Organic Research Unit


Increasing interest in organic research has led to a demand for certified organic land on North Carolina’s research stations. Previously, many organic projects were conducted on conventional land. To provide a better experimental context for researchers, CEFS has dedicated 60+ acres to short-term experiments on organic systems.

When fields in the unit are not being used for research, they are maintained in a rotation of organic soybeans, corn and hay. This reflects standard production practices on organic farms in eastern North Carolina. Land in the Organic Research Unit is available to all researchers at North Carolina State University and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University to conduct short-term research projects. Detailed records are available for each field, including soil maps and previous research results.

Current Research Extension Projects


  • Organic OVT: small grains and soybeans
  • Winter peas for forage, cover crop, and seed production
  • Roll-kill cover crop for no-till conventional cotton
  • Legume cover crop breeding for hairy vetch, crimson clover, winter pea

CEFS’ Committment to Organic

CEFS faculty, in their work to support sustainable agriculture and local food systems, conduct research and provide demonstrations of organic production practices at the Organic Research Unit, the Small Farm Unit, and the long-term Farming Systems Research Unit. One hundred and six acres of the 2,000-acre research station are currently certified organic. Grain and horticultural crops, variety selection, cultivation and weed management decisions are the prime areas of focus. Implications of organic production systems on soil properties is an area of interest as well.

Organic Grain Program

In 2004, North Carolina State University initiated the Organic Grain Program, concentrating on organic grain production in North Carolina. This program has focused on equipping farmers in North Carolina with the skills and agronomic support needed to produce and market organic grain crops. The goal of this program is to motivate individuals, through extension educational activities, to adopt and maintain organic crop rotations and to pursue markets for these farm products.

CEFS supports the Organic Grain Program by providing a base for organic grain production research as well as extension and educational programs and events.


Unit News

NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Staff Fight Hurricane Florence Floodwaters at CEFS’ Field Research, Education and Outreach Facility

Hurricane Florence is one of the worst storms to hit North Carolina, ever.  CEFS' Field Research, Education, and Outreach Facility at Cherry Research Farm is located in Goldsboro, one of the hardest-hit areas of the state.  NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Research Station Manager Andy Meier and his crew have gone above and beyond -- as they always do in extreme situations -- to protect and care for livestock on the farm and minimize damage to crops and infrastructure.