Research Tracks Organic Farmers' Sustainability. I'm Greg Martin with today's Line On Agriculture.
WSU researchers have received a $1.5 million federal grant to help organic farmers keep a better account of their ecological footprint. Dr. Lynne Carpenter-Boggs is the BIOAg Research Leader with WSU.
CARPENTER-BOGGS: The project is about carbon and nutrient footprints, so what the inputs, the storage and then the outputs of carbon, nitrogen and the other major nutrient elements specifically from organic systems. The project really sort of revolves around a couple of different models; one for research purposes and one for farmer purposes.
Carpenter-Boggs says that the information gathered must be useful to producers.
CARPENTER-BOGGS: We need to conduct a great deal of lab and field research in order to build and verify these models and then we also need to work with producers in order to build one model that is going to be useful to producers and give them direct information about their carbon and nutrient footprints.
She also says sometime it is important to not only look at what you know but more importantly what you don't know.
CARPENTER-BOGGS: We have started what we call parameterizing the model so determining the factors that we know or suspect have a major influence on the carbon and nutrient cycling on these farms. And then also determining what are our gaps in knowledge particularly where we think that a certain parameter is a major influence but we don't have the data in order to model or predict what the actual influence is.
She talks about why they chose to start their research with organic producers.
CARPENTER-BOGGS: One reason we're focusing on organic farms is that they use a wide variety of organic matter inputs. Manures, composts, cover crops, mulches and we know that those materials have a significant influence on the carbon cycle and on nutrient release but there's a data gap, an information gap in how that wide variety of materials specifically affect what your carbon balance is or what your nutrient availability will be with a particular material.
That's today's Line On Agriculture. I'm Greg Martin on the Ag Information Network.