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The European Union supports organic research in Europe.

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The main idea of CORE organic is to coordinate research programmes between the 21 partner countries.
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TP Organics

TP Organics is a European technology platform fororganic food and farming research. Read more...

 

The EU research project SOLID on Sustainable Organic and Low Input Dairying runs from 2011-2016. Read more...

 

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Danish R&D

 

Organic RDD 2
The danish Organic Research, Development and Demonstration Programme, RDD 2, runs from 2014-2018.

 

Organic RDD
The Danish Organic Research, Developmnent and Demonstration Programme, runs in 2011-2013.


DARCOF III
The research programme DARCOF III runs in 2006- 2010 and consists of 15 individual projects, ending in 2010...

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Cow - ICROFS International Centre for Research in Organic Food Systems

Ecosystem Functions and Services of Biodiversity in Grasslands
(EcoServe)


Multifunctionality with positive effects on nature and society is a central element of organic agriculture, and a high biodiversity is essential for this. Grassland has the greatest potential for providing this service, but the organic fields are large and biodiversity is low.

 

The purpose of this project is to increase plant biodiversity in grassland and significantly improve ecosystem functions and services in the nature-farmer-consumer chain and for society, and thus also increase the market value of organic products. We will:

 

1) design and demonstrate productive and biodiverse grassland with squares of flowering plants,

 

2) improve conditions for bees and other pollinators using flowering grasslands for hay or silage,

 

3) increase carbon sequestration via increased plant biodiversity, and grasslands of longer duration,

 

4) produce high quality cheeses based on species-rich hay,

 

5) examine relationships between biodiversity and cheese quality, and convey the perception and the product history to the gastronomic world and to the consumer,

 

6) develop marketing concepts for organic products with multifunctionality and

 

7) describe the economic and environmental perspectives for multifunctionality in grassland at farm and regional level using systems analysis, economic modeling and life cycle assessment.

 

In relation to Green Growth the project contributes to increased biodiversity, more connected nature and an increased organic farming area.

 

Summary: 2012 - progress and activities

1) design and demonstrate productive and biodiverse grassland with squares of flowering plants
At Aarhus University three plot experiments have been established. In 2012, regitstrations has been made and data are being analyzed.

 

2) improve conditions for bees and other pollinators using flowering grasslands for hay or silage
Preliminary analyses of data shows a clear positive relationsship between diversity of flowering bee-plants and the diversity of pollinators.
In the Foulumgaard experiment was investigated flowering of plants in pure stand and in mixture, and the importance of different cutting regimes for flowering and species of pollinators visitting as well as the number of visits. Finally was investigated amount of nectar and sugar content in all species to be able to calculated the feed resource in different grasslands. From the data it appears that the season was covered well with flowering except in the early spring where only dandelion was flowering. The different herbs showed very different response in flowering to competition and cutting strategies, which will then in turn affect feed resources in the field. Also the species and numbers of visiting pollinators differes between herb species.

 

3) increase carbon sequestration via increased plant biodiversity, and grasslands of longer duration
A study on the importance of grassland age on carbon sequestration has been completed and published. The study showed that increased duration of grasslands in a crop rotation increases the effective carbon sequestration and the age is relatively more important that management of the grassland.
Registrations have been made of biomass aboveground and in roots in an experiment with increasing content of herbs. The aboveground biomass was clearly increased with increasing herb content and fertilizer application at a 4-cut strategy. In the herb mixture, the root biomass generally had more large and less small roots than under grass-clover, which may be of importance for the turnover of root biomass following cultivation. Especially caraway and lucerne had many large roots also below the plough layer. In lab experiments were investigating the turnover after simulated ploughing by determining CO2-evolution in longterm incubation studies from soils with different mixtures and the data are being analysed.

 

4) produce high quality cheeses based on species-rich hay
On three farms were established multispecies mixtures in 2011. One mixture consists of ryegrass, white clover, red clover, chicory and plantain. Another is furthermore added lucerne, melilot, caraway, salad burnet, borage and yarrow. In 2012 hay was produced from the mixtures and in november and december was carried out a feeding experiment with three mixtures; the two herb mixtures and the standard mixture of the farm. Following 10 days of feeding from each mixture, the milk was transported to the dairy for cheese production. The nine portions of milk (3 farms x 3 mixtures) are being used for producing soft and hard cheeses. The microbiel development in the cheese during ripening will be followed and volatile flavour components will be analyzed.

