Advances in Organic Agriculture—Decreasing Yield Gap via Optimising Cultivation Methods and Agrarian Policy

A special issue of Agriculture (ISSN 2077-0472). This special issue belongs to the section "Crop Production".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (25 May 2024) | Viewed by 6512

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Agroecosystems and Horticulture, University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn, Michała Oczapowskiego 2, 10-719 Olsztyn, Poland
Interests: organic agriculture; agricultural systems; world agriculture; the impact of agricultural management on biodiversity and the environment

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Department of Systems and Economics of Crop Production, Institute of Soil Science and Plant Cultivation–State Research Institute, Czartoryskich 8 Street, 24-100 Puławy, Poland
Interests: soil fertility; organic farming; cropping systems; agroecology; biodiversity
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Department of Food Market and Consumer Research, Institute of Human Nutrition Sciences, Warsaw University of Life Sciences (SGGW-WULS), 159C Nowoursynowska Street, 02-787 Warsaw, Poland
Interests: consumer behavior; acceptance; novel research methods in consumer and sensory science; food values and attitudes; organic food; local food; food innovations; food trends
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The EU agrarian policy to reach a 25% share of the UAA through organic farming by the year 2030 is challenging in many respects. One of these is the continually growing yield gap in arable crops between organic and intensive conventional farming methods.

This Special Issue aims to present solutions for decreasing this yield gap. There are many reasons why farmers are not reaching the yield potential of the organic system. One of the major factors causing a reduced yield is inadequate nutrient supply—not only nitrogen deficiencies but also other nutrient deficiencies. As fertilisation in organic farming is based on long-term management (crop rotation, use of crop residues and on-farm manures), it is difficult to obtain a radical improvement within a short time span. Another factor is that organic farmers are attempting to protect the environment, and increased fertiliser rates may cause leaching. Moreover, organic farmers often have low-quality soils. Poor soils require greater investment for their improvement. Relying mainly on external inputs is costly and therefore soil fertility management in such circumstances is very challenging. 

The answer might be concerted efforts to optimise arable yields. The core issues might be more efficient use of natural resources, improved nutrient recycling techniques, and innovative fertiliser and fertilisation practices. Increased fertiliser rates must not cause increased environmental pollution.

To achieve improvement in decreasing the yield gap, knowledge transfer is very important. This is one of the activities should be addressed to the young generation. In many countries, organic farming is not a part of teaching programmes either at agricultural high school or university, even in the form of general information about organic farming systems. In this aspect, change in agrarian policy might be a significant factor in narrowing yield gap and improving the economic performance of organic farms.

Dr. Józef Tyburski
Dr. Jarosław Stalenga
Dr. Sylwia Żakowska-Biemans
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • agrarian policy
  • environmental protection
  • intensification of organic farming
  • intensification and economics
  • intensification and food quality
  • market development
  • optimising cultivation methods
  • organic farming
  • yield gap

