Innovative Strategies in Organic Farming Systems

A special issue of Agriculture (ISSN 2077-0472). This special issue belongs to the section "Agricultural Systems and Management".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (25 March 2023) | Viewed by 34656

Special Issue Editors


E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Faculty of Organic Agricultural Sciences, University of Kassel, 37213 Witzenhausen, Hesse, Germany
Interests: plant nutrition; organic potato; legumes; organic matter managment; composting; soil-borne diseases; resilience

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Agriculture, School of Life Sciences, Bingen University of Applied Sciences, Berlinstrasse 109, 55411 Bingen, Germany
Interests: organic farming; sustainable plant production system; potato and horticultural agronomy; potato seed production technologies; seed borne diseases; adaptation to climate change

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Organic farming is gaining global importance as it is practiced on more than 70 million hectares, with annual growth rates of 2 million hectares in recent years. The increasing demand for healthy, pesticide-free, and environmentally sound products as well as the well described advantages in regard to eco-system services of organic systems are the major drivers of this growth.

However, depending on farm system and farm management as well as pedo-climatic conditions, considerable yield gaps can be observed compared to conventional farming systems and hence are debated alongside impacts on global food security and system sustainability. Therefore, research in organic farming needs to focus on innovative solutions that integrate ecosystem services, productivity and efficient use of the natural resource base. This Special Issue will provide a multidisciplinary overview of innovative solutions for organic farming systems in different agro-ecologies and for various socio-economic situations across the globe that provide pathways for a transition to more sustainable agriculture and food systems.

Dr. Christian Bruns
Prof. Dr. Elmar Schulte Geldermann
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Agriculture is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Organic farming systems
  • innovation
  • eco-intensification
  • sustainable intensification
  • resilience and sustainability
  • cropping systems
  • multiscale ecosystems-services
  • pedoclimatic implications
  • socio-ecological approach
  • yield gap
  • food security
  • agroecology

Published Papers (11 papers)

Order results
Result details
Select all
Export citation of selected articles as:

Research

12 pages, 1047 KiB  
Article
Environmental Knowledge, Values, and Responsibilities Help to Enhance Organic Farming Intentions: A Case Study of Yunlin County, Taiwan
by Po-Ching Wang, Fang-Chun Liu, De-Chih Lee and Ming-Ying Lin
Agriculture 2023, 13(8), 1476; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13081476 - 26 Jul 2023
Viewed by 971
Abstract
This study aimed to identify the key factors that may influence farmers’ support for organic farming, which is an eco-friendly approach that nourishes the productivity of agricultural and ecological systems. To explore farmers’ adoption of organic-agriculture-related behaviors and the factors that influence these [...] Read more.
This study aimed to identify the key factors that may influence farmers’ support for organic farming, which is an eco-friendly approach that nourishes the productivity of agricultural and ecological systems. To explore farmers’ adoption of organic-agriculture-related behaviors and the factors that influence these behavioral intentions, this research developed a questionnaire based on Kaiser’s theory of ecological behavior. The participants were 152 farmers, who were recruited via stratified sampling from four major agricultural zones in the county. The results revealed that environmental knowledge, environmental value, and feelings of responsibility positively influenced farmers’ behavioral intentions toward organic agriculture. The positive influence of environmental knowledge on behavioral intentions was enhanced by farmers’ experience, age, and time spent in agriculture each week. However, the positive influences of environmental value and feelings of responsibility were not moderated by the three aforementioned variables. Appropriate promotional and educational measures should incorporate the real-life experiences of farmers to increase their environmental knowledge, environmental value, and feelings of responsibility toward organic agriculture, thereby effectively enhancing their willingness to adopt this type of agriculture. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Innovative Strategies in Organic Farming Systems)
Show Figures

