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Organic farming research takes root in Kentucky
Kentucky Ag Connection - 03/05/2024

The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) has launched its innovative Farmer Led Trials (FLT) program, selecting its first ten participants, including Kentucky's Maggie Dungan of Salad Days Farm in Versailles. This program empowers farmers to conduct on-farm research, tackling challenges and fostering innovation in organic agriculture.

OFRF recognizes the inherent experimentation spirit within farmers and aims to elevate their trials by providing technical support and seed funding. This minimizes risks associated with implementing new practices, while fostering a collaborative community of farmer-researchers.

The first-year cohort features a diverse group, including beginning farmers, BIPOC farmers, and veterans, representing various operations like specialty crops, grains, and vineyards. All participants are either certified organic or transitioning towards it.

Dungan, alongside other farmers, will explore crucial research topics like building soil health, cover crop utilization, and managing weeds and pests organically. Additionally, they'll investigate the use of shade cloth during summer, planting distances, companion planting, and even variety breeding.

"OFRF has been working diligently to create this program for over two years," said Thelma Velez, Director of Research and Education Programs. "We are thrilled to see it come to fruition and offer more direct support to farmers, including Kentucky's Maggie Dungan."

The organization anticipates long-term benefits for organic farmers through the valuable insights gleaned from these on-farm trials. Dungan's participation and the research conducted at Salad Days Farm contribute to the program's overall success and the advancement of organic farming practices in Kentucky and beyond.

To learn more about the Farmer-Led Trials Program, please visit our program page on the OFRF website. Additionally, check out the brand new OFRF publication titled Farmers Guide to On-Farm Research.

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