PART FIVE

Research and Education in the Northeastern Region



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SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE RESEARCH AND EDUCATION IN THE FIELD: A PROCEEDINGS PART FIVE Research and Education in the Northeastern Region

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SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE RESEARCH AND EDUCATION IN THE FIELD: A PROCEEDINGS This page in the original is blank.

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SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE RESEARCH AND EDUCATION IN THE FIELD: A PROCEEDINGS 18 Long-Term, Low-Input Cropping Systems Research Rhonda R. Janke, Jane Mt. Pleasant, Steven E. Peters, and Mark Böhlke One of the most challenging areas of research within the mandate of low-input sustainable agriculture (LISA) involves long-term cropping system studies. Agricultural scientists are continually faced with a dilemma when implementing research of this nature. The problem is how to conduct component research that tests a specific hypothesis about one or two factors (e.g., nitrogen fertility or weed control) while maintaining the realism and complexity of the cropping systems described in whole-farm comparisons and case studies. One of the myths that dominated the research community in 1981 was that LISA-type cropping systems were nothing more than conventional systems without the use of chemicals (Harwood, 1984). As a result, component research at that time “proved” that these systems were inferior to the conventional management approach. Experiments designed with this primary assumption (bias) failed to take into account the fact that chemical usage is only one of many factors involved in designing the efficient, well-structured, integrated, and biologically stable systems that have been found on many commercial organic farms (National Research Council, 1989; U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1980). The interactions among the components of an efficient farm enterprise, such as the use of cover crops and animal manures, biological nitrogen fixation, nutrient uptake and release rates, weed dynamics, disease and insect suppression, and the rotation effect, are poorly understood (Harwood, 1985). Replicated and controlled settings are needed to explore, evaluate, and comprehend these vital processes. In addition to answering questions about basic biological processes, well-researched model cropping systems provide valuable agronomic and economic information for farmers, extension agents, and agribusinesses.

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SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE RESEARCH AND EDUCATION IN THE FIELD: A PROCEEDINGS This chapter describes three studies of long-term cropping systems currently being conducted in the United States. Several other studies are ongoing at other locations (California, Nebraska, Ohio, and Michigan, to name a few). The three studies described in this chapter are located in New York and Pennsylvania and received funding from the LISA program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the 1988 and 1989 growing seasons. Some of the agronomic and economic results from these studies are highlighted, although two of the three studies were established in 1988, and from a pragmatic point of view, these data should be considered preliminary results. This raises a question of concern for researchers involved with long-term studies: How are sustainable funding sources for low-input sustainable agriculture research obtained? If it takes between 5 and 10 years to begin to get useful data from experiments (posttransition period), who should be asked to bear the cost of supporting this research? Private industries, by nature, tend to support research that is usually geared only toward product development and testing. Public research funds are mandated for research that benefits the public at large. Low-input sustainable agriculture now has the support of the public because of the increasing awareness of the negative environmental effects of some conventional agricultural practices, including groundwater and surface water pollution and soil erosion. The public has also become more concerned about food quality and safety. It is clear that long-term research is needed to develop and improve upon options available to farmers. However, the public funds allocated to sustainable agriculture (the LISA program of USDA) continues to flow in small, 1-year grants. This is a contradiction that must be resolved. THE RODALE FARMING SYSTEMS TRIAL A long-term study was initiated in 1981 at the Rodale Research Center in southeastern Pennsylvania to examine the process of converting from a conventional to a low-input/organic cropping system. Three representative cropping systems were designed: A low-input (i.e., low purchased input) system with animals (LIP-A) that simulates a crop and livestock farm (typical of farms in Pennsylvania and several other regions of the country) uses a 5-year rotation that includes corn grain, soybeans, small grains, legume hay, and corn silage. Animal manure is applied prior to each crop of corn to supplement the legume nitrogen from the previous hay or soybeans (Table 18-1). The low-input cash grain (LIP-CG) system is based on the assumption that a cash crop is needed each year for cash flow and that no animal manure is available.