Figure 1

13 pages, 498 KiB  
Article
Excessive Nitrate Limits the Sustainability of Deep Compost Mulch in Organic Market Gardening
by Benjamin Ruch, Margita Hefner and André Sradnick
Agriculture 2023, 13(5), 1080; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13051080 - 18 May 2023
Viewed by 2263
Abstract
Market gardening is a widespread practice of bio-intensive vegetable production characterized by direct marketing, small-scale farming structures, high crop densities, and innovative cultivation approaches. Currently, deep compost mulch (DCM) is a popular trend among related growing techniques. The combination of no-till and a [...] Read more.
Market gardening is a widespread practice of bio-intensive vegetable production characterized by direct marketing, small-scale farming structures, high crop densities, and innovative cultivation approaches. Currently, deep compost mulch (DCM) is a popular trend among related growing techniques. The combination of no-till and a permanent mulch of compost aims to improve soil fertility, regulate soil temperature, retain soil moisture, and control weeds. To address the problem of perennial weeds in organic no-till, deep mulch layers of typically 150 mm are used. The amount of compost required and the associated N inputs are immense and carry the risk of environmentally harmful N surpluses that can be lost through nitrate leaching or denitrification. The aim of this study is to evaluate the use of compost as mulch and to investigate N dynamics under DCM. For this purpose, a literature review was conducted, and soil inorganic nitrogen (Nmin-N) was measured under on-farm conditions up to a soil depth of 900 mm in a market garden with DCM in Germany for one year. Furthermore, based on the collected data, the different N pathways were calculated using the N-Expert and NDICEA models and simulated for two additional scenarios. Results from field measurements showed a strongly increased N-surplus not taken up by the crops and a shift of Nmin-N to deeper soil layers for municipal organic waste compost (MW), with an average accumulation of 466 kg Nmin-N ha−1 at 600–900 mm depth. N inputs from DCM can be significantly reduced by the use of green waste compost (GW) with low bulk density or wood waste compost (WW) with an additional high C/N ratio. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Innovative Strategies in Organic Farming Systems)
Show Figures

Figure 1

28 pages, 3738 KiB  
Article
Suitability of Biowaste and Green Waste Composts for Organic Farming in Germany and the Resulting Utilization Potentials
by Ralf Gottschall, Maria Thelen-Jüngling, Martin Kranert and Bertram Kehres
Agriculture 2023, 13(3), 740; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13030740 - 22 Mar 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2004
Abstract
In this study, the suitability of biowaste and green waste composts in organic farming is presented based on quality assurance data of approximately 21,000 compost analyses from 2015 to 2020. The evaluation of compost suitability was based on both the legal regulations of [...] Read more.
In this study, the suitability of biowaste and green waste composts in organic farming is presented based on quality assurance data of approximately 21,000 compost analyses from 2015 to 2020. The evaluation of compost suitability was based on both the legal regulations of the EU 2021/1165 and the requirements of the two largest German organic farming associations Bioland and Naturland. In 2020, 70.1% of the composts agreed with the above-mentioned regulations, 21.6% exceeded the limits for heavy metals and 7.3% exceeded the limits for foreign matter. The negative influence of the single elements regarding the suitability of composts for organic agriculture declined in the order Zn > Pb > Cd > Ni > Cu. In the bio-waste composts, the impurity content subsequently decreased by more than 50% from 2015 to 2020. In 2019 and 2020, approximately 2.5 million Mg fresh mass (FM) of the analyzed composts were suitable for organic farming. With an average compost application of 5 Mg FM per hectare (ha) and year, about 500,000 ha of arable land could have been supplied in 2020. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Innovative Strategies in Organic Farming Systems)
Show Figures

