Better communication is needed across the organic arable supply chain in order to identify production shortfalls and promote innovation.
That was a key message from a recent event hosted by the Organic Arable Marketing Group (OAMG) – set up by Elm Farm Research Centre and Grainfarmers.
While organic wheat production increased by 2700ha last year and many attending the event were optimistic about the sector, two major challenges are creating uncertainty, said OAMG chairman, Gerry Minister.
Firstly, from January 2011, a new EU law will require 50% of total diet feed for non-herbivores to come from own or linked holdings, and, from the end of next year, feed compounders will have to adopt separate lines of production for conventional and organic feeds, he explained.
“Such regulations breed uncertainty in the sector, especially when the UK’s detailed adoption of them is so uncertain.”
Mr Minister also urged growers with a large proportion of organic wheat to look to other crops such as triticale, barley and proteins (e.g. peas, beans and lupins), to help ease agronomic and rotation problems involving weed suppression and soil nutrient requirements.
“We need to make sure other organic crops are just as economically viable as wheat. New markets for barley and triticale with encouragement for greater use by end users would help limit wheat’s place in the organic arable rotation.”