The ORCA Centres and Topics

ORCA Centres

The eleven ORCA Centres will cover 22 topics related to organic agriculture.


Comparative Studies

Long-term comparison trials are necessary to evaluate the benefits of organic agricultural systems. Conversion to organic agriculture can be time-intensive and costly in terms of certification. Before beginning the process, farmers want to be sure of the long-term advantages. They want to understand how organic systems compare with regard to nutrients, energy, and in terms of capital and labour requirements. It is expected that the longer land is under organic management, the better crops will perform, due to enhanced nutrient cycling, improved soil quality, and systematic resistance to pests. Long-term studies are needed to document changes that occur over time in maturing organic systems and identify those factors that are most significant over time in maximizing organic productivity.

The current research in comparison trials focus on cropped based systems. Comparison trials on organic versus conventional livestock systems have not been started. Several civil society organizations have undertaken long-term trials on crops. The USA-based Rodale Institute’s long-term trials are in their third decade of comparing organic and conventional production. Recently, FiBL and its partners began developing sites for long-term comparison trials in Kenya, India, and Bolivia. FiBL, along with Agroscope, also maintains another long-term comparison project called DOK.

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