About Wes

This author has not yet filled in any details.
So far Wes has created 34 blog entries.

Cover Crops for Soil Health: demonstration of on-farm trial

Pushpa Soti, Assistant Professor, Biology Department
University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

This project was designed to address the three major research needs expressed by the farmers: weed suppression, pest management, and soil conservation. The specific objectives of this study were to determine the right cover crop or cover crop mix by evaluating the agronomic, environmental, and economic benefits, ultimately address local farmers’ priorities to overcome barriers to organic agriculture in this region. We worked closely with the local organic growers to address their research needs. The goal of this project was to address the farmer-driven questions on cover crops.

By |2022-12-01T20:39:41+00:00December 1st, 2022|Grant Award|

Advancing Organic Potato Production with Mustard Seed Meal Extract: a multi-pronged tool to control weeds, promote soil health, and improve potato nutrition

Inna Popova, Dr.
Assistant Professor in the Department of Soil and Water Systems

Weed management, soil health, and nutritional quality of organically produced foods are among the highest priority organic research topics according to organic farmers across the US, and abundant peer-reviewed research supports these perspectives. Utilizing innovative organic agricultural practices that improve soil health, combat weeds, and enhance the nutritional quality of staple foods will enable farmers to successfully meet the challenges of feeding a rising global population. Our overall goal is to discover effective weed management strategies for organic potato production that promote healthy soils and nutritious potatoes.

By |2022-12-01T20:33:22+00:00December 1st, 2022|Grant Award|

20 to 20, in 2020

Hand holding 12 species of seed mix

Lee-Ann Hill, Rocky Mount Seed Alliance

This project investigates 20 promising ancient and heritage grain varieties to measure performance for farm scale organic growing conditions and will increase available seed of these 20 unique varieties to a minimum of 20 pounds each in 2020. Data will be collected on weed suppression, lodging, disease, and pest pressure as well as yield and height and environmental conditions at two sites- Ketchum, Idaho and Paonia, Colorado. This on-farm research will be supplemented by data collected through Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance’s grassroots ‘Heritage Grain Trial Program’ (HGTP) and via a new field app. The HGRP not only activates peer-to-peer discovery of regionally adapted germplasm, but also preserves a living diversity of crop genetics.

By |2022-12-01T20:27:26+00:00December 1st, 2022|Grant Award|

Evaluation of selection methods and efficacy in on-farm breeding of organic wheat and oat varieties

Helen Jensen, Research Program Manager
The Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security, Seed Change

This research project will document how farmer-selectors have contributed to genetic improvement for organic production for wheat and oats and share that information with existing and prospective PPB participants across the country. We will also document and evaluate the strengths and limitations of the PPB partnerships that underpin this particular program. In doing so, we will ensure that new organic PPB programs can be improved based on the experience of farmers. We anticipate that outcomes will include improved knowledge of selection practices for all of the stakeholders in the program, as well as improved methodologies and increased adoption of PPB by a broader range of organic farmers.

By |2022-12-01T20:35:01+00:00December 1st, 2022|Grant Award|

A Comprehensive Approach To Control Weeds in Organic Peanut Systems in the Southeast

Don Cooper, Georgia Organic Peanut Alliance
Agricultural Outreach and Education Specialist

This project will examine the effectiveness of an integrated weed control system in Certified Organic peanut production utilizing regular mechanical cultivation and Eugenol, a broad spectrum herbicide derived from cloves and approved for Certified Organic production in a commercial formulation as Weed Slayer. The project will be conducted with four Certified Organic farmers at four locations in Southwest Georgia: (1) two loamy/clayey farms, (2) two sandy farms. Each site will have two fields planted approximately 2-3 weeks apart within the optimum planting window (May/June) to measure weed pressures and yield. Each farm will begin use of a tine weeder within 5-7 days after planting, with 5-7 total passes, followed by 2-3 passes with sweeps until the peanut plants’ canopies extend across the rows.

By |2022-12-01T20:20:30+00:00December 1st, 2022|Grant Award|

Efficacy evaluation of biological control agents against wireworms in organic production

Photo of Soybean plantation rows view from the soil

Arash Rashed, University of Idaho
Associate Professor of Entomology

Wireworms, the larval stage of click beetles (Coleoptera: Elateridae), are generalist subterranean herbivores that cause significant damage in a variety of crops. Managing wireworms has been a challenge due to their long-life cycle, subterranean living habitat, and ability to survive wide range of host plants. Although there are a few insecticides available for conventional farming, there is no effective alternative control measure against wireworms in organic production. Thus, there is a critical need for developing effective non-chemical control protocols against wireworms.

