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In a time of continued low-margin years, farmers are increasingly looking for ways to diversify their income while being more efficient and productive. To showcase options to farmers, the Organic Grain Resource and Information Network (OGRAIN) — a program of the University of Wisconsin–Madison and UW–Extension Cooperative Extension, in partnership with the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) — is hosting a series of field days throughout the summer highlighting the opportunities associated with organic grain production and alternative crops, particularly cereal grains.

Field days will be hosted on commercial farms and at the UW–Madison Arlington Agricultural Research Station, showcasing state-of-the-art production strategies and innovations that allow for organic practices to be integrated on farms of all scales and crop rotations.

Sales of organic food reached $45.2 billion in the U.S. in 2017. The organic market continues to grow, with demand outpacing domestic supply, notes OGRAIN program leader Erin Silva, a UW–Madison assistant professor of plant pathology and UW–Extension specialist in organic agriculture.

“Organic grain prices remain strong, with organic corn averaging $10 per bushel, and organic soybean $18.50 per bushel,” says Silva. “Wisconsin, with the second highest number of organic farms in the nation—as well as a wealth of organic knowledge, expertise and infrastructure—is well-positioned to continue to help meet this expanding market opportunity.”

OGRAIN field days 

• July 12, from 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.: Small grains, modest gains: A pragmatic approach to profitability and sustainability at the Hughes Farms, 4031 S. US Hwy 51, Janesville, WI 53546.

This field day will highlight the diversity and innovations at the Hughes Farms in Janesville, WI. Farming over 5,000 acres in a parallel operation consisting of both conventional and organic practices, the Hughes have succeeded in developing diverse rotations and markets.

This field day, in partnership with Practical Farmers of Iowa, MOSES, and the Organic Seed Alliance, will discuss and showcase cover crops for green manures, weed control, soil erosion reduction and water quality improvements; tips for trialing varieties for performance under organic management; and basics of transitioning to organic certification.

To register for a meal, please RSVP to Debra Boekholder debra@practicalfarmers.org by July 6.
 
• July 16, from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m., Mechanical weed management field clinic at UW–Madison Arlington Agricultural Research Station, N695 Hopkins Rd, Arlington, WI 53911.

This field-based summer clinic, hosted by the UW Arlington Research Station, will demonstrate several weed management tools, including tine-weeders, rotary hoes, row cultivators, and roller/crimping equipment. Experts will be on-hand to discuss best weed management strategies for different crop stages and field conditions.

To register for a meal, please RSVP to Jody Padgham padgham@wisc.edu by July 11.
                  
• July 31, 2018, 9 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.,Integrating cereal grains into an organic dairy rotation
Wilson Family Dairy Farm, Cuba City, WI.

This field day be hosted by the Wilson Family Farm, which has 400 dairy cows on 2,900 organic acres. Farming organically since 1996, the Wilson’s emphasize soil health, and the connection between soil health, plant health, and healthy people and animals. This field day will discuss and demonstrate organic no-till soybeans, soil health practices, and the integration cereal grains into a dairy rotation as both quality feed for the herd and off-farm sales. This field day is co-hosted with MOSES and Organic Valley/CROPP Cooperative.

To register, visit https://mosesorganic.org/events/organic-field-days/
 
• Aug.  23,  from 1 - 4 p.m., UW Organic Agriculture Research Field Day, UW–Madison Arlington Agricultural Research Station, N695 Hopkins Rd, Arlington, WI 53911.

This field day will highlight research conducted on the certified organic land at the UW Arlington Research Station. Research highlighted will include: equipment modifications for rolling/crimping rye; interseeding cover crops into corn; and cover crop strategies to reduce tillage in organic corn production. No registration required.
 
• Aug. 29, from 1- 5 p.m., Diversifying organic grain rotations with alternative crops
Lily Lake Organic Farm, 4N852 Wooley Rd., Maple Park, IL.

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Hosted by Lily Lake Organic Farm, this field day will highlight growing dual-purpose buckwheat as a cash crop and as a cover crop. Various pieces of equipment for controlling weeds in grain crops will be on display, with their use and effectiveness discussed.

To register, visit https://mosesorganic.org/events/organic-field-days/
 
 For more information on any of these events, or for further information about OGRAIN, contact Erin Silva, emsilva@wisc.edu, 608-890-1503.
 
OGRAIN will make a reasonable effort to provide accommodations for participants with disabilities when notified in advanced. To request a disability accommodation, please contact Jody Padgham at padgham@wisc.edu or 608-890-1503 at least 10 days in advance of event. Efforts will be made to meet same-day requests to the extent possible.

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