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Organic Field Day set for Aug. 24

Student holding lettuce

West Virginia University will celebrate 20 years of pioneering work in organic farming during its Organic Field Day from 2 – 7 p.m. Sat., Aug. 24.

Established in 1999, the WVU Organic Research Farm project compares organic farming systems to assist growers in the transition from conventional to organic farming methods. On the 144-acre farm, a multidisciplinary team from the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design and WVU Extension Service studies field crops, livestock, organic pasture management, vegetable production, weed, insect and disease management and soil quality.

“Organic farming continues to be one of the fastest growing sectors in American agriculture,” said Jim Kotcon, associate professor of plant and soil sciences. “Part of our mission is to provide best-practice recommendations to help growers succeed, and one surefire way to do that is by hosting our annual field day event.”

Organic Field Day helps illustrate the latest research in organic production methods through workshops, tours of research plots and hands-on activities. Additionally, to help put the methods in context for West Virginia growers, keynote addresses will be presented by Joe Hatton, deputy commissioner of the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, and Kim Kroll, associate director of the USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program.

“The needs of organic growers are constantly evolving, and our research helps address the new opportunities and emerging problems they face,” he said. “We enjoy putting together this event every year and hope participants benefit from our efforts.”

This year’s program will include presentations on high tunnel crops production, low-tunnel training, insect pests, beekeeping and industrial hemp varieties.

“Other exciting things this year include dinner featuring organic produce grown on the farm and family activities – including the WVU Insect Zoo,” Kotcon said.

Participants will also have the opportunity to learn about the WVU Soil Testing Laboratory and the process for submitting a soil sample to be tested.

“Testing soil quality is a requirement for certified organic growers,” he added. “The WVU Soil Testing Laboratory provides the essential data needed for growers to document continuous improvement to soil fertility and soil organic matter content.”

For Kotcon, however, the highlight of the event will be presenting about the strides WVU has made in organic farming research during the last 20 years.

“Organic agriculture relies on building soil quality,” he said. “Time-honored practices such as crop rotation and composting are well-known for their benefits to soil health, but it takes many years, and we still do not fully understand the mechanisms involved. Our long-term research is providing new insights into how soil health changes in response to organic practices.”

Gates open at 2 p.m. with events beginning at 3 p.m. Dinner will be served at 6:15 p.m.

For more information or to see a detailed schedule, visit



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