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[Duurzaamlijst] Organic Update Newsletter

Nr 5: Koeien in biologische landbouw zijn gezonder.
Ze hebben minder mastitis (uierontsteking)

Dat hoeft dus niet met genetische manipulatie bevochten te worden.


Organic Update Newsletter - January 2001

The monthly e-zine from www.organic-research.com

Please distribute widely

1. Improvements to organic-research.com
2. Bitter pit in organic apples
3. Opportunities for US growth in organic milk sales
4. Consumer attitudes to organic milk
5. Health of organic dairy cattle
6. Organic conversion benefits carabids but not staphylinids
7. Economics of organic vegetable production
8. Recent news

1. Improvements to organic-research.com

Improvements continue to be made to our web site. You may have
noticed that both the Calendar of events and the Links pages are now
generated from databases.  This will make it easier for our editors to
update the lists and make the information more timely. Therefore, if you
want an event publicised or your web listed please send us an email.

The next section to become database driven will be the Jobs listing.
Not only will the presentation of the jobs be much better, but one will also
be able to browse or search for jobs by keyword. Anyone wishing to advertise
a job (for free) will be able to submit their advertisement via an online
form. Job hunters will also be able to subscribe to an alerting service.
When this section goes 'live' we will inform you.

2. Bitter pit in organic apples

Bitter pit is a physiological disorder in apple fruits resulting
from Ca deficiency. It occurs frequently in organic apple production, where
treatments with calcium chloride are usually applied only when really

Researchers at FiBL in Frick, Switzerland, have been working on an
improved strategy of preventing bitter pit by an early prediction method and
by specifically adapted soil management methods. They showed that the best
early prediction of Ca nutrition of the fruits and bitter pit incidence was
the K and Ca concentrations of fruitlets at the T-stage.

In 1996 in a commercial organic orchard different soil management
methods to improve Ca uptake by the fruit were tested. Relative to trees
grown with a grass sward strip, (i) marine algae powder, (ii) horn chips,
(iii) mature compost and (iv) tillage treatments could increase the amount
of Ca in the soil solution of the topsoil. In 1997 the tillage and
application of marine algae powder or horn chips (control was a grass sward)
were applied again in 3 organic orchards of cv. Boskoop and Maigold. The
results confirmed the potential to predict the risk of bitter pit and the
K:Ca ratio in ripe fruits on the basis of the Ca and K concentrations in the
fruitlets at the T-stage. A K:Ca ratio above 5.8 indicated considerable risk
of subsequent bitter pit development. Also, soil Ca and K concentrations
correlated to bitter pit incidence when using the ratio between the ammonium
acetate-soluble and the water-soluble fraction. The direct treatment effects
on soil, leaf and fruit parameters indicated a trend to increased
availability of Ca and Nmin in the soil and of Ca uptake of the fruits after
application of marine algae powder or horn chips.

Reference: Weibel, FP (et al.) (2000) A strategy to prevent bitter
pit incidence in organic apple growing by combining an early risk prediction
on the basis of fruitlets analysis and specifically adapted soil management.
In: Proceedings of the XXV International Horticultural Congress. Part 2.
Mineral nutrition and grape and wine quality; Nutrition management to
optimize fruit quality, Brussels, Belgium, 2-7 August, 1998. Acta
Horticulturae No. 512, pp. 181-188.

3. Opportunities for US growth in organic milk sales

The US organic dairy industry is experiencing enormous growth, but
although 46% of the US market has an interest in buying organic, less than
2% of total US food dollars are organic sales. This indicates great
opportunity for growth of organic products. Barriers to the purchase of
organic products include availability in regular supermarkets, price and
consumer misunderstanding of 'organic'. The consumer is primarily interested
in buying organic products for their perceived healthy attributes. Societal
trends indicate a movement toward values that support the long-term growth
of organic farming.

Reference: Hirshberg, N. (2000) US organic dairy: the processor's
perspective. In: Organic dairy products. IDF seminar, Athens, Greece,
September 1999. Bulletin of the International Dairy Federation No. 347, pp.

4. Consumer attitudes to organic milk

Marketing experts in Germany say that organically produced milk and
milk products in particular may find it difficult to become widely
established. They suggest that milk and milk products already enjoy a
thoroughly positive image as regards 'naturalness', originality, good taste
and product safety, regardless of their method of production.

By creating a uniform quality mark for organically-produced products
for use throughout Germany, Centrale-Marketing-Gesellschaft der deutschen
Agrarwirtschaft, and the relevant organic associations, hope to make it
easier for the consumer to choose the right products.

Organic milk and milk products have hitherto been closely associated
with regional production and have been marketed direct to the public. A
market for organically produced food does exist, for approximately 74% of
consumers say that they would buy such products if they were not too
expensive. The price of the goods is consequently decisive for any major
expansion of sales. Ideally, the consumer would prefer to buy milk and milk
products which have been organically produced locally, with the same variety
offered by conventional products and, above all, at the same price. The
leading retail companies plan to boost their sales of organic foods from <1%
at present to 10% within 10 years. This will require enormous investments in
production and marketing.

