Eye on Ag: Organic Interest - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Eye on Ag: Organic Interest

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Organic farming is becoming more popular around North Dakota.

The state estimates the industry has grown twenty percent since 2005.

But what does that mean for long-time producers and consumers?

Bonnie Campo reports in this week's Eye on Agriculture.

Farming has been in this nations history from the beginning-- passed down from generation to generation, but when harvest time comes what is difference between organic or conventional farming?

(Lowell Kaul, Farmer) "I started organic in '94 being certified, and that took a three year process, and why I went into organic was because of the economics. I lowered my input cost. I can farm on a smaller scale, and I can get better prices.

Before Kaul became an organic farmer, he was a conventional producer, and for the majority of agriculture in North Dakota-- conventional farming continues to be the first choice. But there is one distinct difference-- more chemicals.

(Jeffrey Oberholpzer, Farmer) "Because of using fertilizer, we've been able to maintain if not have a higher protein yield level on our wheat, and if we didn't have the fertilizer, and some of the stuff we had to help with that, we would not have been able to probably achieve that."

Both Kaul and Oberolpzer come from a family of farmers, and both said the land they own is not only where they make their salaries, but more importantly their homes-- so they take care of it.

(Lowell Kaul, Farmer) "In my operation, I'll go out there, and I farm to the contours of the land so that there's more management and more thought as to what your tillage operation. I do fallow my land every third ear in my operation."

(Jeffrey Oberholpzer, Farmer) "Our sprayer has a soft control system on it also so when we're out spraying, if I go across an area that's already been sprayed, in the monitor it actually realizes it, and it actually shuts it off. So we're not having overlap."

Fertilizers are expensive, and so they are used but not abused, and the different types of farmers hold no grudges against one another. However, living next to one another other would be difficult.

(Jeffrey Oberholpzer, Farmer) "If we had organic farmers that were neighbors it would be, because you have to watch the wind and stuff. we really do watch the winds now, but then you would have to be really careful."

Without enough organic farmers to meet local needs, communities depend on large producers to be able to have food in their supermarkets. Studies have not indicated if organic or conventional produce or meat will benefit an individuals health. For KXNews I'm Bonnie Campo.

The USDA reports 156 North Dakota producers are certified for organic production of crops and cattle, using a total of less than 200-thousand acres.

That's about one-half of one percent of the state's total crop and pasture land.

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