Ökológiai Mezőgazdasági Kutatóintézet

LIVESEED Project – Boosting organic seed & plant breeding

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1 June 2017 marked the official start of the LIVESEED project which is coordinated by IFOAM EU. The objective of this 4-year project is to improve the performance and sustainability of organic agriculture by boosting organic seed and plant breeding efforts, and increasing the availability of cultivars adapted to organic growing conditions. The international consortium, in which ÖMKi plays a significant role, consists of 35 partners and 14 third linked parties from 18 countries.

 

The project will help to establish a level playing field in the organic seed market across Europe, improve the competitiveness of the organic seed and breeding sector, and encourage greater use of organic seeds by farmers. LIVESEED will improve guidelines for cultivar testing and strategies for ensuring seed health. It will develop innovative breeding approaches suited for organic farming. Finally, it will investigate socio-economic aspects related to the use and production of organic seed and their interaction with relevant (EU) regulations.

 

During the kick-off meeting from 19 to 21 June in Leuven all partners gathered to discuss the activities of the first year and how we reach our goal aiming for 100% organic seed by 2037. Main activities in the upcoming months will be state-of the art research on organic seed health, seed availability and derogations in the EU memberstates.  Besides several research tasks, ÖMKi will be responsible for the successful realization of the project’s communication and dissemination strategy.

 

Follow the project and its activities on Twitter and Facebook. The official homepage with detailed information will follows shortly.

Expert Day on organic growing fields – a report

Read more...The ÖMKi organized Expert Day took place on March 29, 2017 in Mezőberény, in the vicinity of which are found several organic growers. Around 50 participants took part. The event, which was opened by ÖMKi director Dr Dóra Drexler, was attended by representatives of growers, integrators and retailers related to organic farming. Peter Hertelendy, an expert on plant protection, presented his experiences over the last few years protecting plants and the utmost important defining prevention in organic farming.He went into detail about crop rotation, soil tillage, species selection and the role of agro-techniques in plant-health. Cereal production, for example, leaves chaff on the soil surface that affects not only on its own soil table, but also on neighboring soils, which can endanger the coming year’s cereal prospects, which untilled soil and the imperfect stem-crushing only increase. Experts are well aware of the harmful effects pentosan produces, while at the same time diseases caused by pathogens are more and more common, like the symptoms (fading, staining) that appear on leaves in early spring, which is often linked to the state of enzyme shortage caused by the lack of micro-nutrients. A species’s susceptibility to or resilience against diseases requires constant watch because of new pathogen races appearing year after year, as could have been seen in the case of the yellowrust-infection last growing season. When talking about cereal crop rotations, the danger of blight rises, while in corn crop-rotation the danger of fusarium infestations increase, especially in the case of spring wheat. The presenter also called attention to the fact that toxin quantity is rarely connected to the extent of the infection. On the topic of harmful organisms, it has also come up that the soil reclamation plants containing brassica (canola, mustard) have a part in maintaining the psylloidea, which presents potential danger to the neighboring table. Protection against this can be incorporating it in time and nursing the stubble. In the last few years the common vole has been an increasing problem, whereas putting up 2-3 m high T-trees (4-6/ha) can be a way to counteract them.

 

BIOFACH and VIVANESS 2017 in the spirit of innovation and responsibility

Read more...The world’s largest annually organized organic trade fair, BIOFACH, took place February 15-18. Hailing from 88 countries, 2,785 exhibitors welcomed more than 50,000 interested visitors. Germany, dubbed country of the year, inspired the international bio-sector with its moto: “the spirit of innovation and responsibility”, as well as bringing special pavilions and atmosphere to the buzzing fair.

