schemes, tillage practices, fertility
programs, and pest control methods. All systems employ Best
Management Practices for tillage, fertility, and pest management, and
represent production options for NE Region farmers with divergent
production objectives. From "A" to "D", the 4 systems represent an
increasing reliance on rotation diversity and in-season management
and labor, and decreasing reliance on purchased inputs.
1) System "A": Designed for maximum economic production and minimum
management and labor inputs, while employing BMPs: Continuous corn,
the block split with winter cereal cover crop on part for excess
nitrate management. In this system, the entire block is managed the
same, with the exception of the cover crop. A "program" approach to
fertility and pest management is employed.
2) System "B": Increasing diversity to include the corn-soybean
rotation, while maintaining essentially a program approach to
fertility and pest management. The block is split, so that both
crops are present each summer.
3) System "C": Designed to optimize the balance between long-term
profitability and agronomic/environmental soundness, with a further
increase in diversity in the corn/wheat/double-crop soybean rotation.
Within this rotation, scouting, diagnostics, and prescription
approach to fertility and weed control are maximized. The block
consists of 2 sections, so that both corn and soybeans are present in
the block each summer.
4) System "D": Designed for minimum environmental impact, minimum off-
farm inputs, minimum use of non-renewable resources and toxic
compounds, while striving for profitable production, crop and
ecological diversity, improvement of soil tilth and fertility, and
integration of livestock: A diverse rotation including winter wheat,
corn, and soybeans, with winter cereal and legume cover crops, with a
strong reliance on cultural and mechanical weed control methods and a
minimum reliance on purchased fertilizer inputs. In this system, the
block is split into 3 parts, so that 3 cash grain crops in the
rotation will be present at all times. The goal of this system is
elimination of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, and pollution
prevention by elimination of sources. Nutrients are to be supplied
from biological sources (cover crops and manure), and pest control is
to be realized by cultural practices and by exploiting the natural
benefits of biodiversity.
Cropping systems planning and related decision making will be a
dynamic process and will be dependant upon reiterative review by the
Cropping Systems Subcommittee and the Farmer Advisory Panel.
Watershed phase: This phase of the project serves as a field-scale
demonstration of the different cropping systems and also provides
comparitive information on groundwater and runoff surface-water
quality associated with each system. The four cropping systems are
established side-by-side on about 10-acre blocks. Each block
occupies a discrete watershed, so that run-off of water, soil,
nutrients, and pesticides can be monitored. The watersheds are
instrumented with shallow wells for groundwater sampling, and with
flumes and automatic monitoring and sampling equipment for runoff.
Replicated experiment: In an adjacent field of similar soil type, a
replicated experiment is ongoing on a small-plot basis, for the
purpose of obtaining comparative data regarding yield, soil tilth
and fertility, pest populations, and nutrient movement through the
soil profile. Treatments include the same four cropping systems as
in the watershed study. The experiment is laid out with 4
replications in Latin square design with a split-plot component.
Main plots represent each farming system, with subplots for each
crop in the rotation. Subplots are 60' by 90'.
1) Compare the economics of several different cropping systems;
2) Compare the impacts of the different cropping systems on soil
3) Compare the impacts of the cropping systems on
environmental/ecological parameters such as soil water quality and
The following measurements will be common to both the demonstration
and the research phases of the project, except that surface and
groundwater monitoring will be done only in the demonstration
A) Economics: The economics of all inputs and outputs of each system
will be tracked according to the principles of farm financial
management, and consistent with prevailing local market values;
B) Soil: Physical, chemical and biological parameters will be
measured throughout the zone of tillage one to three times per year,
depending on the parameter, following accepted sampling and
C) Water: Surface water run-off, soil water, and ground water will
be monitored and sampled using flumes/autosamplers, lysimeters, and
wells/piesometers, respectively. Samples will be analyzed for
sediment (run-off only), nutrients, and pesticides, as appropriate.
D) Pests: pest populations and impacts on crop production, and the
effectiveness of different management strategies for ameliorating
pest damage will be monitored for each crop in each system.
During the past three years, representatives of the EPA, the
USDA, University of Maryland, University of Delaware, Cornell
University, the Rodale Institute and Du Pont have planned a major
effort to foster the goals of sustainable agriculture. Farmer,
industry, non-profit, academic and government organizations are
contributing human and fiscal resources for a sustainable
agriculture project at Remington Farms. The project mission is
to promote a more sustainable agriculture by means of on-farm
research and demonstration of farming systems that are
productive, economically viable, environmentally sound, and
socially acceptable. During the implementation phase, we
delineated 4 field-scale watersheds and a replicated small-plot
experiment by which to evaluate and demonstrate 4 farming
systems. These systems represent a continuum of increasing
reliance on rotation diversity, in-season management and labor
and decreasing reliance on purchased inputs. In 1993, we
gathered extensive baseline data, and installed berms, waterways,
flumes, auto-monitors/samplers for runoff, wells, lysimeters,
plots, alleys, and borders. We produced the first year's crops
utilizing practices consistent with the management priorities of
the diverse farming systems. Our site is now fully functional
and poised for a long-term project. Planetor Economic/Environmental
Analysis Model is used to compare economic and environmental impacts of
the 4 systems on a whole-farm basis over time. Soil quality data are
collected as one measure of sustainability and for comparison with other
existing projects. Farmers are participating in the design, implementation,
evaluation and interpretation of the project, and in communications
aspects. Substantial demonstration and communications components will
disseminate findings to farmers and others interested in agriculture and
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