Michael Fields Agricultural Institute logo
At the intersection of food, soil, climate, farming and water.

Long term farming – Protect a crop for generations

Spring is almost here and just about every farmer is making decisions!

Some decisions are short term – what will I plant this year? When will I plant this year? When will I cultivate? Where will I purchase my seeds from?

Other decisions are long term – what will I follow this year’s planting with next year and the year after? What does the soil need to improve it so that my grandchildren can still farm? How can better compost be produced? Should part of my land be put into a Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)? How can I protect the genetic integrity of my organic corn crop?

If you are growing corn organically, pollen drift from conventional corn growing neighbors can ruin an organic crop of corn by potentially infecting it with transgenes. There are some solutions. Many organic farmers will delay their corn planting so that their crop will pollinate later than their neighbors crop.

Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, in collaboration with USDA-ARS, is in the process of producing corn (95 day), through traditional plant breeding methods, which have the genetics to prevent fertilization from transgenic (GMO) maize pollen. We are converting locally adapted inbreds and populations to only accept pollen from plants with the same genotype or gametophytic cross incompatibility. Ga1s and Ga2s are two naturally occurring alleles that have the genetics to make this possible. This is crucial for organic farmers that wish to protect their crop for the short term and also for those who want to protect a crop for generations to come.