Defra - Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Science Search

Science and Research Projects

Return to Science Search homepage   Return to Project List

Improving P supply in organic farming systems - LK0963

Description
UK Organic Action Plans (Defra, SEERAD) aim to increase the proportion of the organic food market met by indigenous production to 70%; this would increase the area of organic arable cropping. Phosphorus (P) management must be optimised to meet yield and quality requirements. The use of soluble P fertilisers e.g. triple superphosphate, is prohibited in organic farming (EC Regulations 2092/91 and 1804/99; see Annex 1). Minimally processed phosphate rock (PR) can be used but it has low solubility at the optimum soil pH (~ 6.5) for cropping. Establishing and maintaining the balance between P supply to sustain production and minimise diffuse P loss is a major issue1 and Defra is developing an action plan to reduce diffuse water pollution from agriculture which is likely to target inter alia the increased efficiency of P use. P efficiency in rotations could be increased by the targeted inclusion of crops and cultivars with high P uptake efficiency2. The fermentation of crop residues or green wastes with PR also has potential to increase P availability to crops 3. Neither approach has yet been widely tested in the field and not at all in the UK. For best management practice for P on organic farms to be formulated, a more detailed understanding of soil-plant P interactions is required4. This project will integrate and test novel approaches to the use of PR within organic crop rotations.
Objective
Develop the biotechnological solubilisation of P from PR to yield an effective low-cost P fertilising material
Quantify the availability of P from PR in arable crop rotations following fermentation or composting with organic vegetable wastes
Quantify the impact of rotation design and P sources (PR, composted and fermented products) on P offtake in harvestable produce
Quantify the environmental and economic costs and benefits of new versus traditional approaches to P management in organic farming systems
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2005

To: 2010

Cost: £311,680
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Organic Farm Foods Ltd., Edward Bulmer, The Bulmer Foundation, Mark Measures Associates, SAC Commercial Ltd, Soil Association Certification, Scottish Organic Producers Assoc, University - Scottish Agricultural College, TIO Ltd., University - Newcastle, Organic Recycling Ltd, Abbey Home Farm
Keywords
Arable              
Arable Farming              
Biotechnology              
Crops              
Farming              
LINK Programme              
Nutrients              
Nutrition              
Organic              
Organic Farming              
Phosphorus              
Soil              
Supply              
Sustainable Farming and Food              
Sustainable Production              
Fields of Study
Organic Farming