Sustainable Vegetable Production Systems

Last week I attended the "Integrated Sustainable Vegetable Production 
Systems" symposium at USDA's Agriculture Research Station in Beltsville 
MD. Being a fulltime farmer, it was great to see the USDA pulling 
together many researchers, scientists, and farmers to provide imput into 
the direction they should go regarding research in sustainable 
agriculture. The envirnmental impact of soil erosion, pesticide use, and 
plastic mulch were discussed in great detail. It looks as though there 
will be a 4 year project dealing with these issues and comparing a 
"Systems Approach to Assess Envirnmental Impact of Sustainable and 
Conventional Vegetable Production". Recent work at Beltsville by DR. 
Aref Abdul-Baki has shown that a no-till system of planting 
tomatoes into a cover crop of hairy vetch/rye/crimson clover reduced the 
need for nitogen, lowered insect pressure, and helped reduce early 
blight while increasing yields and quality. This study will build on the 
work that Dr. Abdul-Baki has done and compare the sustainable system 
with a high imput system of plastic, fertilizers, and pesticides. I 
personally have been waiting for researchers to "pick up the ball and 
run with this", because I've been experimenting myself with a similar  
sustainable no-till approach. Is there any other farmers or researchers 
who have results to share regarding this type of farming?
Steve Groff
Cedar Meadow Farm
Holtwood PA