In 2006 the first issue of the Journal of Organic Systems was published. This resulted from several years of discussion, prompted by the need for a peer-reviewed scholarly journal in which researchers could publish their findings on ‘Organic Systems’ in the Australasian and Pacific Regions (and beyond).
The Journal of Organic Systems welcome submissions that address these and other areas relevant to the design, management and experiences with ‘Organic Systems’, especially within our region. As well as field studies, the JOS are also keen to receive papers relating to supporting institutional structures and processes, including policy, extension services, research and development, education and training, and processes of change. The JOS is an evolving journal and is keen to hear your ideas about it, particularly about ways in which we might better serve those interested in and working with ‘Organic Systems’ within our region.
You can find more information about the Journal of Organic Systems on their website - www.organic-systems.org
For your convenience, we have provided a summary below of the articles published in the Journal of Organic Systems.
Svotwa, E. , R. Baipai and J. Jiyaneezekiasvotwa@yahoo.co.uk
Chinhoyi University of Technology, Zimbabwe, Manicaland, Zimbabwe, and Agricultural Research Council-Institute for Agricultural Engineering, Pretoria, Republic of South Africa.
Abstract: Some 20% (n = 246) organic farmers in Juru communal area were interviewed to establish their socioeconomic background, crops grown, problems encountered and the perceived advantages of organic farming. Farming was the main source of income to 86 % of the organic farmers. Only 57% considered organic farming as a less costly strategy; whereas 50% and 43% respectively regarded it as an inconvenient and disease-free technique respectively. Problems highlighted included animal manure shortage, slow organic matter decomposition and high labour requirements. Smallholder farmers considering organic farming may use these results to help them formulate effective implementation strategies.
Keywords: cattle/sheep manure, mineralisation, muskmelon, sandy soil, substrates
John Paull (email@example.com)
Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University Canberra, Australia.
Abstract: The Living Soil Association of Tasmania (LSAT) (1946-1960) pioneered the concepts of organic food and farming in Australia's smallest state, for the decade immediately after WWII. The LSAT was one of the world's first organisations to promote organic farming. It was preceded by New Zealand's Humic Compost Society (founded in 1941), the Australian Organic Farming and Gardening Society (1944), Australia's Victorian Compost Society (1945), and England's Soil Association (1946). The Tasmanian Association engaged, or was officially affiliated, with each of these four organisations. The LSAT actively courted and recruited a broad spectrum of organisations and government departments, particularly those with interests, or responsibilities, in agriculture, health, and education. The Association consistently sought a co-operative approach while avoiding a confrontational approach. An innovation of the LSAT was the provision for 'Junior members'; the LSAT constitution included separate and specific Objects for Junior Groups, one of which was for school children to eat organic food.
Keywords: Soil Association, Living Soil Association of Tasmania, LSAT, Australian Organic Farming and Gardening Society, New Zealand Humic Compost Society, Victorian Compost Society, Organic Farming Digest, Farm and Garden Digest, Eve Balfour, Henry Shoobridge, Australia, Tasmania, history of organic farming, organic pioneers.
Y. Ikemura and Manoj K. Shukla firstname.lastname@example.org
Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM, USA.
Abstract: The goal of sustainable agriculture is to maintain a non-negative trend in productivity while maintaining soil quality. Our main objective was to determine the sustainability of organic cropping systems. Three of the selected farms were in organic production for three, six and nine years since certification, and a fourth in conventional production. We found significant relationships between some soil physical and chemical properties. Sand, transport and storage volumes together explained 92% of variability in biomass yield. A soil property-based rating index showed that the three-year organically managed field was the most sustainable whereas the conventional was the least sustainable system. The rating index was negatively correlated with biomass yield and increased with the duration of organic management, suggesting that an adjustment in management practices may improve soil properties and sustainability.
Keywords: biomass yield, bulk density, nitrate-N concentration, soil organic carbon, texture, sustainability
Liza Oates and Marc Cohen email@example.com
Wellness Group, School of Health Sciences, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia.
