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Organic Education at National Agronomy Conference

See the complete program, abstracts, and schedule on the web:
http://a-c-s.confex.com/crops/2009am/webprogram/Session6041.html

The Committee on Organic and Sustainable Agriculture (COSA) will be hosting three events at the international Crops, Soils, and Agronomy meetings in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania November 2 - 4, 2009. All are invited to attend.

Monday evening, November 2, 2009, there will be a roundtable discussion Organic in New Zealand: A Model for Sustainability. New Zealand offers a good model for organic production and marketing, focusing on long-term sustainability and economic progress. Dr. Hugh Campbell, University of Otago, New Zealand, will present a short overview of organic production in New Zealand, the breakdown of gender in organic agriculture, how certification is managed, and sustainability metrics related to organic agriculture in New Zealand. Break-out sessions following the talk will discuss how U.S. farms can adopt sustainability metrics to further organic agriculture in the U.S.

On Tuesday, November 3rd, there will be a day-long symposium on Human Ecology and Organic Farming Systems. The focus of this symposium is on the history, philosophy, and sociology of organic farming. The symposium will feature several distinguished speakers including Dr. Hugh Campbell, Sociologist, University of Otago, Doctoral candidate in History, Martin Renner, UC Santa Cruz, Dr. Laura Sayre, Yale University Program in Agrarian Studies, David Gary Cox, Esq., General Counsel, Farm-To-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, and Dr. Paul Hepperly, Rodale Institute. This symposium is being cosponsored by the Council on History, Philosophy, and Sociology of Soil Science.

The symposium will highlight how organic farming, both in tradition and practice, functions differently than the dominant conventional model of agriculture. Organic is both a system of farming, and a social movement. Sometimes the organic traditions, that have become codified into certification standards, seem rigid and inflexible in the face of modern science, but at the same time they lend character, personality, and definition to a system of farming that produces food for people that care deeply about how it is produced. This consumer choice/social movement is providing incentives to transition land to organic/sustainable production practices that encourage nutrient cycling and crop rotations for building soil fertility, controlling erosion, and breaking pest cycles. 

While it is valuable for soil and crop scientists to share the latest in agronomic production practices amongst themselves, this special symposium will include presentations by historians and social scientists to provide new perspectives on the social/political forces that are influencing agriculture and our professional world. Although the organic movement has gained the attention sociologists, this phenomenon has not been widely discussed at the Crops, Soils, and Agronomy meetings since 1981. The proceedings /Organic Farming: Current Technology and Its Role in a Sustainable Agriculture/ of that symposium was published in 1984. This current symposium will also highlight and announce a new book, /Ecology in Organic Farming Systems/, that is being published in 2009.

The COSA program will conclude Wednesday, November 4th in the afternoon with a poster session on organic farming.

The Committee on Organic and Sustainable Agriculture is a very active group within the Tri-Societies. We hold regular conference calls to discuss current issues, organize educational programs, and welcome new members to better serve the growing community of interest in organic and sustainable farming. Contact Joseph Heckman for information. [email protected] [email protected]>

Symposium contact person:

JOSEPH R. HECKMAN, Ph.D.
Extension Specialist - Soil Fertility
Department of Plant Biology & Pathology
Rutgers, The State University of NJ
59 Dudley Road - Foran Hall, Room167
New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8520
Phone: (732) 932-9711 ext. 119
Fax: (732) 932-9441
email: [email protected] [email protected]>

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