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SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE RESEARCH AND EDUCATION IN THE FIELD: A PROCEEDINGS TABLE 18-1 Five-Year Rotations for the Farming Systems Trial, Rodale Research Center   Crops System Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Low-input with animals Wheat/alfalfa + red clover* Alfalfa + red clover Corn Soybeans Corn silage Low-input cash grain Barley/soybeans† Wheat/red clover* Corn Barley/soybeans† Wheat/red clover* Conventional cash grain Corn Soybeans Corn Soybeans Corn * Alfalfa and/or red clover was frost seeded (broadcast seeded in March) into wheat. † Soybeans were relay planted (drilled into a small grain) into spring barley. The conventional (CONV) rotation of corn and soybeans is grown with purchased fertilizer, herbicides, and insecticides applied at rates as provided in guidelines of Pennsylvania State University (University Park, Pennsylvania). The low-input (LIP) rotations rely on crop rotation, cover crops, relay cropping, and mechanical cultivation for weed control and only on green manures and animal manures as nitrogen sources. Each of the three crop rotations was started at three different points in the rotation, for a total of nine treatments. These treatments were replicated eight times in a split-plot, randomized complete block design. Whole plots are 60 × 300 feet, and subplots are 20 × 300 feet. Cropping systems (LIP-A, LIP-CG, or CONV) were assigned to whole plots, which were split by rotation entry point. More detailed descriptions of and results from this experiment can be found in the literature (Andrews et al., 1990; Culik, 1983; Harwood, 1984, 1985; Liebhardt et al., 1989; Peters et al., 1988; Radke et al., 1988). During the biological transition period (1981 to 1984), that is, during the process of converting from CONV to LIP methods, a change in the equilibrium between soil processes and plant growth was anticipated and observed. Evidence that supports this includes the fact that both LIP systems (animal and cash grain) had lower corn yields than the CONV cropping system did in 1981 to 1984 (Figure 18-1), whereas all three systems have had similar corn yields since then. This is attributed to a lack of nitrogen in the soil that was available to plants in the LIP systems during the transition years, as reflected in corn ear leaf nitrogen analysis (Figure 18-2), but there has

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SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE RESEARCH AND EDUCATION IN THE FIELD: A PROCEEDINGS been an adequate supply of nitrogen from 1985 to the present. Excessive weed growth in some years may have also limited crop yield and may have been compounded by the lack of nitrogen, although no consistent pattern of weed increases, decreases, or species shifts was apparent from the transition period data. Annual weeds dominate in the LIP rotations, and perennials dominate in the CONV system, partly because of herbicide selectivity. Soybean yields were similar in all three systems during the transition years (Liebhardt et al., 1989), and small-grain and hay yields compared favorably to county averages (Peters et al., 1988). Thus, corn was the only crop that appeared to be limited during this biological transition period. Conclusions about the best way to go through the transition agronomically (begin the rotation with a small-grain and cover crop or soybeans) were verified in an economic analysis (Duffy et al., 1989) of the transition years. When the rotation begins with a small grain and legume or soybeans, the result is a greater return to land and management than that from “cold turkey” corn in the LIP systems. If higher crop prices because of federal government price support programs are not factored in, the order of average returns from each system (combining all rotation entry points) was as follows: LIP-A > CONV > LIP-CG. The CONV system was the most profitable if the government price support program for corn was included. However, because rotation entry point was a significant factor, the most profitable LIP-CG treatment resulted in a higher average annual net return than that from the least profitable CONV treatment. FIGURE 18-1 Average corn yields from the farming systems trial from 1981 to 1984 (during conversion) versus those from 1985 to 1988 (postconversion).

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SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE RESEARCH AND EDUCATION IN THE FIELD: A PROCEEDINGS FIGURE 18-2 Average tissue nitrogen content of corn ear leaves at the time of silking from the farming systems trial for 1981 to 1984 (during conversion) versus that for 1985 to 1988 (postconversion). Initially called the conversion experiment, the study was renamed the farming systems trial in 1986. Emphasis shifted toward an assessment of the long-term reliability of LIP practices. The four major objectives are (1) to compare crop performance in the three cropping systems; (2) to compare the economic viability of these rotations and input regimes; (3) to test the sustainability, regenerative capabilities, and environmental impact of the LIP approaches by monitoring soil chemical and physical properties, weed pressure, and nitrogen cycling processes over time; and (4) to continue to encourage active collaboration with the agricultural research community for increasing understanding of the mechanisms of soil and plant processes in a biologically complex environment. Total biomass production and grain yields have essentially been the same in all systems since 1985. Nitrogen does not currently limit corn yield in any system, as determined by the ear leaf tissue test (Table 18-2) and by extensive testing of soil nitrate nitrogen levels during the growing season (Figure 18-3A and B). Similar levels of nitrogen are supplied to corn crops in each rotation, amounting to 130 pounds (lbs) of nitrogen per acre as fertilizer in the CONV rotation, an average of 75 lbs of nitrogen per acre in the top growth of the clover before plowing in early May in the LIP-CG rotation, and an average of 205 lbs of nitrogen in beef manure per acre applied to the LIP-A system from 1986 to 1990. Most agronomic literature advises that only 50 percent of the nitrogen in the beef manure is available

