Thunen Institute of Organic Farming

Westerau, Germany

Thunen Institute of Organic Farming

Westerau, Germany

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Ohm M.,Thunen Institute of Organic Farming | Schuler M.,Thunen Institute of Organic Farming | Fystro G.,Postboks 115 As | Paulsen H.M.,Thunen Institute of Organic Farming
Landbauforschung Volkenrode | Year: 2015

Limited knowledge is available on inner farm nutrient transfer from organic grassland to arable land in organic farms. This study quantifies the phosphorus (P) mobilization of permanent grassland and different arable crops for inner farm P transfer and discusses in how far P reserves in grassland soils can be a component of sufficiency P management in organic farming. A North German organic dairy farm with sufficient soil P supply is analyzed. Over three years its P balance showed an average deficit of 7.9 kg ha-1 yr1 in permanent grassland and 10.9 kg ha-1 yr1 in arable land. Maize (30.5 kg P ha-1 yr1), grass-clover (23.9 kg P ha-1 yr1) and mixed faba bean and oats (19.8 kg P ha-1 yr1) had the highest P uptake in cropland. At grassland, grazing intake of P by livestock was 15.9 kg P ha-1 yr1 and via storage feed and manure it directly fed arable land with 64 kg P yr1 (average 1 kg P ha-1 yr1). Especially on grassland, soil P mining does not endanger soil fertility yet, according to sufficient available P-contents in the soils (CAL-extract averages [mg 100 g-1 P]: grassland 14.7, arable land 6.7). Generally, the inclusion of unexploited grassland sites with high soil P contents in farm nutrient flows (via feed conserves for livestock or biogas) would address unused soil P reserves for redistribution.


Johnsen J.F.,Norwegian Veterinary Institute | Zipp K.A.,University of Kassel | Kalber T.,Thunen Institute of Organic Farming | Passille A.M.D.,University of British Columbia | And 3 more authors.
Applied Animal Behaviour Science | Year: 2016

In the dairy industry it is common practice to separate cow and calf shortly after birth but this practice is disputed because of animal welfare concerns. Some producers, in many countries, milk cows that also nurse dairy calves. These cow-calf systems allow nursing as well as affiliative and other natural behaviours. In this review paper we describe cow-calf systems used in practice and/or in research, discuss the benefits and challenges documented by research, and identify areas where more research is needed. Four cow-calf systems are described: (1) free contact systems where cow and calf have unrestricted access to each other; (2) restricted suckling systems allowing short daily contact only to nurse; (3) half day contact where cow and calf are housed together during the day or night; and (4) foster cow systems where one cow nurses 2-4 calves usually without milking. In free and half day cow-calf contact systems the calf drinks large amounts of milk and has high daily weight gains. High pre-weaning calf weight gains have been shown to lead to higher milk yield during that animal's first lactation. One issue with cow-calf systems is the depressed weight gain of calves at weaning. The premature separation of cow and calf, compared to the natural situation, may cause stress especially in free contact systems. Weaning and separation should therefore occur in two steps. Half day contact seems particularly promising because animals get used to being separated, they experience positive human handling, and calves can learn to use a milk feeder which will prevent the growth check following weaning. Nursing cows yield less saleable milk during the suckling period, can have problems with milk ejection during machine milking and have a lower fat content of the milk, compared to non-nursing cows. Udder health of the cow may be positively affected by nursing. A rich social rearing environment has recently been shown to improve cognitive skills of calves. Still, studies on long term effects of dam rearing on behaviour, health, production and farm economics are few. There is also a need to address ways to control transmissible diseases when dairy cattle are kept in mixed age groups. Increased knowledge will help us design functional high tech dairy management systems that respect the natural behaviour of cows and calves during the calf rearing period. © 2015 The Authors.


