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The Case Studies CASK STUDIES PROVIDE INSIGHTS into how the real world works. They help formulate and test hypotheses, but cannot substitute for other forms of scientific research. In complicated areas of human endeavor, how- ever, case studies can provide useful observations that go beyond the range of controlled experiments. They can indicate promising directions for fur- ther research and help demonstrate how many different factorseconomics, biology, policy, and tradition interact. The committee commissioned these 11 case studies to expand the growing but still limited scientific literature on the range of alternative farming systems currently operating in the United States. U.S. agriculture is ex- tremely diverse, and these case studies are only snapshots of certain agri- cultural sectors. These case studies were conducted during 1986. The com- mittee is aware that a complete assessment of alternative farming in the United States would require a much larger number of case studies, with systematic data collection and analysis extending over several years. More- over, the committee believes that a more comprehensive set of case studies should be developed and regularly updated as a way to track the evolution in the profitability of alternative agricultural systems. Nonetheless, the com- mittee believes that these case studies provide a useful understanding of the range of successful alternative systems available to U.S. farmers. Farmers and other innovators often develop, through their own creativity, new approaches to solving common farming problems. Examination of these approaches in case studies provides insights that may benefit others. Yet to draw valid inferences from a given farm, it is important to understand fully how a given production system works, what it accomplishes, and at what cost. Case studies per se should not be considered alone as ample evidence to judge the farming practices in question, nor should these farm- 247

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248 ALTERNATIVE AGRICULTURE ing practices necessarily be implementer! on other farms. But case studies can broaden the perspective of profitable alternatives and help focus future research. Working from its own experience, a survey of the literature, and discus- sions with alternative farming researchers, the committee compiled a pro- spective list of case study farms. Only the Thompson and Kutztown farms have been the subject of previous scientific research. The others have not been examined in detail prior to this project. Consequently, the case studies differ in level of scientific evidence, documentation, and analysis. To complete a given case study, the committee relied on existing scientific literature and secondary data that added further insight to the direct obser- vations made during on-farm visits. Such information was necessary in many cases to document or explain the feasibility of applying alternative farming practices or systems. In some instances, the biological and agro- nomic basis of special performance features on a case study farm was readily understood in light of current knowledge. Occasionally, the per- formance data reported by the case study farmer could not be fully ex- plained or reconciled with current scientific knowledge or experience on similar farms in the same area. These cases are noted herein, and are often identified as areas for additional research. A committee member or staff consultant visited each of the case study farms. Where possible, a local expert a university researcher, cooperative extension specialist, or Soil Conservation Service professional accompa- nied the visitor to the case study farm to provide verification and interpre- tation of procedures used, resources, performance, and other aspects of the special management features being examined on the farm. An outline was used to guide the interviewer, but the discussion always extended far be- yond the questions anticipated. Secondary data related to the climatic conditions, pest problems encoun- tered in the locality of the case study farm, and procedures used by conven- tional farms were assembled from various sources. Published reports and verbal information were obtained from experts familiar with the location and type of farming in the area. As the case study draft was prepared, additional information was obtained by telephone and letter from various sources, including the farmer and local experts, to fill in details overlooked or not fully understood during the initial visit. Each farmer and local expert was asked to review at least one draft of the case study manuscript and to indicate any errors or significant omissions. Committee members evaluated each case study according to several cri- teria. First, special features of the case study farm were reviewed to deter- mine whether they were explicable with existing scientific knowledge and theory. If so, the scientific findings were documented and the committee assessed the applicability of these features to other farms. Where the avail- able data permitted, the committee also examined the resource conserva- tion, food safety, and environmental and financial impact of the special features.

