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Velimirov A.,Research Institute for Organic Farming Austria FiBL | Lueck L.,Newcastle University | Shiel R.,Newcastle University | Ploger A.,University of Kassel | Leifert C.,Newcastle University
NJAS - Wageningen Journal of Life Sciences | Year: 2011

There is extensive evidence that rats are able to sense toxicants and essential nutrients in their food and avoid foods that contain these substances. This ability was employed to assess whether the two major management factors soil fertility management and crop protection affected the food preferences of laboratory rats. Samples of wheat grown in 2005 and 2007 under four combinations of these management factors in the Nafferton Factorial Systems Comparison at Northumberland UK were used as experimental diets in food preference tests. In both years, the rats preferred organically fertilized wheat. The influence of organic and conventional crop protection was inconsistent. But a statistically significant interaction of soil fertility management and crop protection was observed: under organic soil fertility management there was generally no difference between the two crop protection methods but under conventional soil fertility management either the combination with organic crop protection (2005) or the fully conventional combination (2007) resulted in the most disliked food. In conclusion, the findings emphasize the role of soil fertility management for producing food of not only a quality that was preferred by rats but also for a high quality of the organic production system in general. © 2011 Royal Netherlands Society for Agricultural Sciences.

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