Page 1

ecology No 1 // February 2014


Towards the best manure


Organic spirits and liquors

Certification body


Inspection and certification of products, systems and services Drafting of standards Training

A WORLDWIDE NETWORK OF EXPERTS Name and seal recognized by authorities and consumers

Expert in organic farming and inputs, food quality and safety, fair trade, organic cosmetics, organic textiles, carbon balance, social responsibility

Ecocert SA - BP 47 - 32600 L’Isle-Jourdain - France - T +33 (0) 5 62 07 34 24 -

Table of Con tents

FEBRUARY 2014 // NR 1

EVENTS 8 Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Organic Farming A report on the Second Asia Pacific Regional Symposium

MARKET 12  Organic Spirits and Liquors

Can organic spirits follow the same route as organic wines?

EVENTS 14 Global campaign to promote organic food and farming

Many organisations experienced a great demand and interest from consumers

CITIES 18 Green enterprise on a rooftop

“Who will fetch a head of lettuce from the roof?� 

HEALTH 25 Health insurance for customers of organic supermarkets

Organic consumers could save the health care system a great deal of money

Agriculture 28 Towards the best manure

Recent research shows the effectiveness

of different types of manure


Do methane emissions show organic agriculture in a bad light?

A reflection on climate effects and organic farming

And more.... Editorial News Calendar Contact

5 6 34 34




2:22 PM


Organic Raw Materials – The Safer Choice Consumers expect a lot from Organic products: health, safety, well-being and environmental friendliness. Food producers therefore need appropriate organic raw materials and Tradin Organic Agriculture BV provides these: certified, controlled, analysed organic raw materials. A wide range of products is being imported from over 36 countries all over the world, coming from well established packers and processors: Dried Fruits and Nuts / Seeds, Pulses and Grains / Cocoa products / Juices, Purees and Concentrates / Sweeteners / Fats and Oils / Frozen Fruit and more. From the cultivation, to the harvesting and further processing or refining Tradin is present. We can organize, control and manage all part of our supply chain, allowing us to meet the expectations of our customers. Therefore, we can provide a full traceability report to each of our customers for each products.

Over the years Tradin has initiated a number of own projects. These projects are the backbone of Tradin’s trade activities: • Sesame and Green Coffee from Ethiopia. • Frozen Fruit from Serbia and Bulgaria. • Original Basmati Rice from Pakistan. • Vietnam’s Cashews, Pineapples and Passion fruit. • The Seeds and Pulses from China. • Iranian Raisins. • Coconut Oil from Indonesia. • Cocoa and Banana Chips from the Philippines. • Orange Juice and Pink Grapefruit Juice from Mexico. These projects do not only supply safer raw materials, but also they are exemplary and have a positive spill-off effect in their regions. Beyond the organic agricultural techniques, sustainability, CO2 footprint, and Fair Trade concerns are at our top priority, all these characteristics have been embraced into our daily operations to provide the best possible social organic products with the smallest environmental impact. Tradin BV – Your source for organic raw materials

Cocoa project Philippines

Fruit project Serbia

Project Vietnam Sesame project Ethiopia

Orange project Mexico More projects in China, Iran, Bulgaria, Indonesia, Pakistan...

bringing well-being to life


Denise Godinho

Peter Brul

Exiting events This issue comes on the eve of Biofach 2014, one of

sooner or later for cosmetics and aquaculture. The

the main annual events for the organic industry. I have

challenge for the Biofach is to play an important role

seen it growing from year to year in the last twenty

in new, upcoming developments in the organic indu-

years. It was so small in the early nineties, but it was

stry. Otherwise, it will be just one of the many annual

clear to me that we had to participate, all our clients


were already there. Since then, I always participated

A few weeks after the European based Biofach, the

with a booth. An event like the Biofach is the opportu-

Natural products Expo West starts in Annaheim,

nity to meet with so many people from the movement

California. This event attracts even more booths and

in a short time. One moment you have a meeting with

visitors, but is a combination of organic and `natural´.

a group of herb producers and a German client, one

For a European like me, working in the organic move-

hour later you meet with people from the USA, Hol-

ment, it is a strange combination. What an American

land and Switzerland to talk about health aspects of

calls natural, I consider conventional without GMO,

organic. It is four days of concentration on running

which is 99% of all the food produced in the world.

business, discussing new ideas and new projects,

That is not so special and exiting. But apart from that,

and meeting a lot of old friends. The combination of

the Expo West is a very important event, in the largest

fair, workshops and conferences is also very inspiring.

single market for organic products.

But the Biofach is under pressure. It is a combination

Later this year, we have two more exiting events. In

of an international event and a local German fair for

Torino, Italy, the combination of Salone del Gusto, a

German producers, wholesalers and shop owners.

fair and a festival on taste, and Terra Madre, a confe-

In Germany, a big market for organic products, more

rence about Mother Earth, agro-biodiversity and taste

regional events are becoming more and more impor-

is organised by the slow food movement.

tant and this erodes the German part of the Biofach. Other specialities in the event, like textile and wine,

And then we have the IFOAM Organic World Con-

are also getting less importance for the industry.

gress in Istanbul, Turkey. The OWCis organised every

When organic textile and wine were very small, the

3 years with the aim to share experiences, innovati-

Biofach helped a lot to develop the sector. The event

ons, knowledge about the organic world. This is more

was used to discuss standards, to meet potential

about the content of organic agriculture. What the

partners in production and market. Now we see that

fairs are for the industry, the OWC is for the move-

this role is taken over by other events that are more

ment: a time to meet inspiring friends.

specialized. Textile almost disappeared from the fair, wine is much smaller, although the organic wine production and market is big. The same could happen

Hope to meet you again! Peter Brul, editor in chief



Eco-Labels benefit from GM Labeling fighting into 2014 would also benefit international trade: food exports to the EU – the US’s main trading partner – have been affected by the absence of GM labeling regulations.

The furor about GM labeling has parallel helped consolidate organic’s position as the dominant eco-label in the American food industry, whilst GMfree labels are the fastest growing.

North America is also experiencing a surge in certified food product sales as consumers seek greater transparency. This development is leading to a proliferation in eco-labels, such as Organic, Rainforest Alliance, and Certified Humane; these labels provide assurances to consumers that foods / ingreMandatory labeling however would dients are grown according to certain bring the US in line with over 60 countries that have such regulations. It ethical criteria.

Organic food sales in North America have surpassed US $34 billion. Many consumers are buying organic products because they provide assurance they do not contain GM ingredients. In the absence of mandatory GM labeling, Organic Monitor projects organic food sales to reach US $50 billion by 2018.

In the USA sales of certified ecolabeled products are soaring because of growing consumer interest in food origins. Genetically Modified-free (GM-free) labeled products are experiencing a sales spike. The market for Non-GMO Project Verified products has grown from zero to US $3.5 billion within a few years. Over 5,000 food products now carry the Non-GMO Project Verified logo in the US.

