Volume 3, Issue 1 (2017)

Papers published:

doi: 10.12924/of2017.03010001 | Volume 3 (2017) | Issue 1
Thomas F. Döring 1, 2
1 Editor-in-Chief of Organic Farming, Librello, Basel, Switzerland
2 Faculty of Life Science, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany
Publication Date: 13 February 2017
Abstract: Opening the third volume of this journal provides a re- newed opportunity to reflect on the current developments within the world of organic farming. As the most recent international data show, the organic sector continues to grow on a global scale, in terms of organic area, mar- ket share and number of producers [1]. Yet, for organic farming—as for any movement—expansion always en- tails the difficulty of maintaining identity. Achieving both, i.e. becoming ‘bigger’ and ‘better’, is the explicit goal of Organic 3.0 [2], the international initiative to advance and evolve organic farming. Launched in 2014, Organic 3.0 is now gaining increasing momentum, e.g. as a key topic at the upcoming Organic World Congress in India this autumn. The Organic 3.0 initiative proposes an am- bitious plan for promoting “a widespread uptake of truly sustainable farming systems” [2]. One of the suggested pathways to achieve the goals of Organic 3.0 is improved and extended research and development.

doi: 10.12924/of2017.03010003 | Volume 3 (2017) | Issue 1
Erin H. Roche 1, * , Ellen B. Mallory 1 and Heather Darby 2
1 University of Maine, School of Food and Agriculture, Orono, ME, USA
2 University of Vermont, Department of Plant and Soil Science, Burlington, VT, USA
* Corresponding author
Publication Date: 13 February 2017
Abstract: Achieving high grain yields and crude protein (CP) standards in organic winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) is challenging because ensuring that adequate nitrogen (N) is available at key periods of wheat growth is difficult in organic systems. Split application regimes and in-season N management tests may improve organic production. In field trials conducted over four site-years in Maine and Vermont, USA, N application regimes were analyzed for their effects on organic winter wheat, N uptake, grain yield, and CP. Tiller density and tissue N tests were evaluated as in-season decision tools. Eight treatments arranged in a non-factorial design differed in terms of N application timing (pre-plant (PP), topdress at tillering (T1), and topdress at pre-stem extension (T2)) and N rate. Treatments were: (1) an untreated check, (2) pre-plant N at a low rate of 78 kg N ha−1(PPL), (3) pre-plant N at a high rate of 117 or 157 kg N ha−1 (PPH), (4) T178, (5) PPL + T139, (6) PPL + T239, (7) PPH + T239, and (8) PPL + T139 +T239. Responses to N treatments were variable among site-years, however some common results were identified. The PP-only treatments increased grain yields more than they increased CP. The T178 and PPH + T239 treatments were the most effective at increasing yield and CP, compared with the PP-only treatments. Tiller density and tissue N tests were good predictors of grain yield (r = 0.52, p < and CP (r = 0.75, p < 0.001) respectively. Future work should test in-season decision tools using a wider range of tiller densities, and topdress N rates against tissue N measurements.

doi: 10.12924/of2017.03010016 | Volume 3 (2017) | Issue 1
Patrice A. Marchand
Institut Technique de l'Agriculture Biologique (ITAB), Paris, France
Publication Date: 19 April 2017
Abstract: Some of the active substances allowed in organic production are now approved as basic sub- stances under the EU plant protection products regulation. Previously, all organic farming permitted active substances were approved as conventional plant protection products. In accordance with the criteria of Article 23 of the EU regulation (EC) No 1107/2009, basic substances are granted without maximum residue limits and have a good prospect for being included in Annex II of organic farming Regulation (EC) 889/2008. In fact, most of them are already permitted in organic farming. At this stage, it seems desirable to organize applications in order to avoid duplications and to clarify strategy across Europe. This organization should be planned in order to identify corresponding knowledge and data from field experiments, and to further constitute the most crucial issues related to organic production. A work of this nature was initially supported by IFOAM-EU for lecithin, calcium hydroxide and Quassia extract. The Institut Technique de l’Agriculture Biologique (ITAB) was previously engaged in a large-scale approval plan motivated by the continuous demand for the regularization of compounds/substances already in use and has a mandate for testing and approving new compatible substances. Thus, the horsetail extract (Equisetum arvense) was the first approved basic substance and ITAB has obtained 11 of the 15 basic substances approved at the EU level.