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SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE RESEARCH AND EDUCATION IN THE FIELD: A PROCEEDINGS TABLE 18-2 Corn Yield, Tissue Nitrogen Content of Ear Leaves at Silking, and Weed Biomass for 1988 and 1989, Farming Systems Trial, Rodale Research Center Treatment Corn Yield (bu/acre) Tissue Nitrogen (% N) Weed Biomass (lbs/acre) 1988 LIP-A* 110a† 2.86a 900a‡ LIP-CG 109a 2.96a 449b CONV (soybeans) 104a 2.79a 88c CONV (corn) 85b 2.74a 250bc 1989 LIP-A 124ab 2.64a 1,343a LIP-CG 111c 2.72a 100c CONV (soybeans) 130a 2.87a 251bc CONV (corn) 116bc 2.86a 486b NOTE: LIP, low input; A, animals; CG, cash grain; CONV, conventional. * Previous crop for LIP-A treatment was 2-year-old red clover-alfalfa mixture; for LIP-CG was a 1-year-old red clover stand; and CONV treatments followed either soybeans or corn. † Letters designate statistical differences at the p < 0.05 level by using analysis of variance (performed with Statistical Analysis System software) and Duncan's multiple range test. The Duncan letters should be read within a year, within a column only. ‡ A plus/minus weed study was superimposed on the experiment to determine whether ambient weed levels caused yield suppression. Only the LIP-A treatment in 1988 showed statistically significant yield reduction in the “plus” weed subplot (yield was about 80 percent that of the hand-weeded control plot). to crops the year of application, with a fraction of that amount of nitrogen being available in subsequent years. The literature also indicates that the legume nitrogen is only available to corn in the long term and not the short term, but data from these studies indicate that no supplemental nitrogen fertilizer is currently needed to meet the nitrogen needs of either the LIP-A or the LIP-CG systems. Weeds are often more abundant in the LIP systems than they are in the CONV systems, but weeds have reduced the corn yield in only two systems since 1986. Corn in the LIP-CG system in 1986 (data not shown) and the corn in the LIP-A system in 1988 showed statistically significant yield reductions (Table 18-2) in unweeded versus hand-weeded subplots. The highest yields in 1988 were from corn in the LIP-A system, despite the weeds. The critical weed threshold levels change from year to year, depending on weather and growing conditions. Over 1,300 lbs of weeds (dry weight) per acre did not decrease the corn yield in the LIP-A system in 1989, probably because rainfall was plentiful and timely and moisture was not limiting (it was limiting in 1988).

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SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE RESEARCH AND EDUCATION IN THE FIELD: A PROCEEDINGS FIGURE 18-3 Soil nitrate notrogen levels in the farming systems trial at the Rodale Research Center in (A) 1988 and (B) 1989

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SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE RESEARCH AND EDUCATION IN THE FIELD: A PROCEEDINGS Soil biology data (Doran et al., 1987; Fraser, 1984; Werner, 1988) indicate that the LIP systems have greater microbiological activity and a greater abundance of many microarthropods. The microbial activity is attributed more to the diversity of crops in the rotation, especially the legume cover crops and hay, and to the application of animal manure in the LIP-A system than it is to the absence of pesticides and chemical fertilizers. This increased biological activity may partially account for preliminary results from 15N studies (Harris et al., 1989), which indicate that less nitrogen is lost from the LIP-CG system than is lost from the CONV system and that more nitrogen is retained in the soil in the LIP-CG system. Preliminary work by a graduate student at Ohio State University (Columbus) will help to determine the role of various fractions of organic matter in holding onto the nitrogen, and sampling of vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizae by a researcher of the Agricultural Research Service of USDA in Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania, will help to determine the role of these organisms in nutrient cycling and availability of nutrients of plants. An approximation of a whole-farm analysis with the yields from 1981 to 1989 was made by using FINPACK farm management software to simulate a 750-acre Maryland farm (Hanson et al., 1990). In that analysis only the CONV and the LIP-CG systems were compared, and similar average annual profits over the 9-year period were found without the government price support program ($29,891 for the CONV system versus $27,614 for the LIP-CG system). However, with the government price support program for corn (requiring base acres and set-asides) the CONV system averaged $39,193 per year. The farmer of the LIP-CG system would have averaged $32,464 if the same set of price supports was used for corn, wheat, and barley, but this is a fictitious scenario because this farmer would not have been in compliance (would not have met the base acre cross-compliance requirements for wheat and barley). Another interesting result of the 1981 to 1989 economic comparison was that the farmer of the LIP-CG system experienced less fluctuation in annual income. The standard deviation in annual income over the 9-year period was $16,985 compared with that of the CONV farmer who did not participate in the government price support program (standard deviation, $37,811) or the CONV farmer who did participate in that program (standard deviation, $26,416). None of these results would be possible if this were a 2-year or even a 5-year trial. In this trial, biological processes became most interesting after the initial 5-year transition period, and economic analyses of long-term performances and variabilities in income are possible now that the trial is entering its tenth cropping season. Ironically, this experiment was supported by the private sector (Rodale Press) for the first 7 years, and USDA funding from the LISA program of USDA during 1988 and 1989 has supplied only a fraction of the total cost of conducting the experiment, an-

