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Funding Opportunities: Warner Grants for Sustainable Agriculture

Paul C. and Edna H. Warner Grants for Sustainable Agriculture

Warner Page

The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) Sustainable Agriculture Team and Agroecosystems Management Program (AMP) offer interdisciplinary grants to promote on-farm research in sustainable agriculture. This program, the Warner Grants for Sustainable Agriculture, is made available through the Paul C. and Edna H. Warner Endowment Fund.  The fund was established specifically for on-farm research in sustainable agriculture related to crop (agronomic and horticultural) and animal production systems that are ultimately intended for human consumption.

Sustainable agriculture is characterized by a state of balance between:
• Practices and values that promote environmental stewardship and conservation of resources
• Long-term economic viability of farms and rural communities, and
• Preservation of the quality of life for farm families and support for rural communities.

Research is intended to identify and publicize sustainable agricultural practices and systems that are profitable, socially responsible, energy-efficient and improve water quality and other environmental concerns relevant to Ohio farmers.

The RFP is typically released in late January with a deadline in early March.


The following projects were selected for funding in 2021:


Evaluating low-cost approaches to optimize yields of spinach and lettuce during hotter summers.

PI: Timothy McDermott, (Agriculture and Natural Resources, OSU) Farmers: Michelle Nowak and Teddy Brown (Franklinton Farms, Columbus, OH)

The aim of this project is to test the effectiveness of affordable ways to mitigate the negative impacts of summer heat on heat-sensitive crops and thereby increase summer yields for small farms. New production techniques during summer’s hottest months will facilitate produce sales at competitive price points for any farmer who is able to implement these affordable solutions.

Pesticide Stewardship using Intelligent Sprayer Technology in the Apple Orchard.

PI: Melanie Lewis Ivey (Plant Pathology, OSU)  Farmers:  Andy Lynd (Lynd Fruit Farm) and Bill Bauman (Bauman Fruit Farm).

The objective of the proposed study is to validate the efficiency and effectiveness of intelligent sprayer technology in reducing pesticide use (by 50% in preliminary trials) while controlling diseases and insect pests at a commercial scale in two commercial apple orchards in Ohio and to validate and promote the use of this new technology to other producers across the state.

Production of yellow perch for local markets in North-East Ohio using intensive culture system.

PI: Konrad Dabrowski (Animal Sciences, SENR, OSU) Farmers: Kevin Fisher, John Grayson, Harry Speith (Pleasant Valley Fisheries)

In this proposed project, we intend to design, construct, and evaluate a filter and sprayer recirculating setup (FSRS) that could be operated in a wide variety of already established culture tanks to support the conditions needed for successful yellow perch larvae culture. If successful, newly established as well as experienced yellow perch producers could have a practical and lower-cost alternative (complementary technology) to the pond-based larvae culture method during a regular season.

Beneath the Surface: Investigating soil microbial communities and enzyme activities in a Canfield silt loam under various tillage and fertilizer management systems.

PI: Heather Neikirk (OSU Extension, Stark County) and Kathleen M. Bridges (Post-Doctoral Scholar, OSU) Farmers: Brian Simon, Bruce Baltzly, John Ickes, Jonathan Norman, Scott Hauenstein, Kenny Blim, Cliff Linder, Joyce Brahler, Alex Dragovich, Ron Frank, Ben Klick, Sharon Keister.

The objective of this proposal is to determine how management methods affect soil biological communities and their function on small farms. The measurements could reveal both the activity and diversity of the soil microbial community. The team will study how soil biology is affected by management in an on-farm setting, which can ultimately impact environmental and agricultural sustainability and profitability.

Application of Shallow Geothermal System for Season Extension in Ohio Greenhouses.

PI: Ajay Shah (Food, Agricultural, and Biological Engineering, OSU)  Farmers: Tonni and Graham Oberly (Oaks and Sprouts Limited)

This project will pilot an earth to air heat exchange system in a medium-sized producer greenhouse in Ohio, which will provide a blueprint for future research and installation of the earth to air geothermal greenhouse systems in Ohio, and develop a spreadsheet-based tool to help demonstrate the efficiency of shallow geothermal resources for energy resource consumption reduction and increased profitability of farms.


The following projects were selected for funding in 2020 and deferred due to pandemic - reports: pending


“Rabbit Grazers” Rolling Rabbit Coops

PI: Jacqueline Kowalski (Agriculture and Natural Resources, OSU Extension), Farmer: Kyla Werlin (Oxbow Orchard, Valley View, OH).

The goal of the proposed work is to determine the capabilities of “Rabbit Grazers”, a mobile coop that allow the rabbits to roll the coop forward when forage is desired. The specific objectives of the project are to: 1) determine how many rabbits can each Rabbit Grazer coop sustain, 2) verify if the coop allows rabbits to access enough forage to produce high-quality meat and to 3) establish whether the use of the coop can make pasture raising meat rabbits more sustainable for farmers.

Effects of Foliar-Applied Plant Nutrients on Palatability & Intake of Forage by Dairy Cows

PI: Douglas Doohan (Weed Management in Fruits & Vegetables, OSU), Farmer: Marlin Miller (Organic Valley Farmer, Millersburg, OH).

The goal of the proposed work is to conduct a “choice” grazing experiment from mid-April to early July 2020 to measure the effect of foliar-applied nutrients on palatability and intake by dairy cows. Research design, conduct, and interpretation will be done in full collaboration with local organic dairy producers, and experimentation will take place on an organic dairy farm in Holmes County. Results will be shared with the farming, research and extension communities by means of a pasture walk while the experiment is underway, preparation of a farmer oriented final report, and an end-of-project meeting

Collaborative research to Improve Wild Pawpaw (Asimina triloba L. Dunal) Fruit Production

PI: Matthew Davies (Soil and Plant Community Restoration, OSU), Farmer: Ron Powel (Foxpaw Farm, Cincinnati, OH), and Chris Chimel (Integration Acres, Athen, OH).

This project aims to test whether targeted stand management focused on increasing light availability, reducing competition, and increasing genetic diversity will increase pawpaw fruit production and quality. This will be achieved by testing the efficacy of three management approaches for woodland pawpaw production: 1) increasing light availability and reducing nutrient limitation to improve fruit production 2) enhancing the genetic diversity of patches by successfully establishing commercial cultivars; and 3) establishing new pawpaw patches through direct seeding


Integrated No-Till Cropping Diversity to Control Topsoil and Nutrient Loss

PI: Rafiq Islam, (Soil & Bioenergy, OSU), and M.A. Rahman (Soil & Bioenergy, OSU), Farmers: David Brandt (Brandt Family Farms, Carroll, OH) 

This project proposes to establish a long-term study to evaluate the potential of NT cropping diversity with cover crop blends to decrease topsoil and nutrient loss, improve soil health, and support farm productivity relative to CT cropping diversity with and without cover crop blends. A split-plot experiment, with two tillage systems as main plots and two cropping diversity as subplots in a randomized complete block design with three replicates, will be established with Bt corn and Roundup-ready soybean.


Reports on Warner grants from prior years can be found here.