HRT 251: Organic Farming Principles and Practices


  • Dr. John Biernbaum (lead)
    1066 Bogue Street, Room A440-C
    East Lansing, MI 48824-1325
    (517) 353-0419
    .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
HRT 251: Organic Farming Principles and Practices

Credits and Offerings

  • 3 credits
  • Spring semester of every year

Course Objectives

Students will

  1. Develop an understanding of the historical, biological and ecological basis for Organic farming including crop and livestock management.
  2. Understand the USDA National Organic Program rules and an Organic Systems Plan.
  3. Learn the basic principles of organic matter management to feed the soil food web through the use of cover crops, compost and other organic and mineral amendments.
  4. Learn the basic principles of managing biodiversity, crop rotations, non-crop competitors (weeds) and plant health for productive cropping systems with minimal off-farm resources.
  5. Understand the foundation of organic animal husbandry and the integration of crops and animals on the organic farm.
  6. Develop critical and creative thinking skills with a systems approach to agriculture for multiple and diverse farming systems including vegetables, fruit, field crops and livestock and use the skills for development of a group farming systems plan.
  7. Understand the social, economic, political and environmental context for current and future organic agriculture production and sales.
  8. Demonstrate ability to knowledgeably discuss principles and practices of organic agriculture. 



  • 12 Short Written Activities
  • 12 Weekly Reading Reflections
  • Organic Farming System Group Project and Presentation
  • Final Comprehensive Oral Exam