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SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE RESEARCH AND EDUCATION IN THE FIELD: A PROCEEDINGS alyzing the data, supporting the work of collaborators, and presenting the results. Funding from the LISA program of USDA has, however, allowed the investigators involved in the study described here to strengthen collaborative relationships with researchers at Cornell University (Ithaca, New York), and has facilitated the initiation of the Cornell cropping systems experiment. Soil scientists from Cornell University have conducted a detailed taxonomic description of the soils at the Rodale site (Waltman and Scott, 1989) and are involved in measuring the physical properties of the soil (such as hydraulic conductivity, by Harold van Es, Soil Science Department, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York) and characterizing roots (Rich Zobel, USDA, Ithaca, New York). THE CORNELL CROPPING SYSTEMS EXPERIMENT A long-term experiment was initiated at Cornell University to address concerns specific to farmers in that climatic region. Dairy farming is the dominant agricultural enterprise in much of New York State and other states in the Northeast. The growing season is shorter and soils are colder than soils in Pennsylvania. Corn silage is more common than corn grain in New York, and farm rotations often include alfalfa. The Cornell experiment was designed to compare standard practices with alternative strategies that reduce the use of agrichemicals for corn silage production. Alternative practices include (1) ridge tillage, (2) manure substitution for inorganic nitrogen, (3) interseedings of cover crops, and (4) band application of herbicide or cultivation for weed control. A total of 10 cropping systems (Table 18-3) are being compared, with three weed control regimes imposed on each cropping system. The experiment is being conducted at two sites (Aurora and Mt. Pleasant research farms), and there are five replications at each site. The entire project includes more than 30 people, including eight farmers, six extension agents, and six faculty members of Cornell University with primary extension responsibilities (see Mt. Pleasant [1990] for a list of participants). In addition to the long-term trials initiated on the research farms, field-scale trials are being conducted on six New York dairy and cash-grain farms. These trials are comparing several practices that reduce fertilizer or pesticide use in corn to conventional farming practices. Faculty members from several disciplines, including soil and crop science, entomology, plant pathology, and plant breeding, contribute significant time and expertise to the project. Although 1989 was the second year of funding from the LISA program for this project, it was the first year that all treatments were established at both sites. The 1988 growing season was used to prepare the sites, perform the ridging operations, and plant cover crops. Corn silage yields for the

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SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE RESEARCH AND EDUCATION IN THE FIELD: A PROCEEDINGS costs even before these costs are fully quantified. A brief discussion of short-term versus long-term research strategies is also provided. SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE AS A PREVENTION STRATEGY Sustainable agriculture practices are targeted to farmers who can benefit from reductions in the use of potential pollutants. Sustainable agriculture offers an opportunity for pollution prevention because it prevents pollution from happening in the first place rather than pinpointing the source of an existing environmental problem and targeting action on the basis of where the problem has occurred. The two forms of targeting (targeting of receptive farmers versus targeting of existing environmental problems) work well together, but prevention initiatives can move forward even when costs or the time required to locate pollution sources precisely are prohibitive. The pollution prevention strategy becomes most attractive when (1) one source may be implicated in multiple environmental concerns, (2) costs are low or actually favor adoption of the practices associated with prevention, (3) the problem is pervasive, and (4) considerable uncertainty exists as to the environmental risks posed by the existing practices. In agriculture, these four conditions appear to exist widely. With regard to pesticides, reduction of their use may clearly alleviate multiple concerns, fulfilling condition 1 above. These concerns include potential health risks to farmers and workers, potential ecological effects, and potential human health effects from the consumption of residues on food or in the drinking water. A prevention approach may address several problems by reducing the need for a particular chemical. Condition 2, economic feasibility, is fundamental to the sustainable agriculture concepts presented throughout this volume and needs no elaboration. Condition 3 for favoring a prevention strategy is the presence of a pervasive problem. In assessing pollution problems in response to Section 319 of the Clean Water Act (P.L. 100-4), the states find that over half of the water bodies that have been assessed so far (which include about 41 percent of the total water bodies in the United States) are impaired by nutrients (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 1989); the Resources Conservation Act study conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (1989) estimated that 70 percent of phosphorus now in streams originates from agricultural activities. Phosphorus presents the main nutrient problem in surface water. Yet, in some intensively farmed regions, nitrogen pollution of groundwater is also pervasive, with 5 to 20 percent of wells tested exceeding health advisory levels for nitrates (Madison and Brunett, 1985). For pesticides, a U.S. Geological Survey study (Goolesby et al., 1989) cited in other chapters in this volume and another recent study by Richards and

