Nine new Organic RDD8-projects will contribute to a sustainable development of the organic sector
May 2022 ICROFS received a total of 25 applications with a total applied amount of 141 mill. DKK. for the Danish organic research program ‘’Organic RDD 8”. The Organic RDD 8-pool contains a total of 50 mill. DKK. Nine projects have been selected.
A prerequisite regarding a continuous development of organic farming is more knowledge concerning the possibilities to strengthen health, quality, security and competitiveness of organic food. Another prerequisite is more knowledge on the possibilities to develop the production about the organic principles - with a consideration of nature, climate, environment, animal health and social relations.
“Again, this year, we have experienced a huge interest in research and development of new methods, and there has been strong applicants. We are looking forward to the results and recommendations of the projects in the following years – and are looking forward to the collaboration with farmers, advisors, consumers, companies, researchers, and authorities, who are all integrated partners of the projects.”, ICROFS’ Director Jakob Sehested.
ICROFS expect that new means will be granted in 2023, for a new round of the organic research- and development programme ‘Organic RDD’. The notice is expected to be published in January with an application deadline at the beginning of May.
Overview of the selected Organic RDD8-projects:
Joachim Offenberg, Senior Researcher, Department of Ecoscience – Terrestrial ecology, Aarhus University
Organic fruit producers have very few means of dealing with plant diseases and pests. This often results in decreased yields compared with conventional fruit production. In current years, however, ants have shown promising effects towards both plant diseases and pests, and as they are easy to maintain and move around in the orchards, they can become an important tool for organic fruit producers.
AntFarm will investigate the scalability and costs connected to the cultivation of Danish wood ants for commercial use. The researchers will explore how feed supplements affect the growth rate of the ants, if anthills can be moved and “cultivated” in new and uninhabited forest areas, and the cost of implementation. With these measures, the economy of using ants for biological control will be evaluated. Furthermore, fruit producers will be interviewed to gain knowledge on their concerns and willingness to use ants in their orchards, to obtain an understanding of the future perspectives of using ants commercially.
The expectation is that fruit producers can obtain a higher and more stable yield, as well as less pollution, as the use of ants are sustainable as well as climate friendly, and can increase the biodiversity of the orchards.
Per Meyer Jepsen, Teaching Associate Professor, Roskilde University
The ORACLE-FISH project is based on a recently discovered water flea (Apocyclops royi), which has the possibility to dominate the live feed market for organic aquaculture. Water fleas as live feed is considered the most optimal feed available. Unfortunately, live water fleas are expensive and cannot be classified as organic, as water fleas often feed on microalgae, which are not grown organically, as this requires chemical fertilizers. The water flea AR (Apocyclops royi) is very unique as it can synthesize the most important fatty acids (Omega 3-6-9) from a wide array of feeding materials.
This means that:
- AR-water fleas can be fed with organic feedstuffs, thereby securing organic status
- Thus, it is possible for aquaculture facilities become self-sufficient in organic water fleas for marine fish larvae
In ORACLE-FISH, the researchers are testing the biochemical properties of the AR-water flea, as well as survival and fitness of marine fish larvae, which are fed with AR-water fleas. Moreover, experiments will be conducted in order to clarify which organic feeds that best support growth and optimal biochemical profile. The experiments will be conducted in the research cellar (Forskerkælderen) below “Den Blå Planet”, the national aquarium of Denmark. Research and results are expected to lead the way for Starterfeed, with regards to producing and exporting AR-water flea systems to the organic aquaculture facilities, which are based on organic breeding from fish larvae.
Roos Marina Zaalberg, Postdoc, Center for Quantitative Genetics and Genomics, Aarhus University
Danish consumers highly prioritize animal welfare, as a reason for buying organic pork. In the organic production, the welfare of pigs must be promoted and natural behaviour accommodated. This is the reason why all pigs must have access to outdoor areas as well as foraging- and nest building material, and roughage. Roughage stimulates the pigs to forage, promotes positive experiences, and improves gut-health. However, there is a big variation between pigs in their motivation to conduct their natural foraging- and feeding behaviour, when provided with roughage. If one could secure that all pigs were motivated to forage in, and eat roughage, a bigger part of the feed could come directly from the field, which would favour both climate and environment. The pigs who are used today in organic production, however, are primarily bred for high feed efficiency and growth from finely ground concentrated feed, as in the conventional production. This intensive breeding has resulted in less active pigs with a lower motivation for foraging behaviour. WelBredPOrg will investigate the possibility to breed for properties, linked to the motivation of pigs to forage and consume roughage.
