North Carolina A&T Showcases Sustainable Ag Practices
GREENSBORO, North Carolina -- Several hundred participants attended the 11th Annual North Carolina A&T University Small Farms Field Day on June 21 to learn more about the sustainable agriculture practices being conducted on the University Farm.
The event, sponsored by Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) and North Carolina Cooperative Extension, showcased farm tours of intercropping, multi-species grazing, pastured poultry, Integrated Pest Management, and organic production in high tunnels. The luncheon speaker was James Hill, Southern SARE's limited resource farmer and minority outreach specialist, who provided information on the organization's grants programs, as well as a number of sustainable agriculture educational resources. The field day was held at the North Carolina A&T University Farm.
Highlights of the Small Farms Field Day include:
Alley Cropping: An intercropping system of pecan trees, watermelons and vegetables such as bell peppers, to evaluate the performance of the crops as cash crops for small farmers seeking alternative ways to manage their land. The goal of the research, led by North Carolina A&T natural resources Extension specialist Joshua Idassi and Extension associate Kurt Taylor, is to provide new enterprises through trees that are planted for long-term profits while a short-term crop is planted between the tree rows to provide an annual income as the trees mature. Based on what it costs to produce watermelon, for example, measured against wholesale prices, the expected income could range from $8,400 to $13,000 per tree acre.
Pastured Poultry: North Carolina A&T animal specialists Willie Willis and Niki Whitley and ag research technician Anthony Hooks are studying the differences in performance between Red Ranger (a forage broiler breed) and Cornish Cross (the conventional "indoor" breed) when raised on pasture. The goal of the work is to help tease out the advantages and disadvantages associated with raising both breeds on pasture and provide information about growth and feed costs to help producers choose the best breed types for their farm operation.
Integrated Pest Management: Researchers Louis Jackai, Henry Sintim and James Fry are developing Integrated Pest Management (IPM) recommendations for small collard growers. The researchers are investigating trap crops and pheromones in conjunction with low-risk insecticides to control such pests as the Harlequin bug and the diamondback moth.
High Tunnels: Researchers are conducting a number of studies related to organic production in high tunnels. One notable project, led by Cooperative Extension agent Keith Baldwin, involves growing cover crops in high tunnels to improve soil fertility for organic tomato production. Baldwin is comparing the build-up of soil organic matter between soybean plants and the application of compost.
Multi-species Grazing: North Carolina A&T researchers are striving to educate small-scale and limited-resource farmers on co-grazing meat goats and hair sheep for profitable small acreage production. The project is specifically looking at the influence of co-grazing on the development of internal parasites, one of the biggest obstacles to raising sheep and goats profitably.
Published by the Southern Region of the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program. Funded by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), Southern SARE operates under cooperative agreements with the University of Georgia, Fort Valley State University, and the Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture to offer competitive grants to advance sustainable agriculture in America's Southern region.