Please have a look at our Greeting Card (link below), where we summarized the highlights of our work in 2016. Thank you for your interest, participation, and support, which helps us make organic agriculture research a success story!
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
Once the most suitable potato has been chosen for on-farm experiments in terms of the best fit for the farmland, the participating growers then turn their attention towards finding the optimal nutrient supplements and soil fertility, as well as the optimal combination of the two for larger crop yields. For this reason, ÖMKi has now directed its potato experiments in this direction since the beginning of 2016. Soil microbe vaccines that are a good fit for the soil’s condition and the local ecology can improve the uptake of nutrients from the soil and manure, contributing indirectly to higher yields and to improving crop resistance. The effects of two unique blends of developmental microbial vaccine are therefore being tested on four organic farms during the 2016 season.
The purpose of the study is to establish whether the vaccine blends have an observable effect on:
The experiment is testing the effects of two types of vaccine blends, which are based on three strains of bacteria and fungus. The first blend was based on the results of Dr. Borbála Biró’s Biofector project (www.biofector.info). The second was developed by Dr. Éva Abod (Tamás), our post-doctoral scholar (Sapientia University, Csíkszereda Faculty, Bioengineering Department).
The potato type chosen for the experiment is the nationally cultivated Demon, which in the last few years has showed promising results in trials looking at comparing different types for quality and quantity, and the producers are happy to grow them.
The growers participating in the experiment include:
At the Tahitótfalu and Gödöllő locations, the experiment is being carried out four times on small plots, while one trial is being conducted at the on-farm locations in Hajdúhadház and Kiskunfélegyháza.
During the growing season, various measurements are carried out on the crops: we measure the speed of plant growth, chlorophyll activation, and, at the time of harvest, crop quantity, fraction, quality, and starch content. It is also important to take multiple soil samples, with which we can track the changes in the soil’s nutrient content and microbe group bacteria counts. Three meteorological stations have also been installed.
Representatives of all sixteen partner organisations and work package (WP) leaders of the Healthy Minor Cereals FP7 project met on May 10 and 11, 2016 in Potsdam, Germany. ÖMKi was represented by Dr. Dóra Drexler and Martina Vresak. The meeting took place at the Institute for Cereal Processing (IGV) and Institute for Food and Environmental Research (ILU). The aim of the meeting was to evaluate and discuss research progress within all 12 WPs.
The workshop was opened with a warm welcome by project coordinator Dr. Dagmar Janovská and representatives from hosting institutions: Dr. Karsten Schmidt from ILU and János Petrusan from IGV. Following their speech, work package presentations started. New results regarding the genetic variability and relationship of selected minor serial samples was presented. We also learned about the first results of the bioactive compound analysis of emmer, einkorn, oat and wheat. Bio-assays were conducted by the Sabanci University on human cell cultures that showed how some beneficial compounds, such as polyphenols can help in decreasing human cell oxidation caused by free radicals.
Between each presentation there was time to debate on open questions, as for example on propagation materials selected for the continuation of the trials. As presentations and debate demanded constant attention, refreshment breaks on the nice sunny garden with delicious pastry products from the bakery department of IGV were more than welcome.
The second day continued with three presentations where the marketing potential of minor cereals were discussed based on case studies. In case of the Czech Republic we learned that there is a tradition of producing “naked oat”, and the Czech cuisine uses cereals cooked as whole grain, which they call “cereal rice garnish”. This tradition opens the door for minor cereals to become part of the Czech diet anew. During the afternoon we were guided through ILU and IGV laboratories and experimental bakery facilities where they also offer training courses for bakers and confectioners.
The two day assembly was closed with a discussion on dissemination activities and the tasks ahead for the next project period. As a conclusion, some minor cereals show a potential of high phytochemical content, that may be beneficial for human health, but further research is needed on optimising grain processing methods and final product manufacturing (baking, extrusion etc.) to preserve the nutritional values of the final products.
In 2012, the Institute initiated the process of developing a standardized list of organic fertilizer and plant protection products for Hungary. After the first meeting organized on the topic, followed by a ministry-level discussion in early 2013, NÉBIH (the National Food Chain Security Office) agreed to take on coordinating the project. In 2014 the Organic Working Committee was formed, tasked with developing and managing the standardized list. The Working Committee’s activity was important because such a list has never existed in Hungary that clearly defined the range of products permitted for application in organic production.
The Committee’s members include members of the governing bodies (experts from NÉBIH Directorate of Plant, Soil and Environmental Protection) as well as members of the domestic organic production industry, including advocacy groups such as the Association of Organic Producers of the Carpathian Basin (KÖSZ) and the Hungarian Bioculture Association, and also regulatory bodies such as Biokontroll Hungária Nonprofit and Hungária Öko Garancia, and research and development entities such as the Organic Agriculture Research Institute (ÖMKi). The Committee’s work is coordinated by NÉBIH.
This year for the fifth time the Institute’s organic potato on-farm experiment’s producers met on December 9, 2015 in Gödöllő. The end-of-year evaluation event, usual to the season-closing, was open to others besides the participants as well. This year there were 32 participants of which 11 were expert advisers.
One of the main goals of the event was to introduce the results of the on-farm experiment. In the 2015 production season, at 11 organic production facilities four different types of mid-season potatoes were tested, and three early-season types in perforated-foil production. These results were explained by Orsolya Papp, the Institute’s horticultural expert.