WOOSTER, Ohio — The Ohio State University’s Organic Food and Farming Education and Research (OFFER) program will hold a free public field day featuring new findings and projects related to certified organic research.
The event is from 2 to 6 p.m. Sept. 8 starting at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center’s West Badger farm in northeast Ohio. The tour will then proceed to additional organic research plots located at OARDC’s Fry Farm and Horticulture Unit 1, which together represent more than 75 acres of certified organic research land.
OFFER and OARDC are both part of Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. OARDC is the college’s research arm.
The field day will highlight various aspects of agronomic, specialty and cover crops. A featured topic will be soil management using the soil balancing philosophy, an idea described by William Albrecht in The Albrecht Papers which says that ideal soils contain 60-75 percent calcium, 10-20 percent magnesium and 2-5 percent potassium on their exchange sites, leaving them “balanced,” said Doug Doohan, acting director of the OFFER program.
“Proponents of Albrecht’s approach believe that a balanced soil provides an optimum growing environment for crops while suppressing weeds and other pests, but others are skeptical,” Doohan said.
OFFER scientists aren’t looking to give a thumbs up or thumbs down to the soil-balancing philosophy, Doohan said.
“Instead, they’re wanting to learn more about it through research, which they’re doing at OARDC and on working organic farms,” he said.
OFFER scientists are also learning through extensive interactions with growers and others familiar with the philosophy, Doohan said.
“We are fortunate to have the support of the U.S. Department of Agriculture organic program, the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, other grower groups, individual growers, and an advisory committee,” Doohan said. “That support allows us to develop a more common, research-based understanding of soil balancing.”
OFFER’s experiments on soil balancing include agronomic and specialty crops, he said.
Other topics at the field day will include:
- The results of corn, oat and clover variety trials
- Field trials on weed control and organic fertility inputs
- Interseeding various cover crop mixtures
Topics of special interest to organic vegetable producers will be reduced tillage, grafting, season extension and microbial inoculants.
Matt Kleinhenz, a vegetable researcher and specialist based at OARDC, said the Wooster location shares similar geology, vegetation, climate, soils, land use and other variables with more than five other states.
“This is one reason why OARDC is an excellent site for multiple types of research related to organic production,” he said. “People are another reason.
“The commitment to advancing our agriculture, including organic, for everyone’s benefit is strong in Ohio and at Ohio State.”
The Santa Cruz, California-based Organic Farming Research Foundation recently ranked the OFFER program among the leaders nationally based on the foundation’s eight-point scoring system including organic research, Extension, and education activity and capacity.
“Ohio State is in many ways a leader in organic research in the central U.S.,” Doohan said. “One aspect of the OFFER program that has really contributed to Ohio State researchers’ success has been the close relationship with organic farmers in the state and their contributions of knowledge, observations about what works and does not, and innovative ideas.
“Ohio State has been very successful in getting research dollars to address grower needs because of the very active participation of farmers and their organizations.”
The field day begins at OARDC’s West Badger Farm, 1501 Apple Creek Road, between Wooster and Apple Creek in Wayne County. From U.S. 250, go north 1.8 miles on Apple Creek Road. From U.S. 30, go south 1.1 miles on Apple Creek Road. Participants will car pool to the other organic farms.
For more information, contact OFFER’s Kathy Bielek at 330-202-3528 or firstname.lastname@example.org.