It isn’t easy for farmers in Wyoming’s arid climate to make a healthy profit on their crops, but at a conference next week in Cheyenne, farmers can learn how organic methods could help their bottom line.
University of Wyoming soil science professor Jay Norton is one of the organizers. He says the conference will offer a full schedule of talks focused on irrigated and dryland food production, among other topics.
“There’s a lot of reasons that farmers transition to organic. Some of them are ideological reasons or beliefs that organic food is somehow better," Norton says. “But we’re staying out of that controversy in this conference. We’re sticking to production practices. Organic production is an important value-added path for Wyoming farmers to improve profits.”
The conference will offer hands-on workshops on how to apply for organic certification, and explain how to transition to organic crops by increasing the health of the soil using compost and growing cover crops between harvests.
Norton says the market for organic goods is on the rise and Wyoming farmers could benefit.
“With our marginal productivity oftentimes there’s a lot of abandoned farms in southeast Wyoming that are completely turned over to the Conservation Reserve Program. Meaning that we’re right on the edge of being able to turn a profit from dryland crop production. Well, these organic price premiums can really boost that profit.”
Norton says the conference has been organized in collaboration with Nebraska and Colorado. It’ll be held Tuesday and Wednesday, February 23 and 24, at Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne.