TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) - A farm owned by Purdue near campus now has roughly 10 acres of certified organic land. This places researchers in a strong position to help develop more effective organic farming practices.
The land’s located at Meigs Farm and is part of the Throckmorton Purdue Agricultural Center in Tippecanoe County.. It was certified in October by The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association.
Purdue weed scientist Kevin Gibson says the land would help researchers take part in the type of holistic science needed to help farmers grow crops organically.
"In order to evaluate management practices like crop rotations, pest management, the use of cover crops or how a particular variety will perform under organic conditions, we need to work within the same set of rules as organic growers," Gibson said.
He also said Purdue’s effort took a lot less time than normal. Usually certification takes three years in which a field is transitioned from conventional to organic production. For Purdue, it took half that time – a year and a half.
Gibson attributes this to the fact that the land hadn’t been used for conventional farming in quite a few years.
He also said the process went smoothly thanks to the staff at Meigs Farm, strong support from his department and the College of Agriculture, and the team of agricultural economists, entomologists, plant pathologists, soil scientists, microbiologists and weed scientists who were dedicated to creating a place for organic research.
Organic farming practices are blooming in agriculture. Purdue Extension plant pathologist Janna Beckerman says the demand for organically grown food is increasing, too.
"In the organic field, there's very little data on what works to manage disease problems. And there are a lot of things on the market that growers try and then don't understand why those products don't work," she said. "This plot allows us to test different practices to improve plant health and disease management."
She plans to research plant diseases within the plot of land and then do more research on topics growers are wanting.
Extension agricultural economist Corinne Alexander is looking forward to conducting organic research near campus with her colleagues. She says now, she can use local results to formulate her economic research.
"The land opens up a whole range of research that couldn't occur otherwise - imagine what we could do to answer questions about organic research," she said.