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What is anaerobic digestion?
Anaerobic digestion is the natural breakdown of organic matter by microbial life in the absence of oxygen. Usable products – biogas, digestate, and soil amendments – are formed.
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Organic No-Till Production
Reduced tillage or no-till can provide multiple environmental benefits, particularly in the area of soil health, as well as reducing machinery, labor and fuel costs. With organic no-till, herbicides cannot be used to terminate cover crops, as is practiced in conventional no-till. Iowa State University has worked with the Rodale Institute (RI) in conducting research on organic no-till soybeans, corn and vegetables since 2005.
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Measuring Soil Organic Carbon: A Crucial Iowa Resource
This publication discusses how soil organic carbon has a wide range of crucial roles in agriculture. It impacts crop productivity, soil health, the movement of water, and removal of contaminants. Key themes of this publication include how soil organic carbon is closely related to soil organic matter, but the two are measured differently; soil organic carbon is linked to many aspects of soil health such as nutrient exchange, soil water holding capacity, and it provides great value on the farm; carbon markets are focused on changes in soil organic carbon stock that result from the application of new agricultural management practices; and the stock of soil organic carbon in a field is based on organic carbon concentration, depth of sampling, area of the field, and adjustments for other soil characteristics.
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FSMA Compliant On-Farm Thermophilic Composting: A Safe Way to Enrich the Soil
Composting is a beneficial approach to convert organic waste into a valuable soil amendment. This factsheet discusses the validated biological decomposition process that is laid out in the FSMA Produce Safety Rule. Following these best practices will reduce your food safety risk when utilizing compost. The majority of standards related to soil amendments can be found within the Food Safety Modernization Act’s Subpart F: Standards Directed to Biological Soil Amendments of Animal Origin and Human Waste.
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Carbon Science for Carbon Markets: Emerging Opportunities in Iowa
Credible carbon credits are a precondition for carbon markets. Unlike two decades ago, when voluntary carbon markets were just being developed, much is known today that supports credible carbon credits, including those that are agriculturally based. This report addresses ways to further improve the credibility of agricultural carbon credits and reduce the cost of carbon programs by assessing the underlying science and adding transparency to how carbon markets function. We assess the history and structure of carbon markets; carbon credit measurement, reporting, and verification protocols; the impacts of land—especially cropland—and livestock management practices on greenhouse gas and soil organic carbon dynamics, and adoption of these practices; existing and emerging engineering technologies that could reduce greenhouse gas emissions or enhance carbon removal; and quantitative tools that could help facilitate carbon market development. The geographic scope is primarily focused on the state of Iowa. The report furthermore highlights ways multisectoral collaborations—for example, between farmers, scientists, industry, government, and civil society organizations—could remove barriers and further market development.

The Carbon Sequestration Task Force was authorized on June 22, 2021, by Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds under Executive Order Number 9. Task A of this executive order states: "Reviewing the research on carbon sequestration, considering any gaps in current assessments, and determining whether new research, standards, or definitions should be developed."

As part of the analysis provided to the Task Force, researchers at Iowa State University (ISU) were asked by the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) to undertake an assessment of the science supporting agriculturally based carbon markets. This report includes the work of 51 faculty members, staff, postdoctoral associates, and graduate student scholars associated with four colleges, four institutes and centers, and 13 departments throughout ISU.
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National Organic Agriculture Directory
The National Organic Agriculture Expertise Directory was first published by Iowa State University in 2005 and was based on surveys sent to the Land-Grant University (LGU) in each state to determine the number of researchers and extension staff working in organic agriculture.

The greater number of faculty and staff working in organic ag in 2021 reflects the growing demand from producers interested in organic practices and the environmental solutions organic farming can offer. 123 LGU individuals from all 50 states self-identified as working in organic ag research and extension.

Previously known as SP 0273 - National Directory Organic Agriculture Expertise July 2005
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Natural (Organic) Fertilization for Turf
Increased environmental concerns surrounding soluble nitrogen sources have forced many to reconsider organic fertilizers. Organic fertilizers, as well as slow-release synthetic sources, release small amounts of nitrogen over long periods. University research from across the country has concluded that when applied correctly, organic and slow-release products will reduce environmental impact.
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Landforms and Geology - Iowa's Nature Series
From ocean-front property to spruce forest to today's rich organic prairie soils, Iowa's geological past is a fascinating story that can be told through careful inspection of the land beneath our feet. This article explores the long-view history of Iowa's landscapes and explains how the hills and valleys we call home were formed over millennia. To learn more about Iowa's Landforms and Geology, download the supplement article WL 17K - Geological Places to Visit.