French olive oil producers are to go organic The Interprofessional Association of Olives for France (Afidol) covering eight appellations regions in the Provence Alpes and Côtes d’Azur, is encouraging French olive oil producers to convert to organic production. At the fourth conference organized by Afidol in conjunction with the Centre Technique de l’Olivier, (CTO) allowing hobby farmers, professionals and com-

mercial growers to exchange experiences. One of the advantages of olive growing in France, due to the cooler climate, is that the French olives are less likely to be attacked by the olive fly, thus assisting greatly in organic pest control. Follow Afidol and information is available on:

The Iberian Peninsula adopts FaiRtrade The increasing demand and interest in Fairtrade products in Portugal prompted Fairtrade Spain to investigate forming Fairtrade Ibérica. Even during difficult economic times, consumers in both countries are increasingly interested in the origin of the products they buy, asking for responsible and ethical products. “We have seen a growing interest from Portuguese companies interested in offering Fairtrade products”, said Laura Barrington, Interna-



tional Licensing Manager at Fairtrade International. The new organization join the pioneering group of nonprofit organizations who have been promoting Fairtrade in Spain since 2005, including: Alternativa3, the Confederación de Consumidores and Usuarios CECU, Fundación Ecología y Desarrollo ECODES, and Oxfam Intermón ETEA . Source: www.fairtradeibé


Long-term trial in India shows: Organic Cotton is competitive with GM crops The Swiss research institute FiBL have concluded a 3 year study on organic cotton comparison in India. Organic cotton shows lower yields than genetically modified (GM) Bt-cotton. Nevertheless, the lower production costs render the production of organic cotton feasible. The result, however, strongly depends on the environmental conditions, mainly the weather. These conclusions emerge from a long-term experiment in India, carried out by a team of experts of the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) in collaboration with bioRe Association, the local farmers’ umbrella organization. The results of this study have now been published in the online journal PLOS ONE. Read more: media/media-archive/media-archive13/ media-release13/article/long-termtrial-in-india-shows-organic-cotton-iscompetitive-with-gm-crops.html

“One Logo Says It All”, Australia offers solution In many countries the consumer is confused about the many logos organic certified products (food or cosmetics) carry. To simplify the offer of the different organic products is not an easy task. In Australia they have succeeded. Australian Organic


has recently launched its ‘One Logo Says it All’ campaign introduced by Celebrity Chef and ambassador Pete Evans. Source:

Organic Seed Growers VS Monsanto Family farmers file brief in Final Appeal to U.S. Supreme Court to Protect Their Crops from Contamination and to Invalidate Monsanto’s GMO Patents 73 American organic and conventional family farmers, seed businesses and public advocacy groups seek protection for all America’s farmers from Mon-

santo’s frivolous patent infringement lawsuits, and their genetically engineered pollen, while also seeking to invalidate the patents on 23 of Monsanto’s GMO crops. “As a seed grower, who has spent the past 37 years of my life protecting and maintaining the integrity of my seed stock to provide clean, wholesome food

to my customers, I find it unconscionable that Monsanto can contaminate mine or my neighbors’ crops and not only get away with it, but potentially sue us for patent infringement,” said Jim Gerritsen, an organic seed farmer in Maine and President of lead Plaintiff OSGATA. More information:

1. Organic 3.0 Conference @ BIOFACH 2014 The day before BioFach in Nuremberg is the day for special IFOAM events. We would like to invite you to the IFOAM Organic 3.0 @ BioFach Conference 2014 on February 11, 2014 in Nuremberg, Germany!   In the United Nations Year of Family Farming the program will include the following: • Organic 3.0 & the IFOAM Action Group - Strategy discussion and exchange in the IFOAM Action Group. • The General Assembly of the IFOAM EU Group - for IFOAM EU Group members only - as a parallel session. • Year of Family Farming & Organic 3.0 - Family Farming: Social and Ecological Responsible! 2. Report on IFOAM participation in COP19, Poland At the COP19 in Warsaw, IFOAM informed international and national decision makers of the multiple benefits of high-sequestration organic agriculture for climate change resilience, food security and sustainable development. 3. IFOAM at COP 19: Showing What Organic Agriculture Can Do in the Battle Against Climate Change COP19 was fruitful in keeping governments on track towards a universal climate agreement in 2015 including significant new decisions that will cut emissions from deforestation and “Loss and Damage”. With a view to 2015, country representatives agreed to initiate or intensify domestic preparation for their national contributions towards the agreement, which is set to come into force from 2020. 4. Will Brazil Break a Global Moratorium on “Terminator Seeds?   Powerful landowning groups in Brazil have been pushing for congress to allow the “Terminator seed” technology be used for the controlled propagation of certain plants and insist that the seeds would only be used for non-food crops.  Sterile or “suicide” seeds are produced by means of genetic use restriction technology, which makes crops die off after one harvest without producing offspring.  This means that farmers have to buy new seeds for each planting, which reduces self-sufficiency and increases dependence on major seed and chemical companies.







m on osiuREGIONAL g SYMPOSIUM December 2-4, 2013 nal Symp ioASIA-PACIFIC g e R ic ic Farmin onal n if c a a g r -P O ia s in A ati n from the the Intern novatio chains, andtheir and In requirements for traceability and some form (FAO)and of organicnsupply ip nature the to n 5.nDue h o s ti r a u iz e ) lture Orga ntrepre ts (IFOAMis considered to be particularly suitable for agriculture

cuto the consumer, oorganic E of certification men and Agriup ure M ve The meeting FoodChain gricultapproaches. therefore requests financial institutions, and by the‘Value Finance’ nic A(VCF) a ailand rg T O f organized k, o n ko the hAsia angas Credit Association eratiorepresentative and Pacific Rural and Agricultural bodies, Fedtheir 013, Bsuch 2 r e b Organic m tion inagriculture and, where appronova 2-4 Dece organic of this form of financeInfor