The project will take necessary steps by:
- Developing and validating a method, which can measure and document the interest of pigs towards roughage
- Investigate how this property is connected to other known indicators of welfare and
- Uncover the selection factors by monitoring the property on 4800 pigs with known genetic lineage.
Morten Kargo, Senior Researcher, Centre for Quantitative Genetic and Genomics, Aarhus University
The share of organic products is increasing in Denmark. The genetics behind the cows in the organic production are however still conventional. Therefore, cows for organic production are not genetically adapted to the organic environment, and public goods, such as climate effects and animal welfare. The overall aim of Ø-KO-AVL is thus to develop an organic breeding scheme, which is better adapted to organic production systems and consumer preferences. To achieve this, the project will define a breeding goal, based on economic models and preferences of the consumers, dairy companies, and farmers. Ø-KO-AVL will also optimize different parts of the breeding programme and quantify the advantages of establishing a separate organic breeding line for ‘Nordisk Rødt’ (RDC). The breeding strategy for RDC is already, to some degree, tailored to organic production, which gives it high probability to implement an organic breeding program.
By using the breeding goal in future breeding it is expected that organic cows will have a lower climate footprint and improved animal welfare. It will also be possible to differentiate between organic and conventional dairy products based on breeding. Furthermore, it will be possible for VikingGenetics to market the breeding line as organic, which provides them with the chance of becoming world leading in genetic material, which is tailored to the organic market. The dairy companies will be able to market their productions with an improved organic profile.
Carsten Malisch, Tenure Track Assistant Professor, Department of Agroecology – Agricultural Systems and Sustainability, Aarhus University
Grass-seed mixtures with a balanced content of grass, legumes and herbaceous plants, can contribute significantly to a more sustainable crop production, compared to traditional grass-clover mixtures, hereunder increased carbon sequestration in the soil, increased yield and stability, as well as a decreased amount of weeds. The incorporation of herbaceous plants is expected to reduce nitrogen fixation and increase nitrogen efficiency, which results in a reduction of nitrogen leaching and thus a reduction of the greenhouse gas emissions. These advantages will make the current organic production less dependent on manure and reduce the number of weeds in the crops, which can increase the incentive to convert from conventional to organic farming.
GrassRotate will make use of existing long-term organic cattle-related crop rotation experiments, to determine optimal cultivation initiatives. There will be a focus on increasing the yield and the quality of the feed, as well as determining the aftereffects of clover-grass- and grass-seed mixtures with herbaceous plants. Furthermore, the project will conduct detailed tests of changes in the carbon content of both top- and subsoil, hereunder investigate the potential to mitigate climate change by the use of more species rich grass-seed mixtures and increase the ratio of grass in the crop rotation. In addition to this, herbaceous plant mixes will be implemented in selected cattle systems, and an evaluation of the economic and environmental potentials of the alternative grass-seed mixtures in a crop rotation and in a system perspective, will be conducted.
Lene Stødkilde-Jørgensen, Assistant professor, Department of Animal and Veterinary Sciences – ANIVET Monogastric Nutrition (MONU), Aarhus University
Low feed efficiency combined with the use of local protein sources, enhance the excretion of nutrients from organic pigs and compromises the feed-economy. ORIGIN addresses these challenges by developing lysine-norms, specifically for organic pigs who until now have been fed using conventional protein-norms, even though the two systems differ in a number of significant ways.
ORIGIN will determine the physiological needs for digestible lysine and include the contribution of protein from roughage and the increased energy demand from thermoregulation and physical activity for organic compared to conventional pigs. The project will determine the physiological needs of lysine for organic pigs, in three weight-intervals, with a basis on the best possible compromise between productivity and care for the environment. Furthermore, a digital control-tool will be developed to be used in the system based on the new norms and current prizes on protein feeds.
ORIGIN contributes with new knowledge concerning:
- The physiological need of lysine for organic pigs in three intervals; 30-50 kg., 50-85 kg., and 85-110 kg.
- The effect of lysine-level on nitrogen-use and emission of greenhouse gases from pigs
- The use of new norms in commercial circumstances, where physiological requirements are combined with current prizes of organic protein sources
The new lysine-norms in combination with the digital tool is expected to reduce N-leaching with 337 g./produced pig - and improve the farm economy with 20-30 DKK/pig.
