Soil fertility is fundamental in determining the productivity of all farming systems. Major tools utilized in organic farming to increase the fertility of the soil can be expressed as rotation, green manuring and allowed organic fertilizers and soil amendments. A field experiment was conducted at Ege University in Izmir, Turkey, to study the effects of pre-crops used as green manure - including vetch, faba bean, broccoli and spontaneous weeds - and fertilization (compost tea, commercial fertilizer) on four different main crops (as Tomato, Zucchini, Pepper, Eggplant) in the rotation program and on soil fertility. The main aim of the experiment was to identify the most suitable rotation program in organic farming for Turkey under prevailing conditions in order to be applied at farmers' conditions.
Ege University, Faculty of Agriculture, Department of Horticultural Crops - TurkeyLead applicant
Ege University , Faculty of Agriculture, Department of Soil Science - TurkeyInitiative partner
CIHEAM Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Bari - ItalyInitiative partner
The Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Bari (MAIB) is a Centre for post-graduate training, applied scientific research and design of in-loco partnership actions in the framework of the international cooperation programmes. It works in four thematic areas: “Land and water resources management”, “Integrated pest management of Mediterranean fruit and vegetable crops”, “Mediterranean organic agriculture” and “Sustainable agriculture, food and rural development”.
sustainable soil management in vegetable production system through rotation and fertilization programs
The project aimed at developing a sustainable vegetable production system economically and ecologically suitable for western Turkey for the first time. This method evaluated the rotation program and the fertilization strategy first under experimental conditions and then the results were transferred and tested under farmer's conditions and found applicable. The findings were later transferred to farmers, students and government extension services. Environmentally friendly and economically viable vegetable production method is developed through evaluating different rotation programs and different fertilization methods and assessing the yields, quality and costs. It was a 5-year trial and included phases both at the experimental farm of the University and at farmer's conditions as the innovative approach.
Research project was carried out at the experimental field Ege University Campus in Izmir / Turkey. The site is 40 m above the sea level. The region is characterized by a Mediterranean climate with dry summers followed by long rainy season. Precipitation in Izmir is distributed as follows: 22% in spring, 2% in summer, 21% in autumn and 55% in winter. The average rainfall is reported by The Turkish State Meteorological Service as 689 mm. The best performing results in terms of rotation and fertilization strategy were further tested at farmers' conditions. The geographical, climatic, economic and social conditions are very relevant to samall holders of the Mediterranean basin. This creates an opportunity to replicate the results through out the Med countries. The project is developed to find a suitable and sustainable management system for intensive vegetable growers in the area.
By this project a sustainable vegetable production system basing on crop rotation of solanceous and cucurbitacae with broccoli as winter crop has been developed.
Five thesis were prepared at Masters Degree level and submitted and approved at Mediterranean Institute of Bari.
Five experts were trained for organic farming practices.
Scientific data to support these ideas have been collected and disseminated in several different ways that reaches to other researchers, extension workers and farmers. Reaching to farmers had practical changes on their production methods. Also several students become acquainted with organic agriculture and some developed a deep connection with sustainability and share this views further.
Main target of this initiative was to address the needs of organic farmers who need a suitable rotation program for organic vegetable production. It became a very important asset for researchers and trainers who are looking for long term experimental results and success stories for successful rotation programs developed in Turkey.
Masters degree students carried out their thesis research work both at the University experimental farm and privately owned farm.
Brain team of the project is university/institute professors, researcher and trainers. The team was a multinational team of several professionals who has several years of experience in organic agricultural sector and organic research.
Master students were on the field for this initiative. Day to day management of the project was done by 5 different master students as their master thesis. Also there were several agricultural engineering students involved in the project who help out on day to day works related to the project. For students this acted as a training section about organic agriculture and in some cases a first encounter to organic agriculture and sustainability.
It is always difficult to do out door experiments in the field as the environmental conditions effects the experiment area and you need to adapt to this conditions. But the special problems for this project was to keep the continuity of the project. As different master students manage the project each year, brain team of the project needed to take steps to keep the project group in contact with each other and keep the data collection and data storage from the experiments under control.
Another problem was related to the quality of the organic squash purchased from a company. The shape was bulbaceaous so resulted in economic loss. The seed company was informed to prevent further problems.
As the project was an organic agricultural production method development project, sustainability is the core of all activities. Main aspects of sustainability was measured in the project. In specific, we evaluated the effects of the production methods on biodiversity and economical sustainability of tested variables. These methods were chosen to create a production system that necessitates the minimum external input, create the least stress on environment and provide an income that makes the production method also economically sustainable.
All 5 master students who managed the sub-projects continue to work in organic sector in different places which shows that being part of this project strengthened their belief in organic agriculture and necessity to create a sustainable food system. The experience gained also helped them in their future career. Also they transferred this knowledge and belief to their new work places (university, research institute, organic production companies) through which these ideas are dispersed to many new places and to many new people.
Similar projects were performed in Italy, Tunisia and Morrocco and the students exchanged their experiences. Additionally, this research work triggerred two other masters degree thesis at Ege University Department of Horticulture.
All the managers of the project prepared their master thesis with in this project which are mentioned and attached down below. At the end of each year, the reults were presented to an international juree. Also several other papers were prepared and results from this project used in different training programs.
- Effects of rotation and fertilization on tomato in the Mediterranean organic farming system: case of Turkey
- Evaluation of pre-crops and fertilization on organic zucchini under Mediterranean conditions: case of Turkey
- Evaluation of pre-crops and fertilization on organic peper under Mediterranean conditions: case of Turkey
- Evaluation of pre-crops and fertilization on organic eggplant under Mediterranean conditions: case of Turkey
- Effect of vetch-wheat mixture and broccoli as pre-crops on organic summer vegetables: on-farm trial in western Turkey