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SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE RESEARCH AND EDUCATION IN THE FIELD: A PROCEEDINGS Baker (1989) suggest that pesticides occur above health advisory levels in streams, larger rivers, and according to Richards and Baker (1989), drinking water. All of these problems are concentrated in certain regions, where prevention becomes a particularly appropriate strategy: Farms that potentially benefit from prevention research and education in such regions likely contribute to one or several of the more common pollution problems. Finally, uncertainties regarding the health effects and the ensuing remFediation costs (condition 4 above) favor a prevention strategy. Many of the occurrences of substances in water described above are at levels at which considerable uncertainty exists as to their effects on human health, leading to ongoing study and debate as to what level of the substances should be permitted in drinking water. Lower-bound cost estimates for carrying out requirements under the Safe Drinking Water Act (P.L. 99-339) are nearly $1 billion per year. Costs will escalate to several billion dollars a year if safety standards for nitrates are lowered or if pesticides in surface water systems prove to be a widespread problem (Wade Miller Associates, 1989a,b). A prevention strategy has particular appeal when difficult choices can be avoided through the development and widespread adoption of low-chemical-input farming methods. The low-input sustainable agriculture research and education program is proving to be effective in developing farming systems that increase net farm income while advancing a wide range of environmental goals. TIME FRAMES FOR SUSTAINABLE RESEARCH AND EDUCATION The pervasiveness of chemical contamination problems and the uncertainties regarding their health ramifications and potential costs of remediation (Wade Miller Associates, 1989b) lend an urgency to prevention efforts. However, past and ongoing long-term research programs in such areas as soil testing and integrated pest management provide some of the most promising sustainable farming methods available today. The long-term research projects identified in the chapter by Rhonda R. Janke and colleagues and other investigators are needed, but so are the more aggressive shorter-term research and education programs, such as those currently under way in Iowa. Pennsylvania farmers reduced their use of nitrogen fertilizers state-wide by 52 percent (Berry and Hargett, 1984, 1988) between 1982 and 1988. This was a very welcome development in a state that is located on the Susquehanna River and that is above the ecologically rich and economically valuable waters of the Chesapeake Bay. Much of this reduction may have resulted from a variety of technologies introduced in Pennsylvania to more accurately account for the nitrogen available in the soil from the previous

