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Book of Abstracts

11th IFOAM
Scientific Conference
11-15 August 1996
Copenhagen, Denmark

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On-farm Research in Organic Farming S13

David, C. ; Fabre, B. ; Gautronneau, Y.

ISARA, 31 place Bellecour, 69288 Lyon cedex 02, France

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The market for organic cereals appears to be expanding but several problems have limited the amount of supplies. The viability of stockless organic systems depends on the period of conversion which is a technical and economic period of stress. An on-farm model of research, based on farm and field, was used to detect and solve problems. The structure of that framework is detailed and illustrated by the monitoring of winter wheat.

A technical and economical monitoring join with a sociological survey evaluated the barriers during the period of conversion. It was provided by the diagnosis of the farm functioning and the follow-up of 17 farms over three years.

For the improvement of cultivation techniques, an agronomic follow-up was set up. By an inquiry the farmers' practices on each cropping system was detailed. On winter wheat crop, the global crop model (Meynard, 1992) gives a good understanding of the yield build-up and the establishment of a hierarchy of the limiting factors. On selected fields, relevant crop management techniques were tested in comparison with farmers' practices. The results were the optimization of the nitrogen management by the improvement of the supply during spring, and the development of weed control techniques.

The existence of research based on the farmers' participation favours exchange between researchers, farmers and advisers. For instance, several techniques tested in our network were spread on other farms. Nevertheless, it is important to combine this type of on-farm experiments with station experiments which allow to understand the biological processes. Increased communication between different research institutions in France and Europe will guarantee the relevance of this research and development program.

Meynard, J. M. (1992): The use of crops models to introduce new management systems. In: Potential and limits of organic farming Workshop in Louvain, p. 25-42.