doi: 10.12924/of2017.03010020 | Volume 3 (2017) | Issue 1
Livia Ortolani 1, 2, * , Riccardo Bocci 2 , Paolo Bàrberi 3 , Sally Howlett 4 and Véronique Chable 5
1 Interdepartmental Centre for Agro-environmental Research "Enrico Avanzi", San Piero a Grado, Italy
2 Associazione Italiana per l'Agricoltura Biologica, Rome, Italy
3 Institute of Life Sciences, Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, Pisa, Italy
4 Organic Research Centre, Hamstead Marshall, UK
5 INRA Centre Rennes-Le Rheu, Le Rheu, France
* Corresponding author
Publication Date: 5 May 2017
Abstract: The “transfer of technology”, typical of a top-down linear process of innovation cannot be used in the new contexts of sustainability, characterised by uncertainty and complexity. There is a need to redefine categories and concepts around which innovation and agricultural policies are built, as those currently in use provide only a partial representation of reality. Innovation paradigms underpinning technological development and public policies design will have a direct impact on decisions regarding which agricultural models will ultimately be supported. Looking at local learning capacity and systems of relations can help to understand the potential to develop innovation within a specific context. This work contributes to the definition of new actors who are developing innovation for sustainability in rural areas. The study focuses on the knowledge systems of farmers who are applying alternative breeding strategies: it uses a network approach to explore the knowledge system in which individual farmers are embedded in order to understand their specific relational features. Three main conclusions emerge from the study: for enhancing the agro-ecological innovation paradigm there is a need to define the ‘innovation broker’, to revise the evaluation system of public research and to integrate innovation and agricultural policies.

doi: 10.12924/of2017.03010034 | Volume 3 (2017) | Issue 1
Sarah Brumlop 1, * , Tabea Pfeiffer 1 and Maria R. Finckh 1
1 Faculty of Organic Agricultural Sciences, Ecological Plant Protection Group, University of Kassel, Witzenhausen, Germany
* Corresponding author
Publication Date: 16 July 2017
Abstract: Three winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) composite cross populations (CCPs) that had been maintained in repeated parallel populations under organic and conventional conditions from the F5 to the F10 were compared in a two-year replicated field trial under organic conditions. The populations were compared to each other, to a mixture of the parental varieties used to establish the CCPs, and to three winter wheat varieties currently popular in organic farming. Foot and foliar diseases, straw length, ear length, yield parameters, and baking quality parameters were assessed. The overall performance of the CCPs differed clearly from each other due to differences in their parental genetics and not because of their conventional or organic history. The CCPs with high yielding background (YCCPs) also yielded higher than the CCPs with a high baking quality background (QCCPs; in the absence of extreme winter stress). The QCCPs performed equally well in comparison to the reference varieties, which were also of high baking quality. Compared to the parental mixture the CCPs proved to be highly resilient, recovering much better from winter kill in winter 2011/12. Nevertheless, they were out yielded by the references in that year. No such differences were seen in 2013, indicating that the CCPs are comparable with modern cultivars in yielding ability under organic conditions. We conclude that—especially when focusing on traits that are not directly influenced by natural selection (e.g. quality traits)—the choice of parents to establish a CCP is crucial. In the case of the QCCPs the establishment of a reliable high-quality population worked very well and quality traits were successfully maintained over time. However, in the YCCPs lack of winter hardiness in the YCCP parents also became clearly visible under relevant winter conditions.