Abstract: Over the past 60 years both the number of agricultural toxicants in use and rates of toxin-related diseases have increased dramatically, and countless studies attest to a link between the two. While data from residue surveys confirms higher levels of toxicants in conventionally farmed produce, few studies directly assess whether consuming organic produce results in a reduction in pesticide exposure in humans or confers any health benefits. Future research needs to confirm whether and to what extent agricultural toxicant levels vary between consumers of organic and conventional produce before attempting to draw any conclusions about the potential health implications of such differences.
Keywords: organic farming, agricultural toxicants, pesticides, safety
John Paull (firstname.lastname@example.org)
It has not been previously reported that the world’s first “organic” farming society was the Australian Organic Farming and Gardening Society (AOFGS), which was founded in Australia in October 1944. The association was based in Sydney, New South Wales, and the first issue of its journal, the Organic Farming Digest (OFD), was dated April 1946. This was Australia’s first, and the world’s second, “organic” farming journal. The 18-month delay between the founding of the society and the first publication of the journal was because paper was unavailable in Australia for that purpose during WWII. The society published a total of 378 articles in 29 issues from 1946 to 1954. Articles from Australia, UK, USA, New Zealand, South Africa, Germany and Denmark were published. Topics included: farming and gardening; health; environment; politics and economics; and animal welfare. More than 190 authors were published. British authors published included Sir Alfred Howard, Lady Louise Howard, Lady Eve Balfour, and Friend Sykes. American authors published included Dr. Ehrenfried Pfeiffer, Jerome Rodale, Gaylord Hauser, and Louis Bromfield. Australian authors from the states of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and Queensland were published. These included Sir Stanton Hicks, then Professor of Physiology and Pharmacology at Adelaide University, NSW grazier Colonel Harold White, and Tasmanian MLC Henry Shoobridge. More than 130 original articles were published, and other articles were reproduced from many sources including: Organic Gardening (USA); Bio-Dynamic (USA); Soil and Health (UK); Health and the Soil (UK); Mother Earth, (UK); Trees and the Earth (UK); Farmers Weekly (South Africa) and Compost Magazine (NZ). The Society was wound up in 1955, due to lack of financial support. The digests published by the AOFGS document a decade of the thoughts, aspirations, focus, theory and practice of Australia’s first
Glen Greer, William Kaye-Blake, Eva Zellman & Chris Parsonson-Ensor (email@example.com
The Agriculture Research Group on Sustainability (ARGOS) is comparing the sustainability of organic, integrated and conventional farms in New Zealand by monitoring environmental, social, economic and management parameters. The literature comparing the relative financial performance of organic and conventional agriculture is summarised, and the results of four years’ ARGOS monitoring of farm financial performance in the sheep/beef and kiwifruit sectors are presented. Although the results show that there are some significant differences in farm costs and revenue across farming systems within a sector, there is greater variability in the “bottom-line” indicators of profitability within farming systems than across them.
Hossein Mahmoudi, Gholamhossein Hosseininia, Hossein Azadi & Matin Fatemi (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Although the processing, marketing and pest control challenges of date palm have been discussed in many conferences and symposia, little attention has been paid to the particular challenges for its organic production and handling; especially those affecting conventional producers faced with land degradation, biodiversity loss and pollution and who are in transition to organic systems. Although organic farming is being promoted as an environmentally-friendly approach in most developed countries, there has been little consideration for developing countries, which are the main producers of dates. In this article we will examine the potential benefits, and processing, marketing and pest control challenges, associated with organic date palm production.
