9 July 1999

ORGANIC SHORTS

&#8226 MAFF must increase its budget for organic research to meet growing demand from organic producers.

Speaking at the new organic area at the show, ADASs Richard Collyer said current research budgets were miniscule. "More money may be coming in but double of nothing is still nothing"

But he believes that public opinion will force the governments hand, making it commit more funding to organic research.

As more farms have now converted, there are more resources available for research. "We need to expand research to these farms and those in conversion, so we can understand more about the processes involved," he said.

&#8226 ORGANIC production looks set to take off in Wales with current predictions indicating 10% of producers will have converted by 2005.

This compares to a small increase in England over the next three years, with 3% of food produced being classified as organic. ADASs Richard Collyer said this is because it is easier to convert to organic production in Welsh hill sheep and beef units.

But he warned Welsh organic producers that they needed to develop local co-operatives to market stock and safeguard their future.

He also hoped that the Welsh Office would learn from MAFFs mistakes in England and not penalise producers wanting to convert. But he added that participation in other agri-environment schemes, such as Countryside Stewardship, meant they received reduced conversion aid payments.

&#8226 SHEEP internal parasites could be controlled by feeding forages that reduce faecal egg counts.

Preliminary results from research by Christina Marley at the Welsh Institute of Rural Studies suggests that feeding the forage Birdsfoot Trefoil lowers egg counts. There are three potential mechanisms that could have this effect, she said.

It may contain anti-parasitic properties; condensed tannins that cause a reaction in the rumen; or the micro-climate in Birdsfoot Trefoil is different to biomass usually experienced by parasites meaning they are less likely to be eaten by livestock.

&#8226 ORGANIC conversion could become easier in future using a computer software programme.

The conversion planning software called COP is intended for advisors, and is being developed at the Welsh Institute of Rural Studies. It will enable interested producers to carry out financial assessments relevant to their own business and will be user-friendly. &#42