Figure 1

16 pages, 2403 KiB  
Article
Natural Farming Practices for Chemical-Free Agriculture: Implications for Crop Yield and Profitability
by Ranjit Kumar, Sanjiv Kumar, BS Yashavanth, Nakeertha Venu, PC Meena, A Dhandapani and Alok Kumar
Agriculture 2023, 13(3), 647; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13030647 - 9 Mar 2023
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 5440
Abstract
The “Green Revolution” (GR) technology-induced agricultural intensification has transformed India from food scarcity to a food surplus country. However, this has also resulted into several adverse repercussions. Increased application of chemical fertilizers and pesticides with stagnating/declining crop productivity has dovetailed with uncertain market [...] Read more.
The “Green Revolution” (GR) technology-induced agricultural intensification has transformed India from food scarcity to a food surplus country. However, this has also resulted into several adverse repercussions. Increased application of chemical fertilizers and pesticides with stagnating/declining crop productivity has dovetailed with uncertain market conditions and climate change effects which has resulted in un-remunerative agriculture. Consequently, farmers have fallen into the debt trap due to the rising cost of crop production apart from health hazards due to serious exposure to harmful chemical pesticides. Natural Farming (NF), an agro-ecological approach to farming is believed to be an effective way to counter some of these challenges. The present paper presents field-level farmers’ experiences of NF adoption in three states of India—Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Maharashtra. The study was conducted during February–March 2019 by surveying 295 NF adopted and 170 non-NF adopted farmers. It was found that NF practice has been followed by some farmers for more than 10 years but others have adopted during the recent past. There is variation in the practice followed by the NF farmers. There are farmers who are using Farm Yard Manure (FYM). A solid form of jeevamritha (liquid concoction of microbial inoculants) called as ghanajeevamritha was also found to be used by farmers in Andhra Pradesh. It was observed that non-NF yields are superior to NF yield without FYM. In most crops, however, NF with FYM had a greater yield than NF without FYM and non-NF farms. There has been a decrease in the variable cost and a marginal increase in the market price of NF produce. The study suggests that natural farming may be seen as one of the alternative practices which has potential to rejuvenate the agro-ecosystem, besides cost saving for the individual farmers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Innovative Strategies in Organic Farming Systems)
Show Figures

Figure 1

16 pages, 2314 KiB  
Article
Impact of Ten Years Conservation Tillage in Organic Farming on Soil Physical Properties in a Loess Soil—Northern Hesse, Germany
by Carolina Bilibio, Daniel Uteau, Malte Horvat, Ulla Rosskopf, Stephan Martin Junge, Maria Renate Finckh and Stephan Peth
Agriculture 2023, 13(1), 133; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13010133 - 4 Jan 2023
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2120
Abstract
In conservation agriculture, conservation tillage potentially influences the physical, chemical, and biological quality of the soil. Although the effects of conservation agriculture on the soil’s physical properties have been studied in conventional management systems, studies on organic farming systems, especially concerning long-term changes, [...] Read more.
In conservation agriculture, conservation tillage potentially influences the physical, chemical, and biological quality of the soil. Although the effects of conservation agriculture on the soil’s physical properties have been studied in conventional management systems, studies on organic farming systems, especially concerning long-term changes, are scarce. This study summarizes the results of physical and mechanical soil parameters obtained over the initial 10 years of different conservation management treatments (plowing versus reduced tillage with and without compost application) in an organic field trial conducted in central Germany. Moreover, as a research objective, the effects of soil conservation measures on soil’s physical quality were evaluated. Differences in the soil’s physical quality during treatments were mainly detected in the topsoil. At a depth of 0.10–0.24 m, the total porosity and air capacity were lower, and the bulk density was higher in the reduced-tillage systems, compared to those of the plowed treatments. Additionally, the soil’s mechanical stability (precompression stress) was higher at a depth of 0.10 m for reduced-tillage systems combined with compost application. In addition, the soil’s aggregate stability was enhanced in the reduced-tillage systems (higher mean weight diameter, as determined via wet sieving). Overall, the reduced-tillage treatments did not exceed the critical physical values of the soil, nor affect the functionality of the soil (saturated hydraulic conductivity), thereby demonstrating its feasibility as a sustainable technique for organic farming. Future studies should include measures to ameliorate compaction zones in reduced-tillage treatments, e.g., by applying subsoiling techniques in combination with deep-rooting crops to prevent limited rooting space resulting from the high mechanical impedance, especially under dry soil conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Innovative Strategies in Organic Farming Systems)
Show Figures