(APRACA), to study the suitability ducrship and organic pro d trepreneu priate, to initiate pilot pprojects. aspects of um on ‘En n an ed si o o ti ss ca cu m u is Sy d ed oAf SIA-PA Regional iences and Cto uction and mechanism IFIC rodappropriate sia-Pacificand IFOAM and exper Taox fiand inform REG andic pan rg ts at the A 6. FAO IOupdate an knowledge areerequested NAL SYM ng tofesoidentify r ci S ei u an th b n Participan fi si ed d ar ie th in POSIU field this in sh s made g, progress the and g n agriculture organic ti behind in science the of institutions nancial ke av h ar M Decem 11. One Farming’, ains and m years. ber 2-4, 20 input suppliers update banks, sometimes poagro-chemical 10following.As large multinational werful co ic value chthe past an rg e o 13 , th n n ncept of positive o o tio ed re be could ag mechanism same the e achievements, economic technological r latest their out av setting letter n a through h e , ga n o ti si ve. An exa s is that do Conventi exten mple f a is allocate f ’extern ona considered by proponents of organic approaches. alities’ or negative that are n l farming, ultsiunraglaresearoch ’spillover grochemro 0.00 5 peerxternality is ot fefo ricu agth lt effects’. T r b y air or wa es woaftererw e rc u s, that Eu icals, oftneunmge fa hese g so rm n ti e ay ter pollu ee rs t m ch nerates n but ait n an e u th o th er e p re lo at am tion from can be a Resear ss e fe ed p egative e of biodroiv per ca lt by soci rt Logistics nat odw Marketing/ o o p s rti re ge o p t a factory as n ro ke e xternaliti ersity, pe the mar ety at larg p ra Eu It is lly d g. 00 a in in 6. . at te rm to e sti tocide re e. These s, spillove enhg,anco pbared rnalizer th noted th peortionaround al based fa siar ron epscattered cemdare ic o d r effects ch se ft u in e e em in mostly n s se countryside, 1. It was the o ch io in n in ga re rm farmers, small , d al producers cl fa organic fo n ivetirs tive inern n Because manyorganic 7. o u o o d ty ti d e ri va e it p en th xt Pa lti y, ro nv e . h cu d n pollu ighgleorbw o er ase alalytethe logisticsic and cts, litictesupply ndan osr,and ochains ofuoruin towards co centmanner, uncoordinated r a org and volumes e ar1ea in small in research 2.sIn ften gene etc. Organic farm tion of rpan eab vestedproducing tion capa coonuotmoicne per to thebso rtion to th ing meth rate posi ndingan tsfor and to the ci fu th in propoare products capita is in of n range incomplete ty u delivering e er ch expensive, ti o inefficient p e co often th ar ve systems ry ay ganic tc ac ei se .) n o e . re th xternaliti ne way to pririncu is is ciltpulera ’)lwhhave es (e.g. , which boorganic ag a ce to outlets, d globally. Th u multiple to lic and way, d their of d ile out b go to re often u consumers ro su p t. Dedicated p ss p market. l bsidies. T elopmen ositive ext ic al n f e an o ga se t rg n o vi ti r ve ce ad ev externaliti per want. rnaliticy share fo g onethey e and to ks to its d his public goods iscreep tinwhat buy es blic anoic . alloca bottlenecdized in Europea d umenan s (‘pinuto ds’) can (a is through taxes eionof thisarg n Uar tseisarthche m orggo funding, i.e g way to removing n tr aw (the ‘po ie s nd sho re s er r (E (a n ak a fo Ula)bco nydm in re le a lo 8. Networks of organic producers’ e lic go ls Thai a the as u o (such ai e so organizations n and p ld institutions w tr av traders’ u and e n o here why orga Or-uld) be rewarded lluter w nd)inthge reve rity. ies and the R ted to makenviro blic fu n u n es through p ic m u e q re fa rs e cu p o re n u e rm se proon ta level m b e sub-national and lo d lic of Kore in g and ealtfooat the national ing should lcollaborate akTOTA) AM arTrade Association, d IFOganic a Howeve g is currently sub h problem ic applies: chemic issue by m 1 critical for long tehrm thisthe 2. FAO an ssand more.stable and sirange a broader a r assured re s, are l consumers that d in so in supply of 3 e a logistics . duction re p ad m ar T u h a to m ts at is creates ny A , which ca ts ore o en th for cropsproduce anprices. suisbsialso governmen psupply forn be the so sian counimbalaWithin the Asia region ftthere factat dizepotential ofr organic articula urereasonable n d ce , in d , u ra . fe rc re th Fo u rti e e lt r of many lizers mayassociations einxaparticular r than taxe mple, in for agricu sub-regions soil fe between redefined such as the well rece d. intra-regional collaboration rtility fronational ithe pca g wth se iv oef fe m lo farm su use It rtilize(GMS). bsiin cal, nco Sub-region onealaGreater Mekong th orgaAsian the and ti d (ASEAN) s Nations y, en te rs Association of Southeast w o a nic ferti nv , tu h m fa ile ra rmers wh pro their org ic l resourc ds lizedrstoawnar ise. s,Thdis o purc basAsian rgananicAgriculture d sti iase Standard the suse re an developing on at oOrganic already ononte coun rp m ectetath is noted that work is thon arein Finance ot.d Su obfprogress agla arts, who hase manuch su n a per uhla eer(o rote wuas ral lenadreer standard -c dho g.y re inte u It ve lt b in s. e si cu r) place m When d rm u Standard). ri Organic replenish Regional lc ic fa ASEAN the (AROS, se ag rm a ASEAN ca an al as well lf in fa (ASOA) harav at as nci eing th gimes cle oen o e f th p ti a th d u rti at ts te o th their fi o nv sh st n ts aand u ab et in l ic ferti detesire annco ld rm thco fa lize-rs. Go of or-arly inhibit the red effetrade availability 3. It was range and bes tioonuexpand sidthe emical inpshould intra-regional an si o promote e standards o lis these ch rg e th p o r r h r ct ro in th in fo ve p fo s . use of e g e y b If lt rnments ge suchasu real costplicat sk n cu o ri ka o n iffi ac t, ss d p ay le th is m b an th e it sidies. A untries, d y should ise loan ap of these lo ganicfita at do sub leean e they rm subsidies wherproduce. ro fab sidize pra consider pance. alsganic rs, wan cific cot the very hicdhPa a moreispre and whe leyato of chemic st, ap we beck sian in fin rogressively eqeruiv ewcapacit qm ueoststeA bnta ther they th any cases, o lie m a to ve in la le in , d re s , n at to is tt t d o o g la th subsidies ucing an tiy th ufoldr th co e d tu n te ve sti o e n farmin n in m co lt al e so d n u ci sho eventually diffi e ocu is it was al thattsfi. nan ineg isitsu f input su rage a widan skaills to uld be made ava esp d re Despite th Certification hods, mak bsi . It appears ilable to ptake of kndoiews le anddgeresulowerdriusk rganic met in finance se o oru ta h o b o it rg o -h w a to in lt g n s a e ic practice ed lowntcost er disto alternative ire thproven to be a rviable reportand have Systems (PGS) ers workin Guarantee rtions to acqubeen Participatory 9. Dissemin s. FAO farm s and thei its memb unraged to em a co t st tions from to third party certification io en sy do PGS n While re TPC. than o sustainable o e more a are cases r governucti eref (TPC) and nindmany Codm mun at ons are 1th4. ility of organic pro ion the recurring costs are relatively small capacity al instituti initial Itbwas nino trainingarand ts. icbuilding rofita tmen e pinvestment 4. Financi requireman te th ep d t d en th an lo ownaself-certification t the su pbly docu the group system. It was also noted that in 2011 the y th cheiarinits isalpoperates study andbecause . This incl re is the need for ate apprato, adopted disseminthat other governments in the facilitgovernment des shari PGS, something and traina policy ofusupporting Indian ation n profiles, to in g o g of, farm ers (inclu ers, trade f results among re of information at region should consider. ding their rs and fin searchers a children). often may anciers, a , dissemin ll levels of the org However nd goes aregional often no consider anic ation toapproach of this in perhaapcomprehensive ttobe awa developing ll requested differeare 10. FAO and IFOAM th e s w th nt kn ay re of e e greatest up governowledge to the leve formation poteisntiaimed from stakeholders, all at n promoting e sources, PGS,thwhich awareness e wards creatingfo d od securi of and l a is o l f consum that orga to educa including ty. te policy nic agricu modern ments to farmers and consumers. m lture (wh scientific ich draws akers, who research on a range ) holds fo r long term of sustainab le




A Report on the Second Asia Pacific Regional Symposium. Bangkok, 2-4 December 2013

Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Organic Farming BY Nick Parrott

In December IFOAM and FAO jointly organised the second Asia Pacific Regional Organic Symposium. Building on the first symposium in South Korea in 2012, the event was attended by more than 100 people from around 30 countries. It marked another step forward in building an Asian Pacific regional community, something which is especially relevant with the growing role of the Association of Southeast Asian Countries (ASEAN).


he event was spread over three days; two days of plenaries

from Navdanya (India) presented a detailed case study that sho-

and workshops, interspersed by a day spent visiting farms.

wed the potential of organic farming to improve food security. He

The plenaries and workshops were grouped around four main

looked at 12 conventional farms and 12 organic farms, comparing

themes: production, marketing, education and finance. Pre-

the amount of various macro-nutrients and micro-nutrients pro-

senters from 19 different countries, with very different levels of

duced per hectare of farmland under each system. On average all

organic sector development, shared their experiences with dif-

of the 25 nutrients studied (except 1: vitamin C) were produced in

ferent aspects of organic topics, ranging from compost making to

more abundance in one hectare of an organic farm than one of a

developing an eco-agritourism centre or participatory guarantee

conventional farm. A hectare of an organic farm yielded approxi-


mately 107% more protein, 6% more carbohydrate, 187% more fat, 32% more calories, 292% more Vitamin A, 168% more folic

Overall the experienced showed that the organic sector in South-

acid, 196% more calcium, 91% more iron, and 72% more trace

East Asia is driven by a very different set of motives than in

minerals than one conventional hectare. He then extrapolated

Europe or other western post industrial countries. While access

these to a national level, highlighting that organic farming has

to premium markets, whether export or domestic, can be a large driver, there are (with the exceptions of South Korea) no subsidies in the region for organic farmers in recognition of the environmental services that they provide. Instead, governments often reward polluting farmers by subsidising fertiliser and pesticide use – a key point of contention and one highlighted in the conference declaration (see box). In a much less regulated and policed environment, health (of farmers, their families and consumers) plays a much larger role on motivating people to go organic. In India, in particular, pesticide poisonings (whether accidental or deliberate) are a major source of morbidity and mortality among farming families, and pesticide residues are a major concern for consumers. Food security is also a major factor in countries where there are significant numbers of malnourished people. Dr. Vaibhav Singh ECOLOGY & FARMING | 1-2014


