Research Summaries

Organic poultry nutrition and rations

The scope of the review is to consider recent sources of information relating to the feeding of organic laying hens, broilers and turkeys. In particular it reviews all the research commissioned by Defra together with other UK and European work and collates the results of that work in the light of commercial experience, providing advisers with a summary of the key recommendations.

Non-inversion organic arable cropping

“Non-Inversion Tillage” (NI) involves any cultivation system which does not seek to substantially invert the soil profile. For the purposes of this review, literature that refers to minimum, conservation and reduced tillage and also direct drilling techniques have been consulted. The review identifies the likely benefits and possible challenges inherent in moving away from inversion tillage and points towards some very successful commercial experience of NI.

Nitrogen supply and management in organic farming

Optimising the management and supply of nitrogen to crops remains one of the greatest challenges for organic producers. This Research Review covers a large number of research projects and summarises key aspects of nitrogen accumulation, management and utilisation through the use of legumes, catch crops, manures, cultivations and soil management.

Laboratory mineral soil analysis and soil mineral management in organic farming

The supply of nutrients to plants is dependent on the complex relationship between soil mineral levels, soil structure and type and biological activity. This review looks at the soil analysis techniques available to organic farmers and the supply and availability of nutrients to plants through the use of mineral additions and soil management.

The role, analysis and management of soil life and organic matter in soil health, crop nutrition and productivity

The concept of a “living soil” in which biological activity makes nutrients available to plants and fixes nitrogen is central to organic farming. This Review considers the research into the complex role of soil life and looks at the analytical techniques and management strategies which are available to us in the organic management of soils.

Compost: the effect of nutrients, soil health and crop quantity and quality

Compost is considered by many to be the holy grail of organic farming and growing. This review looks at the research and explores how compost varies according to the ingredients and the way it is made. It studies the evidence for compost improving plant health, quality and promoting disease resistance and summarises the situations in which compost is most useful.

Poultry management

This review of the research into organic poultry management focuses on breeding, rearing, housing, health and disease, medication and to a lesser extent nutrition which is covered in another Review. The results are analysed and practical recommendations made for the development of organic poultry systems and their management.

Grass clover ley species and variety selection and management

Grass clover leys form the basis of most organic farming systems yet the selection of seed mixtures is often founded on tradition or cost. Based on a review of recent and past research this review provides a wealth of information on grass and legume species and varieties, mixture selection, ley establishment and pasture management.

Nutrient budgets for organic farming

This review identifies the research done on nutrient budgeting and presents the latest input and output data for use in nutrient budgeting on farm to support rotation and soil management decision making. It includes a guide to nutrient budgeting on organic farms.

Financial performance, benchmarking and management for mixed organic farming

This Review of several research projects which focus on the financial performance of organic farming, demonstrates the profitability of organic farming businesses and how they compare with conventional farms. It analyses the factors which affect profitability and explores how the data can be used in benchmarking as a means of identifying the level of performance of individual farms and what changes in management can be made to improve profitability.