No. 5 · September 2006

Report on facilities in organic food and farming research

A report on "Analysis of facilities in OFF research in participating countries of CORE Organic" has recently been published. Besides the analysis, the report includes descriptions of the facilities and it makes it is easy to find out what kind of research within organic food and farming (OFF) is facilitated in these countries.

The report lists the following research facilities: research farms, experimental fields, on-farm studies, networks, animal research facilities, leaching fields and long-term experiments.

Other facilities like facilities for laboratory analyses, food processing, greenhouses, climate chambers and growth cabinets are left out from this analysis, because they are seldom exclusively used for OFF research and because their use for OFF research does not require particular characteristics. On the other hand, when required, these facilities can easily be converted to OFF research.

Research farms (76 in total) can be found in almost all countries except for Italy and Norway, where lots of research is done on experimental fields and as on-farm research. Most of the farms are used for research on animal and crop husbandry and on farming systems. A big number of experimental fields are listed for Sweden, Norway, Italy, Switzerland and Denmark. All experiments carried out in these facilities are focused on crop husbandry research.

In almost all countries researchers and research bodies have contracts with farmers to carry out on-farm research and experiments on their farms. In most countries, contracts are not on a permanent basis. The number and type of farms depends on the actual projects. Most of the on-farm research is committed to animal husbandry and crop husbandry, but in some cases, economical aspects as well as farm nutrient management and soil quality are studied, too. More or less permanent networks are established among farms and also among research institutes and farms in six countries: Sweden, UK, Netherlands, France, Switzerland and Germany.

Animal research facilities are situated in eight countries and they are mainly for dairy cattle research. Sheep and beef cattle research facilities are situated in Norway, Sweden and UK, but there are only a few facilities for poultry and pig production research. Leaching fields for nutrient leaching research are established only in the Nordic countries. Nevertheless, it is likely that, according to the various soil properties and climate characteristics, also other methods than leaching fields are utilised in environmental studies. All experiments concentrate on different crop rotations and production systems as well as different management techniques and fertilization.

Long-term experiments (LTE) have been established in all countries, except for the Netherlands, where some years ago research projects were organised in three or four year programmes. Most common topics in these trials are: farm nutrient management, crop combinations and interactions and soil quality. Nutrient leaching, composting and manuring as well as food quality are also studied. In some cases, data for economic analysis are collected or calculated.

Further information

The report Analysis of facilities in OFF research in participating countries of CORE Organic are available as a PDF

Contact information

Arja Nykänen, Agrofood Research Finland, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MTT), Finland

Stefano Canali, Agricultural Research Council (ISNP) Italy