University News

WIU Agriculture Department Continues Sustainable Ag Research

June 4, 2002

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MACOMB, IL -- With society's growing concerns over the effects of agri-chemicals on the environment and the ozone, one Western Illinois University agriculture professor is hard at work researching various pesticide-free and organic farming methods farmers can use in western Illinois.

Gerald Vigue recently received a three-year $129,746 grant from the Bureau of Land and Water Resources to continue his research on the WIU Allison Farm. Western farms and conducts research on 40 acres, while Mark Anderson, an area producer, farms 37 acres using organic techniques. WIU has been conducting research on the Allison Farm since 1996.

"This ongoing research emphasizes sustainable use of natural resources in Illinois. Our overall goals are to develop systems which require fewer nutrient inputs, improve efficiency of nutrient utilization and develop alternatives to pesticides," Vigue explained. "We are expanding our research to include analyzing the economic potential of pesticide-free and organic crop production for western Illinois farmers and determining the most practical form of weed control in pesticide-free crop production systems."

Vigue added that the research he is conducting also determines the feasibility of flaming (using a controlled fire method) and/or mowing alone or in combination as an emergency treatment to control weeds in organic corn and soybean fields when rotary hoeing and cultivating cannot be used. In addition, the project is seeking to determine the role of cover crops, such as red and white clover, in controlling weeds and enriching soil fertility.

"The viability of agriculture in the state is threatened by low commodity prices. Also, the public wants water to be free of pesticides and fertilizers and their food to be pure," he added. "Markets for organic and pesticide-free foods are expanding and Illinois farmers should be empowered to grab these opportunities. There are some local elevators that are offering premium contracts for organic feed corn, soybeans and wheat. In this area, implementing an organic system can increase a producer's per-acre income."

The crops produced on WIU's Allison Farm are certified organic by the state and the National Organic Program, Vigue said.

Presentations on pesticide-free and organic farming methods and economics will be featured at the annual Allison Farm Field Day July 10.

Posted By: Darcie Shinberger (
Office of University Communications & Marketing