ÖMKi organized the sixth Central and East European organic branch section, for which this year’s main theme was the possibilities of acquisitions from the region’s countries. The presentations began with Ukranian Agricultural Policy and Food Ministry’s vice-minister, Olga Trofimtseva, followed by Michal Rzytki from Poland’s Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry, Andrea Hrabalová from the Czech Bioinstitut, Toralf Richter of FiBL Ukraine’s organic marketing development project team, who was then followed by Dóra Dexler from ÖMKi. The event was moderated by the Swiss president of FiBL, Prof. Dr. Urs Niggli. The more than 40 international people in the audience showed great interest in the region’s organic farming development and market possibilities. The summary of the presentations in English can be downloaded here. The slides of the presentations can be accessed here: CZ, UA, HU, PL

FiBL and IFOAM EU again produced a common publication this year, a volume that contained global statistics on organic farming. Follow this link to download the publication: The world of organic agriculture. The work shows how the European market for organic goods grew by 13% in 2015. Land devoted to organic growing also grew – albeit proportionately less than the market growth – in the European Union: agricultural land devoted to organic production was 6.2% of the total. The largest proportion of land-use for organic production by country was once again Lichtenstein (30.2%), Austria (21.3%) and Sweden (16.9%).

Hungarian exhibitors were more numerous than ever before and their displays were more attractive than in past exhibitions. AMC organized the event, with 16 Hungarian companies participating in the community booth. Just a few of the Hungarian organic products worth mentioning are organic mushrooms, millet ball products, pasta, herbs, fruit juice and cold-pressed oils. The palette is fortunately becoming more colorful!

The next BIOFACH will take place on February 14-17, 2018.

‘The state of organic farming in Hungary - Where do we stand on the road to sustainability?’ Conference summary

A conference on organic farming organized by ÖMKi and Szent István University was visited by local and international leading experts on organic farming, advocacy organizations, policy makers, researchers and educators to discuss the latest developments in the sector, current challenges and the practical responses to them.

 

The following is a summary of the most important ideas heard at the plenary session:

·      Dr. Sándor Fazekas, Minister of Agriculture, in his opening speech said that since the opening of the VP organic support at the end of 2015, the area of local organic farming has grown significantly: from about 125,000 ha to 200,000 ha. The number of farmers involved in ecological farming has also doubled and now exceeds 3,000. He stressed that national agricultural production must adapt to the consumers’ expectations. Quality, GMO-free, untarnished foodstuffs are needed. Organic products meet all of these criteria.

·      The presentation of Prof. Dr. Urs Niggli, Director of FiBL revealed that the global trends in organic farming are also positive. Over the past 10 years, the retail market for organic produce has grown about 150% around the world. Demand is rising faster than the production area, which during the same period increased by 75%. It is important to keep up with the growing consumer demand, since this is key to the sector’s credibility.

Innovation Committee of IFOAM – Organics International Constituted, ÖMKi takes part

Read more...Following a robust response to a call for interest in serving on a new Innovation Committee, IFOAM – Organics International is honored to bring together a group of brilliant persons from around the globe to spearhead exploration into the vast realm of innovation opportunities for the organic sector. The new members are Ashish Gupta (IFOAM Ambassador and PGS Committee – India), Bill Liao (SOSV – Ireland), Christopher Brock (Demeter International – Germany), Danielle Nierenberg (Food Tank – USA), Dora Drexler (ÖMKi, TIPI – Hungary), Kristin Karlsson (KRAV – Sweden), Livia Ortolani (AIAB – Italy), and Roberto Ugas (Universidad La Molina – Peru); Urs NIggli (FiBL – Switzerland) will also serve as a special advisor. The new Committee will have a kickoff meeting at the BIOFACH on 10 -12 November in New Delhi, India and will integrate events with the Organic Farming Innovation Award. (IFOAM)

Our experiments in organic soya production continue in 2016

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In addition to conventional soya production – which grew to more than 70,000 hectares in 2015 – organic soya production has also gotten increased attention the last few years. Although the increase in national land use for production cannot be considered a jump, last year’s growth past 1,000 hectares is significant. According to preliminary estimates, average yield reached about 2 t/ha, with significant distribution depending on the use of intensified harvesting technology and the growing locations fact.

