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Maharishi University of Management receives funding for organic agriculture research
by Global Good News staff writer
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3 May 2010
Maharishi University of Management (MUM) recently received funding for two projects in the areas of sustainable organic agriculture and campus prairie maintenance. A $13,000 grant from the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture funded a study that found winter crops can be successfully grown in an unheated greenhouse. The Iowa Living Roadway Trust Fund supported the materials needed for prairie maintenance, because 'they are keen to have us do these organic management field trials,' said a project manager. Two recent articles in the MUM publication The Review describe these projects.
One article reports on the Maharishi University of Management organic farming operation, which experimented with covering the plants with an extra layer of plastic at night to help them survive the extreme cold. A control plot that was heated was used to compare this energy-saving approach with the conventional. The result was that there was very little loss.
'We saved over $17,000 on energy bills because of this approach,' the Review article quotes Dr Steve McLaskey as saying. Dr McLaskey runs the university operation, and his research was presented at a special workshop in April held on site at the greenhouse so that growers in the region could learn about this new option. 'About 60 people attended, and they were very interested to see our operation and to hear how this was done,' he said.
Another article in The Review describes the project led by Dr Tom and Dr Kathy Brooks to maintain the rare and beautiful remnants of native prairie on campus. 'Prairie is a more sustainable approach to landscaping because it's perennial, coming back year after year, and needs little care,' the article quotes Dr Kathy Brooks as saying.
The article continues with her explanation that annual controlled burning, such as that recently completed on campus, mimics the natural prairie fires that once swept across the plains, warming the soil and encouraging a new round of plant growth from the roots up. It also keeps trees from taking over, and helps control nonnative invasive species.
'The Iowa Living Roadway Trust Fund has paid for the sheeting [to cover the area to control invasive plant species, rather than using chemicals] because they're keen to have us do these organic management field trials,' she said. Nine acres of native prairie seeds have also been planted.
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