Organic Certification

Current Projects


Rodale Institute’s current organic certification research is focused on finding ways to improve best management practices for certified organic operations based on the regulations and recommendations of the National Organic Program.

Path to Organic Soil Sampling and Analysis to Determine Carbon Sequestration on Organic Farms in the Path to Organic Program
The purpose of this project is to conduct soil sampling to collect and analyze data to determine carbon sequestration in the soil on nine farms in the Path to Organic Program. The Path to Organic Program provides grants to farmers switching to certified organic production practices, evaluating those practices as tools to improve soil health, protect water quality, and gather atmospheric carbon on a pilot basis outside of the traditional research environment. The goal of the Path program is to: 1) provide an incentive for farmers to make the transition to certified organic production practices; and 2) evaluate organic production practices as tools in improving soil health, protecting water quality and sequestering atmospheric carbon on a pilot basis outside of the traditional research environment. Potential changes in soil carbon at the farm sites relative to their changes in management practices (from conventional to organic) will be measured and reported. Soil carbon data will be shared with the participating farmers, giving them a better understanding of their soil carbon stocks and giving them baseline data to use for potential future carbon crediting programs.

Recently Completed

Demonstration of Improved Compost Management to Effectively Utilize Animal Waste Nutrient Resources and Support Increased Soil Nutrient Retention (CIG Compost)
Rodale Institute, in collaboration with neighboring EQIP-eligible farmer James Burkholder and the local municipality of South Whitehall Township, has initiated a comparative composting demonstration, using uniform base materials (high-quality pelletized chicken manure, food waste, and municipal leaves) to illustrate the impacts of different compost pile management regimes on final compost quality, nutrient content, and nutrient retention, as well as on field soil quality and nutrient leaching after application. Two different compost management regimes (1: timed turning, based on National Organic Program (NOP) standards; and 2: temperature-related turning) will be demonstrated atop compost production pads fitted with drains to capture all precipitation and leachate that runs through each pile.

Resources:
Fact Sheet: Improved Compost Management for Certified Organic Operations (Summer 2013)
Presentation: Aerobic Composting (Spring 2013)
Turning compost by temperature (Fall 2012)
Cutting-edge compost (Spring 2012)

Rodale Institute CDS
Rodale Institute researchers are testing the efficacy of hypochlorous acid to clean milking equipment in a dairy system, relative to standard cleaning materials. To date, the hypochlorous acid has successfully reduced microbial growth on surfaces of pipes and milking equipment at different times during the equipment-use process (pre-milking, post-milking, and 7 hours post-milking) and over a number of different sampling dates. OMRI certification is pending on this green cleaning product for use in certified organic farming and processing operations as a highly effective, non-toxic alternative to current cleaning and disinfecting products.

Resources:
Rodale Institute to launch eco-safe sanitation unit (press release)
Clean – Disinfect – Sanitize (system details)