Volume 2, Issue 1 (2016)

doi: 10.12924/of2016.02010001 | Volume 2 (2016) | Issue 1
Ralf Bloch 1, 2, * , Jürgen Heß 3 and Johann Bachinger 1
1 Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF), Institute of Land Use Systems, Müncheberg, Germany
2 Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development, University of Applied Sciences, Eberswalde, Germany
3 University of Kassel, Witzenhausen, Department of Organic Farming and Cropping Systems, Witzenhausen, Germany
* Corresponding author
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Publication Date: 19 April 2016
Abstract: An effective adaptive strategy for reducing climate change risks and increasing agro-system resiliency is broadening cropping system diversity, heightening the flexibility of cultivation and tillage methods. Climate change impacts on standard cultivation practices such as mineralisation and nitrate leaching due to mild and rainy winters, as well as frequent drought or water saturation, not only limiting fieldwork days, but also restricting ploughing. This calls for alternative methods to counteract these propensities. From 2010 to 2013, a farming system experiment was conducted on a distinctly heterogeneous organic farm in Brandenburg, Germany. With the intention of devising a more varied and flexible winter wheat cultivation method, standard organic farming practices (winter wheat cultivation after two years of alfalfa-clover-grass and ploughing in mid-October) were compared to four alternative test methods, which were then evaluated for their robustness and suitability as adaptive strategies. Two of the alternative methods, early sowing and catch crop, entailed moving up the date for alfalfa-clover-grass tilling to July. Instead of a plough, a ring-cutter was used to shallowly (8 cm) cut through and mix the topsoil. In the early sowing test method, winter wheat was sown at the end of August, after repeated ring-cutter processing. With the catch crop method, winter wheat seeding followed a summer catch crop and October tillage. The two oat methods (oat/plough; oat/ring-cutter) entailed sowing winter wheat in September, following oat cultivation. Overall, the cultivation methods demonstrated the following robustness gradation: standard practice = catch cropearly sowing > oat/plough > oat/ring-cutter. When compared to standard procedures, the catch crop and early sowing test methods showed no remarkable difference in grain yields. Measured against early sowing, the catch crop test method was significantly more robust when it came to winterkill, quality loss, and weed infestation (40% lower weed-cover). High Nmin- values (up to 116 kg N ha-1) in autumn could have caused the chamomile and thistle infestation in both oat/ploughoat/ring-cutter test methods, which led to crop failure in the hollows. Compared to standard practices, the oat ring-cutter test method brought in over 50% less grain yield. This was attributed to ring-cutter processing, which reduced N mineralisation and caused high weed infestation. However, the ring-cutter effectively regulated alfalfa-clover-grass fields in both exceedingly wet and very dry weather; a temporal flexibility which increases the number of fieldwork days. The catch crop and early sowing test methods contributed most to boosting future agronomic diversity.

doi: 10.12924/of2016.02010017 | Volume 2 (2016) | Issue 1
Bruce Kenneth Kirchoff
Department of Biology, University of North Carolina at Greensboro Greensboro, NC, USA
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Publication Date: 27 April 2016
Abstract: An experimental test of a biodynamic agriculture method of weed suppression was carried out in growth chambers to establish the feasibility of the method as a preliminary to field trials. Four generations of Brassica rapa plants were used in a randomized block design. Treated flats received ashed seeds prepared according to biodynamic indications. Seed weight and counts were measured at the end of each generation, and germination of the control and experimental seed was investigated at the end of generation four. The biodynamic seed peppers, created and applied as described here, had no effect on seed production or viability, and did not effectively inhibit reproduction of the targeted species over the course of four consecutive treatments.

doi: 10.12924/of2016.02010021 | Volume 2 (2016) | Issue 1
Charles Francis 1, 2
1 Department of Agronomy & Horticulture, University of Nebraska - Lincoln, Lincoln, NE, USA
2 Plant Sciences Department, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Ås, Norway
Views 1563
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Publication Date: 31 May 2016
Abstract: Organic Struggle chronicles the challenges encountered by innovators in a growing segment of the U.S. food pro- duction and marketing system. Practiced for millenia by farmers before the introduction of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and first developed more formally in Europe, organic farming practices began to gain prominence in the U.S. only in the 1950s. Far more than a system for pro- ducing food, this strategy has become a focus for those supporting healthy and pesticide-free products, for some who embrace the organic system as a food movement, and by many who disagree with the current domination of the country’s food industry by large farms and a small num- ber of multinational corporations. Within the organic sector there is debate between those who favor a system primar- ily run by local farmers who sell through small markets and CSAs, and others who insist that the ‘Big-Organic’ seg- ment that now sells more than half of all organic food is doing more to help the environment in the large picture. Author Brian Obach describes this ongoing struggle.

doi: 10.12924/of2016.02010023 | Volume 2 (2016) | Issue 1
Marco Pautasso 1, * , Anja Vieweger 2 and A. Márcia Barbosa 3
1 Animal and Plant Health Unit, European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), Parma, Italy
2 Organic Research Centre, Elm Farm, Hamstead Marshall, Newbury, UK
3 Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos (CIBIO), InBIO Research Network in Biodiversity and Evolutionary Biology, University of Évora, Portugal
* Corresponding author
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Publication Date: 29 June 2016
Abstract: Organic farming adoption is on the rise in many countries, due to the increased awareness of farmers, citizens, governments and other stakeholders of its more sustainable nature. Various studies have investigated the socio-economic drivers (e.g., consumer demand, support measures, agricultural policies) of organic farming adoption, but less attention has been paid to whether biogeographic factors could also be associated with variation in rates of organically managed farms in certain regions within countries. We investigate whether biogeographic factors are associated with variation in the proportion of land under organic farming in French departments. The proportion of land under organic farming increased with decreasing latitude and increasing department area. Non-significant factors were number of plant taxa, proportion of Natura 2000 protected areas, connectivity, longitude, altitude and department population. These results were robust to controlling for spatial autocorrelation. Larger and southern French departments tend to have a greater adoption of organic farming, possibly because of the more extensive nature of agriculture in such regions. Biogeographic factors have been relatively neglected in investigations of the drivers of organic farming adoption, but may have an important explanatory value.

ISSN: 2297-6485
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