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

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16 pages, 1564 KiB  
Article
The Effect of Crop Production Systems and Cultivars on Spring Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) Yield in a Long-Term Experiment
by Beata Feledyn-Szewczyk, Krzysztof Jończyk and Jarosław Stalenga
Agriculture 2024, 14(4), 625; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture14040625 - 17 Apr 2024
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Abstract
The aim of this study was to determine the impact of different crop production systems (organic, integrated, and conventional) on the yields of several spring wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) cultivars. A field experiment was carried out at the Agricultural Experimental Station of [...] Read more.
The aim of this study was to determine the impact of different crop production systems (organic, integrated, and conventional) on the yields of several spring wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) cultivars. A field experiment was carried out at the Agricultural Experimental Station of the Institute of Soil Science and Plant Cultivation in Osiny (Poland) in three consecutive growing seasons (2014, 2015, and 2016). Two factors were included in the experiment: the crop production system (organic, integrated, and conventional) and spring wheat cultivars (Kandela, Izera, Ostka Smolicka, and Waluta). The crop production system significantly differentiated the yield, health, and weed infestation of the spring wheat. Wheat yield in the conventional system (6.12 t·ha−1) was higher than in the organic system (3.68 t·ha−1) by 67%, whereas, in the integrated system (7.61 t·ha−1), it was greater than in the organic system by 109%. The lower yields in the organic system were mainly due to fewer ears per m2 and a smaller 1000-grain weight. In the organic system, we also observed a higher infestation of wheat by foliar fungal pathogens and weeds compared with the conventional and integrated systems. The spring wheat cultivars differed in yield structure and resistance to infestation by fungal pathogens. The Waluta and Izera cultivars performed well in all systems but yielded the best in the integrated and conventional ones. The Kandela cultivar was the most suitable for the organic system, as it achieved the highest yield (4.16 t·ha−1). This was mainly due to its ability to form a compact canopy with relatively high ear density, a large 1000-grain weight, and the highest resistance to fungal pathogens. The results for cultivars’ performance in the organic system may be useful for farmers in decreasing yield gaps in relation to integrated and conventional systems. Full article
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18 pages, 1592 KiB  
Article
Evaluating the Path to the European Commission’s Organic Agriculture Goal: A Multivariate Analysis of Changes in EU Countries (2004–2021) and Socio-Economic Relationships
by Stefan Krajewski, Jan Žukovskis, Dariusz Gozdowski, Marek Cieśliński and Elżbieta Wójcik-Gront
Agriculture 2024, 14(3), 477; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture14030477 - 15 Mar 2024
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Abstract
This study comprehensively analyzed the dynamic landscape of organic farming in the European Union (EU) from 2004 to 2021, investigating the shifts in dedicated agricultural areas influenced by evolving preferences and the priorities of farmers and consumers. Examining the impact of socio-economic factors, [...] Read more.
This study comprehensively analyzed the dynamic landscape of organic farming in the European Union (EU) from 2004 to 2021, investigating the shifts in dedicated agricultural areas influenced by evolving preferences and the priorities of farmers and consumers. Examining the impact of socio-economic factors, including gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, the human development index (HDI), and human population density, this study established multivariate relationships through country-level analyses based on correlations, principal component analysis, cluster analysis, and panel analysis. Despite a universal increase in the organic agriculture areas across all the EU countries during the study period, the production levels exhibited negative correlations with the human population density, GDP per capita, and HDI. Notably, the Baltic countries and Austria led in organic farming production, while Malta, the Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland, and Luxemburg formed a distinct group in the cluster analysis with less intensive organic agriculture per capita. These insights are crucial for supporting the resilience and sustainability of organic farming as it continues to evolve. Predictions of organic agriculture share for 2030 based on trends evaluated using linear regression in the years 2004–2021 estimated about 12% of utilized agricultural area, which was much lower than the target share of the European Commission at 25%. Predictions based on linear regression showed that achieving the European Green Deal target of a 25% share of organic agriculture in unlikely in most EU countries by 2030. The target is only highly probable to be obtained in Austria, Estonia, and Sweden. The EU countries varied significantly across various indices characterizing organic agriculture, including organic agriculture area share. It should be noted that the study was conducted on the data obtained prior to the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, which could potentially alter the previous trends in the development of organic agriculture in the EU. Full article
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18 pages, 3911 KiB  
Article
Development and Effects of Organic Farms in Poland, Taking into Account Their Location in Areas Facing Natural or Other Specific Constraints
by Marek Zieliński, Wioletta Wrzaszcz, Jolanta Sobierajewska and Marcin Adamski
Agriculture 2024, 14(2), 297; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture14020297 - 12 Feb 2024
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1091
Abstract
Organic farms should, by definition, place particular emphasis on the protection of agricultural soils, landscape care and activities aimed at producing high-quality agricultural products. However, when joining this production system, the farms face many challenges in order to make these contributions to society [...] Read more.
Organic farms should, by definition, place particular emphasis on the protection of agricultural soils, landscape care and activities aimed at producing high-quality agricultural products. However, when joining this production system, the farms face many challenges in order to make these contributions to society at the expected level. The main aim of the study is to determine the scale of disproportions in production effects achieved by farms between organic and conventional production systems, taking into account the quality of natural management conditions. An equally important goal is to determine the factors in Polish agriculture that determine whether to conduct this production system. The paper aims to indicate the direction of development of organic farming in the EU, including Poland, based on the Eurostat data for 2012–2020. It was noted that the current development of the organic farming sector in EU member states has been at different rates. In Poland, its development strength largely depends on the presence of ANCs. Nearly ¾ of organic utilized agriculture area (UAA) is located in communes with a large share of them. Organic farms achieve lower production effects in comparison to conventional farms, and their disproportions also depend on the quality of natural farming conditions. In Poland, the personal competences of farmers are also an important determinant in joining organic farming. Full article
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12 pages, 266 KiB  
Article
Assessment of the Economic Profitability of Fattening Selected Chicken Genotypes in an Organic Farm
by Kazimierz Obremski, Józef Tyburski, Paweł Wojtacha, Ewa Sosnówka-Czajka, Iwona Skomorucha, Janusz Pomianowski and Paweł Parowicz
Agriculture 2024, 14(1), 10; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture14010010 (registering DOI) - 21 Dec 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 919
Abstract
The aim of this study was to evaluate whether production costs can be reduced and whether the profitability of organic chicken fattening can be increased by selecting the appropriate genotypes. Rhode Island Red (K-11) and Sussex (S-66) conservative chicken genotypes, as well as [...] Read more.
The aim of this study was to evaluate whether production costs can be reduced and whether the profitability of organic chicken fattening can be increased by selecting the appropriate genotypes. Rhode Island Red (K-11) and Sussex (S-66) conservative chicken genotypes, as well as modern chicken genotypes such as slow-growing Hubbard JA 957 hybrids and fast-growing Ross 308 hybrids, were selected for the study. One hundred and sixty chickens were used in the experiment (forty birds per group). The birds were fed commercial organic complete feed up to 52 days of age and organic farm-made feed (to reduce costs) between 53 and 81 days of age. Population distribution was determined using the Kolmogorov–Smirnov test. The results were analyzed statistically using one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) with multiple comparisons and the post hoc Tukey test at a significance level of p < 0.05. The 81-day fattening period (the minimum recommended period in organic farming) led to considerable weight deficits in Rhode Island Red and S-66 chickens and excessive slaughter/trade weights in Hubbard JA 957 and Ross 308 chickens. The feed conversion ratio was high in Rhode Island Red (K-11) and Sussex (S-66) chickens at 4.19 and 4.50, respectively, and much lower in Hubbard JA 957 and Ross 308 chickens at 2.79 and 2.53, respectively. The choice of chicken genotypes had a major impact on the profitability of organic farming, and the total costs of feed and other ingredients per kg of body weight were determined at EUR 3.83 for Rhode Island Red (K-11), EUR 3.90 for Sussex (S-66), EUR 6.57 for Hubbard JA 957, and EUR 6.62 for Ross 308 genotypes. The profitability of organic farming can be increased by selecting modern, meat-type, slow-growing chicken genotypes. Full article