Figure 1

20 pages, 2860 KiB  
Article
An Overview of Pest and Disease Occurrence in Organic Pome Fruit Orchards in Europe and on the Implementation of Practices for Their Control
by Ewa M. Furmanczyk, Claude-Eric Parveaud, Maxime Jacquot, François Warlop, Jutta Kienzle, Markus Kelderer, Alfredo Mora Vargas, Michael Friedli, Clémence Boutry, Małgorzata Tartanus, Gerjan Brouwer and Eligio Malusà
Agriculture 2022, 12(12), 2136; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12122136 - 12 Dec 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2559
Abstract
There is limited data regarding the specific problems faced by organic fruit growers when dealing with plant protection, particularly at a European Union level, though some general knowledge about pest and disease incidence can be found. Such information is crucial to improve the [...] Read more.
There is limited data regarding the specific problems faced by organic fruit growers when dealing with plant protection, particularly at a European Union level, though some general knowledge about pest and disease incidence can be found. Such information is crucial to improve the efficacy of a targeted knowledge transfer to organic fruit growers and advisors aiming at an increased adoption of innovative practices. A survey was thus carried out in seventeen European countries (16 EU member states and Switzerland), within the framework of the EU-funded project BIOFRUITNET, aiming at filling this knowledge gap also in terms of research needs. A questionnaire including a section about general aspects of orchard management (functional biodiversity, fertilization management, varietal/rootstock selection) and a section specifically dedicated to pest and disease occurrence and management in organic orchards was utilized to interview about 250 professionals (farmers and advisors), 155 of which were involved in pome fruits (including apple and pear) production. The analysis of the answers related to plant protection pointed out a varied situation about pest and disease occurrence in apple and pear orchards across Europe, though related to the zonal location of the respondent. However, more than 50% of respondents generally considered just few among the most damaging ones, normally co-occurring in the orchards. Interestingly, regardless of the respondents’ nationality or zonal location, more pests than diseases were indicated as relevant agents threatening organic pome fruits production. Nevertheless, only few measures promoting functional biodiversity in the orchards resulted in being broadly implemented in all regions. The analysis of the data underlines the strong demand for the development of a toolbox of measures that can be integrated successfully into the general orchard management strategy including the successful enhancement of functional or general biodiversity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Innovative Strategies in Organic Farming Systems)
Show Figures

Figure 1

15 pages, 4592 KiB  
Article
Late to the Party—Transferred Mulch from Green Manures Delays Colorado Potato Beetle Infestation in Regenerative Potato Cropping Systems
by Stephan Martin Junge, Simeon Leisch-Waskönig, Julian Winkler, Sascha Michael Kirchner, Helmut Saucke and Maria Renate Finckh
Agriculture 2022, 12(12), 2130; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12122130 - 12 Dec 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1631
Abstract
The Colorado potato beetle (CPB) is an exceptionally challenging potato pest. Some regenerative farmers have reported that the use of transferred green manure mulch can considerably reduce CBP damage. Previous studies confirm this observation, but mainly with straw mulch, which is rarely used [...] Read more.
The Colorado potato beetle (CPB) is an exceptionally challenging potato pest. Some regenerative farmers have reported that the use of transferred green manure mulch can considerably reduce CBP damage. Previous studies confirm this observation, but mainly with straw mulch, which is rarely used in Central Europe, and not embedded in the new regenerative cropping approach. For this, six trials conducted between 2014 and 2019 were evaluated, comparing CPB infestation in potatoes with and without transferred mulch as well as under a plough as a minimum till regime. In three out of six experiments, compost application was an additional factor. (I) Over all experiments, mulch significantly reduced initial infestation (−24%), egg masses (−27%) and larvae (−75%). Compost and reduced tillage added to these effects; (II) Mulch mainly resulted in delayed CPB infestation; (III) In a particularly warm season, when a second generation of CPB managed to emerge, regulatory effects of the mulch were not sufficient; (IV) Combination of transferred nutrient rich green manure mulch with reduced tillage, compost and other regenerative or agro-ecological techniques is recommended to achieve maximum regulation of CPB. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Innovative Strategies in Organic Farming Systems)
Show Figures

