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Aarhus University nets a large bag of money for organic research

A number of scientists at Aarhus University and their project partners have netted 57.9 million Danish crowns of the research funds distributed by the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries via its Green Development and Demonstration Programme (GUDP). The funds have, among other things, been granted to research into organic apples, pigs in agroforestry and higher yields with row cropping and cover crops.

[Translate to English:] GUDP-programmet under Fødevareministeriet har uddelt midler til økologisk forskning og udvikling. Forskere fra Aarhus Universitet står i spidsen for seks af de projekter, som modtog midler fra programmet.

Scientists from Aarhus University and their project partners succeeded in attracting funding from GUDP under the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries. A grand total of 57.9 million DKK was awarded to six different research projects in which scientists from Aarhus University are project leaders.


In the VIPiglets project scientists will reduce neonatal piglet mortality in the organic production through introduction of breeding strategies that target specific challenges of this   production. In addition, by improving free-range huts and surveillance during farrowing, scientists expect to be able to reduce piglet mortality from one in three to one in five of the total number of piglets born in organic farming. At the same time, the number of weaned piglets and weight of the weaned piglets are respectively expected to be increased by at least one pig and one kilo.


In the PROTECFRUIT project consumers will benefit from a larger harvest of organic apples and pears. Fruit trees will go under cover to ensure higher yields and to improve fruit quality. In addition, the problems with pests in organic fruit production will be controlled by creating floral strips between the rows of fruit trees. This will give better living conditions for the natural enemies of some of the most common pests in fruit growing.


The project MultiChick will test whether the production of Danish organic broilers can benefit from the inclusion of new breeds, from feeding more roughage and from ensuring high animal welfare by a system combining free-range chickens with agroforestry.


The pECOSYSTEM project will be seeking new solutions for improving pig welfare and for reducing the impact on climate and environment. This can be achieved by letting free-range sows forage in agroforestry and letting young pigs remain with their mother for a longer period before being removed for fattening. Alternatives are also sought to the normal procedure of rearing slaughter pigs indoors with access to an outdoor concrete area.


The SOBcows project uses genomic selection to produce healthier and more robust animals that are adapted to organic production. Genomic selection will also be used to create a basis for a niche production of milk with health-promoting properties and milk with special characteristics from old Danish dairy breeds.


The RowCrop project will try to overcome two of the largest challenges in organic crop production, namely nitrogen supply and weeds. This will be achieved by growing crops in rows, which permits hoeing between rows, and subsequent sowing of cover crops that can accumulate nitrogen for the following crops.


The funds awarded to these projects by GUDP are part of a total of 120 million Danish crowns allocated to organic research and development for the period 2013-2015 in the Finance Act 2013. The granting of funds to projects is based on the research and development strategy prepared by the International Centre for Research in Organic Food Systems (ICROFS) in 2012.


For further information:


"VIPiglets: Increasing the number and weight of piglets per sow” – senior scientist Lene Juul Pedersen, Department of Animal Science, telephone: +45 8715 7907, email: Lene.JuulPedersen@agrsci.dk


"PROTECFRUIT: More and better-looking organic apples and pears" – Senior scientist Lillie Andersen, Department of Food Science, telephone: +45 8715 8323, mobile: +45 4029 2142, email: lillie.andersen@agrsci.dk


"MultiChick: Diversity and credibility in organic broiler production" – Senior scientist Sanna Steenfeldt, Department of Animal Science, telephone: +45 8715 8074, email: sanna.steenfeldt@agrsci.dk


"pECOSYSTEM: Healthy pigs in the forest" – Section manager John E. Hermansen, Department of Agroecology, telephone: +45 8715 8017, Mobile: +45 29629538, email: john.hermansen@agrsci.dk


"SOBcows: Organic breeding objectives and breeding plans for dairy cows" – Senior adviser Morten Kargo, Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, telephone: +45 8715 7987, email: morten.kargo@agrsci.dk


"ROWCROP: Higher yields with row cropping and cover crops" – Professor Jørgen E. Olesen, Department of Agroecology, telephone: +45 8715 7778, mobile: +45 4082 1659, email: jorgene.olesen@agrsci.dk