Farm visits

Farm visits are often a highlight of any IFOAM event. They not only provide a break from sitting in conference halls but also give the participants a chance to see, learn from and comment upon organic practices in situ (and get to know each other and build personal bonds). This tour visited two farms within close proximity of Bangkok. Both are examples of multi-functional farms that incorporate other activities such as on-farm processing, direct sales, educational or recreational activities). The first farm visit was to Thai Organic Farm which has a strong educational focus and a farm shop where it sells its own, and other ecological, produce). Here we were shown a number of techniques for making soil amendments and got a chance to see the insectaries used to control pests. The second farm was part of a long established tourist attraction. Sampran Riverside is a riverside rose garden with elephant and theatre shows. It recently started its own organic farm on a plot on the other side of the river which, together with supplies from 500 local small-scale organic farmers, supplies its own restaurants as well as its range of home produced beauty and wellness products. It also has a weekly organic farmers and crafts market where its suppliers can sell their produce to visitors.



more potential for addressing the crisis of hunger and malnutri-

Government of Bhutan, Navdanya (India) and the Millennium

tion among a growing population than conventional farming, very

Institute to organise a conference on organic and ecological far-

much challenging the conventional notion that organic systems

ming in mountain ecosystems which will take place in Thimpu,

yield less. 1

Bhutan in March 2014 and will provide another opportunity for dialogue among Asian organic stakeholders. (See http://www.

But production isn’t everything – food also needs to be distri-

buted to where it is needed. A number of presentations on this


second theme featured innovative marketing and distribution schemes from India, South Africa, Cambodia, South Korea Japan and Peru. There were also presentations on financing organic

Author details

production, raising consumer awareness and training farmers.

Nick Parrott is a freelance editor and copywriter, specialising in organic issues. Contact

There are plans to publish the proceedings of this (and 2012’s) conference in book form and to organise a third conference in

1. A full version of Dr Singh’s research, ‘Health per acre: Organic

2014. Contact Ralph Houtman ( for

Solutions to Hunger and Malnutrition’ can be downloaded at http://

further details. In the meantime IFOAM is teaming up with the



Can organic spirits follow the same route as organic wines?

Organic spirits and liquors BY Peter brul

A significant market has developed for organic wine over the last 20 years, which has developed rapidly and is now well established, with organic production in all the main wine-growing areas.


here were 217,634 hectares of cer-

out-pacing the growth in the consumption

especially in a small market that only has

tified organic vineyards in 2010.

of non-organic wine (which grew by 2%).

a few players. When compiling this article

More than 75 % were probably for wine

Several traders and experts have perso-

it was difficult to obtain complete and

production (with the remainder being for

nally confirmed that these growth rates

precise information.

fresh grapes and raisins). Organic wine

have subsequently continued.

Health food shops and organic super-

has acquired a solid position in the market

markets often sell organic wine and port

and is well accepted, almost main stream.

The market for distilled products is totally

(alcohol content up to 20%), but no spi-

It is marketed via web shops, health food

different. The market is still very new and

rits with a higher alcohol content since

shops, specialised wine shops, direct mar-

very small: a niche in the organic sector.

keting from the vineries and, last but not

Most of the producers are very small scale as is their marketing, which

least, via supermarkets. All the main supermarket channels in Europe and the USA have a number of organic wines on their shelves. Jones et al. (www.organicwinereview. com) reported in 2007 that turn-over in organic wine in those years grew by 18 % on average and estimated a further increase in sales of 13 % in 2008. Nielsen ( www.

Organic spirits and liquors often with a local provenance may be as much part of the Slow Food ethos repor-

consists mainly of direct selling from their own shop, often combined with a web shop, exclusively for their own products. There is no organised or well-established market for certified organic spirits. Today most specialist off-licences sell some organic wines, but very few have any organic distilled products. The same is true for supermarkets. There are no available

ted that the consumption of organic wine

figures or statistics. Traders are generally

grew by 3.7% in 2009 (a recession year ),

reluctant to reveal figures about turn-over,




a range of organic liquors. But these are restricted to the better known spirits. One interesting venture is a company in New York, founded by the Kashrovian family from Armenia who produce vodka on a small scale. They have now turned their hobby into a company selling a range of organic spirits ( More than 80% of their turn-over comes from selling to hotels, bars and restaurants. One of these restaurants is Gustorganics in New York, a certified organic restaurant including an organic cocktail bar (www. ). In London, Organic Spirit ( are pursuing a similar line, specialising in mixing cocktails with organic ingredients, as well in many countries shop owners need a

as selling organic wine and beer.

specific state license to do so. In many

and vendors of organic liquors and spirits would be a good starting point, with a

countries they are also required to have

Promotional strategies

view to doing joint promotions at the main

a separate shop within the shop for the

Organic spirits and liquors may well go

trade fairs. At Biofach in 2012 there was

sale of spirits. Given the low turn-over in

down the same road as organic wine.

only organic vodka and tequila available.

drinks with a high alcohol content, this is

Customers are interested in real qua-

One way forward might be to arrange

a disincentive for a small organic supermarket. The most interesting marketing channel for organic spirits is specialised web shops for (organic) liquors and spirits, which sometimes also sell organic wines. Few of these companies offer a wide range of organic spirits. A few web shops, such as or in Ger-

The need to have a licence, and sometimes a shop within a shop, to sell spirits and liquor makes it harder to develop this sub-sector.

many offer a wide range

lity. For this to happen,

a spirits and cocktail bar at such fairs,

organic distillers may

inviting wine sellers, web shop owners,

need to join forces at

companies that supply organic and other

the world’s main

restaurants and members of the press to

trade fairs, such as Bio-

attend. The period before and after such

fach, Natural Products

events could generate substantial free

West and Salone del

publicity for this nascent sub-sector. For

Gusto, and present a

lesser known liquors, such as medronho

joint showcase of the

or aguardente, more targeted campaigns

world’s leading orga-

may be required: for the later there is the

nic whiskies, vodkas,

potential for possibly developing a range

tequilas, gins and other

of cocktails. These drinks may well have

spirits and liquors.

stronger links to the Slow Food movement, with its focus on local food and

It will take some time to

drink, than to the organic movement. This

of organic spirits, including whiskey, rum,

build up the market, as people have to

year’s trade fairs in Nurnberg and Salon

gin, and cognac. Some large web-based

learn about a spirit through promotional

de Gusto may well help to resolve this

traders such as also have

activities. Building a network of producers




Global campaign to promote organic food and farming

The efficiency of low input livestock farming



In September and October 2013 saw the first Global Green Action Week, an initiative launched by the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SNNC) to raise consumer awareness of the environmental impacts of consumption and to promote sustainable patterns of consumption. By Annelie BioBrazil Fair-Biofach 2013Andersson took place during the month of protest.



Photo: Alexander Joe

Many organisations experienced a great demand and interest from consumers


ith the help of farmers’ markets, media campaigns and

focus for the Global Green Action Week will continue in 2014 -

schools around the world the campaign focussed upon the

‘Organic food and farming for all – consumers and farmers for

production and consumption of organic food. Almost 40 organi-

food security, safe and sustainable food.’ The aim is to encou-

sations in 25 countries participated in the campaign. In Tanzania,

rage more consumers to buy organic products and thereby pro-

Sweden and Peru, they explained to consumers why organic is

mote a shift towards an ecologically sustainable food system for

the logical choice. In Kenya, Ukraine and Brazil school children


made ​​compost heaps, wrote essays and discussed how their food is produced. In Pakistan and Uganda decision makers, far-

The feedback from this first year of the Global Green Action

mers and consumer organisations discussed what is needed to

Week has been very positive. Many organisations experienced a

boost organic production and consumption. And in India, Ethiopia

great demand and interest from consumers and felt that being a

and the Philippines, farmers learnt more about the benefits of

part of a global campaign strengthened their campaigning at a

growing organically. And this is just a few examples of the cam-

national and local level.

paign’s activities which took different forms in different countries. Some of the organisations participating in the 2013 Global Green This international campaign has been inspired by more than

