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KSU Project Update and Photos

July 8, 2008

The organic section of the Kentucky State University Research Farm is beautiful at this time of year. Here are some photos taken yesterday, July 7th.

Indian mustard

The brilliant yellow flowers are a variety of Indian mustard (Brassica juncea) called ‘Pacific Gold.’ It can be used as a condiment or a source of biofuel, but we are growing it as a soil-building cover crop and a natural fungicide. We’re conducting experiments to see if it can combat soil-borne fungal diseases.

tomatoes in high tunnel

Inside the high tunnel, tomatoes, basil, coriander, cucumbers and other warm season crops are growing like mad. We’re well into our tomato harvest now.

Planting diagram

This is an updated planting diagram showing the four replicates of the farm scale study that we are conducting in collaboration with the Energy Farms Network. The color coding shows the randomization of crops within each plot. We are growing food and fuel varieties of each crop except sweet potato.

Farm scale study - July

This picture is taken from the east corner of Rep 2, looking west. A ‘biointensive’ plot is in the foreground. Only human power is used for production in these comparatively small plots. A ‘market garden’ plot is in the background on the right. These medium-sized plots are managed with a mix of human power and walk-behind tractors. A ‘small farm’ plot is in the background on the left. These plots are mostly managed with implements attached to 4-wheeled tractors, with help from walk-behind tractors and human power when needed.

Farm scale study - July2

This picture is taken from the south corner of Rep 3, looking north. A ‘market garden’ plot is in the foreground.

The corn and sweet sorghum crops are most advanced in the ‘small farm’ plots because a combination of poor germination and severe weed pressure in the other treatments forced us to replant these crops. The primary cultivation technique used in the ‘small farm’ treatments appears to have reduced our weed pressure, relative to the other treatments, by burying many of the small-seeded weeds, like redroot pigweed. The major weed problem in the ‘small farm’ treatments has been johnsongrass, which can emerge from pieces of root deep beneath the soil surface.

Michael Bomford provides research and extension services related to organic agriculture and small-scale renewable energy production through Kentucky State University’s Land Grant Program. He thanks Tony Silvernail, Joelle Johnson, Brian Geier and John Rodgers for their help with maintaining the organic land at the KSU Research Farm in recent weeks.

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