By |2022-12-01T20:20:42+00:00December 1st, 2022|Grant Award|

Breeding disease-resistant heirloom-quality tomatoes

tomatoes on a bush

Carol Deppe, Owner Fertile Valley Seeds

The object of this project is to breed disease-resistant heirloom-quality tomatoes, especially those resistant to late blight and a number of other diseases. I have already crossed ten premiere heirloom tomato varieties—full-size red, pink, black, orange, and paste types—to the hybrid ‘Iron Lady’, which is resistant to late blight and a number of other relevant diseases. And I have developed the second-generation (F2) populations from each of these ten crosses. This year, the grant year, I’ll use marker assisted selection to identify most of the disease resistance genes in each transplant before transplanting them to the field. (This involves taking a sample of leaf from each transplant and sending the samples to a laboratory that can identify the genes in each sample.) This way I’ll be able to plant only the transplants that have the desirable disease resistance genes. I’ll evaluate plants in the field based upon plant form and vigor, maturity, fruit color, shape and flavor. I’ll derive a number of lots of seed from each cross. These lots of seed will be distributed far and wide to allow organic farmers and gardeners to easily develop their own heirloom-quality tomato varieties with resistance to modern disease. Many of the lots of seed will already be pure-breeding for late blight resistance, so breeders working with it will not need to select for late blight resistance. (You might or might not have it in your field any given year.)

By |2022-12-01T20:21:21+00:00December 1st, 2022|Grant Award|

OFRF champions the importance of organic research at NIFA listening session

The USDA’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) held a listening session on Nov 2, 2022. This session’s goal was to collect feedback from stakeholders on the challenges, needed breakthroughs, and research priorities to inform NIFA’s role in the priority setting process of the Research, Extension and Education (REE) programs of the USDA. OFRF was honored to join the diverse array of stakeholders that offered insights and feedback on how NIFA can continue to deliver high quality, crucial resources and expertise to the agricultural community.  

Both Gordon N. Merrick, Policy & Programs Manager, and Mark Schonbeck, Research Program Associate, highlighted the importance of NIFA’s competitive grant programs for organic agriculture, like the Organic Research & Extension Initiative (OREI) and Organic Transition Program (ORG). They both highlighted the importance of organic agricultural management in the response to our changing climate. Gordon reinforced the fact that “we now know, with scientific certainty thanks to publicly-funded basic research, that organic management leads to a more-resilient landscape in the face of the ongoing climate crisis.”  Mark later added that “in long term farming systems trials, organic systems that maintain healthy soil show greater resilience to drought, excessive rainfall, and nutrient limitations than their conventional counterparts.”  

Mark continued on to discuss some of the valuable research being done by these programs, like cultivar development networks that work directly with farmers, regionally appropriate nutrient management and cycling techniques, and organic’s ability to support a vibrant, biodiverse soil microbial community, which supports both soil and plant health.

Gordon was also sure to highlight that organic agricultural research should not be limited to these organic-specific programs.  “Research into organic management techniques has resulted in economical and ecologically-sound management systems for all producers, we at OFRF think this reality should be reflected in how NIFA prioritizes research topics across all competitive research grant programs.”  He continued, “the importance of organic-specific programs cannot be overstated, it has resulted in high-value research applicable to all producers, but a significant gap still exists between current research funding levels and the amount spent on organic production when considering organic’s 6% market share.”

Importantly, Gordon highlighted that the need for this research will only be increasing given the USDA’s Organic Transition Initiative (OTI), a historic $300 million investment in supporting producers to transition to organic production. According to our National Organic Research Agenda, some of the highest impact research areas are continuing to develop regionally adapted and appropriate cultivars, pest and disease management, and nutrient management techniques.

By |2022-11-11T15:23:40+00:00November 10th, 2022|News|

Letter from Jennifer Taylor – Fall 2022

Dear friend,

My grandmother was a farmer in rural Georgia long before I was born. She started as a sharecropper and was given the opportunity to buy her own farmland. She became a very successful farmer, and this is where our organic farm is located today, on that same beautiful land. We grow many of the same crops my grandmother grew, such as unique varieties of delicious colorful vegetables, fruit, and herbs. Today we are the only certified organic farm in our county and within surrounding counties.

