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:
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.
Research of hulled cereal species and their varieties
Although recently certificated Hungarian hulled cereal varieties (emmer Triticum dicoccum and einkorn Triticum monococcum) are expressly recommended for organic production, they are scarcely known and not widespread. By testing performance of these varieties on organic farms, other producers benefit from our experiences to make a less risky planting choice in the future. In order to estimate species and variety adaptability to different production areas and performance in organic conditions we plan the following research:
- Study of ability to suppress weeds, competativeness and general growth habits through surveys at different phenologic stages
- Study of plant pathological reproduction structures
- Laboratory evaluation of nutrition value: protein, gluten, falling number
- Research of mycotoxins in harvested cereal
- Analysis of yields
- Afterwards, survey of alternative usage (wheat grass juice) and market potentials is also planned.
Test seed was provided to participant farmers by ÖMKi.
The tested varieties:
- Spelt – Frankenkorn, Oberkulmer Rotkorn
- Emmer – MV. Alkor, MV. Menket
- Einkorn – MV. Hegyes
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
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.
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. Read More
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.
Plant conditioners (also used as foliar fertilizer) recommended for both increasing yield and improving quality are permitted in organic agriculture and are widely known by farmers. In small plot experiments during the general licence process, these products demonstrated their ability to increase yield and/or improve quality, condition and disease resistance. However, examination of their efficiency in organic farming has not happened yet. We decided to study plant conditioners currently on the market and permitted in organic agriculture to investigate their effect(s) on cereals.
Our research question: is it possible to improve nutritional value of harvested cereal with the specific plant conditioner? By nutritional value, we mean common qualitative parameters often checked at acceptance: protein content, gluten, falling number, etc. We also studied mycotoxin production of Fusarium species as an important factor decreasing quality. Further, we assessed how plant conditioner treatments influenced yield.