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SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE RESEARCH AND EDUCATION IN THE FIELD: A PROCEEDINGS crop year and from applied manure (Fox and Piekielek, 1983). Research by Fox and colleagues has resulted in a soil test that was introduced in 1989 that will lead to an even greater efficiency of nitrogen fertilizer use (Fox and Piekielek, 1978a,b, 1984; Fox et al, 1989; Iversen et al., 1985; Michrina et al., 1981, 1982). Some fertilizer reductions have apparently been accomplished by farmers who learned that the available nitrogen from animal waste on their farms was more than adequate to meet crop needs. The costs of developing and bringing these and many other sustainable technologies to farmers are very low relative to cost estimates for remediation (Wade Miller Associates, 1989a). Within the context of existing research and education programs, calibration of existing sustainable technologies, such as appropriate soil tests and a number of closely related nitrogen management technologies, merits particular consideration. Also important are expanded education programs that deliver these and other sustainable technologies to farmers. REFERENCES Berry, J. T., and N. L. Hargett. 1984, 1988. Fertilizer Summary Data. Mussel Shoals, Tenn.: National Fertilizer Development Center, Tennessee Valley Authority. Fox, R. H., and W. P. Piekielek. 1978a. Field testing of several nitrogen availability indexes. Soil Science Society of America Journal 42:747–750. Fox, R. H., and W. P. Piekielek. 1978b. A rapid method for estimating the nitrogen supplying capability of a soil. Soil Science Society of America Journal 42:751–753. Fox, R. H., and W. P. Piekielek. 1984. Relationships among anaerobically mineralized nitrogen, chemical indexes, and nitrogen availability to corn. Soil Science Society of America Journal 48:1087–1090. Fox, R. H., and W. P. Piekielek. 1983. Response of Corn to Nitrogen Fertilizer and the Prediction of Soil Nitrogen Availability with Chemical Tests in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania Agricultural Experiment Station Bulletin No. 843. University Park, Pa.: Pennsylvania State University. Fox, R. H., G. W. Roth, K. V. Iversen, and W. P. Piekielek. 1989. Soil and tissue nitrate tests compared for predicting soil nitrogen availability to corn. Agronomy Journal 81:971–974. Goolesby, D. A., and E. M. Thurman. 1990. Herbicides and Pesticides in Rivers and Streams of the Upper Midwestern United States. Proceedings of the 46th Annual Meeting of the Upper Mississippi River Conservation Committee. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Geological Survey. Iversen, D. V., R. H. Fox, and W. P. Piekielek. 1985. The relationships of nitrate concentrations in young corn (Zea mays L.) stalks to soil nitrogen availability and grain yields. Agronomy Journal 77:927–932. Madison, R. J., and J. O. Brunett. 1985. Overview of the occurrence of nitrate in ground water of the United States. Pp.993–1105 in USGS National Water Summary, 1984. USGS Water Supply Paper No. 2275. Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.

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SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE RESEARCH AND EDUCATION IN THE FIELD: A PROCEEDINGS Michrina, B. P., R. H. Fox, and W. P. Piekielek. 1981. A comparison of laboratory, greenhouse and field indicators of nitrogen availability. Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis 12:519–535. Michrina, B. P., R. H. Fox, and W. P. Piekielek. 1982. Chemical characterization of two extracts used in the determination of available soil nitrogen. Plant and Soil 64:331–341. Richards, R. P, and D. B. Baker. 1989. Potential for reducing human exposures to herbicides by selective treatment of storm runoff water at municipal water supplies. In Proceedings of a National Conference on Pesticides in Terrestrial and Aquatic Environments, Diana Weigmann, ed. Blacksburg, Va.: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. U.S. Department of Agriculture. 1989. The Second RCA Appraisal: Soil, Water and Related Resources on Nonfederal Land in the United States—Analysis of Conditions and Trends. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 1989. National Water Quality Inventory—1988 Report to Congress. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. Wade Miller Associates. 1989a. Regulatory impact analysis of proposed national primary drinking water regulation for inorganic chemicals. Prepared for Office of Drinking Water, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.C. Wade Miller Associates. 1989b. Regulatory impact analysis of proposed national primary drinking water regulation for synthetic organic chemicals. Prepared for Office of Drinking Water, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.C. Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education in the Northeast James F. Parr By most definitions, sustainable agriculture is viewed as a concept that comprises two major components: i.e. economic sustainability and environmental sustainability (some even emphasize the importance of social and political sustainability). For example, a farming system may be economically sustainable, but if it contributes to environmental degradation, it is not truly a sustainable system. By the same token, a farming system may be environmentally sustainable, but if it is not profitable, then, by definition, it is not a sustainable system. Sustainability can also be thought of as a long-term goal that seeks to overcome the problems and constraints that afflict both U.S. agriculture and agriculture worldwide. How and whether this goal is achieved depends on the development of alternative management practices that are resource-conserving, energy-saving, economically viable, environmentally sound, and protecting of human and animal health.

