9,004 research outputs found

    Functional Biodiversity

    Get PDF
    Modern conventional agriculture is characterized by monocultures. These are less productive in terms of biomass than natural plant communities, which are usually complex mixtures of species and varieties, and they also require more inputs. A central question for organic agriculture is therefore how far we can move from monocultural to polycultural systems in order to benefit from this biodiversity without loss of yield. Rotations are one way of increasing biodiversity, but other components of the EFRC research programme are relevant: breeding programmes for wheat and kale aimed at producing crop populations rather than pure lines; variety and species mixtures, especially for cereals; intercropping legumes with a vegetable rotation (companion cropping) or cereals (bi-cropping), in order to bring the fertility-building and cropping phases of the rotation into the same part of the sequence; a biodiversity project looking at the farmed and non-farmed areas of organic and conventional farms; N, P and K budgeting as a means of designing rotations and intercropping systems; semiochemicals: the natural signalling processes between crops, pests and predators. The best illustration of functional biodiversity is perhaps in the agroforestry demonstration plots, where trees, cropping and livestock are combined

    Organic plant breeding

    Get PDF
    This report was presented at the UK Organic Research 2002 Conference. To a major extent, organic farming depends currently on plant and animal varieties that have been bred for non-organic farming and that are often not suited to organic production. This position is inconsistent with a holistic approach to organic agriculture. Organically-bred plant varieties are needed to develop both the potential of organic agriculture and its integrity. A first attempt at developing a concept for organic plant breeding methodology has been proposed. A novel approach to breeding for organic production has also been started. Further development needs a parallel approach to animal breeding for organic systems

    Production of organic seed for the organic sector (OF0154)

    Get PDF
    This is the final report of Defra project OF0154. Under the European Union Regulation on the organic production of agricultural products (2092/91), crops raised in organic systems should be grown from organically produced seed or vegetative material. However, the supply of organic seed is limited in the UK and in Europe as a whole, and so by way of derogation, the EU Regulation permits the use of untreated, conventional seed on organic farms only when an appropriate organic variety cannot be sourced. At the start of this project, the derogation period was due to end on 31 December 2000; however, it was extended in June 1999 to 31 December 2003, after which the use of conventional seed will not be permitted on organic farms. To evaluate the current situation regarding organic seed availability, future demand for seed, and the problems restricting the development of an active organic seed production industry in the UK, the following tasks were undertaken with the aim of helping to facilitate the commercial use of organic seed and contributing to the ending of the use of conventional seed on organic farming systems. Objectives 1. Assess the current and potential availability of organic seed, in the UK, elsewhere in Europe and further afield. 2. Develop a forecast of demand for organic seed in the UK over the next 5-10 years. 3. Determine the obstacles that need to be overcome and whether or not they can be dealt with through UK or European co-operation. 4. Highlight problems that need further research input. 5. Produce a report covering the availability of organically produced seed for commercial organic use, including details of species and varieties where further work is needed and recommendations for future actions. Results • There are 251 different varieties of organic seed commercially available to UK organic farmers and growers, 98% of which are vegetable varieties and 1% are cereal varieties. There are no grasses or herbage legumes available. Of the major crops, only 4% of the varieties most commonly used by UK organic producers are currently available as organic seed. • A survey (with only an 11% reply rate) indicated a general European view that organic seed was in short supply in Europe. • Based on 1997 data, demand for organic cereal seed is likely to double, demand for vegetable seed will triple, and demand for grassland seed will increase 7 or 8 times. With the current trend in organic seed production, these demands will not be met at the end of the derogation period unless a massive increase in production takes place. • The problems associated with organic seed production expressed by fourteen seed companies in the UK could be broadly placed within three categories: 1) Marketing, 2) Technical and 3) Standards. Many were only perceived problems (not actual ones) that could be overcome through education, training and discussion. • This study has shown that organic seed production must go ahead and that there are no real obstacles to cause delay. Comments and recommendations for future actions 1. Press ahead with organic seed production. 2. More rigorous policing of the current derogation is required. 3. Make a rapid commitment not to extend the current derogation. 4. Major improvements are required in organic variety testing to identify which varieties should be produced as organic seed. 5. Further work is required on pest, disease and weed problems specifically related to organic seed production. 6. Research is required on the standards of other European countries and third countries. 7. MAFF census data should include organic agriculture and horticulture information