When my grandmother was farming, she used organic farming practices before organic certification even existed. For us, organic farming and agroecology not only builds healthy soil and healthy environments, but also supports access to healthy foods in our communities. I believe organic farming systems can, and should, be enjoyed by all farmers and consumers – in all communities.

By supporting OFRF, you will help ensure organic farming can continue to grow and support all farmers, environments, and communities. Give Now and your donation will be matched dollar for dollar!

OFRF has funded on-farm research for over 30 years and in 2022 prioritized applications led by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). This investment is not only a win for grant recipients but the entire organic movement. In 2022, I received a research grant from OFRF for my project titled “Organic For All.” My participatory research project focuses on capacity-building and outreach, and will identify needs, hindrances, and barriers for BIPOC farmers.

The Organic For All project is designed to help farmers walk through the development of their own organic farming systems or organic agroecology farm practices and help develop solutions and resources through workshops that provide education, technical assistance, and access to organic agriculture.

The Organic For All project, and on-farm research in general, enables relationship-building with farmers, communities, and researchers, and importantly provides a pathway for relevant education, technical assistance, and hands-on training in organic agriculture.

With OFRF’s support, my goal is to bring more farmers into organic farming systems, and show that we all can learn from traditional agroecology knowledge and break down barriers so that BIPOC people can better access the benefits of organic.

Thank you,
Jennifer Taylor
Owner and Farmer of Lola’s Organic Farm
Glenwood, Georgia

Will you help organic farmers by donating today? This work wouldn’t be possible without your support. Your donation will be matched up to $25,000 thanks to Nature’s Path Organic Foods, Nell Newman Foundation, and other generous donors!

By |2022-11-14T23:29:16+00:00November 9th, 2022|News|

OFRF and FFAR Fund On-Farm Organic Research of Companion Plantings for a New Invasive Brassica Pest

(SANTA CRUZ, CALIF. – November 3, 2022) – The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) and the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) are pleased to announce its third award for the 2021/22 OFRF organic research grant cycle. Christiana Huss of the University of Georgia, was awarded $19,977 to research companion plants that reduce the destruction caused by invasive yellow-margined leaf beetle (Microtheca ochroloma) on leafy brassica greens across the Southeastern United States.

The yellow-margined leaf beetle is an invasive pest that threatens organic production of  high value leafy brassica greens across the Southeast and beyond as winters become milder. This research will evaluate an innovative landscape ecology approach that involves a combination of repellant intercrops and attractant companion plants in a “push-pull” design for bio-control of the pest.

“Finding a suitable companion plant is an accessible approach for many farmers who wish to lessen their chemical inputs for pest control.” said Huss, principal investigator for the project. “We are thrilled to explore this technique and hope to find a solution!”

This project will leverage agricultural diversity to mitigate the destruction of the invasive M. ochroloma on brassica greens by testing potential intercrops’ ability to repel M. ochroloma. The project will then be assisted by ten organic farmers to trial the most successful combination of companion plants for managing M. ochroloma on their own farms.

This year’s research grant program prioritized farmers, early career researchers, and BIPOC applicants. The six projects chosen focus on climate mitigation and building on-farm resilience and have been awarded a grand total of $119,817 in funding. The 2021/22 cycle was made possible by a $66,000.00 grant from FFAR and matching funds from OFRF and its research partners.

To date, OFRF has invested over $3 million in 361 grants across North America to advance scientific knowledge and improve the ecological sustainability and economic prosperity of organic farming systems. All OFRF-funded research must involve farmers or ranchers in project design and implementation, take place on certified organic land, and include strong education and outreach components. All research results are freely available in OFRF’s online database.


Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research
The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) builds public-private partnerships to fund bold research addressing big food and agriculture challenges. FFAR was established in the 2014 Farm Bill to increase public agriculture research investments, fill knowledge gaps and complement USDA’s research agenda. FFAR’s model matches federal funding from Congress with private funding, delivering a powerful return on taxpayer investment. Through collaboration and partnerships, FFAR advances actionable science benefiting farmers, consumers and the environment.

Organic Farming Research Foundation
The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) is a non-profit foundation that works to foster the improvement and widespread adoption of organic farming systems. OFRF cultivates organic research, education, and federal policies that bring more farmers and acreage into organic production. Project results are shared freely at ofrf.org. OFRF also provides free access to all of its educational materials and resources.

By |2022-10-27T17:40:56+00:00November 2nd, 2022|Press Release|
Go to Top