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Report on quality characteristics of varieties to be used in organic farming

Micheloni, C. and Plakolm, G. (2007) Report on quality characteristics of varieties to be used in organic farming. EEC 2092/91 (Organic Revision Project Reports), no. D 5.2. Associazione Italiana Agricoltura Biologica (AIAB), Rome .

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Document available online at: http://www.organic-revision.org/pub/D_5_2_Seed_quality_report_FINAL.pdf


The key questions which will be addressed in this report are:
• Which variety characteristics are important for organic farming and are they different from conventional farmers demand?
• What is an “appropriate“ variety for organic farming?
• Is the actual variety offer available to organic farmers satisfactory? Is it different per crops type and/or per geographic area?
• How should variety trials be conducted in order to supply the information needed by organic operators?
The main answers may be synthesized as follows:
Characteristics of varieties to be used in organic farming are partly different from the ones requested in conventional farming. Main differences are related to yield stability, processing properties and root-system development;
The definition of “appropriateness”, related to variety for organic farming, is not easy to state as it may involves different aspects, depending on perspective (producers, processor, trader etc.). A list of characters that should be considered within the “appropriateness” concept is presented in the report;
Among involved Members States experts there is no common evaluation of the actual variety availability: in general if for cereals there is a reasonably good level of availability, for vegetables and fodder crops mixtures the situation is never very positive even if it varies greatly among Member States;
Valuable guidelines for cereal variety testing in organic farming have been produced by the COST 860 action “SUSVAR” (Sustainable low-input cereal production: required variety characteristics and crop diversity) and they are summarized in the report;
Guidelines for vegetable variety testing are difficult to identify as among vegetables species the characteristics and requirements are very different. In the report some indications are reported.
Recommendation for variety evaluation and testing in organic farming
Several recommendation result from the report. For clarity sake they have been grouped in 3 parts, depending on which institution they are aimed to:
Recommendations to EU and international authorities:
• To implement the possibility offered by EU directives on seed trading (EEC Dir. 66/4021; EEC Dir. 66/4012 and EC Dir. 2002/553) to run controls on seeds for organic farming additional to the routine controls. This possibility may be used to evaluate variety appropriateness to organic farming conditions and consequently orientate the choice of varieties that seed companies offer to the organic sector.
• To consider specific variety traits requested by organic farming systems in the test for variety inclusion into the registers of varieties.
Recommendations to Member States:
• To keep record of the variety requested for derogation and make it public. It may be a useful instrument for seed producers’ orientation.
• To include specific local (National/Regional) demands from organic farmers in the variety trials. It means to include varieties that are supposed as fit to organic conditions by farmers but also to include specific characteristics in the evaluation criteria.
• To promote public breeding for organic farming and to support spin-off of seed companies dedicated to organic seed production. A low-cost option may be participatory breeding that combines the advantages of introducing variety traits asked for by organic producers and facilitate dissemination.
Recommendations to other stakeholders:
• To involve nurseries in the debate about organic variety choice as they result to be an important bottle-neck for the use of organic seeds in vegetable production.
• To promote timely programming of variety used and amounts of seed needed among producers in order to facilitate seed producers and distributors but at the same time to grand producers the right variety choice.

EPrint Type:Report
Keywords:variety; crop; seed
Subjects: Crop husbandry > Crop health, quality, protection
Values, standards and certification > Regulation
Crop husbandry > Breeding, genetics and propagation
Research affiliation: Italy > Other organizations
European Union > Organic Revision
Netherlands > Louis Bolk Institute
Austria > HBLFA Raumberg-Gumpenstein
UK > Univ. Aberystwyth > Institute for Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS)
Denmark > ICROFS - International Centre for Research in Organic Food Systems
Related Links:http://www.organic-revision.org/
Deposited By: Padel, Dr Susanne
ID Code:11032
Deposited On:16 Jul 2007
Last Modified:12 Apr 2010 07:35
Document Language:English
Refereed:Not peer-reviewed

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