Ökológiai Mezőgazdasági Kutatóintézet

Arable field researches

Arable field researches

Most of Hungarian organic farming (52 %) includes crop production on arable fields. Along with this, farmers are interested in practical studies about enhancing safety of organic crop production and promoting quality. Our arable field research currently deals mainly with the following topics:

 

  • Testing of species and varieties
  • Microbiological instead of chemical treatment of sowing seed
  • Comparison of organic and conventional cultivation: risk of mycotoxin production
  • Comparing usefulness and effect of plant conditioners
  • Microbiologicai treatments in organic maize production

 

 

 


Actual news:

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.

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.

Testing of species and varieties

Study of winter wheat (Triticum aestivum) varieties: suitability for organic production

Winter wheat (Triticum aestivum) has a significant role both by production area and importance among crops being produced in organic farms. Hungarian research institutes do not deal separately with organic wheat breeding; seed distributors hold that certain varieties originating from conventional breeding programs are also suitable for organic production. Results of on farm studies provide organic farmers with useful information about the performance of different varieties under their farming conditions. Additionally, wheat breeders and seed distributors get valuable feedback on trail varieties.

We study varieties that were recommended and voluntarily offered by breeders/distributors; control varieties are the ones that are usually produced by participating farmers. At all locations there are two Hungarian and two foreign varieties. All the participant farms are in Eastern Hungary (Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok, Hajdú-Bihar, Békés and Heves Counties).

Adaptability to cultural region and performance under organic farming conditions are studied.

Planned research: by surveys at different phenologic stages, ability to compete against and suppress weeds, general habit and plant pathological reproduction structures are studied.

We evaluate nutrition value of the harvest in laboratory conditions: protein, gluten, falling number. In harvested wheat, we search for reproduction structures of fungi producing mycotoxins and the mycotoxins themselves. At harvest, yields are recorded or estimated.

Microbiological instead of chemical treatment of sowing seed

In conventional farming, certain protection is provided for germinating seeds by synthetic pesticide coatings. These agents are prohibited in organic farming but similar early protection would be useful: this can be provided using allowed microbiological methods. Fungus contamination of germinating seeds and growing plants present huge risks for both the plant and, by possible toxin production, human consumer. We test a product containing antagonist fungus species Trichoderma spp. (and other micro-organisms) as an organic preparation for pre-plant seed treating. The goal is safer production and development of an economical seed treatment method suitable for all organic farmers.

Treated cereal species

We use Trichoderma fungi to treat sowing seed on winter cereals important in organic agriculture: winter wheat and spelt.

We plan the following research:

  • Study of sprouting density
  • Plant pathological survey
  • Evaluation of nutrition value: protein, gluten, falling number
  • Research of mycotoxins
  • Analysis of yields

Comparison of organic and conventional cultivation: risk of mycotoxin production

The study is connected to the research of László Kametler (PhD scholar of ÖMKi) about comparative test of mycotoxin production. Laymen and researchers often call the attention to a special risk of organic products (especially cereals): the toxins produced by fungi. Beyond the mycotoxin research conducted in the studies above, within the frame of this on-farm study we investigate mycotoxin contamination of the same cereal species produced in organic and conventional farms close to each other in the same region (neighbouring parcels if possible).

For the time being, there are three participant farms (two at the Great Plain, one at Transdanubia) but we are looking for application of other farmers! It would be especially desirable to initiate neighbouring conventional farms in the comparative study.

In order to estimate the problem of mycotoxins objectively, it is important to thoroughly study it by repetitions over several years.

Microbiologicai treatments in organic maize production

Objectives of the research

Although production area of organic maize (included sweet corn, pop corn and maize sown for silage) is under 5000 hectares, this is the second most important crop to Hungarian organic farming after winter wheat.

Reduced livestock numbers also limits the amount of manure available for soil fertilization. There are several methods available as temporary substitutes; one is the microbiological conditioning of soil that is able to increase soil fertility. We tested microbiological soil treatments to investigate changes, possible yield increase in organic maize production.

Material and method

Effectiveness of soil conditioners on organic maize yield was tested using manufacturers recommended dose of treatments as well as technology: farmers sprayed the product directly on the soil then cultivated it in immediately. Spraying was accomplished with agriculture sprayer in all cases.

Crop estimations were done before harvest. During estimation, homogeneous sections were chosen from all surveyed plots with same length, yields of which were measured as the base of comparison.

Comparing usefulness and effect of plant conditioners

Bread crops have been produced by mankind for thousands of years. Cereals with good quality are the most important exported products of Hungarian crop production. This is also true for organic agriculture: organic cereal is produced on 20.000 hectares in Hungary. Half of this production is winter wheat and spelt. The outstanding quality (baking industry, nutritional value) of both species makes these demanded foodstuffs for export, mainly to Western Europe. Because of this, we seek to improve cultivation methods of organic cereals, find solution to production problems, and enhance efficiency of qualitative production.

Our study, started in 2012 is a series of exact tests: we are looking for methods of enhancing production safety and improving quality thereby reducing the effects of years with extreme weather.