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WSU roundtable covers organic grain research

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Proponents seek more organic dryland grain acreage


By MATTHEW WEAVER


Capital Press


A Washington State University research roundtable will tackle the latest innovations in dryland organic grain farming at 1 p.m. Jan. 10 in the Lewis Alumni Centre on WSU's Pullman, Wash., campus.


It continues at 8 a.m. Jan. 11.


WSU assistant professor Ian Burke said Pacific Northwest researchers are still looking for "a more effective recipe" for crop rotations in organic systems to solve problems such as weed control and nitrogen availability.


Organic grain production is popular, but has taken a hit in recent years due to the economy, said Diana Roberts, WSU Spokane County Extension agronomist.


Most organic grain is produced in Montana, Burke said, and researchers are trying to make it work in the Palouse.


"We've become so dependent on herbicides many growers have gotten rid of their secondary tillage implements," Burke said.


In 2009, WSU received more than $1.1 million in grants from the USDA for a four-year project to explore dryland organic grain production in Idaho, Oregon and Washington.


Farmers are conducting on-farm trials with support from researchers, Roberts said. The meeting will provide a progress report on results and information from stakeholders.


Items up for discussion include a grant proposal for a larger organic conference in the region, Roberts said.


Burke and Roberts asked growers to register beforehand for the free event. Information: robertsd@wsu.edu or 509-477-2167.



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