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Organic farming research pays off – Audio

Organic farming research pays off

Erin Silva, Associate Scientist
Department of Agronomy
UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
(608) 890-1503(608) 262-1390


Erin Silva taps in to the value of organic research.

3:06 – Total Time

0:18 – Expansion of organic crop research
0:46 – Examples of organic research
1:13 – Research pays off for growers
2:09 – Changes and growth of organic
2:30 – Organic and conventional farmers learn together
2:49 – For more information
2:56 – Lead out


Sevie Kenyon: Erin, in the area of organic research what kinds of changes are you seeing?

Erin Silva: Since the inception of the National Organic Program in 2002, there’s been more and more interest from land grant researchers to look more into the questions that organic farmers have, and help improve the organic productions system, and optimize organic practices. We’ve seen a great growth in the depth of organic research and the number of organic research projects here in the college.

Sevie Kenyon: Erin, can you give us some examples of the kinds of things taking place here at the University?

Erin Silva: There is a lot of work being done in breeding varieties for organic systems, variety trialing in organic systems, optimizing disease and insect management in organic vegetable and row crop systems, looking at managing organic pastures, as well as looking into more of the marketing questions with respect to organic. Looking at cost of production, and setting prices adequately to cover costs.

Sevie Kenyon: And what kinds of things are producers adapting to out there?

Erin Silva: There’s a few example where we’re really starting to see impact. Particularly with some of the breeding and variety trialing work. As we’ve done variety trials on farmer fields, farmers have found unique varieties of potatoes, of winter squash, sweet corn, that have really allowed them to carve out unique niches, and really differentiate themselves from other farms and gain a premium price for those products at market. We’ve done cost of production work where farmers have been able to better evaluate their profitability and their cost of production, particularly on highly diversified vegetable farms, and have changed their management to make a more profitable and sustainable business. So some real exciting results and on the ground changes resulting from the organic research here in the college.

 Sevie Kenyon: Erin can you give us a sense of how the organic production has changed?

 Erin Silva: We’ve seen steady growth, over the past decade and that growth is projected to continue into the next two to five years or so. And here in the state we still have the second highest number of organic farms of any other state in the country. So a very vibrate organic community here in Wisconsin.

 Sevie Kenyon: Erin do you see any cross-pollination between organic farmers and conventional farmers?

 Erin Silva: We definitely do. A lot of the work we do in organic systems regarding cover crops, we see a lot of information exchange, both from conventional to organic farmers and vise versa. Both sectors of the industry have a lot to learn from each other, and a lot of information to share.

Sevie Kenyon: Where can people go for more information?

Erin Silva: People can go to the UW Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems website. Just Googling CIAS will easily bring you there.

Sevie Kenyon: We’ve been visiting with Erin Silva, Department of Agronomy, University of Wisconsin and the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, now celebrating 125 years, and I am Sevie Kenyon.