UW Organic Agriculture Field Days to focus on weed management, climate smart ag

Wet conditions across Wisconsin have provided farmers with significant challenges this growing season, highlighting the value of agricultural practices that promote resilience in the face of extreme weather. Resilient approaches such as living covers, diversified rotations, and perennial crops are promising production options for farmers, particularly when incorporated with organic certification, which opens doors to expanded markets and premium prices.

Practices related to improving soil health and incorporating resilience in organic systems will be a key focus of the University of Wisconsin­­–Madison’s Organic Grain Resource and Information Network (OGRAIN) Organic Agriculture Field Day Series.

“While requiring different approaches to management as compared to conventional production, organic grain offers a profitable opportunity for Wisconsin’s farmers at both smaller and larger scales with the goal of creating a more resilient agricultural model,” says Kelly Debbink, outreach specialist with the OGRAIN program in the UW–Madison Department of Plant Pathology.

Field days will be held across southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois, highlighting innovative practices both at working organic farms and research stations. Attendees will see examples of novel crops, marketing strategies, equipment – and many more tools and tactics – needed for successful organic management.

Field day details:

Organic Grain Equipment Showcase
July 11, 9:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
UW–Madison Arlington Agricultural Research Station, Arlington, Wisconsin
This field day will highlight mechanical weed management demonstrations, including representatives and equipment from several companies to demo and discuss equipment.

Cover Crop Conversations at Hoffman Organic Farm
August 20, 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Hoffman Organic Farm,Earlville, Illinois
This field day is co-hosted by theIDEA Farm Network and The Land Connection, and will include field walks of organic field crops, vegetables, and grass-fed lamb and beef. Discussions will focus on the farm’s use of cover crops, including frost seeded red clover, buckwheat, pearl millet and sunn hemp. Field walks will include the use of wide-row corn interseeded with winter squash. Mentorship programs for new and transitioning organic farmers will also be highlighted.

UW Organic Research and Climate-Smart Commodities Field Day
August 26, 9:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
UW–Madison Arlington Agricultural Research Station, Arlington, Wisconsin
This field day, co-hosted by Marbleseed, will include tours of the latest research in organic grains and forages, including roller crimping, strip tillage, and alternative crops. Discussions will also include opportunities for funding related to climate-smart production.

The field days in this series are designed to provide valuable information to certified organic farmers, as well as farmers interested in exploring the transition to certified organic production on some or all their acres, as well as farmers interested in cover crops, soil health practices, or alternative equipment to manage weeds.

“We continue to see farmers use innovative crops and practices on their farms to be successful in managing pests and weeds using organically-allowed methods,” says OGRAIN program leader Erin Silva, professor and extension specialist in the UW–Madison Department of Plant Pathology, who is the university’s Clif Bar Endowed Chair in Organic Agriculture and Outreach. “It’s exciting to be able to hear directly from farmers what they have learned to be successful organic grain producers, as well as highlight the technology and science that can bring organic production to the next level.”

Growth in the sales of certified organic products continues to rise, approaching the $70 billion mark in 2023, a new record for the sector.

All field days are free to attend. Registration can be found at, as well as more details about the times and locations of the events.