Newsletter from Danish Research Centre for Organic Farming • June 2004 • No. 2

Composting rapidly degrades DNA from genetically modified plants

Composting of genetically modified plants rapidly degraded the modified DNA. This indicated that composting could be a bio-safe method to treat genetically modified plant residues. Yet, it could not be conclusively demonstrated that bacteria are unable to take up transgenic DNA under natural conditions.

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Susceptibility of spelt to Ochratoxin A producing fungi

The ancient wheat type spelt was more susceptible to Ochratoxin A (OTA) producing fungi than wheat and rye. However, although many of the tested spelt samples contained the OTA producing fungus no winter spelt samples exceeded the maximum limit for OTA in cereals. Spring spelt, which is harvested later, seems more sensitive. Further, it is indicated that spelt cultivars differ in the susceptibility to OTA formation. Read the article

Orchard testing of new, alternative fungicides against apple scab

Sulphur is the only fungicide permitted in Danish organic apple production, although it is not highly effective. The first of potential alternative compounds to control apple scab were tested in the orchard in 2003.

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Spatial variation in the localization of Danish organic farms

Conversion to organic farming shows a large variation at the county level in Denmark. This is attributed to proximity to urban markets and values, regional specialization of farm types and municipal promotion of organic farming. However, also at the local level there is a substantial variation in the localization of organic farms. This may be related to negative influences of social barriers and positive influences of fiery souls among producers and advisors. Read the article

Inter-row subsoiling increases marketable yield in potatoes

Inter-row subsoiling increased average yield of 40-65 mm potatoes by 14 pct during 2001-2003. But there were significant differences between the years. In 2001, the yield increased by 49 pct, whereas it was unaffected or decreased in 2002 and 2003. Better understanding of optimal subsoiling conditions is needed to exploit the benefit of inter-row subsoiling.

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Impact of new technologies and changes in legislation on the income in organic farming

Possible changes in Danish legislation include a ban on conventional manure on organic farms. This change will have a significant negative effect on the profitability of the crop producers. These farms will loose approximately 70.000 to 100.000 DKK, while the dairy farms increase their profit by about 100.000 to 200.000 DKK. Read the article

Control of apple scab by use of the plants own defence mechanisms

Plants may defend themselves against disease-causing organisms by induced resistance. The project StopScab tests a range of plant extracts, essential oils and microorganisms as possible inducers of resistance against apple scab.

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Revision of organic rules in EU

A new project called Organic Revision, which is financed by EU's sixth framework programme, contributes to the revision of EU regulations for organic agriculture. The project will give an overview of different organic rules, work with organic values, and investigate specific problems for organic practice. Read the article

Optimizing quality, safety and costs of low input food

The European Union is funding a new 18M Euro Integrated Project 'QualityLowInputFood' that aims to improve quality, ensure safety and improve productivity along the European organic and other 'low input' food supply chains.


Catch crops may improve plant sulphur nutrition

Catch crops may reduce S leaching and increase the synchrony between plant demand and available soil S in a crop rotation. However, the release of S from catch crops alone will not fulfil the needs of crops with a high S-demand. Especially in the case of legume catch crops it is advisable to use a supplementary S source.


Simulating root growth

Root growth of cereal crops and sugar beets was similar in two Danish soil types with 8 to 14 percent clay. For modelling purposes, therefore, the factor modifying root penetration was suggested to be constant in the range from 8 to 14 percent clay and decreasing only for lower levels of clay content.


Nature conceptions, management and
cross-compliance in organic farming

Organic farmers perceptions of qualities in nature do not clearly correspond with the biologists ideas of nature quality. The differences in perception hold both opportunities and conflicts.


Wind dispersal of genetically modified pollen from oilseed rape and rye fields

Pollen from genetically modified plants may spread to organic fields. The risk can be described by meteorological models, that predict the separation distances needed to comply with proposed limits of cross-fertilization.


Brief news

Workshops to be held in the QLIF project and the SAFO network.