research

Research

Subproject 3

WP3.1 Development of strategies to optimise soil quality characteristics

WP3.2 Development of improved strategies for the control of seed borne diseases

WP3.3 Development of precision fertility management systems

WP3.4 Development of improved strategies to prevent enteric pathogen contamination of vegetables crops

WP3.5 Development of integrated preventative crop protection systems

Development of strategies to improve quality and safety and reduce cost of production in organic and “low input” crop production systems

Consumer perceptions about health and other food quality benefits associated with foods produced under organic or “low input” production standards are known to be major reasons for the increase in demand for organic and “low input” food from crop production systems. However, recent consumer surveys and market analyses show that the price premium for organic vegetables, fruit, and processed crop product based foods is the main factor preventing a more rapid expansion of organic food consumption. In contrast, support regimes for organic conversion and production are primarily justified by considerations of effects on the environment, and on rural employment and competitively. In the future, concerns about increased health risks associated with enteric pathogen transfer and contamination with noxious compounds (e.g. mycotoxins or heavy metals) in organic and “low input” production systems may also affect consumer demand and therefore needs to be addressed.

In addition to these demand-side aspects there are supply-side factors. There are technological “bottlenecks” in organic and “low input” crop production systems, which potentially affect quality and safety of organic and “low input” foods and cost of production. There are also gaps in our knowledge relating to (3.1) soil management, (3.2) control of seed borne diseases, (3.3) the efficient use of permitted fertility inputs, (3.4) food pathogen risk management and (3.5) alternatives to crop protection treatments associated with alternative preventative and “integrated” crop protection strategies, which raise consumer concerns. These may also have an effect on livestock production (e.g. in the case of protein content/quality and/or mycotoxin loads in cereals). It is therefore essential to improve quality and safety, and the efficiency (=reduction of cost to the consumer) of organic and “low input” crop production systems, while ensuring that consumers and authorities can maintain confidence in the wider societal benefits (beneficial effect on the environment, biodiversity and sustainability) of organic and low input production systems. This will be achieved in Subproject 3 through the following five workpackages:

Workpackage 3.1 will develop strategies to optimise soil quality characteristics (mineralisation capacity and disease suppressiveness) important for product quality production efficiency and costs in organic and “low input” production systems

Workpackage 3.2 will develop improved strategies for the control of seed borne diseases to prevent quality problems and to reduce the reliance on pesticide treated seed in organic production systems. Temporary derogations on use of seed treatments are likely to be phased out over the next 5 years

Workpackage 3.3 will develop precision fertility management systems to (a) improve production efficiency/reduce costs and (b) reduce crop susceptibility to diseases and pests, while (c) maintaining or improving nutritional and sensory quality of crops

Workpackage 3.4 will develop improved strategies to prevent enteric pathogen contamination of vegetables crops to maintain consumer confidence in the safety of foods from “low input” and organic production systems

Workpackage 3.5 will develop integrated preventative crop protection systems focusing mainly on integrating fertility management based strategies with (a) variety selection and (b) alternative treatment based strategies (e.g. elicitors, biological control and mechanical) to replace crop protection inputs used in organic and “low input” systems.

Novel crop production strategies and methods developed under SP3 will be the subject of impact analyses (under WP7.1 and WP7.2) and the most appropriate strategies/methods of dissemination (under WP7.3) and will be included in Training activities (under WP7.4) of the integrated project.




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