Introducing Organic Quinoa Production Systems in the Palouse
CSANR Project 134
The popularity of quinoa in the past decade has quadrupled prices at U.S. retail outlets. For all this demand, the vast majority of the quinoa consumed in the U.S. is imported from Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador. This project hopes to increase organic quinoa production in the U.S. by providing growers in eastern Washington an opportunity to diversify their current cropping systems and marketing options. In April 2013, we established a long-term certified organic research project on a 1.2-ha parcel of a commercial grain farm in the Palouse region, WA, to measure the sustainability of various organic grain rotations with and without two proven varieties of quinoa. Our goal of this systems study is to improve the competitiveness and adoption by growers of organic quinoa in this large mainstream, conventional grain-producing region. Supporting objectives include measuring the following sustainability indicators of our 8 different organic rotation trials: crop yield and quality, weed and insect populations, soil quality, nitrogen and phosphorus budgets, and economic performance. This project will also improve understanding and management of soil quality by characterizing the total soil microbial community and the species of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) shared between multiple crops in the different rotations. We plan to reach farmers, producers, consumers, and Extension agencies through a webpage within csanr.wsu.edu, social media utilities such as YouTube videos and Facebook, a field day at the Zakarison Farm, and a presentation at the Tilth Producers of Washington Conference. BIOAg Priority Topic Areas addressed include organic approaches to sustainable management of soil quality [Topic 1a] and farming systems [Topic 1b]; diversification to increase the resiliency and sustainability of farming [Topic 3]; and assessment of environmental, economic, and social sustainability of agricultural systems [Topic 5].