Laura Kavanaugh

Laura Kavanaugh

Laura Kavanaugh

Speaker / Workshop Instructor | Genome Insights LLC

Hillsborough, NC |

Dr. Laura Kavanaugh holds degrees in Chemistry, Chemical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University and a Ph.D. from the University Program in Genetics and Genomics from Duke. She worked for 13 years as a Guidance, Navigation and Control Officer in Space Shuttle Mission Control at the Johnson Space Center and transitioned into the biotechnology industry as the Space Shuttle Program came to an end. She has over 10 years of experience with bioinformatics, DNA sequencing, and soil microbe research at Syngenta Biotechnology. She is now founder of Genome Insights LLC, a company devoted to improving soil health through application of DNA sequencing to composting and sustainable farming practices. She also serves as the soil health expert and Executive Director of the Center for Regenerative Agriculture at Union Grove Farm Vineyard in Chapel Hill, NC.

Session Code: 3C

Track: CREF Research

Session Name: Compost and Soil Health

Session Time: Wednesday, February 7, 4:15 – 5:45 PM

Presentation Title: Using DNA Sequencing to Improve Compost Products

Presentation Description: Compost offers many benefits over fertilizers because of the rich microbial life it contains. Microbes deliver plant nutrients, drought resistance, and nutrient dense foods. New DNA sequencing technologies can reveal these miraculous microbes and open new market opportunities, especially during times of escalating fertilizer prices and increased awareness of regenerative farming which is founded on soil fertility. But how exactly does DNA sequencing work and what data does it provide? I will explain how it can help you produce products that benefit your customers and merit a premium price.

Workshop Time: Tuesday, February 6, 1:00 – 4:30

Workshop Title: Regenerative Farming, Composting, Teas, Vermicomposting, and DNA Sequencing

Workshop Description: This workshop will explain the complementary nature of regenerative farming and composting. We will share our experience with application of compost/teas on regenerative farms, including how to vermicompost to enhance compost microbial content. We will explain why microbes are important and how to evaluate them with microscopes and hand-held DNA sequencers. In-class demonstrations will include an on-farm compost tea extractor, microscopes, and DNA sequencer. We will wrap up with case studies of large and small-scale compost/tea/vermicompost production in regenerative farming and lawn care.