Fulbright Scholar Paul R. Hepperly will present a seminar, “The Rodale Farming Systems Trial and Rates of Carbon Sequestration under Long-Term Farming Practices,” at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 3, in 2001 Agricultural Sciences Building on West Virginia University’s Evansdale Campus.
Hepperly is research director of the Rodale Institute, a sustainable farming initiative near Kutztown, PA, that explores organic production, nutrition, food quality, climate change and famine prevention. The Institute’s research shows that organic practices, sometimes referred to as regenerative farming, can remove about 7,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from the air each year and sequester it in an acre of farmland. Thus if all 434 million acres of American cropland was converted to organic practices, it would be the equivalent of taking 217 million cars off the road nearly 88 percent of all cars in the country today and more than a third of all the automobiles in the world.
“We’ve shown that organic practices can do better than anyone thought at sequestering carbon, and could counteract up to 40 percent of global greenhouse gas output,” Hepperly said. Hepperly, who is helping other nations implement organic farming systems, explains that using soil-building crops and compost to support cash crops helps to build soil carbon levels while keeping productivity in line with conventional systems.
Hepperly holds a doctorate in plant pathology, a master’s degree in agronomy and a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from the University of Illinois. He has worked with farmers from regions around the world, including Central and South America, the Caribbean, India and Africa and has extensive expertise in organic and conventional agriculture. He has contributed to more than 150 publications on topics such as plant pathology, fungal diseases, plant disease resistance, disease management, epidemiology, diagnosis, fungal ecology, seed pathology, agronomy, horticulture, weed management, carbon sequestration and research program management.
In 2008 he received the Princeton Premium Achievement award for Business Leadership, In 2007, Hepperly was honored as a recipient of a Fulbright Scholar Award. In 2006 he received the Humanitarian Award by OIC International for his work on compost and organic farming for West Africa. In 2005, he received the Rachel Carson Council’s Sense of Science award in Silver Springs, MD, and in 2004 he was awarded the Da Vinci in the Community award from the Da Vinci Discovery Center of Science and Technology in Allentown, PA.
Hepperly’s seminar is being sponsored by the Division of Plant and Soil Sciences in WVU’s Davis College of Agriculture, Forestry and Consumer Sciences. The Davis College is home to an innovative, nationally recognized organic farming research project.
For more information on the seminar, please contact Louis McDonald at (304)293-6023×4324.