The Iowa’s Nature series was a collaborative project between Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, the Iowa Association of Naturalists, and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources with support from the Resource Enhancement and Protection Program. To learn more about the project, visit https://naturalresources.extension.iastate.edu/Iowas-Nature
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Estimating Grape Maturity by Titratable Acidity - Grape Maturity Series
This publication will show how to measure titratable acidity in wine samples. Titratable acidity is a measurement that approximates total acidity in must and wine, and is indicative of the sensory perception of tartness. TA measures both the dissociated and un-dissociated acids neutralized by a base.

A solid understanding of the organic acid composition of the must is very important for the winemaker to:
  • Determine the harvest time and wine style. 
  • Decide on any must treatments prior to fermentation. 
  • Monitor the stability of a wine, e.g. if malolactic fermentation is intended, or not.
  • Comply to minimum and maximum acid level regulations set by the TTB.
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Integrating poultry into an organic vegetable cropping system: benefits, challenges, and considerations
Commonly researched and implemented methods of crop-livestock integration in the United States include grazing livestock on cover crops, rotational grazing of permanent pasture, and grazing livestock on crop residues such as corn or wheat. A less space-intensive alternative for vegetable growers is the use of chickens introduced into a vegetable rotation. One of the advantages of vegetable-poultry integrated systems is the opportunity for an organic producer to integrate chicken production in the farm’s existing cropping system, where chickens provide natural fertilizer for crops. The addition of chickens, along with the already implemented cover crops, could move organic growers closer to their goals of relying upon on-farm produced inputs, or those produced nearby, and meet crop and livestock needs for feed and soil nutrition.
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Evaluating Organic Transitions at the Field Level
This publication provides information on making plans to transition to organic crop production. It helps outline the need for a transition crop plan, the importance of individual crop budgets, and evaluating results.
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Organic Crop Production Enterprise Budgets
An enterprise budget is an estimate of the costs and returns to produce a product. This publication looks at enterprise budgets for organic growers, reflecting a four-year rotation using corn, soybeans, oats with alfalfa and a second year of alfalfa.

Previously known as FM 1876
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Making the Transition from Conventional to Organic
Farming organically allows producers to incur many economic and social advantages compared to farming conventionally. Understanding and planning the economic returns of the transition process can aid the producer in planning and in becoming organically certified.
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Adapting Enterprise Budgets for Organic Crops
Deciding what organic products to grow and how to price them is difficult, particularly when markets often are not well established. This publication discusses how to adapt enterprise budgets to organic crops in order to better ensure a producer earns a profit from their crop.
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An Economic Analysis of Two Iowa Crop Rotations
This publication compares the economic return to management of two crop rotations: conventional corn-soybean and organic corn-soybean-oat/alfalfa-alfalfa.

The publication details the production and market assumptions made and examines if these rotations are sustainable from a profitability standpoint.
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Beginning Dairy Farmer Video Series - Peake Dairy - Part 2
Part II of the Beginning Dairy Farmer Video series features the Peake dairy. In this 8-minute video, learn about the organic, grass-fed system they have chosen. Beginning farmers have various dairy system options as they begin their careers and the Peake's picked their system because they loved working with grass pastures and not using chemicals and with the low costs, could best profit from dairy this way.

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Beginning Dairy Farmer Video Series - Lynch Dairy - Part 4
Part IV of the Beginning Dairy Farmer Video series features the Lynch dairy. In this 7-minute video we focus on the organic dairy system they have chosen. Beginning farmers have various dairy system options as they begin their careers and the Lynch’s picked their system because of the increased milk prices, soil and animal health, and felt they could best profit from dairy this way while maximizing labor efficiency in their milking system.

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Crop Rotations, Composting and Cover Crops for Organic Vegetable Production
Organic production and consumption has increased to a $39.5 billion industry in the United States with over 22,000 organic farmers. Over 5.4 million acres are in organic production in the U.S., including 164,403 acres of organic vegetables, valued at $1.3 billion. The majority of organic vegetable growers incorporate crop rotations, composting, and cover crops in their operations. The following information offers a guide for including these practices to meet certified organic rules and increase the long-term sustainability of an organic farm.
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Build Soil Organic Matter to Improve Your Crop Production System
A resource for farmers, teachers, and extension educators and agricultural advisors for understanding the benefits of building soil organic matter and how to build soil organic matter. This publication was written by extension educators working in the Corn Belt.
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Cover Crops in Vegetable Production Systems
Vegetable production systems require inputs and if not managed properly could have detrimental effects on soil and the environment. Cover crops are gaining importance and growers can used them as a best practice tool in preserving environmental sustainability of vegetable cropping systems without compromising farm productivity and profitability. This publication defines various cover crops and their benefits such as reducing soil erosion, compaction and synthetic nitrogen inputs, suppressing weeds, increasing soil organic matter and water infiltration, enhancing soil biology, and providing habitat for beneficial insects and natural enemies of pests.
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Adapting Crop Share Agreements for Sustainable and Organic Agriculture
Questions to consider in finding the best crop share lease to provide equitable returns for the landowner and tenant when the farming system deviates from a conventional corn-soybean rotation.
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Manure Storage & Handling - Composting Overview
Composting is a biological process in which microorganisms convert organic material into a soil-like material. Composting, when done correctly can reduce flies, pathogens and weed seed in solid manure sources. It can also reduce odors, but nitrogen loss does occur.

