Organic Crop Production

April 11, 2019

4.11.19 | Organic Grain Production from Central Valley Ag on Vimeo.

Sometimes people are surprised when I tell them I am working with organic growers. They will ask: “Doesn’t CVA sell chemicals and fertilizer?” Of course, the answer is yes. We sell a lot of inputs our growers need to produce their crops including seed, fertilizer, herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides. We also purchase and market our growers’ grains, mill their feed, and supply fuels and other energy products. We take pride in providing expertise in all these areas as well.

It often surprises people how closely related organic and conventional crop production are. In both cases, we need to do a good job with soil fertility and pH. We need to select the correct seed traits for our area and production goals. In both systems, we need to do a proper job planting, as well as controlling weeds and other pests. Both conventional and organic production, we need to do a great job harvesting to minimize crop loss, and we need to store the crop to ensure good quality as it goes to market.

I work on the Agronomy side. In the Agronomy division, we have a lot of expertise in seed selection, weed identification, and control. Also with insect and disease identification and control, as well as soil fertility. We provide many precision ag tools to help our growers with their agronomic decisions and application of inputs. Organic production regulations restrict our ability to use synthetic fertilizers and pest control. They do not restrict our ability to use our knowledge of pests, crops, seed, and soil fertility to make good decisions that maximize organic or conventionally produced crop yields while minimizing unnecessary costs.   

The restrictions in place for certified organic production do not restrict our use of technology to make better input decisions and maximize our profitability on each acre. We can grid sample organically certified fields to understand pH and nutrient variation.   We can apply inputs using variable rate technology such as variable rate manure, variable rate liming, and variable rate seeding. We can use moisture probes and create variable rate irrigation prescriptions to maximize our water use efficiency while maximizing our yields. We can outfit planters used in organic production with variable hybrid technology or variable down pressure systems. We can use Precision Planting and other equipment to optimize seed spacing and placement.

Central Valley Ag has carried several OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute) listed products for years such as our pelletized lime and gypsum provided by Calcium Products, our ag lime, and several of our micronutrient sources. We recently started working with Settje Agri-services. Settje works with livestock producers to best utilize their livestock manure including selling unneeded manure to other operations. This relationship with Settje gives CVA organic growers access to a great source of organic fertilizer. We are also working with some organic input suppliers who can supply organic starter and foliar fertilizers as well as a few organic pest control options.

In 2020 Central Valley Ag will be able to offer organic grain contracts allowing organic producers to market their grain through CVA. All of these changes are allowing organic growers to take advantage of some of CVA’s vast logistical advantages.  

Just as consumers can choose to buy organic or conventionally produced food products, CVA’s growers can choose to produce their crops using organic or conventional productions methods. Central Valley Ag will continue to meet the needs of our grower/producer members regardless of the way they choose to run their operation.

By Tim Mundorf

 

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Posted: 4/11/2019 4:21:17 PM by Kelli Emanuel | with 0 comments