Research Station Agroscope Reckenholz-Tänikon ART, CH-8046 Zurich

Effects in winter wheat

The yield of winter wheat grown using three different farming systems (‘organic’, ‘extensive IP’ and ‘intensive IP’) as well as the quality and health of its grains were compared in a long-term trial on Burgrain Farm in Alberswil (Canton of Lucerne, Switzerland). In the organic farming system, the land was ploughed, fertilized with farmyard manure, and weeds were controlled with a weeder. In ‘extensive IP’ the wheat was cultivated using no-tillage; slurry fertilization was supplemented by ammonium nitrate and weeds were controlled with herbicides. In ‘intensive IP’ the land was ploughed; 33 percent more nitrogen fertiliser, mainly mineral, was applied; growth regulators were used; weeds, diseases and pests were controlled by chemical plant protection products. There were no significant differences between the farming systems with regard to wheat grain infestation by the pathogen Microdochium nivale, the falling number and the hectolitre weight. In the no-tillage ‘extensive IP’ system, however, infestation with Fusarium graminearum and the deoxynivalenol content of the wheat grain were three times that of the ‘organic’ and ‘intensive IP’ variants. The yield of the organic variant was about comparable to that of the ‘extensive IP’ system but significantly lower than that of ‘intensive IP’. Despite the lower grain yield, ‘organic’ was economically more viable than either IP system, thanks to higher producer prices and area contributions.

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