Figure 1

20 pages, 3573 KiB  
Article
Temporal and Spatial Positioning of Service Crops in Cereals Affects Yield and Weed Control
by Elsa Lagerquist, Alexander Menegat, Anna Sigrun Dahlin, David Parsons, Christine Watson, Per Ståhl, Anita Gunnarsson and Göran Bergkvist
Agriculture 2022, 12(9), 1398; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12091398 - 5 Sep 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1780
Abstract
Leguminous service crops (SCs) can provide multiple services to cropping systems, reducing the reliance on external resources if sufficient biomass is produced. However, rapid light and temperature reductions limit post-harvest cultivation of SCs in Northern Europe. A novel practice of intercropping SCs in [...] Read more.
Leguminous service crops (SCs) can provide multiple services to cropping systems, reducing the reliance on external resources if sufficient biomass is produced. However, rapid light and temperature reductions limit post-harvest cultivation of SCs in Northern Europe. A novel practice of intercropping SCs in two consecutive crops (spring–winter cereal) to extend the period of SCs growth, and hence improve yield and reduce weeds, was tested. Three spatial and temporal arrangements of SCs and cash crops were investigated, as well as three SC mixtures, characterized by their longevity and frost sensitivity. Compared to no SC, the best performing mixture, frost-tolerant annuals, increased grain and N yield of winter wheat by 10% and 19%, respectively, and reduced weed biomass by 15% and 26% in oats and winter wheat, respectively. These effects were attributed to high biomass production and winter survival. However, this SC reduced oat yields by 15% compared to no SC. Furthermore, SC growth and service provision varied largely between experiments, driven by the weather conditions. Extending the SC’s growth period by intercropping in two consecutive cereal crops has potential, but locally adapted species choices and establishment strategies are needed to ensure SC vitality until termination. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Innovative Strategies in Organic Farming Systems)
Show Figures

Figure 1

22 pages, 3527 KiB  
Article
Adoption of Food Species Mixtures from Farmers’ Perspectives in Germany: Managing Complexity and Harnessing Advantages
by Johannes Timaeus, Ties Ruigrok, Torsten Siegmeier and Maria Renate Finckh
Agriculture 2022, 12(5), 697; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12050697 - 15 May 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2778
Abstract
Many agronomic studies have shown the advantages of species mixtures (SM), but for food grain production, they represent only a small niche. Empirical studies that investigate reasons for SM adoption in food grain production are scarce. Here we present an in-depth study based [...] Read more.
Many agronomic studies have shown the advantages of species mixtures (SM), but for food grain production, they represent only a small niche. Empirical studies that investigate reasons for SM adoption in food grain production are scarce. Here we present an in-depth study based on qualitative expert interviews with nine farmers. By means of interpretative analysis and reconstruction, socially shared models of SM adoption were built to identify the five main factors for SM adoption: (1) perceived relative mixture performance compared to sole crops, (2) suitability within the farm context (3), challenges and opportunities in mixture management due to increased complexity, (4) knowledge and technology as resources to handle mixture management and (5) quality standards in the food value chain. Relative performance was perceived as higher for SM than for sole crops for crop protection, nutrient efficiency, farm diversification, total yield stability and grain quality. The yield stability of individual crop species in SM was perceived as lower and grain impurities higher, requiring increased separation efforts. The economic potential of SM was perceived as highly variable, depending on crop value and post-harvest efforts to attain food quality. Reconstructing the mixture management process revealed that the interspecific plant interactions and emergent mixture attributes increased the cropping system complexity and affected the entire farming process. Adopting SM required knowledge about species interactions, mixture attributes and equipment settings. Large knowledge gaps for food SM were identified. The complexity of SM also provided opportunities for farmers to design mixtures that allow competition control (alternate rows) or avoid separation (relay mixtures). The main conclusions are: (1) increased complexity is a basic property of SM compared to sole crops, enabling advantages and increasing the option space to develop new sustainable cropping systems, (2) specific knowledge and technology are required for SM and are not accessible for most farmers, requiring new information channels and (3) new food SM should be developed more systematically, taking into account mixture properties and their effects on the farming process, as well as needs from the food value chain. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Innovative Strategies in Organic Farming Systems)
Show Figures

