No. 6 · December 2006

Around Europe

An overview of current topics in partner countries

New research projects in Norway

In Norway, research on organic food and farming is integrated in the general programmes in food and agriculture, and the Research Council of Norway (RCN) recently decided to fund four new OFF projects.

Two food projects will study production of organic raspberries in polyethylene tunnels, and how to ensure a high quality in vegetables all the way from the field to the consumer. Two policy projects will study the reasons for organic farmers to opt out of organic production, and the social and environmental impacts of organic farming.

More about the projects

  • A raincoat for organic raspberries
  • Good vegetables from field to fork
  • No more organic farming! Why?
  • Organic benefits

A raincoat for organic raspberries

Dr. Nina Heiberg Dr. Nina Heiberg at Bioforsk Horticulture and Urban Greening Division, Njøs is the leader of the project “New methods for organic raspberry production in polyethylene tunnels” (2007-2010).

The interest to grow organic berries is rapidly increasing, especially because of larger consumption of fresh berries during the season. Raspberries may be grown on the same field for many years, and hence investment in a polyethylene tunnel may be reasonable. Raspberries are well suited to the humid and mild climate along the western coast of Norway, and the growing area of this crop may be increased by tunnels. A polyethylene tunnel ensures a more favourable climate with more rapid plant development and less rotten berries. However, in the tunnel the amount of light is reduced, the access to water will be restricted and the fertilisation hampered.

The problems with pests such as aphids, beetles and mites may also increase in the tunnels.

Dr. Nina Trandem at Bioforsk Plant Health and Plant protection is responsible for developing methods for control of important raspberry pests. The content of important quality characteristics such as antioxidants and essential taste components will be studied.

The Scottish Crop Research Institute is a partner in the project, and field studies will be carried out at various local farms in Norway.

If you want more information, please contact

Good vegetables from field to fork

Dr. Randi Seljåsen (to the left at the field-tour picture) at Bioforsk Arable Crops Division, Landvik is the leader of the project “Pre- and postharvest quality optimisation of organic vegetables that can stimulate an increased consumption”.

The consumers are in focus in this project, and the impact of the intrinsic vegetable quality as well as the market place packaging on the consumers’ perception of health value and environmental factors will be studied.

The main objective is to find recommendations for pre- and post harvest handling of organic vegetables, to obtain a consumer acceptable shelf quality. It is an official aim to increase the consumption of fruit and vegetables, as well as of organic products in Norway.

The effect of manure type and soil cover (biodegradable black film) on vegetable flavour and content of health affecting compounds quality will be investigated, to identify which factors that are most important for sensory characteristics and health promoting compounds like vitamin-C and glucosinolates.

Project leader Randi Seljåsen (furthest left) guiding a group of researchers in an organic field experiment at Landvik, discussing the green manure plot

Randi Seljåsen and her team from Bioforsk, the Norwegian Food Research Institute and the University of Newcastle, will use the next five years to study these topics, and a PhD student will be employed.

If you want more information, please contact randi.seljå

No more organic farming! Why?

In Norway, almost 800 organic farmers have been opting out of certified organic production since 2002. This is a serious threat to the official aim that 15% of the agricultural production, and food consumption, should be organic by 2015.

Project leader Dr. Anne-Kristin Løes

During 2007-08, Bioforsk Organic in cooperation with Norwegian Agricultural Economics Research Institute (NILF), Technical University of Denmark and Institute of Agricultural and Forestry Economics at BOKU University in Vienna will study this problem in the project “Reasons for opting out of certified organic production in Norway “.

The main factors that contribute to abandonment of certified production will be revealed by a survey followed by in-depth interviews. Norwegian results will be compared with other European countries, and policy instruments that may contribute to reduce the number of farmers opting out and increase the interest of converting to organic farming will be discussed.

The project leader is Dr. Anne-Kristin Løes. If you want more information, please contact

Organic benefits

Dr. Ola Flaten at the Norwegian Agricultural Economics Research Institute (NILF) is the leader of the project “Socio-economic and environmental impacts of organic farming”. The aim is to assist decision making processes by establishing a scientific base of knowledge of the economic, environmental and social contributions of organic farming within the Norwegian society.

Project leader Dr. Ola Flaten A broad research team is put together by researchers from NILF, Centre for Rural Research in Trondheim, Bioforsk, University of Vermont, Danish Institute for Agricultural Science, Macaulay Institute (Scotland) and Oikos, a Norwegian organisation for organic farmers and consumers.

Economic, social and environmental effects on the society of organic and conventional farming systems will be compared, and public preferences examined at national and local level. Case studies of conventional and organic farms will be carried out, and policy implications will be discussed.

This will be relevant for future decision makers to design efficient instruments for the support of organic farming. If you want more information, please contact .