In addition to the demand for organic tofu and other food product content, there is a growing market demand for European produced organic soy in the animal feed sector as well: according to the current regulations, Bio Suisse qualified farmers must replace the current organic soy imported from China – almost 70% of the total content – with European produced organic soy by 2019.

This overall target needs to be met in stages. The current goals are for 40% in 2017 and 70% in 2018, before reaching exclusively European content in 2019. The new standards are based on a lack of confidence from consumers about the origins of organic soy coming from overseas and their environmental considerations.

Consumer demand from Switzerland is driving the growth in European organic soy production. This is also why the Swiss FiBL (Forschungsinstitut für biologischen Landbau) received a commission to develop soy production in East-Central European countries (Hungary, Serbia and Ukraine). ÖMKi has coordinated the national FiBL “Bio Suisse Soy from Europe” project since 2014. In the frame of this project open field and small plot experiments were set up and expert days were organized. On many occasions we made it possible for potential growers and consumers to establish direct connections.

CASLU 2016 – International Conference on Conservation Agriculture and Sustainable Land Use

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Between the 31st of May and 2nd of June, 2016 the international conference of CASLU – Conservation Agriculture and Sustainable Land Use – took place in Budapest, in the Hungarian Academy of Sciences jointly organized by the Geographical Institute, Research Centre of Astronomy and Earth Sciences of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, the Hungarian Geographical Society and the Szent István University. The website of the conference can be reached here.

On the conferenc the latest research results of the soil-saving land use practices especially the mulch-based crop production without deep tillage were introduced. Within this, in a separate session the international research results of the organic farming were discussed. This topic’s actuality and importance is showed by participants coming to the event from all continents (from 39 countries) of the world.

The staff of the Hungarian Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (ÖMKi) attended the scientific presentation and poster sessions. We presented our species-rich interrowsproject (Dr. Ádám Donkó) and the soil-saving, compost-based organic vegetable growing experiment through the ÖMKi’s doctoral scholarship programme (Zoltán Dezsény). Both issues generated cheerful exchange of views and were recognized by not only the audience but also the management of the European Conservation Agriculture Federation.

Furthermore, in professional posters we reported for the participants about our research programme for varroa control in Hungarian organic beekeeping and the local developments of the methods (Tamás Csáki), the results of our organic potato species experiments (Orsolya Papp) and about the remote sensing-based arable nitrogen-coverage studies first data (Dr. Dóra Drexler). ÖMKi’s posters and presentation-extracts are available here:

On the second day of the conference a study-tour to the erosion plots – which is operating within the SOWAP (Soil and Water Protection) project – was held in Szentgyörgyvár where the participants could see – thanks to the organizers – the favourable effects of the environmental-friendly soil-tillage under field conditions.

Our experiments comparing different types of organic wheat continue in 2016, with even more varieties at more locations!

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The GK Fény wheat variety, developed by the Cereal Research Non-Profit Ltd. of Szeged, has been the standard for four years now, and the only beardless wheat variety grown on-farm. GK Göncöl, which had been tried previously, and GK Petur, which was among the first varieties grown in 2013, are no longer being tested, but we did manage to procure organic GK Hunyad organic grain seeds. The best known characteristic of the Szeged types is that they feel right at home in breeding environment. Our experience tells us that the varieties from the other Eastern Hungarian breeder, the Karcag Research Institute, are different. The KG Kunhalom -also carrying Bánkút genes - feels at home everywhere, and given the fact that every year it has been tried in several places, it is the other standard variety in the on-farm experiment. This year, like in 2015, it is again possible to test a new Karcag variety – the KG Vitéz. Among the Martonvásár varieties, the MV Karizma is again being experimented on – this type has been tested and performed well in almost every location. In addition to MV Kolompos and the successful MV Béres, we are also experimenting with MV Ménrót, MV Bojtár, MV Mente on small plots this year.

