Organic, sustainable ag tours set at Carrington Research Extension Center

NDSU Extension
Farm Forum

An organic plot tour with sustainable agriculture topics will be one of the annual field tours at North Dakota State University’s Carrington Research Extension Center (CREC) on July 17.

The center’s 59th annual field tours will begin at 9 a.m. with registration, coffee and a welcome. The organic/sustainable agriculture plot tour will depart at 9:30 a.m.

This year’s organic plot tour will focus on ancient grains, oats, barley and field peas.

Carolyn Lane, vice president of operations for Minnesota-based Nature’s Organic Grist, is a featured speaker. Nature’s Organic Grist offers a full line of certified organic ancient grains, cereal grains, pulses, milled flours and feed ingredients to processing facilities across North America and abroad.

Lane, a founding team member of Nature’s Organic Grist, helped establish an extensive organic grain farmer network, built relationships with multiple grain processors, and created distribution systems with customers and leading food manufacturers, including General Mills/Annie’s Homegrown.

Abdullah Jaradat, soil management research agronomist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service in Morris, Minn., will continue the conversation on the significance of ancient grains.

During the last century, the introduction of high-yielding varieties and the structural changes in wheat farming systems led to the loss of genetic diversity and fragmentation of wheat landraces (ancient, pre-hybridized varieties, including “pre-wheats” such as einkorn and emmer), according to Steve Zwinger, organic research specialist at the CREC.

However, the persistent cultivation of some wheat landraces attests to their continued value to farmers and their competitive agronomic or nutritional advantage, compared with modern varieties, he says. The social value of wheat landraces should be equivalent or exceed that of high-yielding wheat varieties.

Other speakers and topics include:

• Mike McMullen, NDSU oat breeder – oat varieties and breeding.

• Tom Rabaey, General Mills production research agronomist – oat production and current organic research.

• Zwinger – organic oat/pea intercropping systems for grain and forage production.

• Emily Paul, Pulse USA – organic field pea variety development, with a focus on new varieties developed exclusively for organic agriculture in a multiyear project through a collaborative effort by Pulse USA, the Northern Plains Sustainable Ag Society Farm Breeding Club and the Carrington center.

• Rich Horsley, NDSU Plant Sciences Department chair and barley breeder – barley varieties and breeding, and organic research at NDSU.

Other events at the CREC on July 17 include agronomy, northern hardy fruit and livestock production tours in the morning. The tours will depart at 9:30 a.m. and run until noon. Topics for afternoon sessions include fruit production and agronomy.

For more information about the organic/sustainable agriculture program, contact Zwinger or Karl Hoppe, Extension livestock systems specialist at the center and the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program’s North Dakota co-coordinator, at 701-652-2951, or email Zwinger at or Hoppe at

The Carrington center is 3.5 miles north of Carrington on U.S. Highway 281.