Organic Farming

  • Corn growing in a field

Organic Farming

USDA has long been at the forefront of organic farming. To obtain USDA organic certification, a field must go through a 3-year transition during which only organic amendments are added.

Here at ARS, our scientists help organic farmers overcome the challenges they face related to productivity, environmental stewardship, and energy efficiency. We research the biological and physical processes innate to plants, soils, invertebrates, and microbes that naturally regulate pest problems and soil fertility, providing farmers with natural alternatives to using synthetic pesticides and fertilizers to keep their crops healthy and plentiful.


In This Section

A soybean cyst nematode
Can Grass Be Used to Eradicate Pests?

Nematodes – tiny worm-looking things that feed on the root of plants – can be especially troublesome for organic farmers.

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Aflatoxin-producing fungus in petri dish.
Biodegradable Spray Keeps the Toxins Away

ARS researchers developed a new bioplastic-based spray to fight aflatoxins using natural ingredients.

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A stinkbug on a leaf
Insect Fight Club: Stink Bug vs. Samurai Wasp

The samurai wasp is a primary candidate for biological control of brown marmorated stink bug.

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Organic Manure - Better Fertilizer

Cows that produce organic milk also produce manure capable of replenishing nutrients in soil and slowing nutrient-runoff to nearby water sources.

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Sliced fresh strawberries laying on a wooden board
Shining a Light on Saving Strawberries

A special ultraviolet-C irradiation technique that may keep strawberries mold-free without chemical fungicides.

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Composting: Nature's Way of Recycling Organic Materials

Learn the benefits of this natural recycling method and how to get started with composting.

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Two brown stink bugs on a green leaf
Fighting Pests the Organic Way

ARS researchers may have found an organic pesticide that could help farmers protect their crops from hungry pests.

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A heap of freshly grown organic alfalfa sprouts is piled on a small saucer.
Can Alfalfa Really Help Save the Planet?

ARS scientists recently found an environmental benefit to growing alfalfa : carbon reduction in the atmosphere.

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An automated spraying system attached to a tractor
Precision Sprayer Cuts Down Pesticide Use

Automated spraying system detects the size, shape and foliage density of trees and apply the optimum amount of pesticide.

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A potato damaged by late blight fungus
Controlling Disease

Options for controlling potato crop diseases include spreading plants with oregano.

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A tractor mowing a cover crop
Cover Cropping

Scientists have shown that cover cropping can improve organic weed management.

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Weeds growing in wheat
Weed Control Methods

Farmers can reduce weeds by instituting complex crop rotations.

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A partial map of ARS research locations
Check Out Our Cool Map

Use our interactive map to find out what revolutionary research is being conducted in your state.

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