Department of Horticulture
Area of Expertise:
Organic crop production; production and use of compost for fertility, transplant media and water extracts (tea) for managing soil and plant health.
August 1, 1985
Ph.D., Horticultural Science, Michigan State University, 1985
M.S., Horticultural Science, The Pennsylvania State University, 1981
B.S., Horticultural Science, North Carolina State University, 1979
Honors and Awards
- Michigan State University "Be Spartan Green" 2015 Outstanding Faculty Award
- Michigan Organic Food and Farming Alliance (MOFFA) 2004 Public Service Award
- Honorary State Future Farmers of America Degree, 2003
- Member of Floriculture Team that received the 2002 John Hannah Award for Program Excellence in Extension
- Bedding Plants International 1998 Futura Award for Outstanding Teaching and Research
- College of Agri. and Nat. Res. Student Senate Outstanding Academic Advisor 1997
- Ohio Florists' Assoc. 1994 and 1996 Alex Laurie Award for Outstanding Research Paper
- Professional Plant Growers Association National Publications Award 1992 and 1993
- MSU Senior Student Council Outstanding Teaching Faculty Award for 1992
- Michigan Floral Association, National Service Award for 1989
- Waldman, Kurt, David Conner, John Biernbaum, Michael Hamm and Adam Montri. 2012. Determinants of Hoophouse Profitability: A Case Study of 12 Novice Michigan Farmers. HortTechnology 22(2) 215-223.
- Fisher, P.R., W.R. Argo, and J.A. Biernbaum. 2014. Validation of a fertilizer potential acidity model to predict the effects of water soluble fertilizer on substrate-pH. HortScience 49(8):1061-1066.
- Biernbaum, J. 2011. Four Season Farming and Learning. In Fields of Learning: The student farm movement in North America. Ed Laura Sayre and Sean Clark. University Press of KY, 378 pgs.
- Nair, A., M. Ngouajio, and J. A. Biernbaum. 2011. Alfalfa-based organic amendment in peat-compost growing medium for organic tomato transplant production. HortScience 46(2):253-259.
- Montri, A. and J. Biernbaum. 2009. Management of the soil environment in high tunnels. HortTechnology 19:34-36.
- Biernbaum, J.A., Thorp, L. and Ngouajio, M. 2006. Development of a Year-round Student Organic Farm and Organic Farming Curriculum at Michigan State University. HortTechnology 16(3):20-24.
- Kelley, Kathleen M., Author Cameron, John A. Biernbaum, and Kenneth L. Poff. 2003. Effect of storage temperature on the quality of edible flowers. Postharvest Biology and Technology 27:341-344.
- Kelley, Kathleen M., Bridget K. Behe, John A. Biernbaum, and Kenneth L. Poff. 2002. Combinations of Colors and Species of Containerized Edible Flowers: Effect on Consumer Preferences. HortScience 37(1):218-221.
- MSU Department of Horticulture
- MSU Student Organic Farm
- Hoophouse Outreach and Education
- Center for Regional Food Systems
- Environmental Studies and RISE Specialization
- Bailey GREENhouse and Urban Farm
- Office of Campus Sustainability
- Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Specialization
- Michigan Organic Food and Farming Alliance
- Michigan Food and Farming Systems
- Keep Growing Detroit
- MSU AgBioResearch
- MSU Extension
During his time at MSU, Dr. Biernbaum taught an average of two courses per semester including 20 different courses and over 50 independent studies over 30 years.
During his time at MSU, Dr. Biernbaum's most recently focused on production and use of compost for fertility, transplant media and water extracts (tea) for managing soil and plant health.
Dr. Biernbaum's most recent focus was on providing educational programs and technical assistance for small-scale organic farmers through the MSU Student Organic Farm and MSU Extension. Key topic areas included season extension/hoophouses, compost production, organic transplants, intensive vegetable production including urban agriculture, and organic soil management.
Important: These materials are intended for use by students, educators, farmers and gardeners. They are not intended for publication or distribution without permission of the author.
Closing the MSU Food Cycle Loop - Bailey GREENhouse and Urban Farm
- A six page summary of the project to date including pictures.
