AAIE has a new mailing address:
PO Box 5436
Fresno CA 93755

NOVEMBER 2018 Keynote Speaker
Dr. Diana Jerkins


Dr. Diana Jerkins, Research Director, Organic Farming Research Foundation, e-mail: [email protected]


Dr. Diana Jerkins has been involved in multiple roles with educational institutions, state and federal governments and non-profit organizations in supporting the advancement of sustainable agriculture in the US and internationally. Currently, she is the Research Director for the Organic Farming Research Foundation leading their efforts to provide direct funding to researchers, farmers and ranchers to conduct scientific research and educational advancements for organic producers.


For eleven years, Dr. Jerkins was a National Program Leader and Division Director for Integrated Programs with the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). She managed competitive programs in the areas of mitigation and adaptation to climate change, managed ecosystems, invasive species, small and mid-sized farm prosperity, rural development, and Native American outreach. She had leadership responsibilities for development and management of NIFA competitive Climate Change and Food Systems Integrated Programs. As co-leader of the Science for Sustainability working group, she led agency-wide activities supporting sustainable and organic agriculture programs. Interagency activities were in the areas of Long Term Agricultural Research programs (LTAR), chairing the NIFA Ecosystem Services Working Group, and NIFA liaison to the NASULGC Board on Natural Resources, USA National Phenology Network, and OSTP Ecosystem Service Task Team. She has lead efforts in the development of new programs within NIFA such as the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) and an interagency program with EPA on Enhancing Ecosystem Services for Agricultural Lands.


Prior to joining NIFA, Dr. Jerkins directed the Center for Regenerative Studies (CSRS) at Cal Poly Pomona in Pomona California. CSRS is an educational and residential intentional community where students learn and live in a sustainable environment based on passive-solar building, energy, water, and food systems. She was also a teaching and research faculty member with the College of Agriculture. Her graduate work was at the University of Georgia with degrees in Agronomy and Entomology. She consults internationally on sustainable agriculture issues. Dr. Jerkins also owns a farm in Virginia producing vegetable crops for direct market sales.  Professional activities and professional associations have included the Agronomy, Crop, and Soil Science Societies; Ecological Society of America; Federal Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability working group; and USDA Sustainable Development Council.


“Soil Health to Sustain Agricultural Production Systems”


Managing soil health is the cornerstone of all agricultural production systems. Managing soil health in organic production systems presents unique challenges as organic growers cannot rely on synthetic inputs to enhance plant nutrition or control weeds. Improving soil health can be linked to improved economic and environmental sustainability. Due to current discussions on impacts of inputs and practices that may degrade soil conditions, soil biota, and human health, research findings can lead to a better understanding of the benefits of improving and maintaining soil health that will lead to greater health of agricultural systems, the environment, and the public.


This talk will outline key challenges and describe how organic practices, such as crop rotations, cover cropping, composting, and increased biodiversity can benefit farmers by promoting healthy soils. In addition to organic inputs, we will explore complementary agroecological principles, such as crop diversification, that promote soil health and mitigate weeds. Examples of organic production practices and practical tips for organic producers and agricultural service providers will be highlighted throughout the presentation. Special focus will be on vegetable and fruit crops and mechanisms for transfer of knowledge. 





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