Organic Food & Farming Research in Sweden
Swedish research on organic farming is to a large extent funded by directed calls for research on organic food systems. These funders are the research council Formas, SLU EkoForsk at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, the Swedish Board of Agriculture and the Ekhaga foundation. Furthermore, the Swedish Farmers' Foundation for Agricultural Research (SLF) is funding research on organic farming within their ordinary research programmes, and the projects addressing organic farming are reported here.
In 2013 a special program for research on organic farming was launched, which was a joint call of SLF and Formas for the period 2014-2016. This research programme was also jointly financed by the two partners. Swedish research on organic farming is also funded by international funding bodies, e.g. the EU framework programs. Furthermore, several ERA-Net programs, mainly funded by national partners, are relevant for organic agricultural research. In this report only projects within the ERA-Net CORE Organic are included.
The research activities cover a wide range of topics within organic crop and animal production as well as about food quality and marketing of organic products. Animal health and welfare issues in organic pig, poultry, dairy and meat production systems are high research priorities. Another important task is to optimise production and improve cultivation stability of protein feed crops, and also to find new local or regional feed protein sources. Locally produced protein feed for monogastric animals has been of special importance. The potential for effective production based on high quality forage and grazing is one central research topic in dairy production. Research on crop and animal breeding has become of increased interest to meet the need of specific traits and breeding goals in organic farming systems, as an important part of building robust farming systems.
Effective weed control, both direct weed regulation and preventive measures, not the least of perennial weed species is another research focus in both agricultural and horticultural cropping systems. Pest and disease control with biological and preventive methods is a strong research area. The potential for conservation biological control to decrease pests and diseases is of high interest together with related research on effects of organic farming on biological diversity and ecosystem services on landscape level. A number of research projects are conducted on how to achieve high nutrient use efficiency of organic fertilisers, manure as well as a range of rest-products from society. Timing of fertiliser nutrient release in relation to crop nutrient needs to avoid environmental harmful emissions is a challenge.
The research on horticultural crops has included both field-grown vegetables, barriers and fruits and green house grown crops. Crop protection strategies has been a strong focus including weed management in field crops.
Most of the research is conducted to meet knowledge needs in agricultural primary production, but some projects deal with other parts of the food system e.g. analysing organic markets and how to secure organic values throughout the food chain. Also, some projects on food quality (mainly Ekhagastiftelsen) and mild food processing (mainly CORE Organic) has been conducted.
Ongoing and recently finished projects are listed in the brochure "Swedish Research on Organic Food and Farming 2008–2018" (pdf)