Plant diseases, especially those caused by soil-borne seed infecting pathogens, pose a serious threat to organic greenhouse and field production. There is a critical need for new techniques and technologies to combat seed and seedling diseases, and organic farmers have identified this as a top research priority.
Both solid and liquid forms of organic amendments such as compost and vermicompost have proven successful in controlling plant pathogens. The working hypothesis is that microbes are closely associated with disease suppression. OFRF provided a research grant in 2014 to Rick Carr at the Rodale Institute (pictured in photo) to establish a proof-of-concept that compost microbes can be deployed on the surface of seeds before sowing to protect against soil-borne plant pathogens. He recently submitted his final project report.