Researchers in a variety of disciplines at Ohio State's OARDC (Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center) are studying concerns applicable to organic growers of vegetables and field crops. Station research includes grains, vegetables and fruits, cover crops, soil quality, weed control, tillage, variety trials, fertility, and rotation studies. Research and extension efforts rely on partners in the field and industry. Below are a few of our current research projects and teams.
New varieties, products, crops, and techniques can be exciting, but also come with risk. Does a new variety produce as advertised? Is it right for Ohio conditions? Ohio State research can help minimize risks with unbiased trials and research. Below find links to recent variety trials. We hope to run corn, sunflower, oat and soybean trials in the future.
- 2022 Organic Corn Variety Trials
- 2021 Organic Corn Variety Trials
- 2020 Organic Corn Variety Trials
- 2019 Organic Corn Variety Trials
- 2020 Organic Oat Variety Trials
- 2018 Organic Oat Variety Trials
- 2017 Organic Oat Variety Trials
Organic farmers have unique priorities, values, and available options than conventional farmers. Effective research and outreach efforts need to keep the special characteristics of organic farmers in mind. Organic farmers and product suppliers can also benefit from seeing trends, outcomes, and practices in the industry. Read more about USDA Census numbers for Ohio and other state and regional research on farm practices.
- 2020 Farm Poll - Organic Edition (2023 Farm Poll is currently underway)
- 2019 Organic Dairy Practices Study
- 2018 Organic Corn Growers Survey
The Ohio Organic Farmer Research Network is a growing network of organic and transitioning farmers, agricultural professionals, and researchers who meet regularly to discuss emerging issues, possible projects, and recent or ongoing research. Our group is co-led by OEFFA, Ohio State, and Central State universities. Participation is open to anyone with an interest.
See upcoming events and recordings.
Weed management is one of the biggest challenges in the organic agroecosystem, and a barrier to conventional farmers who desire to transition. Ohio State is studying the long-term effectiveness of various ecological weed management strategies and barriers to their adoption.
Composts and animal manure are the most common on a short list of external sources of plant nutrients (N, P and K) allowed in organic production. Composts are also able to suppress plant diseases in various ways -- another essential alternative to chemicals. Composts increase soil organic matter which provides a number of physical, chemical, and biological benefits to plants. OCAMM research is focused on optimizing the composting process, understanding how composts modify microbial communities in soils and improve plant growth, finding ways to reduce pathogens, chemicals, plastics, and other contaminants in composts and manure, and how composting can be used to recycle organics from a variety of sources back to agriculture.
Research at the Wooster campus Soil Fertility Lab includes updating fertilizer recommendations, product testing, creating better soil tests that measure overall soil health, methods for building and measuring organic material, and organic weed management. The Wooster research station includes several organic and transitional fields, and a long-term tillage plot site established in 1962.
A cross-disciplinary group that studied the short-term and long-term effects of cation balancing on agroecosystems, as well as its use among farmers.
Microbial-based Biostimulants. As a group, these inputs are increasing rapidly in number and complexity but with unknown returns on investment. The VPSL helps growers and others select, use, and evaluate the effects of microbe-containing crop biostimulants.
- Summary article on Biostimulant Use from 2020
- Recorded presentation from 2024
- Additional resources at http://u.osu.edu/vegprolab/research-areas/vegebiostimsferts/ (MBBS listserv, databases, and recorded conversations).
Vegetable grafting. Preparing and/or using grafted vegetable plants can benefit organic vegetable growers and others in multiple ways. The VPSL provides a wide range of research- and experience-based input on the process, including an excellent manual on grafting co-produced with other institutional partners.
- grafting manual
- OSU-VPSL Basic Information, with links to other resources and publications http://u.osu.edu/vegprolab/research-areas/grafting-2/
- Multi-institution resources page, incuding rootstock tables, grafting manual, and other resources http://www.vegetablegrafting.org/
Microclimate management. Reducing risk, increasing efficiency, and extending production-marketing periods are some of the benefits of semi-protected production using low, mid, and high tunnels. Still, tunnel-based production brings unique challenges. The VPSL helps growers maximize the value of tunnel-based production to their farm.
- Comparison of outside vs. inside high tunnel conditions under various ventilation settings.
- Guide to Installing An Overhead Irrigation System in a High Tunnel
- More resources at https://u.osu.edu/vegprolab/additional-resources/