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At the intersection of food, soil, climate, farming and water.

Michael Fields Research Program

Our Crop and Soils Research Program is comprised of three initiatives: 1) Organic Corn Breeding and Germplasm Development, and 2) Organic Management Practices for Enhanced Yields and Weed Control, and 3) Agroecological Cropping Systems Development. The Organic Corn Breeding program uses classical (non-GMO) plant breeding and modern screening methods to produce plants with elevated nutritional value for livestock (e.g., high protein and amino acid levels), as well as high grain yields. The Organic Management Practices initiative focuses on the development of integrated and whole-system practices and approaches, such as strategic crop rotation and intercropping, to minimize crop-weed competition and ultimately, increase crop yields. The Agroecological Cropping Systems program aims to develop long-term crop rotational strategies that decrease agriculture’s environmental impact and provide ecosystem services, including decreased nutrient export, enhanced habitat provisioning and biodiversity, and soil regeneration. Research also includes work on new crops like industrial hemp (both grain and CBD/CBG types) to test its geographic suitability, variety evaluation, and management practices to maximize yields. We build public and private partnerships to address the goals of furthering organic agriculture while preserving environmental and human health.

Independent, non-profit organizations have an important role in agricultural research.  There’s still a lot to learn about how best to grow the crops that sustain us.  Understanding the effects of farming practices does not happen overnight or even after a couple of months – it takes years and sometimes decades.  It’s crucial to have programs like ours willing to experiment where other institutions may be hesitant or profit-minded.

Michael Fields Agricultural Institute has strived to advance sustainable farming practices with groundbreaking research.  Since the 1980’s, research conducted by our organization and its collaborators has helped farmers, consumers, and the environment.  What’s best for people and the land has always been the primary focus of our work in farming systems, crops, and soils.  The research program at Michael Fields Agricultural Institute contributes to the future vitality of farms and rural communities.