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SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE RESEARCH AND EDUCATION IN THE FIELD: A PROCEEDINGS Many have developed rather strong opinions on just what a sustainable farming system should be. However, the concept of sustainability involves a time dimension that will most certainly bring about changes that will test the sustainability of farming systems in the years ahead. What is judged to be a sustainable farming system today may not be sustainable in the future because of increased energy costs, global warming, increased soil salinization, and issues of food safety and quality. As the world population increases and with the continuing decline in the per capita production of food in many developing countries, the natural resource base in the United States and throughout the world will come under greater pressure than ever before. Those farming systems that currently sustain the world's population may very likely be inadequate to do so in the future. There must begin to be a more futuristic attitude about what research and education programs for sustainable agriculture are needed now, so that entirely new and sustainable farming systems can be developed for the future. LONG-TERM, LOW-INPUT CROPPING SYSTEMS RESEARCH The long-term cropping systems research study, also referred to as a conversion or transition experiment, was implemented at the Rodale Research Center in 1981 when it became apparent that farmers experienced problems when shifting from chemical-intensive farming to low-input (or low-chemical) systems. According to the 1980 USDA Report and Recommendations on Organic Farming (U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1980) the first 3 years of such a transition were often critical and the most difficult to cope with. Weeds were often cited as the main problem, but other chemical and biological factors were also suggested as possible causes. Good research begins by asking the right questions, and the transition experiment described by Rhonda R. Janke and colleagues was designed to do exactly that. There was also a need to study farming systems holistically so that the interactions of the components could be evaluated. The following farming systems are being studied: low-input/sustainable, with animals; low-input/sustainable, cash grain; and conventional cash grain. Long-term experiments such as these are essential because significant changes in the chemical, physical, and biological components may not be detectable over the short term. The systems approach that this study uses allows researchers to know not just what happens, but why it happens.

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SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE RESEARCH AND EDUCATION IN THE FIELD: A PROCEEDINGS Herein is the very basis for controlling and manipulating the system to the best advantage. A thorough economic analysis of this study is anxiously awaited. PERSPECTIVES FOR SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE FROM NUTRIENT MANAGEMENT EXPERIENCES IN PENNSYLVANIA This chapter reported on the management practices of some dairy farms in the Northeast region where there has been a steady increase in nutrient levels on the farm because of a one-way flow of off-farm purchased inputs. According to the author, Les E. Lanyon, many of these farms now import all feed sources for the dairy cows, with little or no on-farm production of feed grains or forages. This has resulted in an excess of manure that is then applied back to the land as a disposal medium. Thus, over a period of time, nutrient-poor farms have become nutrient-rich farms or, indeed, eutrophic farms. The chapter presents some strategies for dealing with this problem which, if it is not a real pollution problem, it is certainly a potential pollution hazard, especially to groundwater from excess nitrates. The chapter describes crop rotation scenarios that can help to utilize the accumulated nutrients while demonstrating economic benefits. Agriculture is a system of inputs (some of which are purchased) and outputs (some of which are sold and removed from the farm). Generally, there is a net removal of nutrients during the production cycle. The dairy farms described in this chapter have a net gain of nutrients and a gross imbalance that must be managed properly to avoid a serious pollution problem. When excessive amounts of organic nitrogenous materials such as manure are applied to soil, serious water pollution problems can result, just as they can from improper use of chemical nitrogen fertilizers. These farms may be economically viable, but they definitely are not sustainable farming systems. The question is, to what extent are these farms already polluting groundwater? Nitrate concentrations should be monitored in both soils and well water, and if they are excessive, remedial action should be taken to alleviate this situation. USE OF FUNGAL PATHOGENS FOR BIOLOGICAL CONTROL OF INSECT PESTS Raymond I. Carruthers and colleagues point out that certain fungal pathogens have the potential to control insect pests and can greatly enhance integrated pest management programs and reduce pesticide use. Such fungal pathogens must be environmentally acceptable, cost-effective, reliable, and dependable and must not attack other beneficial natural predators.

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SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE RESEARCH AND EDUCATION IN THE FIELD: A PROCEEDINGS It may be necessary to manipulate fungal pathogens to achieve the most effective control measures. Strategies for biological manipulation and control include germplasm maintenance, disease dynamics, use of population genetics of pathogens and hosts, and integration with other control strategies such as integrated pest management. The new biotechnologies should be useful tools in future efforts to enhance the reliability and effectiveness of this unique biological control strategy. REFERENCE U.S. Department of Agriculture. 1980. USDA Report and Recommendations on Organic Farming. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. 164 pp. Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education in the Field Neil H. Pelsue, Jr. I am impressed by the information presented in this volume. It is especially impressive to know that this work is representative of a much larger body of work going on throughout the United States. I applaud the discussion by Michael Duffy presented in this volume. His comments were especially appropriate because system sustainability needs to receive much more attention than it has up to now. That is my bias in my assessment of the potential contributions of projects to sustainable agriculture goals. In the following sections, I address the three projects in the Northeast described by Rhonda R. Janke and colleagues, Les E. Lanyon, and Raymond I. Carruthers and colleagues. I will not discuss project methodology, as that should have been well covered in the project evaluation and selection process. Rather, I will focus on four other aspects that I believe are important criteria for low-input sustainable agriculture (LISA): whole-farm interactions, economic performance, environmental impact, and information delivery. To my way of thinking, the fourth essential aspect—delivery of project

