News

Open day at University of Thessaly

Members of the public were able to see the ongoing work of Organic-PLUS and other projects in the greenhouse facilities of the University of Thessaly, Greece on 18th September 2019. The Open Access Day was part of the pan-European communication campaign Europe in My Region 2019 (#EUinMyRegion). Associate Professor, Nikolaos Katsoulas, (director of the Laboratory of Agricultural Constructions and Environmental Control) and his colleagues guided visitors through the facilities including a new pilot greenhouse.

Thessaly open day 18-09-19
Associate Professor Nikolaos Katsoulas (leader of O+ workpackage 3) delivering the tour

A variety of farmers, researchers, professionals, teachers and other interested people attended. There was an emphasis on farm diversification within the framework of the circular economy and the benefits of sharing good practice to encourage networking and dialogue.

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The farm is in the Valestino area, near the national road which runs from Athens to Thessaloniki and covers an area of 25 ha serving the research and educational needs of the members of the Department of Agriculture. A significant area of about 0.35 ha are covered by greenhouses.

New! Polish language Organic-PLUS website

Czestochowa University of Technology (CUT), our consortium partner in Poland has now launched a Polish language Organic-PLUS website. After talking to farmers and growers, it emerged that there was the need for a resource that explained the project and the activities of the CUT team in the local language. To follow the project in Polish, you can visit https://organic-plus.is.pcz.pl/pl/o-projekcie-organic.

O+ Polish website

Plastic mulch alternatives event

On 26th September, researchers working on Organic-PLUS at Coventry University’s Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience held an open day for farmers and other stakeholders on the topic of plastic film mulches. The event was part of Innovative Farmers, a Soil Association scheme which brings farmers and researchers together to devise on-farm ‘field-lab’ trials.

Innovative Farmers Coventry 26-09-19 FR
Francis Rayns explaining trials of plastic mulches and their alternatives

There were several short presentations on topics including the overall use of plastics in agriculture/horticulture and Organic-PLUS’s 2019 field trials – Francis Rayns and Judith Conroy have been working alongside 5 Acre Community Farm, trialing a number of mulch films including: two fossil fuel derived plastics, two biodegradable films currently available to growers and two novel materials developed by project partner the Częstochowa University of Technology. As well as measuring the effectiveness of the mulches and subsequent yield, soil samples are being analysed to find out whether substances such as phthalates have leached from the mulches.

Innovative Farmers Coventry 26-09-19
Grower Becca Stevenson leading a tour of 5 Acre Community Farm 

The day concluded with a tour of 5 Acre Community Farm to see the Organic-PLUS onion and cabbage trial plots, and to find out more about 5 Acre’s experiences of using biodegradable mulch films over the past few years. There will be a further Innovative Farmers meeting in the next few weeks which it is hoped will lead to on-farm trials in 2020.

Organic-PLUS poster wins prize at waste management conference

Danuta Dróżdż, a PhD candidate working on the Organic-PLUS project at the Częstochowa University of Technology, presented a poster at the 7th International Conference on Sustainable Solid Waste Management, in Heraklion, Crete, Greece, 26th – 29th June 2019. The conference focused on utilising various forms of solid waste through safe, sustainable and & effective technologies.

Danuta June 2019 conference 4

Danuta’s poster “Potentials of fish pond sediment composts as organic fertiliser” was very well received, coming 3rd out of 202 posters that were presented. As this research progresses, we will making our findings available by producing reports, articles and by publishing scientific papers.

Organic-PLUS results presented at EAAP congress

From 26th-30th August 2019, the 70th Annual Meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science (EAAP) took place in Ghent, Belgium. The EAAP is one of the largest animal science congresses in the world and the main theme of this year’s meeting was “animal farming for a healthy world”. Dr Mauro Penasa (of DAFNAE, University of Padova) presented the poster “Organic livestock farming contentious inputs in France: preliminary results”, which summarised the initial findings of the French part of the recent Europe-wide livestock Organic-PLUS livestock survey conducted in France by the Organic-PLUS livestock team.

Mauro for website news Sept 2019

Focus Group research in Italy, Norway and the United Kingdom

One of the primary aims of Organic-PLUS’s IMPACT work package (WP2), is to explore citizens’ views and concerns about organic agriculture. In the first half of this year, six focus groups were carried out in the UK, Italy and Norway. Within each country we undertook one focus group of regular consumers of organic food and another group consisting of less frequent consumers of organic food. Topics addressed within the focus groups included shopping and eating habits, understandings and definitions of organic, impressions of different organic foods and an evaluation of the importance of the various contentious inputs within organic agriculture (including the use of copper, antibiotics and plastics).

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During the sessions, participants also received a 20 minute presentation from a natural scientist explaining the different contentious issues in more detail so that they were able to make more informed decisions. Initial results show that participants identified a far broader range of ‘contentious’ issues than those currently addressed by Organic-PLUS (e.g. issues of seasonality, over-commercialisation of organic, labour conditions). Of the specific contentious inputs identified by the project, focus group participants believed that antibiotic use, plastic mulches and the use of mineral oils were the most pressing to address, although many felt that all the issues were similarly important. Results from the focus group are now being used to help inform the design of a questionnaire of 14,000 respondents across 7 European countries.

University of Thessaly to host Open Access Day

As part of the Horizon 2020 project Organic-PLUS, the Laboratory of Agricultural Constructions and Environmental Control of the University of Thessaly, is organising an open day for the public. The event will take place at the University’s experimental farm in Velestino, on 18th September 2019 from 10:00am to 15:00pm.

Visitors will be able to see both the activities of the laboratory in the context of the Organic-PLUS project (Workpackage 3, PLANT) and also the activities of other research projects being undertaken by the team, including: FoodOASIS, Alga4Fuel&Aqua, Cascade Hydroponics (CasH), AgriTexSil and MED Greenhouses.

There will also be the opportunity to visit the Innovative Greenhouse, including a presentation of the new pilot greenhouse of the Laboratory of Agricultural Constructions and Environmental Control of the University of Thessaly, where most of the above mentioned projects are implemented.

The Open Access Day (OPEN DAY) event is part of the pan-European communication campaign Europe in My Region 2019 (#EUinMyRegion).

UTH Sept 13 open day flyer