Organic On-Farm Trials and Demonstration Plots
Organic On-Farm Trials and Demonstration Plots

The Prairie Organic Grain Initiative invites applications for the 2017 field season.

The Prairie Organic Grain Initiative is accepting applications for on-farm research trails and on-farm demonstration plots. We encourage on-farm projects that represent a collaboration between certified organic growers and researchers with demonstrated experience conducting research in organic agriculture. Both research and demonstration projects are encouraged.

Projects should demonstrate best management practices in one or more of the following priority areas:

  1. Improving Soil fertility

Understanding the role of Green Manures in Soil Fertility: Green Manures are crops grown primarily to add nutrients to the soil for a subsequent crop, and are crucial for the success of organic production as they represent a key method to add essential nutrients like nitrogen to organic field crop systems.

Application of Off-Farm Nutrients: Green manures supply most but not all nutrients for organic crops. At some point, producers need to add nutrients from off farm. However, producers have questions about what products to use and what products are allowed for use in organic, where to source them, how to apply them and what products make the most sense economically and agronomically.

  1. Improving Weed Management

Tillage Best Management Practices: Tillage is typically the primary weed management technique used by organic producers, but there are many variations in terms of timing, depth, adjustments, etc. that can greatly effect weed management and crop quality. New technologies are being developed to mitigate weed pressure without impacting the crop, but they have not been thoroughly tested under Prairie organic conditions, and their cost-effectiveness needs to be explored.

Cultural Practices to Reduce Weed Pressure: Organic producers use multiple cultural techniques to reduce weed pressure, such as increasing seeding densities, seeding in two directions, increasing or decreasing row spacing and intercropping. Producers often try different things each year without really knowing what will be effective.

  1. Improving Grain Quality

Post-Harvest Sanitation and Economics: Organic harvests can contain more weed seeds and immature grain than conventional, so cleaning and storage of organic grain is crucial for ensuring optimal crop quality. Seed cleaning equipment can greatly improve sanitation and economics, but there is poor uptake among producers. The type of storage bins and bin sanitation can also impact crop quality.

Cultural Management Practices to Improve Crop Quality:  Organic management relies heavily on cultural control for nutrient and weed management. However, this is (or this accumulation of knowledge is) often regionally-specific, and practices vary widely from producer to producer. Systematizing cultural management practices could go a long way to improving organic crop quality.

  1. Designing Crop Rotations that Optimize Weed and Fertility Management

Understanding Crop Rotation for Nutrient Budgeting and Weed Control: Crop rotations are integral to organic production, both for nutrient and weed management, but Prairie organic production practices vary widely on how they use rotations.


Criteria and Eligibility:

  • Collaborations between farmers and researchers/extension specialist are encouraged
  • Trials/demos must occur on certified organic or transitioning land
  • Farmers or researchers can apply
  • Application must include a plan for ways to share information (eg. field days, videos, etc.)
  • Funding can be used to supplement existing work
  • Funding can be used for materials, labour, and travel
  • Matching funding (from any source – industry, association, government) is encouraged
  • Successful applicants must write a short report (due November 2017) and make findings available to the public

Funding of up to $5000 is available for on-farm trials.

Funding of up to $2000 is available for on-farm demonstrations.

Interested?  Download the application form here.  Application deadline 15th March 2017.

For more information, contact:

Iris Vaisman, Prairie Organic Grain Initiative, 587-521-2400

The Prairie Organic Grain Initiative is dedicated to achieving resiliency and stability in the prairie organic sector by focusing on increasing the quantity and quality of organic grains, and developing relationships across the organic market value chains.  It is a partnership of Organic Alberta, SaskOrganics, and the Manitoba Organic Alliance. The Initiative is working on the development and distribution of educational research, mobilizing knowledge transfer from the latest organic agriculture research, and working with the organic value-chain to build organic grain infrastructure.

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