Organic Farming Systems Research at the University of Nebraska

About the Webinar

This webinar, recorded on March 26, 2013, presents an overview of research being conducted at the University of Nebraska on organic farming. It includes short summaries by researchers of projects that emphasize production issues, grain quality, and agrosystem impacts. Watch the video clips of each topic or the full version with all the topics below.

Part 1. Introduction to Organic Farming Research. Elizabeth Sarno discusses the development of the organic research program and projects at UNL from 2006 to the present and discuss how on-farm research can help develop cultural practices within various ecoregions.

Part 2. Nutrient Management in Organic Systems. Charles Shapiro discusses the effects of manure application on weed control and crop growth.

Part 3. Breeding Hard Winter Wheat for Organic Markets. Richard Little reviews the breeding and evaluation of winter wheat variety trials for bread quality.

Part 4. Phenolic Based Antioxidants. Vicki Schlegel shares her work on the effect of organic farming on phytochemicals that benefit human health.

Part 5. Biodiversity and Organic Agriculture. Jim Brandle gives a presentation on his work with John Quinn on bird conservation opportunities in agricultural ecosystems and the Healthy Farm Index at a tool to measure biodiversity, ecosystem services, and sustainability at a farm scale.

Part 6. Importance of Developing Partnerships. Elizabeth Sarno.

Full Version: Organic Farming Research at the University of Nebraska. Includes all topics above as well as the introduction and question and answer session.

Additional Resources from the Webinar

Handout of the slides from this webinar

UNL Organic Working Group

Previous webinar by Richard Little - Winter Wheat Breeding Basics

Structuring an Efficient Organic Wheat Breeding Program. 2011. P. Stephen Baenziger, Ibrahim Salah, Richard S. Little, Dipak K. Santra, Teshome Regassa and Meng Yuan Wang. Sustainability 3 (8). Available at (verified 26 Mar 2013).

Healthy Farm Index at UNL website

Find all upcoming and archived eOrganic webinars at

About the Presenters

Elizabeth Sarno is an Extension Educator for Organic Farming Systems in Nebraska. She coordinates and facilitate the Organic Working Group team which is composed of UNL scientists, extension educators, non-profit organizations, organic farmers and an organic state advisory committee that provides input and leadership to the various projects.  She also conducts field days and works with farmers involved in on-farm research projects. Additionally, she owns and operates an organic grass-finished Devon cattle farm in eastern Nebraska. 

 Vicki Schlegel’s research includes characterizing the small molecules in natural systems to understand the effects of farming practices on plant secondary metabolites and how they interact synergistically in maintaining human health.  

Charles Shapiro has been researching soil fertility issues for 30 years, and has managed organic research land at the Haskell Agricultural Laboratory since 2005. He focuses on nitrogen and phoshorus needs of crops through the use of manures and fertilizers.

Richard Little has 15 years of experience in hard winter wheat breeding in the Northern Plains--10 years in South Dakota, and the past 5 years as research coordinator for UNL organic wheat breeding and systems development.  His focus on quality testing in South Dakota evolved into a hobby of whole-wheat sourdough baking and a current CERES project involving artisan bakers.

John Quinn is an Assistant Professor of Biology at Furman University. His research emphasizes concerns related to biodiversity conservation and sustainability; in particular a focus on avian ecology, agroecology, restoration of working landscapes, and the role of birding as a medium for environmental awareness and education 

Published February 20, 2013

This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.