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THE CASE STUDIES 249 O V ERVIE W O F C ASK STU DY FAR MS Crop and Livestock Farms The Spray Brothers Farm near Mount Vernon, Ohio, encompasses 720 acres, including 400 acres of cropland. The farm enterprises in 1986 included 32 milk cows; 40 to 50 head of beef cattle; SS acres of soybeans; 12 acres of adzuki beans; 100 acres of corn, of which 40 percent is sold off the farm and the remainder fed to livestock; and 100 acres of wheat and oats. The oats, soybeans, and adzuki beans are sold through specialty health food distributors, and the wheat is sold through normal marketing channels or as seed wheat. Some corn is sold as poultry feed at a premium price. The BreDahZ Farm near Fontenelle in southwestern Iowa is a relatively small farm of 160 acres producing 35 to 40 acres of corn, 35 to 40 acres of soybeans, 20 acres of alfalfa, and 20 to 30 acres of pedigreed oats for seed. It also produces the following animal products: lambs, wool, sheep breed- ing stock, cattle, and hogs. Special features include intensive, flexible man- agement of on-farm resources complex rotations, innovative ridge-tiliage practices, and some spot spraying of herbicide when necessary. Strip crop- ping, terracing, and rotations have greatly reduced erosion on the farm. All fields are fenced so that livestock can be put on the fields after harvest to glean any crop residue. Turnips are double-cropped following oats and used as sheep forage. In addition, the turnips are grazed, a practice that provides excellent feed for the animals as well as improving soil filth and fertility and reducing erosion. The Sabot HiZZ Farm near Richmond, Virginia, is a diversified operation of 3,530 acres producing beef cattle, forage, and cash grain. Of special interest on this farm is the dramatic reduction in herbicide use as a result of har- vesting weeds, notably lohnsongrass, as a crop. Erosion is substantially reduced through no-tiliage planting, strip cropping, and pasturing prac- tices. Improved pastures and rotational practices also allow animals to graze year-round with little supplemental feeding. These practices significantly reduce pest control, tilIage, and feed costs. The Kutziown Farm in eastern Pennsylvania is an "alternative" 305-acre mixed crop and livestock farm with field slopes up to 25 percent. Crop acreages are adjusted to meet the entire feed needs for finishing 250 to 290 head of beef cattle and 50 to 250 hogs per year. The farmer uses no com- mercial fertilizer except for a small quantity of liquid starter fertilizer. He uses a small amount of herbicide on corn and soybeans on about 45 percent of the acreage and crop rotation and cultivation control weeds on the remaining acreage. Some surplus hay is sold. The farm in past years has had a surplus of nitrogen. Estimated soil erosion is about 4.5 tons per acre per year, which is below county and state levels but above the rate at which soil is formed. The Thompson Farm in central Iowa has 282 acres of tilled cropland with a 50-cow foundation beef herd and a farrow-to-finish hog operation of 90

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250 ALTERNATIVE AGRICULTURE sows. The farm's innovative ridge tilIage system is effective in most years for controlling weeds and preventing soil erosion in its rotation of corn, soybeans, oats, and hay. The owners use synthetic chemical pesticides only in emergencies, and they apply raw manure and municipal sludge to main- tain soil fertility. Livestock are raised with adequate sunlight and space to reduce stress and without growth hormones or subtherapeutic doses of antibiotics. The pigs are fed probiotics (beneficial bacteria) to prevent intes- tinal diseases. Fruit and Vegetable Farms The Ferrari Farm near Stockton, California, is composed of 223 acres ant! procluces about 75 acres of various tree fruits, 126 acres of nuts, and 22 acres of fresh-market vegetables. Most of the farm is certified by the state as organic, and about two-thirds of the Ferrari crops are sold as organically produced, according to state law and local certification standards. The re- mainder of the crops are produced with an integrated pest management (IPM) program that includes the occasional use of pesticides. The Ferraris have been innovative in their pest control strategies, experimenting with such new biological controls as the coaling moth granuTosis virus to control coming moth in apples, pheromones to control the oriental fruit moth, and predaceous mites to control phytophagous mites. They apply compost for its nutritional value and in the belief that it helps control nematodes. They also eliminate disease-prone crops. The Ferraris sell to wholesalers, a few retailers, and directly to consumers at the San Francisco farmers' market. Indirect measures such as growth in acreage and capital stock and a low debt-to-asset ratio indicate that the farm is prosperous. Four farms in south Florida producing fresh-market vegetables and using {PM were examined for this case study. John Hundley of Loxahatchee farms about 9,640 acres including 1,500 acres of sweet corn, 120 acres of cabbage, 3,000 acres of radishes, 1,600 acres of seed corn, and, 1,300 acres of field corn. The farm also includes 500 acres of pasture on which cattle are run, a 120-acre orange grove, and, 1,500 acres of sugarcane. Ted Winsburg of Palm Beach grows 350 acres of fresh-market peppers. John Garguillo of Naples raises 1,300 acres of tomatoes for the fresh market. Fred Barfield of Immo- kaTee raises 1,000 acres of vegetables, primarily varieties of bell peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers; he also has a 550-acre orange grove, a 1,000- head herd of purebred Beefmaster cattle, and a 1,200-cow commercial, mixed-breed herd. All four farms employ Glades Crop Care, Inc., to per- form pest scouting as a means of reducing pesticide use. Stephen Pavich ~ Sons is one of the nation's leading producers of fresh grapes. The Paviches produced about 1 percent of the nation's grapes in 1936 on about 1,125 acres of vineyard; in 1937 they purchased another 160 acres of grapes, a 14 percent increase in acreage. They use innovative vine- yard management practices such as reliance on natural enemies to control mite and insect pests. The principal source of soil nutrients is the applica-