 

5) examine relationships between biodiversity and cheese quality, and convey the perception and the product history to the gastronomic world and to the consumer
The purpose of the part is to focus on cheese on the basis of the cheeses produced in the project, when they are ready.

 

6) develop marketing concepts for organic products with multifunctionality
This activity has not started yet, but the following has been planned: 1) focus groups with consumers on the understanding and prioriterization of values in relation to herbs, biodiversity, animal welfare, milk and cheese quality, 2) webtest of the message, and 3) development of concepts for marketing of Naturmælks work with herbs in grasslands.

 

7) describe the economic and environmental perspectives for multifunctionality in grassland at farm and regional level using systems analysis, economic modeling and life cycle assessment.
Registrations have been made on the three farms of time consumption in the chain from herbage cutting and transportation to feeding-ready in the barn. Furthermore is collected data on diesel and electricity consumption when drying the hay. Data are being analyzed and will contribute to the economic analysis and the calculations of the environmental consequences (LCA). Furthermore, registrations have been made on feed consumption when feeding the different mixtures to cows. Altogether, those data will provide the agronomic background for the planned systems analysis.

 

 

Summary: 2011 - progress and activities
Of the seven specific objectives, four have been addressed in 2011:

 

1) design and demonstrate productive and biodiverse grassland with squares of flowering plants
Several experiments have been established in 2011 – at Aarhus University three plot experiments. One with 17 species in pure stand or all species together and grass-clover established in three replicates. In another, the competitive species (chicory, plantain and caraway) were established with grass-clover in nine replicates. This experiment investigates the competitiveness of the species under different cutting regimes. In a third experiment, plots with two species, a herb and a legume in nine replicates are established. Salad burnet, borage and dandelion are mixed with either red clover, lucerne or birds foot trefoil. This experiment investigates species competition in relation to niche conditions. Furthermore, two plots at two Naturmælk farms were established with 23 herbs and mixtures. In Autumn 2011 a public field day was arranged at one of these farms. 240 plots have been established all in all, and the majority is well established.


2) improve conditions for bees and other pollinators using flowering grasslands for hay or silage

Registrations has been carried out in a number of already established grasslands for hay-making. At 6 separate districts 2-3 grasslands have been chosen with variation in age (3- >100 years). Here grass has been cut for hay. In these grasslands, diversity in flowering bee-plants was registered, as well as pollinator visits, flowering and diversity and number of pollinating insects. We are now in the process of determinating the species of the collected insects and computing the vegetation data. It is too early to draw conclusions, but the immidiate impression is, that the floral diversity is of importance for pollinator diversity and that plant diversity was low in the younger grasslands. The importance of grassland age, fertilization and cutting frequency cannot be estimated for the time being. Although it was clear that cutting reduced flowering - and thereby also the diversity of flower-seeking insects significantly.

 

3) increase carbon sequestration via increased plant biodiversity and grasslands of longer duration

Registrations of biomass above ground and in roots have been made in an experiment with three mixtures. 1) a herb mix with 9 species (salad burnet, fenogreek, chicory, caraway, birdsfoot trefoil, chervil, plantain, lucerne and melilot), 2) a mixture with 50 % of the herb mixture and 50 % white clover/ryegrass and 3) a mixture of 5% herbs and 95 % grass-clover. The aboveground biomass clearly increased with increasing herb content and fertilizer application at a 4-cut strategy. In the herb mixture, the root biomass generally had more large and less small roots than under grass-clover, which may be of importance for the turnover of root biomass following cultivation. Especially caraway and lucerne had many large roots. At present we investigate the turnover after simulated ploughing by determining CO2-evolution in longterm incubation studies from soils with different mixtures.

 

4) produce high quality cheeses based on species-rich hay
The plan was to establish multispecies mixtures at two organic dairy farms in 2011. Due to huge interest among farmers, the treatments were established at three farms where it is to be used for milk production in the autumn of 2012. One mixture consists of ryegrass, white clover, red clover, chicory and plantain. Another is furthermore added lucerne, melilot, caraway, salad burnet, borage and yarrow. All mixtures are well-established.

 

 

 

 

Project leader

Jørgen Eriksen
Århus Universitet
Blichers Allé 20, Postboks 50
DK-8830  Tjele

Tel: (+45) 87 15 76 72
E-mail: Jorgen.Eriksen@agrsci.dk

 

 

 




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Within the last years the European Union has financed a growing numberof research projects in organic food and farming.

 

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