Organic farming in focus of Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture
By Eduardo Augusto dos Santos Rosa, Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro (UTAD)
An outline of the table of contents of the JSFA issue (Volume 87 Issue 15, December 2007) can be found at the Journal homepage. Links to individual abstracts are opened by clicking on the authors names in the text below.
||In december 2007 the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture issued a series of papers related to the recent progress in research on Organic Food and Farming. Many of the scientists authoring the papers are active colleagues in the QLIF project.
I had the pleasure to write the editorial introduction to the issue, which I hereby, in a slightly modified form, share with the subscribers of QLIF news.
Several new organic farming techniques have been developed in recent years with the aim of improving the quality of plant and animal products, meeting the safety standards required by consumers, and reducing impact on the environment. Many experiments have now been published describing the effects of those practices.
The themed series of Perspectives, Reviews and primary research articles in Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 87 (2007) consider the present significance of organic farming worldwide and give an indication of what issues require further investigation. However, as reflected in the relentless media coverage of organic farming and food, expert opinion differs wildly and what direction future study should take is under dispute.
Human health and nutrition
The issue explores three main topical themes. The first theme surveys the possible effects of organic farming techniques on human health and nutrition. Ewa Rembiakowska's review (1) looks at the quality of crops produced using organic techniques, comparing contaminants against health components and examining sensory factors, storage and yield.
Vera Schulzová et al. (2) focus on furanocoumarins - secondary plant metabolites that can act as toxicants - and address factors that may affect their production.
Animals and environment
In the second theme we look at organic farming in relation to animals and the environment. Ralph Martin et al. (3) examine how to solve the problem of phosphorus deficit seen on some organic farms in Northern America.
A discussion on animal welfare is provided by Hans Spoolder (4), who gives us insights into the Five Freedoms concept of organic animal husbandry.
In their research paper on rearing pigs, Hilary Kelly et al. (5) explore the use of different organic management systems and the resulting performance and carcass quality, while Werner Zollitsch (6) discusses the development of organic feeding systems for pigs.
Weller and Bowling (7) review the factors that have a bearing on the sustainability, management and performance of organic dairy farms.
Bastiaan Meerburg et al. (8) discuss the complex issues associated with providing a safe microbiological environment on an organic farm, stressing the importance of rodent control for food safety purposes.
Operational approaches to specialised farming techniques
The third theme focuses on operational approaches to these specialised farming techniques. Tawainga Katsvairo et al. (9) take a look at bahiagrass and the benefits it can offer, such as improved soil health and reduced disease and pest infestations, when converting a farm's production techniques from conventional to organic.
Kairsty Topp et al. (10) take a detailed look at the efficient use of resources (nutrients, energy and water) within organic farming systems, while Ulrich Schmutz et al. (11) compare different strategies for fertility management.
It is our intention that readers find the articles compelling and of high interest. The Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture welcomes any further research papers that contribute innovation to the organic farming debate.
1 Rembiakowska E, Quality of plant products from organic agriculture. J Sci Food Agric 87: 2757-2762 (2007).
2 Schulzová V, Hajlová J, Botek P and Peroutka R, Furanocoumarins in vegetables: influence of farming system and other factors on levels of toxicants. J Sci Food Agric 87: 2763-2767 (2007).
3 Martin RC, Lynch DH and Frick B, Phosphorus status on Canadian organic farms. J Sci Food Agric 87: 2737-2740 (2007).
4 Spoolder HAM, Animal welfare in organic farming systems. J Sci Food Agric 87: 2741-2746 (2007).
5 Kelly HRC, Browning HM, Day JEL, Martins A, Pearce GP, Stopes C and Edwards SA, Effect of breed type, housing and feeding system on performance of growing pigs managed under organic conditions. J Sci Food Agric 87: 2794-2800 (2007).
6 Zollitsch W, Challenges in the nutrition of organic pigs. J Sci Food Agric 87: 2747-2750 (2007).
7 Weller RF and Bowling PJ, The importance of nutrient balance, cropping strategy and quality of dairy cow diets in sustainable organic systems. J Sci Food Agric 87: 2768-2773 (2007).
8 Meerburg BG and Kijlstra A, Role of rodents in transmission of Salmonella and Campylobacter. J Sci Food Agric 87: 2774-2781 (2007).
9 Katsvairo TW, Wright DL, Marois JJ and Rich JR, Transition from conventional farming to organic farming using bahiagrass. J Sci Food Agric 87: 2751-2756 (2007).
10 Topp CFE, Stockdale EA, Watson CA and Rees RM, Estimating resource use efficiencies in organic agriculture: a review of budgeting approaches used. J Sci Food Agric 87: 2782-2790 (2007).
11 Schmutz U, Rayns F and Firth C, Balancing fertility management and economics in organic field vegetable rotations. J Sci Food Agric 87: 2791-2793 (2007).