- Author: Jeffrey P Mitchell
February 7, 2020
Dr. Ajay Nair, Professor of Horticulture at Iowa State University in Ames, IA, along with ISU Project Scientist, Brandon Carpenter, held a two-day orientation visit with Dr. Maurice Pitesky, Professor of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis and Sarai Acosta, a PhD student working, Israel Herrera and Nicole Tautges of the LTRAS (Long-term Research on Agricultural Systems) Program near the UC Davis campus and CASI's Jeff Mitchell to go over plans for their new NIFA Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative project, Integrating vegetable, poultry, and cover cropping practices to enhance resiliency in organic production systems. The goals of this newly-approved study are to successfully integrate crop-poultry production to build soil quality and fertility while reducing off-farm input and enhancing on-farm diversity in three major food producing regions of the country [Midwest, (IA), southeast (KY) and western US (CA)] and develop crop-animal integrated systems that lead to diverse crop rotation, enhance animal health, productivity, and welfare, and improve overall farm profitability of organic production systems. The work will be implemented at these three sites during the next four years and involves teams of crop and animal scientists at each location. The work in CA will be conducted in a one-acre block at the LTRAS facility and will involve three experimental systems that will be monitored for a whole host of crop, soil, and animal characteristics. Two of the experimental systems will involve the introduction of chickens at key points in the crop and cover crop rotation while the third system will not include chickens. During his visit, Nair went over project-wide protocols and the group ironed out implementation plans so as to assure consistency and uniformity across the three sites.