Issues of Obtaining and Maintaining "Organic Certification" at the Lane, OK Research Center.
Merritt Taylor1, Warren Roberts1, Jonathan Edelson1, James Shrefler1, Charles Webber2, Vincent Russo2, Sam Pair2, Benny Bruton2, Angela Davis2, Penelope Perkins-Veazie2, Julie Collins2, William Kazokas1, and Wayne Fish2. (1) Oklahoma State University, 911 East Hwy 3, Lane, OK 74555, United States of America, (2) USDA/ARS SCARL, 911 East Hwy 3, Lane, OK 74555
Scientists from Oklahoma State University and USDA/ARS at the Lane, OK Research and Extension Center have been implementing “organic” research for several years on land that was not “certified organic” when the study began. To enhance the credibility of the results of the research it was decided that an “organic certification” was needed for the land. A field was selected in 2003 that had been in timber for about 18 years. The timber was removed, and the field was prepared for crop production using criteria that complied with the National Organic Program (NOP). A four-crop rotation was implemented (sweet corn, watermelons, southern peas, and tomatoes) by multiple scientists in a planned four-year demonstration. Organic certification for the plot was obtained through the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry in December of 2005. Obtaining the official certification involved considerably more work and cooperation among the scientists than was anticipated. Maintaining, and not losing, the organic certification has required considerably more education, cooperation, and collaboration among scientists and technicians than has ever occurred previously at the Lane Center. Scientists and their technicians have traditionally operated independently of other scientists and technicians. The cooperative organic demonstration plot has required different operating strategies that have caused strained relations among all concerned. After two years of research, it appears that one key to mutually beneficial cooperation among multiple scientists from different agencies and different disciplines is to have a mandatory method of communication among all involved regarding the project. It also appears that the cooperative effort will function best if there is a single project leader that has a clear understanding of the goals and objectives of the project, and who also has the responsibility and the authority to ensure completion of goals.