Figure 1

16 pages, 786 KiB  
Article
The Sustainable Development of Organic Agriculture: The Role of Wellness Tourism and Environmental Restorative Perception
by Lin-Lin Xue and Ching-Cheng Shen
Agriculture 2022, 12(2), 197; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12020197 - 31 Jan 2022
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 3575
Abstract
This study explored the impact of environmental restorative perception (ERP) on loyalty through place attachment and healthy image within organic agriculture. The visitors to organic agritourism in Hualien County and Taitung of Taiwan were taken as samples and 410 valid questionnaires were collected. [...] Read more.
This study explored the impact of environmental restorative perception (ERP) on loyalty through place attachment and healthy image within organic agriculture. The visitors to organic agritourism in Hualien County and Taitung of Taiwan were taken as samples and 410 valid questionnaires were collected. LISREL 8.52 and regression analysis were adopted to explore the relationship among different variables. It was found that ERP is helpful for raising place attachment, healthy image, and loyalty to tourist destinations, and the non-toxic and organic sustainable environment created in organic agritourism has a restorative perception that can be used to attract tourists improving their health through travels, contributing to the transition of rural tourism to wellness tourism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Innovative Strategies in Organic Farming Systems)
Show Figures

Figure 1

17 pages, 571 KiB  
Article
Perceptions of Smallholder Farmers towards Organic Farming in South Africa
by Solomon Eghosa Uhunamure, Zongho Kom, Karabo Shale, Nthaduleni Samuel Nethengwe and Jacobus Steyn
Agriculture 2021, 11(11), 1157; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture11111157 - 18 Nov 2021
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 6773
Abstract
In South Africa, smallholder farming is an important aspect of livelihood. More so, organic farming is increasingly becoming popular among farmers. However, many studies undertaken focused on the trade possibilities of the industry leaving the farmers’ perceptions underrepresented. This study, therefore, aims to [...] Read more.
In South Africa, smallholder farming is an important aspect of livelihood. More so, organic farming is increasingly becoming popular among farmers. However, many studies undertaken focused on the trade possibilities of the industry leaving the farmers’ perceptions underrepresented. This study, therefore, aims to capture the farmers’ opinions by evaluating the critical factors and policy implications of organic farming in the Limpopo Province of South Africa. A total of 220 semi-structured questionnaires were administered to smallholder farmers in the province. The results revealed that organic farming is gaining recognition according to 82.8% of the participants, and 86.6% believed that organic farming has high-profit returns. However, 88.4% of the respondents agreed that the required standards for organic farming are too restrictive while a further 74.6% indicated that organic farming certification is difficult to obtain. The results also indicated a statistically significant difference in the perceived benefits of organic farming (p ≤ 0.001) and access to markets (p = 0.042). Based on the results, the study suggests more awareness, training and ease of certification as a way forward in changing the perceptions of the farmers in the province. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Innovative Strategies in Organic Farming Systems)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Back to TopTop