Latest Research Studies and Reports
Organic crop farming results in less nitrogen pollution
A recent study published in Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment has found that organic cropping systems have less nitrogen pollution than conventional cropping systems. While the study found that nitrogen pollution varied from year to year based on such factors as changes in climate, the overall results showed that when scaled by yield—a more conservative estimate as organic farms typically have lower crop yields than conventional farms, nitrate leaching was still 9% lower in for organic farms and nitrate emissions were 14% lower. READ MORE
Farmer participation in breeding programs helps select locally adapted cultivars
Organic farmers require plant breeding programs that address different challenges than conventional farmers. Unfortunately, specific cultivars are not always available for unique or stressful growing regions, forcing farmers to rely on less than optimal seed. Now a new study has demonstrated that farmer participatory breeding programs can be successful for selection of best performing cultivars in growing environments underserved by traditional plant breeding programs. READ MORE
Exposure to sub-lethal insecticide levels alters behavior of jumping spiders
A new study published in the journal Functional Ecology demonstrates that low-level exposure to organophosphate insecticides can alter the individual behavior of jumping spiders, an important beneficial predator in agricultural systems. Exposure to low levels of the insecticide resulted in a significant change in the behavior of individual spiders after exposure. READ MORE
Increased biodiversity reduces pest problems on farms
A new study published in Science Advances has found that farming practices that promote biodiversity also increase natural pest control on farms by increasing the number of beneficial predators that attack crop pests. Researchers found that adopting methods that benefit biodiversity on farms is not only more environmentally friendly and sustainable, but also increases benefits to farmers such as pest control, which can increase profits. READ MORE
Latest Updates from The Organic Center
Collaborating on two important organic grant awards
Two research teams that have been collaborating with The Center have been awarded significant organic research grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to advance organic agriculture and to better safeguard the health of our soil and the public. One of the grants—worth $555,000—will help increase organic rice production in the Southern United States through the development of economically viable organic practices. The other award is a $50,000 grant to study the use of animal-based manure and compost in organic agricultural practices to better identify any risks of microbial soil contamination. The grants are funded by USDA’s Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI).
An organic researcher perspective on organic check-off funds
This past May, OTA filed a request with USDA for a proposed Generic Research and Promotion Order for Organic (GRO Organic). Since then, The Center’s Director of Science Programs Dr. Jessica Shade and Dr. Kathleen Delate of Iowa State University have co-authored a perspective piece outlining the need for such a program. They point out that organic agriculture research has traditionally been underfunded leaving organic farmers with very few tools to address agronomic challenges compared to their conventional counterparts. Organic check-off funds, they explain, have the potential to play an important role in increasing research that will address some of U.S. organic farmer’s most pressing needs. In fact, they show, research funding through an organic check-off is critical because it provides an avenue to fund scientific research that will help organic farmers develop advanced methods and tools to accelerate the adoption of organic practices, and boost organic production. This piece was included in the fall 2015 edition of OTA’s Organic Report, and appears as a blog posting on CCOF’s website.
Reserve tickets now for Annual Benefit Dinner
Tickets are now on sale for The Organic Center's 2016 Annual Benefit Dinner at Expo West on March 10! Register now to take advantage of the special early bird rate of $175. Meet old friends and make new ones, be inspired and entertained, and enjoy a fantastic organic meal—all for a great cause! Come learn the latest science behind organic and support the important work of The Center. As always, you can count on an exceptional program, a delicious menu, and lots of time to network. Early Bird ticket price ends December 20.
The Organic Center’s Board of Trustees met for annual retreat
The Organic Center hosted its annual board retreat in October at the University of California at Berkeley. There, Dr. Asa Bradman briefed trustees on the latest research results from the CHAMACOS study conducted by The Center for Environmental Research and Children’s Health (CERCH) at the university. This long-term study examines how children are exposed to pesticides and other environmental chemicals, how these exposures are related to children’s growth, neurodevelopment, and health, the mechanisms that cause these health effects, and ways to reduce exposure. The Board of Trustees also outlined new research priorities for 2016. Excited by The Center’s progress, trustees remain committed to facilitating and disseminating credible on the benefits of organic food and farming.
Organic Center hosted research update event
The Organic Center’s staff and Board of Trustees hosted a cocktail hour in Berkeley, California, and highlighted upcoming research projects and cutting-edge scientific findings from The Center’s research collaborations. Over the past three years The Organic Center has amped up its research and communication portfolio, with over a dozen projects in three research areas: applied research, human health, and environmental health. Attendees were briefed on newly developed studies and the latest research results from ongoing projects while enjoying organic beverages and hors d’oeuvres.
The Organic Center joined leading experts to discuss the benefits of organic on soil, pasture, nutrition, climate, pollinators and seeds at Organic Valley’s Grass Up! event at the Bioneers Conferences in Marin, CA, in October. The Center hosted an interactive booth in collaboration with Food Sleuth radio host and registered dietician Melinda Hemmelgarn to get the word out about the science behind the nutritional benefits of eating organic.