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SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE RESEARCH AND EDUCATION IN THE FIELD: A PROCEEDINGS information to farmers and other users in readily usable form—was not adequately discussed in any of the three presentations. LONG-TERM, LOW-INPUT CROPPING SYSTEMS RESEARCH Whole-Farm Interactions: This project includes several cash grain systems and incorporates a livestock component to provide comparisons with conventional grain-livestock systems. The project makes good use of farmer inputs in project development and system assessment. Economic Performance: This project makes a good attempt at estimating the conversion costs for farmers as they move from conventional to alternative systems. I would encourage that component analyses (corn) be integrated into a systems analysis to estimate interaction effects. This is a good use of FINPACK (Hawkins et al., 1987) (or other computer software) for analyzing the financial implications of alternative farm management decisions. Environmental Impact: Important objectives of the project are to reduce chemical use, observe nitrogen recycling, and determine the water-handling capacities of soils. PERSPECTIVES FOR SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE FROM NUTRIENT MANAGEMENT EXPERIENCES IN PENNSYLVANIA Whole-Farm Interactions: This project studies farm management activity flows and the interactions of production components. Economic Performance: While the project compares on-farm manure use in financial terms, it lacks the necessary comprehensive economic assessment. Environmental Impact: The project recognizes the need to identify the environmental effects of on-farm manure use both on and off the farm. This chapter provided a good overview of the process that was used to select components to improve the system, but it did not provide specifics about the nutrient management project. USE OF FUNGAL PATHOGENS FOR BIOLOGICAL CONTROL OF INSECT PESTS Whole-Farm Interactions: This chapter provided some of the necessary, basic information that will need to be integrated into whole-farm systems. Economic Performance: The project needs to demonstrate the economic effectiveness of biological control technology before large commitments are made to further research.

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SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE RESEARCH AND EDUCATION IN THE FIELD: A PROCEEDINGS Environmental Impact: The chapter stressed the importance of evaluating how alternative pest control methods are used and their interactive effects. ADDITIONAL ECONOMIC FEASIBILITY STUDIES Additional work is needed to assess adequately the ecomomic feasibility of sustainable agriculture studies and projects currently being carried out. This economic analysis can be divided into five categories. On-Farm Analysis There will continue to be a need for traditional partial and enterprise budgeting analyses to determine the economic impact of a particular practice (Osburn and Schneeberger, 1978). Essential component analysis is also needed to assess the overall impact of input changes to the farm business operation. Infrastructural Analysis Infrastructural analysis refers to assessing the nature and extent of the economic impact on those sectors that provide farm production inputs: the manufacturers and suppliers. At the other end of the production process, the economic effects on marketing activities, processing, and commodity handling also need to be assessed. This analysis also includes government policies, because of the powerful impact of government actions on economic viability. Consumer Analysis Other factors that must be taken into account are the reactions of consumers to changes in product prices and to the quantity, quality, and variety of the available food and fiber products. The nature and extent of consumer demand is as important a determinant of economic viability as is production efficiency. However, consumer demand often gets overlooked or taken for granted in analyses of alternative agriculture practices. Societal Analysis Another important, but conceptually difficult, aspect is the determination of socioeconomic costs as communities and rural areas are affected by changes in the structure of the agricultural industry.

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SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE RESEARCH AND EDUCATION IN THE FIELD: A PROCEEDINGS Environmental Analysis It is necessary to determine the economic impact of agricultural practices as they apply to environmental considerations of both on-farm and off-farm aspects of the production and marketing of food and fiber products. What are now referred to as externalities need to be incorporated into the economic modeling systems (Barlowe, 1986). INFORMATION DELIVERY One of the most important objectives of LISA and related programs is to get study results to users in a timely and usable fashion. Farmers, researchers, and members of industry must be able to take advantage of proven and available information delivery systems, developing new or modified systems only as the existing systems are shown to be inadequate. REFERENCES Barlowe, R. 1986. Land Resource Economics, 4th ed. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall. Hawkins, R. O., D. W. Nordquist, R. H. Craven, J. A. Yates, and K. S. Klair. 1987. An Overview of FINPACK. St. Paul, Minn.: Center for Farm Financial Management, Minnesota Extension Service, University of Minnesota. Osburn, D. D., and K. C. Schneeberger. 1978. Modern Agriculture Management. Reston, Va.: Reston Publishing Co., Prentice-Hall.

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