Most small scale farmers are focused on annual vegetable production to meet their community’s needs. However, the demand and need for US grown, medicinal plants is on the rise. Many people are interested in organic and fresh herbs grown by small producers, the same standard they want their food grown. This presents an opportunity for farmers to add medicinal roots into their crop plan to help satisfy the demand.
Planting medicinal roots can diversify the species on a farm, both with plants and beneficial insects. The perennial roots offer benefits such as windbreaks and erosion control, with the possibility of bringing back native prairie plants, like Echinacea. There is a need to educate farmers about medicinal root production as a source of income and to find ways to mechanize production, for it to be an efficient crop to grow. The research supported by this grant could work to educate more farmers and also find ways that medicinal roots can be grown efficiently in the Midwestern climates and soils.
Project objectives from proposal:
- Set up 3 medicinal root trials (Ashwagandha, Elecampane and Marshmallow) in 80 foot beds and research production.
- Trial mechanized harvest and process data about yield.
- Do cost/ profit analysis to determine economic sustainability for farmers.
- Share research with on farm field presentation and in a talk with the Sustainable Agriculture Program at Johnson County Community College.