Calhoun Fields Laboratory: A Program for Experiential Training in Organic Farming Systems

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2002: $49,926.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2003
Region: Southern
State: South Carolina
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Geoff Zehnder
Clemson University

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: millet, rye, soybeans, sunflower
  • Fruits: melons
  • Vegetables: beans, broccoli, cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, cucurbits, eggplant, garlic, greens (leafy), onions, peas (culinary), peppers, sweet corn, tomatoes
  • Additional Plants: herbs, ornamentals
  • Animals: poultry


  • Animal Production: housing, free-range
  • Crop Production: biological inoculants, cover crops, double cropping, intercropping, multiple cropping, organic fertilizers
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, participatory research
  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, budgets/cost and returns, community-supported agriculture, value added
  • Pest Management: biological control, biorational pesticides, botanical pesticides, compost extracts, cultural control, field monitoring/scouting, integrated pest management, mulches - living, physical control, prevention, row covers (for pests), mulching - vegetative
  • Production Systems: holistic management
  • Soil Management: composting, green manures, organic matter, soil analysis, soil quality/health


    This project was undertaken in response to a stakeholder-identified need to provide training in organic production practices to South Carolina Extension, NRCS and DNR agents. A series of five workshops was organized during 2003/2004 on various topics including soil quality and management, cover cropping, non-chemical pest management strategies, and composting and use of compost extract for disease management. Demonstration plantings/sites were established at the Clemson University Calhoun Field Laboratory to provide hands-on training in conjunction with the workshops. A total of approximately 90 agents attended the five workshops. Post-workshop surveys indicated that the trainees gained knowledge and experience with aspects of organic production that will enable them to more effectively communicate with organic producers, and also to more confidently provide assistance to conventional producers who wish to transition to organic/sustainable practices.

    Project objectives:

    Specific objectives are to: 1) Develop a user-friendly training manual with topics related to organic production and certification for classroom and on-farm sessions; 2) Establish demonstration plantings/sites within the Clemson University Calhoun Field Laboratory site for on-farm training in each topic; 3) Organize and conduct the training in a series of workshops (classroom and field); and 4) Evaluate the impacts of the training program. This training will provide participants with basic knowledge of organic production and certification that will enable them to provide technical assistance to organic producers and to others interested in transitioning to organic production. Participants completing the training will also feel more comfortable advising conventional growers about transitioning to more sustainable cropping systems.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.