Li Jianming, Wu Pute, M.H.Behboudian, Wang Zhonghong, Zou Zhirong, & Allan Morton (email@example.com)
We explored the feasibility of mixing sandy soil with manure compost for growing muskmelon (Cucumis melon L.). Eight combinations of two compost types (cattle manure with straw (CS) and sheep manure with straw (SS)) mixed in different ratios to sandy soil were used. The mineralisation rate of N and P in CS substrates was higher than that in SS substrates. The reverse was the case for K. The yield and quality of fruit was higher in CS than in SS substrates. CS substrates were therefore better than SS substrates and the optimum rate of addition was a 1:1 ratio of compost to sandy soil.
Vijaya D, Padmadevi SN, Vasandha S, Meerabhai RS & Chellapandi P (firstname.lastname@example.org)
An exotic earthworm, Eudrilus eugeniae (Kinberg), was used to prepare coirpith based compost. This vermicomposted coirpith was amended with alkaline soil from an industrial site and compared with coirpith composted with EM (effective microorganisms) as a growth medium for the medicinal plant, Andrographis paniculata (Burm.f.) wall.ex.Nees, in field plots. Significant plant growth was attained when the same compost was amended with garden soil. The present results suggest vermicomposted coirpith could be helpful for the reclamation of soils from industrial sites for the cultivation of A. paniculata in a small scale nursery.
John Paull & Kristen Lyons (email@example.com)
Nanotechnology is the fast growing science of the ultra small; it is creating engineered particles in the size range 1 to 100 nanometres. At this size, materials exhibit novel behaviours. Nanotechnology is a rapidly expanding multibillion dollar industry, with research being heavily promoted by governments, and especially the US. Nanoscale materials are already incorporated into more than 580 consumer products, including food, packaging, cosmetics, clothing and paint. Nanotechnology has been cited as the foundation of a new “advanced agriculture”. This technology is advancing without nanospecific regulation and without labelling, while at the same time, public confidence in government regulatory agencies, and in the safety of the food supply, is declining. There is an opportunity, perhaps an imperative, for the organic community to take the initiative to develop standards to exclude engineered nanoparticles from organic products, just as GMOs have been excluded previously.
Bindumathi Mohan (firstname.lastname@example.org)
A cost-benefit analysis was made of the effect of three organic growth-promoters on yield and quality of two vegetable crops, brinjal (Solanum melonogena) and tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum), grown under field conditions. Traditional Ayurvedic growth-promoters, Panchagavya and Amrit Pani, were compared with Bokashi made using Effective Microorganisms (EM) technology. The results indicate higher yield and lower glycoalkaloid content in Bokashi-treated crops, followed by Panchagavya. Panchagavya was the most cost-effective growth-promoter followed by Amrit Pani and then Bokashi. We recommend the use of Panchagavya as an organic growth-promoter for small and marginally profitable vegetable-crop farmers.
Sarah Ann Wheeler (email@example.com)
This paper reports the quantitative and qualitative answers of two groups of public agricultural professionals (a general sample and a targeted sample with some knowledge of organic farming) to issues relating to organic agriculture, genetic engineering, sustainability and associated research issues in Australia. It also analyses what influences these professionals’ views on the sustainability of conventional agriculture in Australia and other agricultural research issues. Professional views towards organic farming and genetic engineering are explored and analysed for their realism. The advent of genetic engineering has been accompanied by growing concern among many of these professionals about safety, public and private research issues, including intellectual property rights, patenting and private funding of public research.
VF Burnett, S Norng & R Wilkinson (firstname.lastname@example.org)
A survey of 166 organic producers located in Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia was conducted during 2005-2006 to determine the status of perennial pastures on their farms. A response rate of 71% was achieved. Survey respondents were experienced with an average of 16 years organic farming experience. Respondents had a high level of awareness of native grass species; and some had used management strategies to encourage them. Over half (55%) of respondents had established a perennial pasture since they had been farming organically, with lucerne and perennial ryegrass the most common species sown; lucerne and phalaris were the most common perennial species currently growing. These species, together with fertiliser (and legume inoculum) were typically broadcast into seed-beds, which had been cultivated to control weeds. More demonstration and evaluation of perennial species is required so that producers can make informed choices about species selection and management for their particular conditions.