Action Week were organisations with whom the SSNC already

twenty years of domestic campaigning by the SSNC to promote

had on-going collaboration. Others were members of Consumers

green consumerism, which has achieved very positive results. A

International (CI) in Asia, Africa and Latin America. This collabo-

key part of this work has been an annual campaign week involv-

ration was made possible through a Green Action Fund establis-

ing thousands of SSNC volunteer members, which has served as

hed by Consumers International and the SSNC. This fund provi-

inspiration for the Global Green Action Week.

des support to CI members in developing countries to help them to mount small public awareness campaigns on environmental

Through coordinated annual campaigning under a joint umbrella,

issues. 2013 was the first time that actions are being carried out

organisations in different countries are able to strengthen each

on a joint theme in line with the focus of the Global Green Action

other’s work on sustainable consumption. The 2013 thematic




In addition to promoting more sustainable food consumption, the Global Green Action Week also offers a possibility for consumer and environmental organisations to cooperate and give added value to each other’s work. It also provides a platform for participating organisations to exchange experiences and inspire each other about the methods and strategies that deliver positive results. 2013 was only a starting point. In March some of the organisations in the campaign will meet for a workshop in Kenya to discuss how to make the campaign grow bigger and stronger in the future. About the author Annelie Andersson is project coordinator of Global Green Action Week. Interested in joining? If your organisation is interested in participating in the campaign, please contact annelie.andersson@ Global Green Action Week on Facebook: globalgreenactionweek Further reading: Organic food and farming for all - a basic factual report by SSNC on organic farming that has been made available to everyone participating in the campaign.

Global Green Action Week 2013 participating countries AFRICA: Benin, Cape Verde, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zimbabwe ASIA: China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines EUROPE: Serbia, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine LATIN AMERICA: Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Peru



“Who will fetch a head of lettuce from the roof?” “And get some parsley while you’re at it!”

Green enterprise on a rooftop

Europe’s first rooftop-market garden has been built in Rotterdam. The Dakakker (Roof-field) is breaking even and should show a small profit in the coming years. Construction was made possible by winning a design contest. While the garden is organically managed, the produce cannot be sold as organic (as it is not grown in ‘the soil’). There is no shortage of interest in the project, both at home and from abroad. By Bernard Faber





n the building where we were before,

maintaining biodiversity and regulating the

we had already investigated the pos-

runoff of rainwater. The payback period of

sibility of doing something green on the

a green roof is approximately 8 years.

roof,” says Wouter Bauman of the Environment Centre Rotterdam (ECR). “Then

Optigroen was involved in the Brooklyn

in 2011 we moved to Schieblock and

Grange initiative, the first rooftop market

discovered that a co-tenant, the archi-

garden in New York. “We cooperated

tect group Zus (Sister in Dutch), had the same idea.” Zus took part in a competition under the Architecture Biennale. “And then it was bingo,”

“And suddenly: bingo”

on the development and construction of a roof system for a commercial rooftop garden for growing vegetables,” says

says Bauman, “Zus won the first prize

Henk Vlijm, managing director at Opti-

of more than 4 million Euros. With that

groen. “The Brooklyn Grange Farmers

money Dakakker could actually set up the

now manage three major rooftop market

first rooftop market garden in Europe.”

gardens, where they grow organic fruits and vegetables for local restaurants and

“The garden was built by Binder Groen


Projects. The system used for rooftop gardening was developed by OPTIGROEN,

Based on the experience in New York,

a Dutch offshoot of Optigrün International

Optigroen has developed the rooftop mar-

AG, an international franchise which originated in Germany 40 years ago. In the Netherlands, Optigroen installs about 200,000 m2 of green roofs or rooftop gardens each year, making a considerable contribution to the growth of the global total, currently about 2 million m2. The most common are green or ‘sedum’ roofs, but Optigroen also provides park roofs where shrubs and even trees can grow. Green roofs have

“There is so much interest in Dakakker (Rooftop field) that organising group tours has become a commercial activity.”

consists of five different layers, which regulate the drainage of rainwater and prevent the plant roots from penetrating into the underlying roof structure. The top layer of the substrate is the thickest and consists of a mixture of lavabims (a lightweight, frost resistant, porous and permeable lava), slate, sand and clay and compost. “The product is formulated so as to make it excellent for sowing and for plants

the advantage of providing a cooling effect, and they protect the

ket garden system. This

to root well,” said Vlijm.

underlying roofing, making it last twice as long. In addition green roofs contribute to

Optigroen investigated whether it is possi-

Sustainable Green Rooftop

Optigroen is currently working on a whole new application of its green roofs aimed specifically at farms. Next year the company will be launching a “grass” roof and a ‘normal’ green roof. The grass roof is especially designed to integrate large stables in the landscape. Both type of roofs have insulating properties helping reduce heat stress to the animals during hot periods by the cooling effect. The pasture can also absorb and recycle stable and rinse water, which would otherwise go the slurry pit and will have to be carted away. Solar panels can also be integrated in the green roof system. ECOLOGY & FARMING | 1-2014


“Natural food retailer Whole Foods opens a store in Brooklyn (NYC) with a greenhouse of nearly 2,000 m2 on the roof.” 20


ble to get organic certification for the roof-

print. It is hoped that the new revisions

will remain a niche activity. “Because of

top market garden system or the rooftop

to the EU organic regulations, currently

the weight, only a limited number of roofs

gardens in Europe. “In practice, we work

being discussed in Brussels, will offer

are suitable. It is mainly about influencing

organically, also the substrate is made of

similar opportunities for expanding orga-


natural materials, unfortunately organic

nic rooftop gardening in the EU.

There is so much interest in the rooftop

certification is not possible because we

garden in Rotterdam that organising

do not meet the European requirement

The Dakakker in Rotterdam has helped

group tours has become a commercial

that organic produce be grown in regu-

spark interest in rooftop market gardens

activity. “Next week, a group from Den-

lar soil. Substrate cultivation, however

in the Netherlands and neighbouring

mark will visit who want to start a rooftop

natural, is not permitted.” By contrast in

countries. Vlijm continues, “We are cur-

garden in Copenhagen,” says Bauman,

America the first rooftop market garden

rently working on developing a rooftop

who manages the ECR garden. “Last year

(Uncommon Ground in Chicago) was cer-

market garden of 5,000 m2 in Brussels

there was even a group from Vietnam.”

tified organic in 2008, and there are now

and several smaller gardens in Germany,

With bookings from 30 groups, the 2014

dozens of organic rooftop market gardens

including a berry growing rooftop where

programme is already fully booked.

in the US. Natural food retailer Whole

fresh jam will be made. In the Nether-

Foods is about to open a new store in

lands, we are in discussions with several

Bauman spends approximately 8 hours

Brooklyn (New York City) with a green-

parties including a restaurant chain. These

per week on the Dakakker. He is sup-

house of nearly 2,000 m2 on the roof. It is

parties want to be able to tell their clients

ported by a group of about 15 volunteers.

planned that the greenhouse will supply a

that the fresh herbs are picked from the

“Every Friday morning we go to the roof

large proportion of the organic vegetables

roof. This can set them apart from their

to harvest and to prepare orders and to

sold in the store. This will maximise fresh-

competition.” Despite the growth, Vlijm

tend the garden,” says Bauman. “In the

ness and minimise the ecological foot-

predicts that rooftop market gardening

days before, I send out a list of available



produce to chefs at five restaurants in the neighbourhood so they can make their orders and these are also delivered by volunteers. The rest of the vegetables we sell on Friday in a shop here in the building, to people who work here and local residents. Other activities that help the operation cover its costs include the rental of the glass roof pavilion as a meeting room and a popular education program for children. This program, whose name ‘Dakennie?’ (‘Can’t do?’) comes from Rotterdam slang, includes a range of activities such as making seed bombs which the children can drop on their way home from school, a form of guerrilla gardening. Bauman is thinking of other new activities, such as renting out the roof as a location for photo and film shoots and yoga classes. When asked what the most commercially interesting horticultural products are Bauman says without hesitation: “Edible flowers. You don’t have to do much and a bowl of flowers, for example, brings in 5