- Be Spartan Green Project 2012 Research Report - 20 pgs.
- Three power points of key aspects of the project.
MSU Student Organic Farm at the Horticulture Teaching and Research Center
- Visit www.msuorganicfarm.org for additional information.
- Two page flyer summarizing the SOF and some programs and projects.
- Ten years of successful year-round CSA Program.
- Recorded presentation about the SOF from November 2012, 52 minutes.
- Power Point from Presentation.
- Background information about the SOF production and farming methods.
- Chapter by John Biernbaum in the book Fields of Learning
- SOF Strategic Planning Review in 2007-2008:
- A 21 page report of a review of other student farms to identify management methods.
- A 98 page summary of the strategic planning process and information gathered.
- A six page summary of the managment and programs of the SOF in 2011.
- Plan B Masters Thesis Report by Michelle Ferrarese 2005 covering the start up and initial evaluation of the MSU Student Organic Farm
- Presentation Handouts for Principles and Practices of Organic Farming and Gardening:
- Michigan Organic Conference Keynote Address - Marriage of Sense and Soul
Themophillic or "Hot" Compost
- Composting Basics - 11 pages of introduction and concepts.
- Two page compost quick course
- General guidelines for composting for small and midsize farms.
- Power Point Presentation from the 2012 Northern Michigan Small Farms Conference.
Worm or "Vermi" composting
Recommendations for Worm Composting for small scale intensive farming and gardening based on five years of research (2010-2014) with vermicomposting kitchen preparation residue in a passive solar greenhouse or high tunnel.
- Worm Biology and Environmental Factors Influencing Worm Production and Composting
- Description of Small and Medium Scale Worm Composting Methods Trialed in a Hoophouse.
Hoophouses & High Tunnels
- Visit www.hoophouse.msu.edu for additional information.
- Season Extension and Hoophouse Basics 21 pgs.
- Hoophouse Opportunities and Decisions - Farmer Considerations.
- High Tunnel Water Soil and Fertility Management
- High Tunnel Crop Rotation, Scheduling and Planning
- High Tunnel Light and Temperature Management
- Plan B Masters Thesis Report by Emily Reardon, 2005, Elementary School Hoophouse Project
- Videos of simple high tunnel and low tunnel constuction
- Summary of High Tunnel Information Available on the internet
Organic Transplant Production
- Organic Transplant Basics - 12 pages - first prepared in 2003.
- Methods to Develop an Action Plan for Transplant Production
- One hour recorded webinar presentation on Organic root media and fertility management for Transplants through e-organic.
Vegetables and Season Extension including Cold Cellars
- Basic concepts of season extension and use of low tunnels and home made hoops.
- Basic concepts of planning and scheduling vegetable production.
- Cold cellars as an essential farm season extension component to complement hoophouses:
- A detailed review of planning considerations for cold storage completed by 3 undergraduate students in Biosystems Engineering as their senior project. The focus was on helping the SOF plan for a possible cold cellar or cold room to be built in the future.
- Getting to know the vegetable families (8 handouts are planned, 5 are done)
Permaculture and Edible Forest Gardening
- Plan B Masters Thesis Report by Jay Tomczak, 2007
- Power Point on Perennials, Organic and Permaculture, 91 slides. Presented to the Nut Growers Association at the 2013 Annual Meeting at MSU.
Upper Peninsula Research and Extension Center (UPREC)
Launching a new teaching and incubator farm at the UPREC North Farm has been an important new effort for 2014. Hiring a farm manager and assistant farm manager, developing a starting farm plan, and ordering and construction a hoophouse were completed by June 1. The crew at the farm has made great progress since then.
Greenhouse production of organic vegetable transplants, edible flowers and culinary herbs.
Organic and Sustainable Agriculture
Organic transplant production, winter production and harvesting of baby salad greens, year-round organic vegetable production. Production and use of compost for fertility, transplant media and water extracts (tea) for managing soil and plant health. Effect of irrigation method and water quality on nutrient management in peat-based media; fertilization methods for peat-based media.