Farm Science Review Workshop: How To Make Informed Choice Before Deciding to Add Alternative Crops

Aug. 19, 2015

Wondering if you should add goji berry production to your farm operation? Or how about adding hops to your production lineup? Maybe fish farming is a good option?

Before answering yes to adding these or other in-demand crops to a farm business, producers should make sure they are aware of all the requirements that go with adding alternative agriculture enterprises to their farm operations, said Mike Hogan, an Ohio State University Extension educator who is also the coordinator of the university’s Sustainable Agriculture Team.

While alternative crops such as hops, super berries and aquaponics are great ways to generate additional farm income, farmers need to be clear first how the additional crops fit into their business’s overall objectives, he said.

“While some may think in terms of what’s ‘hot’ in agriculture now, it’s more important to think about how a potential crop may fit into your farm operation and whether adding it really fits the business objective that you’ve set for your farm and your family,” Hogan said.

“There are different requirements for alternative agriculture enterprises including management, labor and financial metrics that need to be considered in addition to understanding what resources and marketing plans will be needed in order to be successful,” he said. “Farmers could make a mistake if they put all their eggs in one basket without carefully evaluating how that will impact them and if they are prepared.”

Hogan will discuss the issues producers should consider when evaluating whether adding alternative agriculture enterprises to their farm operations at a workshop Sept. 24 at 1 p.m. in the Small Farms Center Tent during the 2015 Farm Science Review at the Molly Caren Agricultural Center near London, Ohio.

Other workshops offered in the Small Farm Center Tent include:

·      Production and Marketing of Super Berries.

·      Using Cover Crops to Improve Nutrient Efficiency.

·      Walk Behind Tractors and Their Application on Small Farms.

·      Soil Quality Testing and Interpretation.

·      Raising Miniature Beef Cattle.

·      Farm Health and Safety on Small Farms.

·      Aquaculture Opportunities in Ohio.

·      Pricing Your Farm Products for Profit.

·      Understanding Food Marketing Regulations.

·      Reviewing Your Small Farm’s Legal Well-Being.

·      Economics of Organic Grain Production.

·      Getting Started With Aquaponics.

Sponsored by the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University, Farm Science Review is Sept. 22-24 and will feature presentations from experts from OSU Extension, the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, and Purdue University. OSU Extension and OARDC are the outreach and research arms, respectively, of the college.

The Review is known nationally as Ohio’s premier agricultural event. It annually draws more than 130,000 farmers, growers, producers and agricultural enthusiasts. An estimated 620 exhibitors with some 4,000 product lines will set up shop at the farm show, an increase from 608 exhibitors last year, organizers said.

Advance tickets are $7 at all OSU Extension county offices, many local agribusinesses and online at Tickets are $10 at the gate. Children 5 and younger are admitted free.

Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 22-23 and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 24.

More information can be found at