FFAR and ORFR Award Montana State University Grant to Enhance Soil Health
- Soil Health
SANTA CRUZ and WASHINGTON (June 2, 2020) – The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) and the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) awarded a second year of funding to Dr. Jed Eberly at Montana State University based on the promise shown in his first year of organic lentil trials. Eberly and his team are incorporating lentils into organic cropping systems to enhance soil health and improve the economics of organic operations. The outcomes of this research will help organic lentil growers improve yields and nutritional quality leading to better returns on investments.
OFRF and FFAR initially partnered in 2019 to increase research funding for organic legume production. Eberly’s grant is the first of thirteen research projects OFRF will fund this year focused on the most pressing challenges facing organic farmers and ranchers today. This is the most grants OFRF has awarded in a single year, due in large part to a match from the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) aimed at funding research related to improving soil health and reducing the environmental impacts of agriculture.
“Every year, we are impressed by the number of strong research proposals we receive from across North America,” said Brise Tencer, Executive Director at OFRF. “Thankfully, we were able to confirm that all of the research projects we selected to fund this year will be able to move forward despite the current pandemic.”
The amount of legume seeds planted on each acre effects nutrient acquisition, weed management and yield potential. Little is known about the optimum amount seed that should be planted in organic cropping systems to maximize these benefits. Eberly is addressing this knowledge gap by exploring the relationship between seeding rates, lentil yields and soil health.
Trials performed in 2019 showed that increasing seeding rates significantly increased lentil yields and reduced weed density by an average of 40 percent. Based on these results, Eberly and team are further increasing seeding rates this season to ensure they capture the maximum weed suppression and yield response. The research team is also performing a cost-benefit analysis to determine if higher seeding rates and yields are economically beneficial for organic farmers.
“FFAR is thrilled to partner with OFRF for a second year to enhance soil health and support thriving farms,” said FFAR’s Executive Director Dr. Sally Rockey. “This research has the potential to improve yields, increase profits and reduce environmental impact.”
Overall, OFRF grant funding has advanced scientific knowledge and improved the practices, ecological sustainability, and economic prosperity of organic farming. Their grant program is focused on supporting researchers and producers working collaboratively to verify and document innovative organic practices that support the improvement and widespread adoption of organic agriculture. Project results are shared freely at ofrf.org. OFRF also provides free access to its educational materials and resources.
Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research
The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization originally established by bipartisan Congressional support in the 2014 Farm Bill, builds unique partnerships to support innovative and actionable science addressing today’s food and agriculture challenges. FFAR leverages public and private resources to increase the scientific and technological research, innovation, and partnerships critical to enhancing sustainable production of nutritious food for a growing global population. The FFAR Board of Directors is chaired by Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum, Ph.D., and includes ex officio representation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and National Science Foundation.
Organic Farming Research Foundation
OFRF is a non-profit foundation that works to foster the improvement and widespread adoption of organic farming systems. OFRF cultivates organic research, education, and federal policies that bring more farmers and acreage into organic production.