Reference: Brandl, M. (2000) General consumer attitudes to milk. In:
Organic dairy products. IDF seminar, Athens, Greece, September 1999.
Bulletin of the International Dairy Federation No. 347, pp. 16-18.

5. Health of organic dairy cattle

Organic dairy farming is a growing sector in Sweden, as elsewhere. A
strong emphasis is put on animal health and welfare in these herds. In order
to evaluate the status of the animals in these herds a study comprising 26
herds was carried out by the Department of Ruminant Medicine and
Epidemiology of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala.
The herds ranged in size from 12-65 cows, and milk production from 3772-10
334 kg per cow per year.

The incidence of disease was lower in organic herds than in
conventional herds in the same area. The incidence of clinical mastitis was
lower and there were fewer cows with a high somatic cell count. Milk acetone
levels were generally quite low, and body condition scores in most herds
were satisfactory. The successful farmers were well educated and put great
effort into producing good forage, formulating an adequate ration, and
taking good care of young stock, making sure calves received an adequate
amount of colostrum.

Reference: Hamilton, C. (2000) Animal health in organic dairy
products. In: Organic dairy products. IDF seminar, Athens, Greece, September
1999. Bulletin of the International Dairy Federation No. 347, pp. 31-32.

6. Organic conversion benefits carabids but not staphylinids

Researchers at the Norwegian Crop Research Institute, Plant
Protection Centre in As, Norway, carried out two field experiments in Norway
over periods of 6 and 8 years to investigate the activity density and
diversity of carabids and staphylinids. They used pitfall traps during the
conversion from conventional to organic farming.

Positive effects of the conversion were observed for many carabid
species, among them Harpalus rufipes and several Amara, Bembidion and
Pterostichus species, and the staphylinid fly parasitoid Aleochara
bipustulata. The increased number of weed species present could at least
partly explain the rise. Negative effects of the conversion were observed
for several staphylinid species, among them Philonthus cognatus and
Tachyporus species, and the carabid Trechus quadristriatus. It is
hypothesized that the reduction in staphylinids could partly be due to
competition from the rising numbers of carabids.

Reference: Andersen, A. and Eltun, R. (2000) Long-term developments
in the carabid and staphylinid (Col., Carabidae and Staphylinidae) fauna
during conversion from conventional to biological farming. Journal of
Applied Entomology 124(1) pp. 51-56.

7. Economics of organic vegetable production

Researchers from Lelystad, Netherlands, monitored a group of 15
organic vegetable farms in the Netherlands over the period 1993-97 to gain
insight into the economic potential of organic vegetable production. In
comparison with conventional vegetable farms the average farm income was
about the same. Higher prices of organic products were sufficient to
compensate for extensification of the crop rotation with cereals, lower crop
yields and a higher labour input for manual weed control. In general, as
compared with the average and worse farms, the better farms achieved higher
financial yields for the same vegetable crops. This is probably a result of
the soil type and market strategy, since the better farms were all situated
on sandy clay in the newly reclaimed production area of Flevoland and their
sales are organized cooperatively.

Reference: Geven, C.G.M. (2000) Economic perspectives of organic
vegetable farms in the Netherlands. In: Proceedings of the XXV International
Horticultural Congress. Part 14. Horticultural economics at micro and macro
level, international trade and marketing, international cooperative
programs, relations between research, development, extension and education,
Brussels, Belgium, 2-7 August, 1998. Acta Horticulturae No. 524, pp. 27-32.

8. Recent news

The Soil Association has welcomed a number of key recommendations made in
the House of Commons Agriculture Select Committee enquiry into organic
farming, particularly the Committee's conclusion that much greater
Government investment in the sector should be made.

The US National Farmers Organization and 5 major organic farm groups have
joined forces to create a marketing-agency-in-common to make strides in
marketing, research, education and policy.

More producers may look at organic agriculture as chemical prices rise,
according to Brad Brummond, North Dakota State University extension agent.

Long-awaited national standards released by the US Department of Agriculture
will severely limit the role of the organic private sector, IFOAM has

Farmers across the developing world are throwing away their ploughs in a
dramatic example of "sustainable" farming, a practice that is now sending
crop yields soaring on millions of farms.

Under the motto "Cultivating Communities" Canadian organizers of the 2002
Organic World Congress are taking steps to broaden the appeal of what was
traditionally IFOAM's biennial scientific conference.

The Organic Saver Account, an ethical savings account which targets funds to
the organic sector, has resulted in a donation of £29,094 to the Soil

Elm Farm Research Centre and Henry Doubleday Research Association, the UK's
only independent and solely organic research organizations, have launched
the Initiative on Organic Research.

Triodos Bank, the European ethical bank, reports that its lending to the UK
organic sector has grown by an average of 260% per year over the last two
years to the end of 2000.

In a UK first, Sainsbury's has announced that products in its organic range
will be sold in revolutionary fully biodegradable packaging.

With best wishes to all our readers,

Anton Doroszenko
Editor, organic-research.com

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Dr Anton Doroszenko, Editor, organic-research.com
CAB International, Wallingford, Oxon, OX10 8DE, UK.
Tel: +44-1491-829366 Fax: +44-1491-833508
E-mail: a.doroszenko@cabi.org
Web: http://www.organic-research.com/

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