Euros. It is a product that must be super fresh and so you can’t easily transport it in from out of town. The flowers wither quickly. The most popular flowers are nasturtium, marigold, rucula and courgette. Among the herbs, lemon verbena and the seven different varieties of mint are most popular. With all these activities, the Dakakker is presently self-sustaining, but Bauman thinks it is also possible to make a small profit. “I hope we can find an entrepreneur in the future who would operate the gardens, for example in conjunction with a restaurant.” The seeds of sustainability can be sown anywhere: even on an old roof in the middle of the big city. About the author: Bernard Faber, Text & Image. Specializes in the visualization of architectural and construction projects. E.: W:

The Dakakker: key figures

Soil type: Natural substrate mix from Optigroen (thickness of the beds varies between 20-40 cm.) Labour: 8+ hours / week in season for manager: 15 volunteers each working 4 hours / week Crops: 32 kinds of vegetables, 27 kinds of herbs and 17 species of flowers, grown in a six block rotation Livestock: 2-3 beehives Outlets: 5 nearby restaurants, in-house shop for local residents and workers Manure: cow manure pellets (5kg/are), calcium ammonium nitrate (2 kg / are) Ekomix 3 (5 kg / are) (Are is 10m x 10m=100m2)



Our organic seeds grow your success Rijk Zwaan is a world-leading specialist in creating high-quality vegetable varieties; also for the organic market. We do this through innovative research & development, led by the needs of our customers. It is our aim to be a knowledgeable, collaborative partner, with infinite respect for the environment. Rijk Zwaan.

423797RZW_adv187x126.indd 1

03-02-11 09:17

• Measure:

Calculate your CO2 Footprint

• Improve:

Reduce your emissions

• Neutralize:

Become climate neutral

• We set up emission reduction projects in developing countries and generate sustainable

carbon credits through organic composting.

• We develop and manage composting projects and help farmers improve soil fertility. • We deliver customized sustainability solutions worldwide.

Interested? Find out more about our services at or contact as at +31 (0)880 079 500 /

Let’s join forces on our way to sustainability!

Organic consumers are more health conscious and probably save the health care system a great deal of money


Health insurance for customers of organic supermarkets Health care and the insurance needed to cover it are well arranged in the Netherlands, but the financial management is overly complicated and costs are constantly rising. Solidarity is an important guiding principle, perhaps the most binding element in the health care system, as costs are shared between people who are more and less fortunate with their health and those who are more and less wealthy. People generally have no qualms about showing solidarity with someone less fortunate when the base cost of the insurance is more or less the same for everyone. By Peter Brul




ut what about the effects of people’s lifestyle on their health?

The research showed that the customers of EkoPlaza have a

It is now common knowledge that smoking is extremely

significantly healthier lifestyle than the average Dutch person,

harmful to health, along with drinking too much alcohol and

with less obesity, less smoking, about 30 percent less use of

eating too much fat, sugar, or processed food. In fact, you could

hospital care and 25 percent less use of medication. The one hundred thousand customers of the health

say that enforced solidarity as it currently structured, ‘rewards’ bad behaviour, since health insurance costs are equally divided between everyone. It does not encourage people to make healthier decisions about their lifestyles. In the Dutch health care system, insurers have been becoming increasingly aware of this in recent years. There is now more differentiation than there was several years ago, and people can choose (within limits) how much premium they want to pay per month, how much risk they want to take and whether or not they want to pay for additional services. It is possible that both the insurance system and the organic sector

Research has investigated whether the health profile of regular organic supermarket customers varies from the national average: it does

might be ready for a new form of private insurance. Here’s why.

food stores probably save Dutch society about 50 million Euro per year. Apparently, a conscious, healthy lifestyle brings financial advantages. But in the Netherlands’ current insurance system these benefits don’t go to the individual customer, but are spread across society at large. CenterData’s report went onto say: “there is no indication that the differences found are caused by the strong socio-demographic composition of the clientele of EkoPlaza. Comparisons of subgroups of the population with the same subgroups within the EkoPlaza clientele in terms of gender, age and level of education show the same picture as

to the entire population”. If all of Dutch society was as conscious about diet and health, this would probably save around 10 billion

More than a hundred thousand Dutch people do their weekly

Euro a year in health care costs. That makes sense!

shopping at EkoPlaza, a franchise chain of organic supermarkets. Tens of thousands of them have a customer card. CenterData, an

There is no indication that the Netherlands differs significantly

organisation related to the University of Tilburg has researched

from other NW European countries. In Germany, Switzerland,

the health profile of the customers of EkoPlaza. The basic ques-

Austria and the Scandinavian countries, as in the US and else-

tion was whether the health profile of EkoPlaza customers differs

where, conscious consumers of organic food probably save

from that of the average Dutch person. This could run either way:

the health care system a great deal of money. They also set an

on the hand it is plausible that EkoPlaza customers are more

example as they can help to raise awareness of the consequen-

aware of the effects on health of eating well. Equally, it may be

ces of life style choices. The ever-increasing cost of providing

that people with health problems turn to organic food.

good health care would be much less of a problem if more peop-



As of 2014 EkoPlaza Customers can receive a 15% discount on their health insurance premium in 2014

The results of the survey showed that EkoPlaza customers are healthier than the population at large (controlling for socio-demographic factors). They have a signifi-

le behaved like the customers of organic supermarkets.

cantly lower Body Mass Index than the Dutch population

This research has led to a health insurance policy specifically for

on average (23.3 as opposed to 25.5). EkoPlaza custo-

customers of EkoPlaza. Customers of the chain can receive a

mers suffer much less often from overweight and obesity

15% discount on their health insurance premium in 2014 and a

(25.8% vs. 48.7%), but the percentage of underweight

60 Euro discount (from the insurance company) on purchases at

people is slightly higher (4.2% vs. 2.4%). EkoPlaza

EkoPlaza. In this way the cost savings of a healthy lifestyle are

customers are less likely to experience most medical

partly rewarded. An important aspect of this insurance is that it

symptoms such as heart problems, breathing difficul-

provides interesting opportunities for doing follow-up research

ties, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and they

and makes it easier to identify the health effects of a healthy life-

also have far fewer obesity-related complaints, such as

style, including making a conscious choice to eat organic food.

headaches and cold symptoms. However, EkoPlaza cus-

The new insurance started in January 2014 and after this year

tomers are more prone to stomach and bowel problems

attempts will be made to develop an insurance policy that is

(17.6%) than average (13.6%). Compared to the Dutch

more attuned to the specific needs of the target group.

population as a whole, organic supermarket customers have a healthier diet that contains more fruits and vege-

The researchers emphasised that this study does not show any

tables and less meat. They also smoke much less. Alt-

causal relationship between the consumption of organic food and

hough EkoPlaza customers seem to have fewer health

health. The differences can also be explained by EkoPlaza-custo-

problems than the average Dutch person, this does not

mers being more aware about how to make healthy choices. The

translate into fewer visits to medical service providers.

scientific research into the causal relationship between organic

These, however, seem to be of a different nature: EkoP-

food and health is complex and still in its infancy. It was explicitly

laza customers seek counselling slightly more often than

excluded from this research. The overall conclusion was that

average for psychological help and go to the dentist

customers of the organic supermarket are healthier than average

more often. They also make much more frequent use of

in a large number of respects. With the new insurance scheme

alternative medicine (41.7%) than average (8.2%).

in place, a large volume of data will become available for further analysis.