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THE CASE STUDIES 251 lion of 2.5 to 3.0 tons of compost per acre. The farm maintains a permanent ground cover, which is periodically flail-chopped, to control weeds; weeds close to the vines are controlled by hand weeding and hoeing. Grape leaf- hopper is their primary insect pest. Most years the Paviches are able to produce all or nearly aD of their grapes without using any chemical pesti- cides except sulfur, to prevent fungal diseases. They consider plant nutri- tion, especially avoiding an excessively high ratio of nitrogen to calcium in the plant tissue, to be an important element of pest control. The farm sells 97 percent of its grapes on the conventional market and the rest to specialty organic markets. A premium price of $1.00 to $2.00 per 23-pound box, a 12 to 25 percent premium, is charged for the organic grapes to cover the cost of certification and special handling and storage. The Kitamura Farm near Sacramento, California, includes 305 acres, of which 160 acres are devoted to the production of processing tomatoes. The farm employs a modified version of an IPM program developed at the University of California that includes rotation of fields planted with toma- toes, scouting for insects, and precise irrigation management. By terminat- ing irrigation 10 days earlier than the generally accepted practice, the Kita- muras incur a lower incidence of mold in their tomatoes. Through these techniques the farm has been able to virtually eliminate insecticide and fungicide use while maintaining high yields and fruit quality. Other Farms Coleman Natural Beef includes 2,500 cow-calf units on about 284,500 acres of mostly mountain rangeland near Saguache, Colorado, west of Denver. The Colemans have imported no livestock replacements for more than 25 years but instead select from their own herd, using artificial insemination of 300 cows to get replacement bulls. Pastureland acreage per cow is high compared to crop-livestock farms or beef Ocelots, a practice that the Cole- mans say reduces the incidence of health problems in the cattle by avoiding crowding stress. Unlike other ranchers in the area, the Colemans apply no fertilizer or lime to their rangeland. Feeder cattle are fattened under contract in commercial fee~ots using feeds tested for pesticide residues. The Cole- mans routinely administer inoculations but do not use growth hormones or subtherapeutic doses of antibiotics in their natural beef program. They receive a 25 percent premium price for 2,500 head of their own beef plus 12,500 head produced to their specifications by other ranches, all of which is nationally advertised and marketed as natural beef. The marketing enter- prise is apparently much more profitable than the ranch. The Lundberg Family Farms near Chico, California, is a 3,100-acre farm that includes 1,900 acres of rice produced with reduced rates of chemical pesti- cides and fertilizers and a 100-acre field experiment that produces rice with no chemical fertilizers or pesticides. The Lundbergs have been experiment- ing with the production of organic rice for 18 years. On all of their fields the Lundbergs substitute the decomposition and incorporation of their rice

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252 ALTERNATIVE AGRICULTURE straw into the soil for the conventional practice of burrung the straw, and they employ an early-season irrigation schedule to prevent crop damage by tadpole shrimp (Tnops Zongicaudatus). They have largely succeeded in the first objective of their experimental fieldnonherbicidal weed control. Their remaining objectives include finding an acceptable way of providing nitro- gen without using synthetic chemical fertilizers or increasingly scarce and expensive animal manures. In spite of a nearly 50 percent premium added to the price of their organic rice, the experimental rice acreage has not been profitable in most years. With what they have learned from the field exper- iment, however, the Lundbergs have been able to improve the financial performance of their other fields by significantly reducing herbicide use.