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Georgia Organics Reports Significant Increase in Sustainable Farming Practices

Release Date: 06/02/2006
Contact Information: Dawn Harris-Young, (404) 562-8421, Laura Niles, (404) 562-8353,

(ATLANTA – June 2, 2006) With assistance from an EPA Regional Strategic Agricultural Initiative grant, Georgia Organics reports a significant increase in sustainable farming practices. The $178,393 grant has promoted the practice of reduced tillage in 28 workshops and on-farm demonstrations for more than 3 years. The grant has also allowed Georgia Organics to work with both organic farmers as well as conventional farmers to implement sustainable farming practices across the State.

From October 2001 to December 2005, Georgia Organics worked with leading researchers and local farmers to improve conservation tillage systems for organic vegetable production. The project directly targeted the reduction of pesticides in fruit and vegetable production, thus reducing exposure to toxic pesticides in agricultural communities, in the broader community through the food system and ground water quality, and in local ecosystems.

Other organizations collaborating on this project include: the Coffee County Conservation Tillage Alliance; Georgia Conservation Tillage Association; Georgia Crop Improvement Association; Georgia Department of Agriculture Organic Program; Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association; Fort Valley State Cooperative Extension Service; Seven Rivers Resource Conservation and Development Center; University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service; University of Georgia Coastal Plains Experiment Station; University of Georgia Rural Development Agency; University of Georgia Vidalia Onion and Vegetable Research Station; Virginia Polytechnic and State University; USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS); USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS); and USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA).

According to the Conservation Technology Information Center, the number of acres in reduced tillage has increased from 622,666 acres in 2000 to 1,154,204 acres in 2004, which represents 34 percent of all planted acres in the state. This is significant in that reduced tillage has been demonstrated to decrease the amount of pesticides used as well as to eliminate runoff of fertilizer and pesticides.

Organic farming also is starting to show signs of growth. The number of certified organic farmers has more than doubled in the past two years, from 17 to 36. The Georgia Department of Agriculture reports an increase, between 2002 and 2005, of 361 acres registered as certified organic cropland. Several hundred additional acres are known to be in transition to organic production. On these acres, synthetic pesticide use has been discontinued in favor of cultural practices, beneficial insects, and biopesticides.