Md. Asaduzzaman Sarker & Yoshihito Itohara (email@example.com)
The objectives of this study were to understand the global and domestic market situation of organic food production and to suggest a suitable model of organic farming that can remove the barriers to the rapid expansion organic farming and eliminate the poverty of poor farmers in Bangladesh. There, rice farming has become unprofitable as costs of production have risen, and farmers are seeking alternative, more profitable crops. Organic farming, with its ecological and social benefits, and premium prices, may offer an ideal alternative. Global sales of organic foods reached US$25 billion in 2003 and are predicted to exceed US$30 billion by 2009. Already 90 developing countries, including 15 that are classified as ‘Least Developing Countries’ (LDCs), are benefiting significantly from the global organic market.
Alfred Harris & Robert Hill (aaassharris @xtra.co.nz)
In this review we critically examine the current status of industrialised and organic agriculture in New Zealand in relation to carbon-capture and some of the key environmental, economic, and political drivers for change. In the light of the recent international interest in Terra Preta, particular attention is given to indigenous agroecologies, advances in the technology of biocarbon production, and the role of biocarbon in increasing soil carbon sinks. Research gaps are identified and some of the tools and design principles are described for moving from both fossil-fuel dependent industrialised production, and compost-dependent organic production, to biomass based carbon-negative primary production. It is proposed that carbon-negative primary production will play a crucial role in reducing atmospheric carbon-dioxide and will drive the emergence in New Zealand of a post fossil-fuel economy.
Shu Hwa Lin (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This research examined the consumption patterns and attitudes of Hawai’i tourists to organic cotton. Data were collected from face-to-face structured interviews with 158 tourists in the Hawai’i market. Data were analysed with descriptive statistics and Chi-square tests to provide additional information about the association of variables. Significant associations were found between organic cotton ownership and organic eco-literacy, and being active in protecting the environment. Significant ethnic differences were found in willingness to pay a higher price for organic cotton items. The results may assist organic product marketers.
Bangladesh now needs to thank its soil health, environment and human health for the country being almost self-sufficient in rice production. The present study has been undertaken to gain knowledge of the level of awareness by farmers and consumers regarding the status of organic rice, and knowledge of demand and marketing opportunities and limitations for organic rice in the country. The present study has highlighted the overall organic rice situation in Bangladesh, which has not been well documented. The results also demonstrate that farmers and consumers are aware of the hazards of chemical compounds, but have little knowledge about organic rice. The present study may open a new window for organic rice research and marketing (both local and export) for all stakeholders (including planners) and could assist in the adoption of organic rice in Bangladesh.
Els Wynen (email@example.com)
Australia does not yet have standards for organic and bio-dynamic produce for the domestic market, although there are standards for exports. Recently, there has been a move towards the establishment and adoption of standards for the domestic market. Debate has centred on which organisation would be most suitable to host such standards. An important issue was the acceptability of the final standards to the Government, so that it would be willing to legalise the word ‘organic’ according to those standards. Other issues of concern were ownership of and control over the standards, copyright, compliance with the standards, and costs of developing and maintaining standards. Given the requirements identified by the industry as being of importance, the process of Standards Australia, an independent, not-for-profit body recognised by the Australian Government as the national standard-setting body overseeing the establishment of an Australian Standard appears to be the best option. The important requirement of industry ownership seems secure, while government regulation – facilitating compliance enforcement - is likely to follow, with government acceptance of the process by which the Australian Standards are being established. In addition, the cost of this process will be significantly lower than that of the existing process with the National Standard.
