The Center conducts research on the basic ecology of agricultural systems with the goal of designing farming methods that conserve resources, maintain yields, and protect the health of surrounding natural landscapes. This agroecosystem approach, based on ecological principles such as nutrient cycling, biodiversity, and predator-prey relationships, is critical to developing an agriculture that can be maintained into the future.
Areas of research include:
- Cover cropping with annuals and perennials.
- Analysis of nutrient uptake in organic and conventional systems.
- Farmscaping with native hedgerows and vegetative buffer strips.
Center researchers also experiment with growing practices to improve yields, optimize nutrient use, decrease off-farm impacts, and reduce or eliminate reliance on synthetic chemical inputs. Much of this work takes place directly with growers on their farms and on the Center’s 25-acre organic farm at UCSC.
- Control of strawberry pests with trap crops crop.
- Rotations to suppress pests and diseases and improve fertility.
- Variety trials for organic specialty crop production on the Central Coast.
For information on the Farming Systems Research and Extension program, call 831.459-4367.