Research Examining Soil Health Impact of Chickens on Organic Vegetable Farms

University of California Cooperative Extension specialists have launched a research project to quantify the potential for chickens to be part of safe and sustainable commercial organic vegetable production. The California trial is part of a national effort to diversify organic vegetable farms with chickens. In the trials, chickens are introduced as part of a rotation that includes cover crops and a variety of vegetable crops. In California, chickens were placed on research plots in April, following a winter cover crop of vetch, peas, fava beans, and oat grass. The chickens themselves are part of a trial of meat quality for pastured chickens. Vegetable crops are subsequently planted on the ground where the chickens were, and soil quality and vegetable yield are being evaluated.