John Paull (firstname.lastname@example.org)
China is at the onset of an organic agriculture revolution. From 2000 to 2006, China has moved from 45th to 2nd position in the world in number of hectares under organic management. China now has more land under organic horticulture than any other country. In the year 2005/2006, China added 12% to the world’s organic area. This accounted for 63% of the world’s annual increase in organic land, and China now has 11% of the world’s organically managed land. The antecedents to China’s Organic Revolution are examined, and reveal further growth potential in the Chinese organic sector. Longitudinal analysis of China’s food production statistics reveals explosive growth, and the consequent capacity for export has implications for other food exporting nations. China has adopted an innovative path, via ‘Green Food’, towards achieving an organic future. This transition strategy may be a model for other countries seeking a rapid expansion of organics. In the future, food exporting countries can expect to have their chemi-agricultural produce competing with the certified organic produce of China.
Els Wynen (email@example.com)
Theoretical issues of harmonization of international organic guarantee systems - encompassing standards, certification and accreditation - are explored, after which the benefits are quantified for two commodities, wheat and coffee. Included in the theoretical framework are the concepts of actual direct costs (certification), and indirect costs (mainly inefficient and foregone production and marketing, and consumption) for the exporting and importing countries of organic produce. The extra welfare of harmonization in the organic wheat trade is estimated at over US$0.4 million per year (1.3 per cent of the total organic wheat trade) under conservative assumptions, and US$2 million per year (7per cent of the organic wheat trade) with less conservative assumptions. Canadian, Slovakian and USA producers, and Japanese and Swiss consumers, gain the most from this harmonization. For coffee, the welfare gain is close to US$8 million per year (over 7 per cent of the traded value of organic coffee), or more with less conservative assumptions. The major gains from harmonization in the organic coffee market go to consumers, not to producers.
David Pearson, Joanna Henryks & Liz Moffitt (firstname.lastname@example.org
This paper contributes to the development of marketing strategies for the organic movement. After an extensive review of the literature, empirical research using product attributes was undertaken in Australia. The identification of organic buyers remains elusive, as they were spread throughout the community in which they comprise almost 40%. However, the organic industry only has a market-share of approximately 1%, because most of them only purchased organic foods occasionally. Cluster analysis of organic food buyers based on the importance of the health, quality and environment attributes, identified five groups. The size of these groups varies for specific retail outlets. For example, 88% of Organic Food Cooperative customers are passionate about all three of these attributes. Finally, prominent branding of organic products is essential as it transforms hidden credence qualities into an identifiable revealed attribute.
Stuart B Hill (email@example.com)
Appropriate next steps are deeply personal and highly context specific. This is why formulaic, centrally-directed and imposed change always fails to achieve its stated aims, and invariably causes more problems than it solves. Consequently, the collaborative 'extension' task is to design and implement institutional and community structures and processes that can enable those involved to take those appropriate next steps, and to evaluate, celebrate and learn their way forwards as they go. Achieving this will require improved relational competence, a greater focus on system maintenance, and a broad paradigm shift involving the design and redesign of systems to avoid problems and support wellbeing.
Els Wynen (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Although organic beef marketing has long lagged behind that of organic products of plant origin, it has grown considerably since the late 1990s, when the large retailers entered the market. Whereas in 2000-2001 the value of the Australian certified organic beef was only $32 million (farm-gate prices), with less than two thirds going to the organic market, by 2005 the estimated production had doubled to around $60 million (farm-gate prices), with virtually all of the produce being sold in the organic market. About three quarters of this is currently sold through the domestic market. Dominant export markets have moved from Japan and the UK to the USA.
Stuart B Hill (email@example.com)
My aim in this paper is to support the thinking and actions of others in enabling organics to continue to develop in ways that will permit it to make increasingly significant contributions to sustainability and wellbeing. This will require us to emphasise higher values-based redesign/design initiatives over substitution and efficiency ones. Furthermore, we will need to understand that changes in our agriculture and food systems are intimately linked with those in both our institutions and within ourselves. Such transformation is part of the ongoing psychosocial co-evolution of our species, from socialising to enabling cultures. This development may be regarded at a developmental progression from ‘shallow’ to ‘deep’ organics.