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Current use of peat, plastic and fertiliser inputs in organic horticultural and arable crops across Europe

Løes, Anne-Kristin; Katsoulas, Nikolaos; Caceres, Rafaela; de Cara, Manuel; Cirvilleri, Gabriella; Kir, Alev; Knebel, Lucas; Malinska, Krystyna; Oudshoorn, Frank; Raskin, Ben; Rayns, Francis; Valleix, Sophie and Schmutz, Ulrich (2018) Current use of peat, plastic and fertiliser inputs in organic horticultural and arable crops across Europe. Deliverables from the Organic PLUS project: Pathways to phase-out contentious inputs from organic agriculture in Europe, Deliverable, no. 5.1, Version 1.1. Coventry University, Coventry, UK.

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Online at: https://organicplusnet.files.wordpress.com/2019/01/d5.1-o-current-use-of-contentious-inputs-wp5-soil.pdf

Summary

The use of contentious inputs linked to plant protection, and the use of peat, plastic and fertilisers used in growing have been mapped in selected organically produced crops in 10 countries across Europe. This report refers the output of this mapping. It shows that organic production has not come very far to phase out peat or plastic. The consumption of these materials seems to be quite comparable to non-organic production systems.The main utilisation of peat is for production of young plants (transplants). Most organic growers purchase plants e.g. for citrus, olives and grafted tomatoes and the growing media has usually a high content of peat. Vegetable transplants are also commonly produced by special growers. Peat is also used for casing layers for organic mushrooms, and as a potting media for aromatic plants.
For plastic, the use is extensive for mulching and to protect crops against frost, less often for insect protection. The use of plastic materials to attach young plants to sticks etc., and to protect grafting wounds in young trees, was also observed. While not big in volume, this use may contribute to micro-plastic waste. Plastic is also very common for solarisation and for tunnels and greenhouses, especially in southern countries. In northern countries,greenhouses are usually made of other materials than plastic. Further research within the Organic PLUS project will reveal farmers and growers who have worked with promising alternatives and develop these further.
For applied fertilisers, which in our context need to be approved for use in certified organic production, the application of commercial products seems to be higher in some countries, e.g. Greece, whereas other countries seem to use much less. This may be explained by economic conditions of the growers, cultural differences, by the extent of organic production and development of a market for such products, by the availability of national fertiliser Companies and by other factors. Information about raw materials used to produce these fertilisers is commonly not readily available but may sometimes be found under information about the company’s history. These website sections also reveal that fusions of fertiliser Companies occur rapidly.
Many fertiliser products seem to be derived from residuals from sugar or starch production. Horn grid, meat and bone meal, blood meal and feather meals are well known organic fertilisers but were not so much observed in this study. Instead, we observed that animal hides are an important raw material for organic N fertilisers. Seaweed products are quite common, whereas fish-based products were only mentioned from UK. Non-organic manure (from conventional farms) is used in all countries, commonly as pelletised dry poultry manure.


EPrint Type:Report
Keywords:copper, sulphur, mineral oil, contentious inputs, Europe, regulations, plant protection, citrus, olive, potato, tomato, Norway, Denmark, Germany, UK, Spain, France, Turkey, Poland, Greece, Italy
Subjects: Crop husbandry > Greenhouses and coverings
Crop husbandry > Breeding, genetics and propagation
Crop husbandry > Weed management
Farming Systems > Farm nutrient management
Values, standards and certification > Evaluation of inputs
Research affiliation: European Union > Horizon 2020 > Organic-PLUS
H2020 or FP7 Grant Agreement Number:774340
Related Links:https://organic-plus.net/
Deposited By: Løes, Anne-Kristin
ID Code:34357
Deposited On:05 Feb 2019 07:22
Last Modified:05 Feb 2019 07:22
Document Language:English
Status:Published
Refereed:Not peer-reviewed

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