Ghulam Mustafa and Ghullam Abbas Shah wanted to investigate the effectiveness of different methods of manure production. Both from Pakistan, they received scholarships for postgraduate work at a ‘reputable foreign university’. They chose to work with Egbert Lantinga of the Department of the Ecology of Farming Systems at Wageningen University on a project that traced the key characteristics of different types of manure: from the stable floor through to the absorption of nitrogen by plants. By Gerard Oomen

Recent research shows the effectiveness of different types of manure

Towards the best manure


hese two researchers have now

stacked under a roof and the last part was

focuses on the practical aspects of the

received their PhDs in agricultural

fermented, using the same treatment app-


science. Their findings are not only sci-

lied to maize silage. These differently treaLosses in the stable. When just straw

entifically interesting, but also of practical relevance to farmers all around the world: from Pakistan to the Netherlands. Their tests, with young steers, were carried out in the sloping-floor barn of the Research and Training Farm, Droevendaal in Wageningen. The animals were fed well and gained approximately 1.3 kg per day. Each day 1 kg of chopped straw for each 100 kg of livestock weight was spread in the

Pastures fertilised with fermented manure produced three times as much grass than those fertilised with composted manure.

was spread, 16% of N in the excreted manure was lost before being processed. By adding topsoil, lava meal or clay these losses were reduced to 6%. Ammonia volatilisation was lower than expected and the majority of nitrogen was lost as inert N2-gas. Losses during storage (processing). Thirty

stable. In some tests clay (zeolite or lava

ted manures were then used in fertilisation

five per cent of N in the manure stacked

meal or topsoil) was also added. The ani-

experiments on grassland and maize on

in a heap was lost when the compost was

mals trampled the manure, mixing it and

sandy soils at Droevendaal Farm. Tests

solely straw based. When topsoil was

it slowly ran down the slope. The manure

were carried out on the manure as soon

added this fell to 20%. In other tests the

at the bottom of the slope was collected

as it had been spread to see if adding lava

manure was composted or fermented.

everyday and then treated in different

meal and irrigating (by sprinkler) would

During composting 33-45% of N was lost,

ways. One part was composted, another

reduce ammonia emissions. Emissions of

but only 6-10% during fermentation. For

part was stacked outside in a heap expo-

carbon dioxide, ammonia, methane and

the composted manure, 20-60% of orga-

sed to the elements, another part was

nitrous oxide were measured. This paper

nic matter was lost depending on the sea-




son and the duration of the composting process, but for the fermented manure just 10 to 20% was lost. More mineral N, organic N and lignin remained after fermentation, although the figures for these last two were lower in the fermented dry matter than after composting. The combination of adding topsoil and fermentation was not researched. Losses during application. During the test

bles. The Netherlands has more deep litter

Is composting better? These findings

on maize fields the manure was ploughed

stables than sloping floor barns. But these

seem to run counter to those of the study

in. During the tests on grassland it beca-

results can be applied to the manage-

by FIBL in Switzerland*). Their conclusion

me clear that volatilisation can be reduced

ment of a deep litter stable. In deep litter

was that systematic use of composted

by sprinkler-irrigation: equivalent of 5 mm

stables manure ferments and less com-

manure leads to better soil structure and

and 10 mm of rain led to a reduction of

posts. The processes in the top layer of

higher organic matter content than when

65 and 92% respectively. Addition of lava

deep litter manure are similar to those in

using manure which is put in a heap. This

meal (or topsoil) showed a reduction of

manure in a sloping floor barn, whereas at

conclusion is undoubtedly correct, when

less than 50%. Adding lava meal and 10

deeper levels the manure mostly ferments.

one bases the amount of manure on the

mm of water led to emissions being close

Usually the manure is taken out only once

needs of the crop. Yet one remark has to

to zero.

during the winter. It is then placed in large

be made at this conclusion. They gave

heaps where a large part of the manure

the fields the same amounts of N, P and

Utilisation of nitrogen remaining in the

will continue to ferment. Our experiment

K. They involved the manure types of exi-

soil. The fertilisation experiment for maize

shows that nitrogen losses can be redu-

sting farms and calculated the amounts

was conducted on a fertile sandy soil. In

ced by scattering lava meal (a pound per

of manure needed based on the nutrient

the past this soil had been fertilised with

cow) or topsoil (a kilo per cow). However,

levels in the manure. So they did not take

170 kg N/ha and manure was ploughed in

this is not so easy to do in a deep litter

into account all the processes and losses

immediately after spreading. Shortly after

stable and lava meal is presently expen-

during storage, and test plots received

flowering the unfertilised maize yielded

sive. Losses can be further controlled by

stable organic matter from composted

11,200 kg dry matter (DM)/ha, fertilised

placing the manure on a thin layer of straw


with composted manure yielded 13,600

which will absorb moisture from the heap,

kg DM/ha, with fresh manure the maize

by neatly finishing the sides of the heap

Composting is not just about recycling

yielded 14,400 kg DM/ha, after storage in

and by covering it with plastic. To mini-

the nitrogen. There are other reasons to

a firm and not too large a heap it yielded

mize volatilization of ammonia, it is best

favour using composted manure: it sup-

15,500 kg DM/ha and with fermented

to incorporate the manure into the soil

presses weeds, kills germs that affect plants, animals and humans, is easier to

manure it yielded 16,400 kg DM/ha. The fermented manure gave the highest N take up rate (20% of N from excreted manure) and the composted manure the lowest (8%). These figures cannot be generalised to

When just straw was used for bedding, 16% of the nitrogen (N) from the excreted manure was lost.

handle, and, with the Biodynamic method, the ability to administer the preparations. Moreover, some crops do not tolerate poorly digested manure. Composted manure is an excellent fertiliser. It is worth asking whether the inherent nitrogen losses during the composting process (about

all situations. Other research has shown that nitrogen utilisation in the first year of

immediately after spreading. This should

50%) can be sufficiently compensated by

application also depends on the compo-

be done immediately before another

growing more clover for a (organic) self-

sition of the soil, which in turn depends

crop or perennial (cover) crop is sown

reliant farm.

on the soil’s fertilisation history. This not-

in, otherwise the accumulated nitrogen will

withstanding, all types of solid manure

be lost through leaching.


and carbon being stored in the soil to be

If the manure is spread on top of grass-

Bio promotes soil fertility and biodiversity

gradually released in the coming years.

land or a grass-clover mix, it is best done

On grassland three times more grass was

in rainy weather or on a cool, windless

About the author:

produced after fermentation than after

evening, when night dew is expected. It is

Ir. GJM. (Gerard) Oomen


even better to irrigate immediately, but a

WageningenUR - For quality of life. To

large amount of water (1 mm = 10 cubic

explore the potential of nature to improve

metres / ha) is required.

the quality of life.


added to the ‘fertility bank’ with nitrogen

From sloping floor barns to deep litter sta-



A reflection on climate effects and organic farming

Do methane emissions show organic agriculture in a bad light? One issue that often comes up in discussions about climate and agriculture is methane emissions. As part of their digestive processes ruminants produce methane which according to climate scientists, is disastrous for global warming. Ecology & Farming takes a dive into the swamp of the methane controversy. By Tom Saat


ethane (CH4) is a much stronger greenhouse gas than

chicken meat. Not so much because chicken ‘is the ideal meat’,

carbon dioxide (CO2) and is therefore the main target for

but because the production of chicken meat imposes the least

reducing agricultural greenhouse gas emissions. This raises

climatic burden.

questions about the environmental credentials of organic farming. Ruminants form the basis of many organic systems: converting

Take a chicken, put some grain in it, and within a few weeks there

roughage into manure. For many years the European Commis-

is chicken on your plate. No methane emissions, but a very high

sion has subsidised campaigns to promote the consumption of

feeding efficiency; all in all a fine production process. To optimise




it further, you can move away from agriculture completely and

change and to measure greenhouse gases and the resilience of

imitate the process in a laboratory: the egg of Columbus and a

agriculture are based on a very uncertain figure.

technocratic gem − if you consider agriculture and nutrition as a

linear production process.

This is not the only quicksand under the climate calculations.

