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Conversion to organic field vegetable production. - OF0126T

Description
Current lack of information and advice relating to conversion to organic field vegetable production systems presents a major barrier to individual farmers intending to convert their land over to this form of farming. This study will aim to provide information on the physical and economic performance during conversion to organic field vegetable production. A 12 hectare unit of the farm at HRI Wellesbourne will be converted over a 6 year period to an organic system with a rotation including field vegetables and arable crops. Physical and economic performance of this conversion will be assessed by quantitatively and qualitatively monitoring individual fields and crops for the following: yields of cash crops and fertility-building crops; soil nutrient status, nutrients removed and replaced within the cropping programmes; assessment of the weeds and the weed seed bank; assessment of pest and disease problems; and assessment of economic performance of individual crops and of the unit as a whole, considering crop gross margins, fixed costs and costs of new investments. The conversion plan will be developed in conjunction with the EFRC Organic Advisory Service. The plan will be progressive, developing throughout the study period on the basis of results as they become available. The overall physical and financial performance of the unit during conversion will be assessed by comparing scenarios where the initial fertility-building phase is 29, 17 or 7 months. Performance during conversion schemes at 3 different commercial farms, representing contrasting scenarios of conversion strategy and field vegetable production, will also be monitored. This will be achieved by regularly collecting and assessing basic data of yields, soil nutrient status, weeds, pests and disease problems, crop gross margins, fixed costs and capital investment, with particular emphasis on the vegetable crops in the rotation. Results provided by each of the 4 conversion scenario case studies will be interpreted and evaluated to provide actual performance data, information and recommendations for farmers undergoing conversion and for potential organic farmers. This will be performed in collaboration with the EFRC Organic Advisory Service. Results will also be incorporated into the Organic Farm Management Handbook and demonstrated in open days and workshops.
Project Documents
• Final Report : Conversion to organic field vegetable production.   (116k)
• Final Report - Annex : Conversion to organic field vegetable production.   (636k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 1996

To: 2000

Cost: £506,544
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Elm Farm Research Centre, Henry Doubleday Research Association, Horticulture Research International
Keywords
Farming              
Organic Farming              
Vegetables              
Fields of Study
Organic Farming