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Fostering Sustainable Agriculture through Research, Education and Policy since 1984

Spring Planting Season is Finally Here!

It is the middle of May and we are finally getting some warm dry weather. For those of us located in the Southeastern part of the state, it has been a dreary spring. First, it was an unusually warm January and February. Then we had a cool wet March and April with more rain and clouds than normal. Although it is still cool, the ground is finally ready to work, and the MFAI crops research team is looking forward to this new growing season. Research will be done in cover crops, no-till, organic transition and our corn breeding program where we partner with USDA-ARS in selecting for gametophytic incompatibility designed to eliminate pollen acceptance from conventional corn hybrids.

As you start the 2017 growing season, are you thinking about your farming operation’s future? Did you attend at least one agriculture-related conference or seminar to further educate yourself on new farming practices? Are you looking at the latest in innovative sustainable farming systems that could improve your bottom-line financials? Are you looking at potential cover crops that could be planted after the harvest to improve soil fertility and reduce soil erosion/nutrient runoff into local streams and lakes? Does no-till have the potential to help you reduce input costs and soil compaction while increasing organic matter in your soils? Did you spend time over the winter reevaluating your farm plan(s) to insure you are taking full advantage of all the USDA-FSA/NRCS farm programs, especially their newest cost-share program for establishing pollinator habitat on your land?

If you can answer YES to these questions, congratulations! You are looking toward the future and helping leave a legacy for the next generation. It doesn’t matter if you are an organic, biodynamic or conventional farmer as it is critical we all do our part to be good stewards of the lands we have chosen to farm. Last fall, with the help of several generous benefactors, Michael Fields Agricultural Institute was able to purchase a 200+ acre farm to expand our field crop research programs. Our research on this land is specifically designed to look at long-term sustainable cropping systems and cover crop strategies while answering YES to all the above questions.

We hope you will take the time from your busy schedules to follow our research results, attend one of our educational offerings or grant writing workshops. You can also support our policy programs with your time and talents as we gather grassroots support for a diverse sustainable future in agriculture.

Good luck in the 2017 growing season, and always remember “safety first” when operating your farm equipment or handling livestock.

Perry Brown, Executive Director
Michael fields Agricultural Institute