    Evolutionary plant breeding for low input systems

    Get PDF
    Heritable variation is at the heart of the process of evolution. However, variation is restricted in breeding for uniform crop populations using the pedigree line approach. Pedigree lines are successful in agriculture because synthetic inputs are used to raise fertility and control weeds, pests and diseases. An alternative method promoted for exploring the value of variation and evolutionary fitness in crops is to create composite cross populations. Composite cross populations are formed by assembling seed stocks with diverse evolutionary origins, recombination of these stocks by hybridization, the bulking of F1 progeny, and subsequent natural election for mass sorting of the progeny in successive natural cropping environments. Composite cross populations can provide dynamic gene pools, which in turn provide a means of conserving germplasm resources: they can also allow selection of heterogeneous crop varieties. The value of composite cross populations in achieving these aims is dependent on the outcome of mass trials by artificial and natural selection acting upon the heterogeneous mixture. There is evidence to suggest that composite cross populations may be an efficient way of providing heterogeneous crops and of selecting superior pure lines for low input systems characterized by unpredictable stress conditions

    2004 Cereals reveal an intriguing surprise: the performance of cereals on organic farms

    Get PDF
    The great variability in the performance of cereals on organic farms that we have highlighted from past research trials has been confirmed in a new and more widely based trial. Participation from 20 producers gives the results a robust character and has enabled us to spot something we had not previously noted. EFRC researchers Prof Martin Wolfe AND Kay Hinchsliffe set out the results. Introduction EFRC is currently working on a Defra-funded project designed to use participatory research and development methodology, and is conducted on sites across the country with the participation of 20 farmers, seed producers and more than 10 researchers (EFRC, NIAB, Middlesex University, University of Kingston & HDRA). The idea is to integrate the contributions of different stakeholders into developing a robust system for identifying, testing, multiplying and marketing cereal varieties, lines, mixtures, and populations best suited to organic production in different parts of the country . Three high quality winter wheat varieties, Hereward, Solstice and Xi 19 and their mixture, were selected for the trial based on their performance in previous years’ replicated variety trials. Participating farmers drilled each variety in strips (total area of 1/10 ha) surrounded by their own winter wheat crop. This article summarises data from the first year of field trials (2003-4); since this is the first year they should be treated with caution. The trial is being repeated and has already been planted by essentially the same group of participating farmers

    Development of an agroforestry system for chicken production

    Get PDF
    This report was presented at the UK Organic Research 2002 Conference. Because conventional production of chickens has gone further than any other animal production system towards complete control of the animal’s brief lives, development of effective silvo-poultry systems seems particularly necessary for these essentially woodland birds. The objective is to develop a production system that closely matches the physiological and behavioural needs of the animals being reared. For the example of chickens, this means trying to mimic a woodland/forest-clearing environment. By providing a wide range of trees, shrubs and herbs, it should be possible to provide shelter, nutrition and medicinal benefits for the birds. At the same time, the system needs to fulfil other functions in terms of biodiversity and community assets for the farm, together with profitable organic chicken production

    Against the grain

    Get PDF
    An Organic Research Centre project is examining how diversity-based tools can assist in the on-farm improvement of organic wheat. Successful organic crop production requires varieties that are resistant to diseases, competitive against weeds, and effective at scavenging nutrients. Yet conventional plant breeding has largely neglected organic systems by breeding varieties exclusively for high input conditions. As a consequence, organic producers currently do not have enough choice of plant varieties for organic conditions. One way to expand the choice is to create plant diversity anew and subject it to natural selection on organic farms. After several generations the dominating plants would be better suited to organic systems. This idea is being tested in the Organic Research Centre’s Wheat Breeding LINK project

    EFRC Bulletin 76 January 2005. With technical Updates from the Organic Advisory Service

    Get PDF
    The regular report from Elm Farm Research Centre - the Organic Research Centre in the UK - covering its own research and information and that of other relevant issue

    Cereal Populations - Coping With Unpredictable Weather And Climate

    Get PDF
    Diverse composite cross populations (CCPs) consisting of thousands of segregating lines are created by crossing a number of parent varietes. Populations demonstrate greater resilience in unfavorable conditions at sowing in Autumn 2012 due to poor weather and high levels of Fusarium infection in seed

    A review of knowledge of the potential impacts of GMOs on organic agriculture

    Get PDF
    The organic movement believes that organic agriculture, by its nature, cannot involve the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). This has been incorporated into EU regulations which state that there is no place in organic agriculture for GMOs. The aim in this review is to consider the ways in which the use of GMOs in agriculture in the UK and internationally might impact on organic farming. It does not address the controversy about the rights or wrongs of GMO’s per se. The subjects covered are based on a set of questions raised at the beginning of the study. The review is based primarily on evidence from peer-reviewed literature. The report is based on a number of themes, as follows: • Fate of DNA in soil • Fate of DNA in livestock feed and possible impact of GM feed • Fate of DNA in slurry, manure, compost and mulch • Impact of herbicide tolerant crops • Impact of pest and disease resistant crops • Safety of promoters • DNA transfer in pollen and seeds • Horizontal gene transfer • Impact of scale The report’s Executive Summary includes summaries of the findings on each of these themes
    corecore