This summer, Dr Dennis Touliatos of Coventry University has been visiting and interviewing vegan organic growers (sometimes known as ‘veganic’ or ‘stock free’) across the UK as part of the Organic-PLUS team’s efforts to identify pathways to phase out contentious inputs from organic horticulture. In organic certified systems, the use of animal manure from non-organic (but not intensive) farms is currently permitted which raises issues such as the potential to import pesticide residues. In addition, the use of any livestock-derived inputs is not compatible with vegan organic principles.
Vegan organic growers use a range of plant-based approaches (e.g. legumes, green manures and compost) to build soil fertility. As well as removing animal-derived fertility, these approaches often negate the need for external inputs altogether.
Dennis will put the data gathered during his interviews into RISE, a modelling software used by agronomists to assess the economic, social and environmental sustainability of agricultural production at the farm level. As part of WP6 Model, the RISE methodology will be used to assess the potential and practicalities of vegan organic horticulture, and will compare it to other organic and conventional growing systems.