This fact sheet is part of the Air Management Practices Assessment Tool (AMPAT) developed at Iowa State University and funded by the National Pork Board. Additional resources can be found on the AMPAT web site.
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Manure Storage & Handling - Solids Separation Overview
Solid-liquid separation is the partial removal of organic and inorganic solids from animal manures. This separation makes the liquid waste stream easier to handle and increases the life of manure storage by decreasing the build-up and solids. It does create two manure streams, solid and liquid, that need to be managed and land applied.

This fact sheet is part of the Air Management Practices Assessment Tool (AMPAT) developed at Iowa State University and funded by the National Pork Board. Additional resources can be found on the AMPAT web site.
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Animal Housing - UV Light Overview
UV or Ultraviolet light has been used in water treatment to treat volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and pathogens. This mitigation technique has not been fully developed for use in livestock housing, however it does show great potential as a mitigation technique for reduction in VOCs and odor.

This fact sheet is part of the Air Management Practices Assessment Tool (AMPAT) developed at Iowa State University and funded by the National Pork Board. Additional resources can be found on the AMPAT web site.
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Managing Crop Residue Removal and Soil Organic Matter
Following proper management practices is important when considering residue removal. When making removal decisions, keep in mind the adverse impact on soil productivity and environmental quality over the long-term.
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Organic Livestock Systems: Views of Veterinarians and Organic Producers
Find how organic producers use veterinary care and the veterinarians' attitudes toward and experience with organic systems. This report also addresses the adequacy of current veterinary education about organic systems. Shows perspectives from both veterinarians and organic livestock producers.
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Organic Mulches
When choosing which organic mulch to use, consider availability, cost, appearance, function, and durability. Includes information on using bark, cocoa-bean hulls, corncobs, grass clippings, leaves, newspapers, pine needles, sawdust, straw, and wood chips.
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Soil Organic Carbon Cycle

Fact sheet about soil organic carbon and a handout for use with the video: CSCAP 0121 2012 VIDEO

This resource is part of the USDA-NIFA funded project for climate and agriculture that gathered data from 35 field sites and thousands of farmers in 9 Midwestern states, with the goal of creating a suite of practices for corn-based systems.
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The Soil Carbon Cycle (Video)
Dr. Sasha Kravchenko, Associate Professor, Michigan State University, discusses soil organic carbon cycle and crop management practices that increase and store carbon in the soil, while improving soil quality.




This resource is part of the USDA-NIFA funded project for climate and agriculture that gathered data from 35 field sites and thousands of farmers in 9 Midwestern states, with the goal of creating a suite of practices for corn-based systems.
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Growing Organic Vegetables in Iowa
Organic production and consumption has increased over the past 20 years. Learn how to raise organic vegetables - including strategies for composting, pest management, and disease management.
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Organic Apple Production in Iowa
New and experienced organic apple growers will find recommendations in this guide for managing insect pests, diseases, and weeds.

Tips about marketing opportunities also are included.
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Organic Flax Production in Iowa
There is renewed interest in growing food grade flaxseed and flaxseed oil in Iowa. Find the latest research and advice on planting, fertility requirements, variety selection, pest management, economics, harvesting, and more here.
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Using Organic Agriculture and Sustainable Crops and Livestock in the Local Food System
The local food system is one of the fastest-growing markets in agriculture. Learn more about using organic agriculture and sustainable crops and livestock in local food systems.
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Garden Soil Management
Manage your garden soil more effectively. Learn about tillage, integrating organic matter, soil testing and pH, fertilizer application and more.
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Tillage Management and Soil Organic Matter -- Resources Conservation Practices
It has been well documented that increased tillage can reduce soil organic matter in topsoil. Learn what soil organic matter is; the importance of surface residue, tillage effect, and quality conservation systems; and the benefits of organic matter for improving soil quality.
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Growing Organic Soybeans on Conservation Reserve Program Land
Organic soybeans may be a very lucrative crop for Iowa farmers. Learn about the market, land preparation, planting and weed management, and the harvest and subsequent crops.
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Soil Quality in Organic Agricultural Systems
Building and maintaining soil quality is the basis for successful organic farming. Topics of crop rotations, soil amendments, soil health, carbon sequestration, organic agriculture philosophies, and relevant related field research are included.
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Weed Management for Organic Farmers
Organic farmers use a wide variety of tools and strategies to control weeds without synthetic chemicals. Those tools and strategies and their effects on soil quality are discussed.
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Fundamentals of Organic Agriculture
Detailed information on organic agriculture including history, legalities and logistics, labeling, marketing, and pest and weed management. Includes two field examples on organic soybean and apple production.
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