Review

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18 pages, 1785 KiB  
Review
Environmental and Agronomical Factors Limiting Differences in Potato Yielding between Organic and Conventional Production System
by Krystyna Zarzyńska, Cezary Trawczyński and Milena Pietraszko
Agriculture 2023, 13(4), 901; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13040901 - 19 Apr 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2321
Abstract
This paper presents the results of the authors’ own research and literature research on the impact of selected environmental and agronomical factors on the yield of potato grown under the organic system and the possibility of increasing the yield. The results are based [...] Read more.
This paper presents the results of the authors’ own research and literature research on the impact of selected environmental and agronomical factors on the yield of potato grown under the organic system and the possibility of increasing the yield. The results are based on research conducted for several years at the Institute of Plant Breeding and Acclimatization in Jadwisin, Poland. The influence of factors such as soil quality and climatic conditions, selection of varieties, seed potato preparation, irrigation of plantations, complementary fertilization, and protection against the late blight was described. The aim of this work was to indicate which of these factors affect the yield increase and to what extent. It was stated that it is possible to increase the yield of potato tubers grown under the organic system through all of the proposed treatments. In our studies, using drip irrigation and complementary fertilization had the greatest effect (25.5% and 19%, respectively). Seed potato presprouting had a smaller influence (4.3%) on the final tuber yield. In the years with high pressure of the pathogen Phytophthora infestans, the selection of cultivars with high resistance was very important. Most of the agronomical treatments not only improved the total yield of tubers, but also increased the share of tubers with a larger diameter. A very high variability of potato yielding depending on weather conditions and a selection of cultivars was emphasized. We can say that a proper agronomical practice carried out on an organic potato plantation can largely eliminate the yielding gap between a conventional and an organic system. Full article
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