doi: 10.12924/of2017.03010051 | Volume 3 (2017) | Issue 1
Thomas F. Döring 1, 2, * , Jonathan Storkey 3 , John A. Baddeley 4 , Rosemary P. Collins 5 , Oliver Crowley 1, 6 , Sally A. Howlett 1 , Hannah E. Jones 6 , Heather McCalman 5 , Mark Measures 1, 7 , Helen Pearce 1 , Stephen Roderick 8 , Christine A. Watson 4 and Martin S. Wolfe 1
1 The Organic Research Centre - Elm Farm, Newbury, UK
2 Faculty of Agriculture, University of Bonn, Germany
3 Rothamsted Research, AgroEcology Department, Harpenden, UK
4 Crop & Soil Systems Research Group, Scotland's Rural College, Aberdeen, UK
5 Institute of Biological, Environmental & Rural Sciences, Aberystwyth University, Aberystwyth, UK
6 School of Agriculture, Policy and Development, University of Reading, Reading, UK
7 Institute of Organic Training and Advice, Cow Hall, Newcastle, UK
8 Duchy College, Rosewarne, UK
* Corresponding author
Publication Date: 1 December 2017
Abstract: Legume-based leys (perennial sod crops) are an important component of fertility management in organic rotations in many parts of Europe. Despite their importance, however, relatively little is known about how these leys affect weed communities or how the specific composition of leys may contribute to weed management. To determine whether the choice of plant species in the ley affects weeds, we conducted replicated field trials at six locations in the UK over 24 months, measuring weed cover and biomass in plots sown with monocultures of 12 legume and 4 grass species, and in plots sown with a mixture of 10 legume species and 4 grass species. Additionally, we monitored weed communities in leys on 21 organic farms across the UK either sown with a mixture of the project species or the farmers’ own species mix. In total, 63 weed species were found on the farms, with the annuals Stellaria media, Sonchus arvensis, and Veronica persica being the most frequent species in the first year after establishment of the ley, while Stellaria media and the two perennials Ranunculus repens and Taraxacum officinale dominated the weed spectrum in the second year. Our study shows that organic leys constitute an important element of farm biodiversity. In both replicated and on-farm trials, weed cover and species richness were significantly lower in the second year than in the first, owing to lower presence of annual weeds in year two. In monocultures, meadow pea (Lathyrus pratensis) was a poor competitor against weeds, and a significant increase in the proportion of weed biomass was observed over time, due to poor recovery of meadow pea after mowing. For red clover (Trifolium pratense), we observed the lowest proportion of weed biomass in total biomass among the tested legume species. Crop biomass and weed biomass were negatively correlated across species. Residuals from the linear regression between crop biomass and weed biomass indicated that at similar levels of crop biomass, grasses had lower weed levels than legumes. We conclude that choice of crop species is an important tool for weed management in leys.

doi: 10.12924/of2017.03010066 | Volume 3 (2017) | Issue 1
Stefan Kuehne 1, * , Dietmar Roßberg 1 , Peter Röhrig 2 , Friedhelm von Mehring 2 , Florian Weihrauch 3 , Sonja Kanthak 4 , Jutta Kienzle 5 , Wolfgang Patzwahl 6 , Eckhardt Reiners 7 and Julia Gitzel 1
1 Julius Kühn-Institut (JKI), Federal Research Centre for Cultivated Plants, Kleinmachnow, Germany
2 Bund̈ Ökologische Lebensmittelwirtschaft e.V. (BÖLW), Berlin, Germany
3 Bayerische Landesanstalt für Landwirtschaft (LfL), Institut für Pflanzenbau und Pflanzenzüchtung (IPZ), Hopfenforschungszentrum , Wolnzach, Germany
4 Bundesverband Ökologischer Weinbau, ECOVIN, Oppenheim, Germany
5 Fördergemeinschaft Ökologischer Obstbau e.V. (FÖKO), Weinsberg, Germany
6 Naturland Fachberatung Wein- und Obstbau, Sulzfeld am Main, Germany
7 Bioland Bundesverband, Mainz, Germany
* Corresponding author
Publication Date: 21 December 2017

Copper pesticides used to control fungal and bacterial diseases such as grapes downy mildew (Plasmopara viticola), downy mildew of hops (Pseudoperonospora humili), apple scab (Venturia spp.), fireblight (Erwinia amylovora) and potato late blight (Phytophthora infestans), play an important role in plant protection. In a 2013 survey of copper application in Germany we found, that while the amounts of copper used per hectare in conventional grape (0.8 kg ha−1), hop (1.7 kg ha−1) and potato-farming (0.8 kg ha−1) were well below those used in organic farming (2.3, 2.6 and 1.4 kg ha−1, respectively), they were nearly identical to those used in apple growing (1.4 kg ha−1). Due to the smaller farming area, only 24% (26.5 tonnes) of the total amount of copper was applied in organic farming compared to 76% (84.8 tonnes) in conventional farming. Since 2001, the Federal Agency for Agriculture and Food (BLE) promoted a copper research and minimization strategy which was funded with a total of C10.2 million. Our status quo analysis of research in this field shows that some progress is being made concerning alternative compounds, resistant varieties and decision support systems. However, it also shows that new approaches are not yet able to replace copper pesticides completely, especially in organic farming. In integrated pest management, copper preparations are important for the necessary active substance rotation and successful resistance management. The availability of such products is often essential for organic grapes, hops and fruit production and for extending the organic farming of these crops. We conclude that the complete elimination of copper pesticides is not yet practicable in organic farming as the production of several organic crops would become unprofitable and may lead to organic farmers reverting to conventional production. Several existing copper reduction strategies were, however, identified, and some, like modified forecast models adapted to organic farming, varieties more resistant to fungal diseases and new alternative products, already contribute to copper minimization in German agriculture.

ISSN: 2297-6485
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