Andres Permin, DVM, PhD, MBA, Corporate Scientific Officer
The aim of the project is to characterize and test five different plant-extracts to be used in the treatment of parasites for organic poultry. The plant-extracts provides a possibility for an alternative, sustainable, non-medicinal treatment of infections with parasites. Furthermore, the aim is to market the extracts as a feed additive, which will increase both production and the overall health and welfare of the animals. As a first step, the strategy is to tailor the project to organic layers. Due to new EU-rules regarding increased retention period after anti-parasitic treatment, there is a strong need for new strategies to control parasite infections in organic layers.
The plant extracts contain either enzymes (proteases), which break down the skin of the parasite (Cuticula) and their eggs, or other substances, which paralyzes gut-parasites and lead to their excretion. Some of the plant extracts have shown effects both in vitro and in vivo and shown that not only do they kill the intestinal worm Ascaridia galli, but also other important worms such as Heterakis gallinarum and Capillaria spp; other extracts have not yet been tested in living hens, but have shown promising results in vitro.
The aim of the project is to develop feed additives that effectively may treat parasite infections with one or more plant extracts, and thereby avoid retention of eggs for human consumption as well as the use of conventional medicine, increase egg production and thus increase the economic earnings of organic producers, improve feed-efficiency whilst also improving the animal welfare of organic layers.
Jens Grønbech Hansen, Senior Advisor, Department of Agroecology – Climate and Water, Aarhus University
The area with organic potatoes is approximately 1.939 ha., whilst conventional production is approximately 5.275 ha. Additionally, there is almost no production of organic potato starch. The challenges are related to a too small and unstable yield, primarily due to potato blight, as well as the fact that storage diseases on the tubers decrease quality, appearance, as well as the level and quality of starch in starch potatoes. The overall goal is to increase the area of organic potatoes for human consumption from 2000 to 3000 ha. and the yield from an average of 200 hkg/ha. to 300 hkg/ha. Additionally, to create the foundation for a more stable production of organic starch with higher content and quality of the starch. Preliminary results have shown promising effects of biological agents towards the mentioned diseases, yet more information and documentation are needed, in order to implement measures and strategies in the field. Therefore, SROPP will create scientific documentation of the effect and practical use of new biological agents towards diseases in the field (potato blight) and storage diseases (Silver Scurf and Black Dot).
The project will test new biological agents, among others, from Chr. Hansen, in the laboratory, in greenhouses and in field conditions. The effect of the new biological agents, in combination with new and more resistant cultivars, will be analyzed and quantified. The project will test the resistance of the cultivars to relevant diseases, and it will be monitored, characterized and genotyped the relevant diseases, which threaten yield and quality.
Anna Dahl Lassen, Senior Researcher, DTU National Food Institute
Our current food consumption is not sustainable – neither in relation to the health of the earth or to our own health. An immediate solution is to integrate an organic, sustainable, plant-rich and healthy diet, here defined as the ‘OnePlate-concept’. This diet is converted in the project to recipes and menus, tailored to average weekdays for families with kids, and will be testes in an interdisciplinary collaboration between Aarhus University, Meyers Madhus, and DTU National Food Institute. Additionally, Organic Denmark is included as a sub-supplier.
The aim of OnePlate is to:
- Provide knowledge on the barriers, possibilities, and motivational factors for families to change their diet towards a more organic, sustainable, and healthy diet
- Create evidence for the effect of this diet, both in terms of our own health (including exposure to pesticides and disease prevention) as well as the health of the earth (effect on climate, land use and biodiversity)
- Develop information material and tools to disseminate the results of the OnePlate project for consumers and other organic stakeholders.
The project will through a consumer- and stakeholder survey contribute to the development of the OnePlate-concept, which will also be optimized regarding a decrease in climate- and environmental footprint. The concept will be tested in a randomized controlled intervention study amongst Danish families, compared to their normal diet. The effect of the concept will be measured regarding acceptability, as well as supposed positive health- and environmental effects. The project is expected to contribute to the motivation of more consumers to by healthy, organic food production in the future.
About Organic RDD programme
Organic RDD is short for “Organic Research-, Development- and Demonstration programme”, and is a Danish research programme, tailored to organic production systems, which is coordinated by ICROFS and GUDP.