In addition to the newest national types, we are testing candidate varieties and older varieties as well – similar to KG Kunhalom, which also has Bánkút genes, the “Fürjes” candidate variety is also testing well this year, but a number of farmers planted the gene bank’s originator, Bánkút 1201 too.

More than ever before, we are incorporating a larger portion of foreign bred varieties this year. In addition to the already well known Austrian Antonius and Stefanus, we are also testing Lucullus and Capo, as well as a few types that are less known here in Hungary and whose breeding is specifically adapted to the needs of organic farming. Examples include EHO-Gold, Tobias and Laurenzio.

Although not considered the finest in quality, prolific French varieties (Exotic and Forblanche) are also being grown in a few locations, about which it is worthwhile to mention that they possess special plant pathological properties too: as opposed to the other types that were tested during the 2014 “yellow-rust” year, it came through virtually symptom-free.

About the selection of our experiment locations: With the exception of the small-plot experiments that were carried out in Nagydorog, they were performed in cooperation with the Szeged Cereal Researchers. Including the above, in total about 100 varieties are being tested.

The “on-farm” large-plot experiments are being carried out in the following locations:

Zala (Tornyiszentmiklós); Fejér (Bodmér); Tolna (Nagydorog); Pest (Galgahévíz) Heves (Kömlő); Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok (Tiszaigar); Hajdú-Bihar (Hajdúböszörmény, Balmazújváros); Békés (Mezőberény, Füzesgyarmat); Csongrád (Tiszasziget, Kakasszék).

You can read the results of the tests about different varieties in Hungarian in our experiment summaries.

Best young rapporteur recognized for presentation of ÖMKi landrace tomato variety experiments

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This year’s Plant Protection Science Days took place on February 16, 2016 at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA), and on the following day, February 17, at the MTA Centre for Agricultural Research Institute for Soil Sciences and Agricultural Chemistry. Krisztina Pullai Boziné, who worked on ÖMKi’s landrace tomato experiments, is a second-year student of plant medicine (Szent István University, Supervisor: Dr. Ferenc Tóth Ph.D.) in the Agroecology Department, and a co-winner of the Dr. Gustav Szelényi Memorial Foundation award for "Best Youth Presenter."

The name of her presentation was "Comparative analysis of landrace tomato varieties and pest groups on two organic farms”. Collaborating authors were Dániel Reiter, Katalin Mali, Máté Makra, Barbara Mirek Cseperkálóné, László Csambalik, Anna Divéky-Ertsey, Péter Nagy, György Turóczi, Dóra Drexler and Ferenc Tóth. 

The research was developed as part of cooperation on a larger project by ÖMKi, the Organic Farming and Sustainable Systems Department of Szent István University’s Faculty of Horticulture, and the Plant Protection Institute of Szent István University’s Faculty ofAgricultural and Environmental Sciences. The common goal is to find out whether or not the selected landrace tomato varieties and gene-bank items are suitable for intensive cultivation in organic farming, as well as to see if, in light of the results, high performing landrace tomato varieties that are less susceptible to pests and pathogens can be recommended to farmers.

As part of the project in 2015 we measured observable pests, aphids, cotton bollworm, root-knot nematodes and spider mite damage on field and greenhouse crops, while also recording weekly yields. During the experiment, we ran tests on 8 indeterminate, 1 semi-determinate and 4 determinate Hungarian tomato gene-bank items of a wide variety of colors and shapes through the ÖMKi network of 2 organic gardens and with two different cultivation methods: in the Szigetmonostor Organic Farm polytunnel, and in the open fields of the Háromkaptár Organic Farm.

There was only one genetic item that proved to be more sensitive to the common spider mite than the other gene-bank items and control varieties tested. On the whole, the tests showed that the majority of tomato gene bank items showed similar resistance to the examined pests groups and types as the commercial control varieties. As there remain many research opportunities into different tomato varieties, we are continuing our experiments in 2016.