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.
Agronomic Crop Field Trials
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 the 2017 and 2018 organic oat variety trials. We hope to continue these trials next year and add organic corn for 2019.
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.
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 OARDC's Culman 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 OARDC includes several organic and transitional fields, and a long-term tillage plot site established in 1962.
A cross-disciplinary group studying 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. See http://u.osu.edu/vegprolab/research-areas/vegebiostimsferts/ to access a range of resources, including the MBBS listserv, databases, and recorded conversations with experts.
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. See http://u.osu.edu/vegprolab/research-areas/grafting-2/ and http://www.vegetablegrafting.org/ for more information.
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. See http://u.osu.edu/vegprolab/research-areas/crop-environments-2/ for example resources.