This is not exactly an organic solution. First of all, because

sions: increasing emissions of CO2 lead to a permanently incre-

organic thinking is not focussed on linear processes, but circu-

ased concentration in the atmosphere because it is a chemically

lar ones. You cannot run a viable or independent farm with just

stable, final product that does not change. However, methane

chickens and chicken manure. Growing cereals and taking the

is a chemically unstable product which is active in the atmosp-

chicken manure back to the land is also a downward spiral, as it

here. As more methane is produced, more is decomposed and

would eventually impoverish the soil. To ensure sustainable soil

a new balance is created. Higher methane production also leads

fertility one needs organic matter and therefore roughage con-

to more conversion of methane, so that an increase in methane

version. And, because some 60% of the world’s agricultural land

does not lead to a cumulative warming effect. That’s an essential

There is a fundamental difference between CO2 and CH4 emis-

is only suitable for growing grass, which can only be converted

difference with CO2, and the reason why converting methane to

into human nutrition by cows and other ruminants, these are the

CO2equivalents represents a fundamental error within climate

‘jewels’ of agro-ecology.

calculations. One of the ridiculous conclusions is the insinuation

that the livestock sector has as great an impact on climate as the

But what about the methane these ruminants produce? Is that

extremely intensive traffic in the Netherlands or other highly indu-

the stain on the reputationnot the fly in the ointment? The Inter-

strialised countries. Methane is unanimously designated as a gre-

governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the agency

ater culprit than CO2 in discussions about global warming. Some

responsible for coordinating climate research and publishing the

researchers believe that there are political motives behind this.

results. It expresses all greenhouse gases in CO2 equivalents.

The US National Research Council (3) mentions that by focusing

Methane has a higher ability to block heat radiation from the

on methane, one can theoretically achieve faster results, with less

Earth than CO2 (Global Warmth Potential, GWP), but has a much

drastic measures for industrial economic development.

shorter life span. The GWP is simple to determine in a laboratory: determining the life span is much trickier. Methane is very reac-

This puts the methane discussion in a very different light. You can

tive in the atmosphere and sources of methane are diverse. This

find methane everywhere where intensive organic conversions

makes the lifetime estimates very uncertain. The IPCC (1) and

take place. It is released from the extraction of fossil energy, in

researchers from the Max Planck Institute (2) estimate this uncer-

swamp formation and in the digestive system of ruminants. In

tainty at between 35-65%! Because the IPCC has to deliver hard

earlier stages of the Earth, plant life captured a huge amount of

figures to politicians, they prefer to use a fixed lifetime for metha-

carbon, partly in the form of methane which is now entering the

ne, to be able to convert it into CO2 equivalents. In other words

atmosphere (e.g. shale gas). Methane certainly has a short term

the benchmark which several institutes use to analyse climate

climatic impact. In order to limit methane production we would

Roughage conversion is needed to ensure sustainable soil fertility ECOLOGY & FARMING | 1-2014


There is a fundamental difference between CO2 and CH4 emissions



need to replace cows with pigs and chickens. From a climatic point of view, this is putting the cart before the horse: we need cows to solve the problem. The core of the climate problem is that we are burning carbon that has been captured inside the Earth for billions of years, and putting it back into the atmosphere. What we need are measures to fix carbon sustainably in the


soil. The cow is one of the resources we can deploy to do this.

1. Wigley, TML, 1998: The Kyoto Protocol: CO2, CH4 and climate

It is important that we use the cow as a roughage converter. It

implications. search Geophysical Letters 25, 2285-2288

is true that methane emissions are a side effect of humus pro-

2. Hein r., P.J. Crutzen and M Heimann (1997): An inverse

duction in cow manure. But that humus production leads to the

approach to investigate the global methane cycle, Global mosp-

sustainable sequestration of carbon in the soil. It is important to

heric Biochem. Cycles 11 (1), 43-76

encourage farmers to feed their cows roughage. Cows always

3. National Research Council, 2009: Stabilization Targets for

have and always will produce methane. Methane plays a very

Atmospheric greenhouse gas Concentrations (quoted from http://

small part in the climate story, and should be seen in relation )

to the rest. Holistic thinking is one of organic farming’s strong

4. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: Climate Change

points. Climate change poses a challenge to organic farmers. Our


focus should not be on methane, but on finding alternatives to

5. FAO: Livestock’s Long Shadow; Livestock’s role in climate

the consumption of fossil energy. That is the real challenge!

change and air pollution



Calen dar Items

FEBRUARY 2014 - OCTOBER 2014 //

ORGANIC 3.0 CONFERENCE February 11, 2014 Nuremberg, Germany BIOFACH 2014 February 12 - 15, 2014 Nuremberg, Germany INT. CONFERENCE ON ORGANIC & ECOLOGICAL AGRICULTURE IN MOUNTAIN ECOSYSTEMS March 5 - 8, 2014 Thimphu, Bhutan NATURAL PRODUCTS EXPO WEST March 6 - 9, 2014 Anaheim, USA

SHIBOWEI ORGANIC EXPO 2014 April 6 - 10, 2014 Beijing, China NATURAL AND ORGANIC PRODUCTS EUROPE April 13 - 14, 2014 London, United Kingdom EKOCITYEXPO 2014 April 18 - 20, 2014 Moscow, Russia NATURAL PRODUCTS EXPO EAST September 17 - 20, 2014 Baltimore, USA

18TH ORGANIC WORLD CONGRESS & IFOAM GENERAL ASSEMBLY October 13 - 15, 2014 Istanbul, Turkey SaLone del gusto / terra madre October 23 - 27, 2014 Torino, Italy International Symposium on Organic Greenhouse Horticulture October 28, 2014 Avignon, France  CONTACT

Ecology & Farming is a magazine for all elements of the organic movement - from organic farmers’ associations to organisations from the organic food industry and Fair Trade; from research institutions to certifiers; from organic consumers to organic advocates. Ecology & Farming provides information on key issues in the organic sector and offers the space for discussions on the topics of the day. The articles published in Ecology & Farming reflect the opinions of their respective authors and should not be interpreted as an official IFOAM position.

IFOAM  The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements is the umbrella organisation for the organic movement. Established in 1972, IFOAM has over 800 affiliates in more than 100 countries. and represents the common interests of the organic movement based on the principles of organic agriculture (ecology, health, fairness, care). IFOAM’s mission is to lead, assist and unite the organic movement in its full diversity. Peter Brul has been working in the organic sector as a

farmer, researcher and consultant for more than 35 years. He combines the role of Chief-Editor of Ecology & Farming with his own consultancy.

Van Westering Groep B.V. have been publishing

magazines since 1988. VWG also maintains a focus on ecology through Ekoland, the professional magazine for organic farming in the Netherlands and Belgium and Gezond Bouwen & Wonen, a professional magazine about sustainable building and living.



Publisher  Jaap van Westering Editorial staff  Peter Brul (editor in chief), Denise Godinho (IFOAM), Nick Parrott (editing and translations) Contributors to this issue  Authors & photos: Annelie Andersson, Peter Brul, Tom Deiters, Bernard Faber, Robb Kendrick, Gerard Oomen, Nick Parrott, Tom Saat, Jaap van Westering Editorial office  P.O.Box 696, 3740 AP Baarn, The Netherlands T +31 (0) 35 88 735 31 E W

Lay-out  Vilarrica bv, Baarn, The Netherlands Maurice Spithoven (design) Annemieke Praamstra Advert acquisition  Van Westering Groep bv Baarn, The Netherlands T +31 (0) 35 88 735 31 Tom Deiters T +31 (0) 6 30 77 62 44 Subscriber administration  P.O.Box 696 3740 AP Baarn, The Netherlands E subscriptions@ W Subscription  Annual fee 2014, frequency of 4 x per year: 44 euro Print er Veldhuis Media BV Raalte, The Netherlands FSC certified Ecology and Farming is published by Van Westering Groep bv, The Netherlands, under the auspices of IFOAM

Ecology and Farming No 1/2014  

International magazine for the organic sector

Ecology and Farming No 1/2014  

International magazine for the organic sector