Witten S.,Thunen Institute of Organic Farming | Bohm H.,Thunen Institute of Organic Farming | Aulrich K.,Thunen Institute of Organic Farming
Landbauforschung Volkenrode | Year: 2015

The composition of organically produced field peas and field beans as a source of valuable protein is of special interest for the planned 100 % organic feeding regulations in organic farming. For this reason, the influence of environment and variety on the contents of crude nutrients and the amino acids lysine, methionine, and cysteine were examined over three years. Laboratory analyses were conducted using NIRS. Peas contained on average 21.9 g crude protein 100 g1 dry matter with 8.0 g lysine 100 g-1, 1.0 g methionine 100 g", and 1.4 g cysteine 100 g-1. In field beans 29.6 g crude protein 100 g-1 dry matter with 6.4 g lysine 100 g-1,0.7 g methionine 100 g1, and 1.1 g cysteine 100 g1 were found. Significant differences between varieties were found for crude protein and ether extract in field peas, as well as for all components in field beans. Environmental factors and interactions also had influences on the composition of both legume species. Further-more, significantly negative correlations were found between the content of crude protein and starch (r = -0.69), sugar (r = -0.47), lysine (r = 0.76), and methionine (r = -0.51) in field beans, as well as of crude protein and starch (r = -0.79), sugar (r = -0.55), lysine (r = -0.78), methionine (r = -0.61), and cysteine (r = -0.55) in field peas. The shifts in composition were often undirected and for that reason not predictable. Hence, it is recommended to analyze every batch before formulating a diet.


Meier-Dinkel L.,University of Gottingen | Strack M.,University of Gottingen | Strack M.,isi GmbH & Co. KG | Hoinghaus K.,Thunen Institute of Organic Farming | And 2 more authors.
Meat Science | Year: 2016

This study investigated the acceptance of pork with varying levels boar-taint related off-flavours both, within a meat-alone (pure) and a meal context. In total, backfat samples of n = 24 animals were evaluated by a trained panel. The fat score was then related to the consumer liking of the pork chops. Repeated ANOVA of chop liking with consumer as a random factor (n = 37) and fat score as an interval predictor shows neither a main effect of context (dwithin = 0.015) nor the interactions of context with linear and quadratic coefficient of the fat score. The linear (b = − 0.20) and quadratic (b = − 0.24) coefficients of the fat score main effect demonstrate the necessity and effectiveness of sensory quality control at slaughter. The quadratic coefficient showed a distinct penalty for higher fat scores. Sensory defects detected by trained panellists may not be noticed by usually less sensitive consumers. © 2016 Elsevier Ltd


Georg H.,Thunen Institute of Organic Farming | Bender S.,Thunen Institute of Organic Farming | Ude G.,Thunen Institute of Organic Farming
Landtechnik | Year: 2012

To assess animal behaviour of goat kids on pasture, a real time positioning system, Ubisense 7000, was installed mobile and outdoors. One major goal of the study was to analyse time goat kids spent in functional areas like pasture, fodder hedges or hutch, the other goal was the feasibility of the positioning system regarding fixation at animals, accuracy and outdoor durability. Results show, that grazing periods happen even during the night, whereas fodder hedges were used only during daytime. Accuracy of the positioning concerning Euclidian geometry was around 15 cm, which is according manufacturer's data.


Gronle A.,Thunen Institute of Organic Farming | Gronle A.,University of Kassel | Hess J.,University of Kassel | Bohm H.,Thunen Institute of Organic Farming
Organic Agriculture | Year: 2015

The cultivation of weak weed competitive pea sole crops after reduced ploughing depth may result in weed problems in organic farming. Intercropping peas and cereals is one option to manage weed problems. However, little evidence exists on the weed suppressive ability of pea-cereal intercrops after differing ploughing depths. The effect of crop stand (pea sole crop, pea-oat intercrop and oat sole crop) and ploughing depth (10–12 vs. 25–27 cm) on the annual weed infestation, PAR transmission and weed nitrogen as well as water supply was investigated in field experiments in Northern Germany. In order to determine causes for the differing weed suppressive ability in pea and oat sole or intercrops, a pot experiment and a bioassay were conducted complementary to the field experiments. Crop stand and ploughing depth did not interact with regard to weed infestation. The weed suppressive ability increased from pea sole crops to oat sole crops, whereas shallow ploughing resulted in a significantly higher weed infestation than deep ploughing. While crop-weed competition for light was not essential for the differing weed suppressive ability, competition for water and nitrogen were detected to be key factors. As root exudates of the examined oat cultivar showed a growth inhibiting potential, allelopathy may also contribute to the weed suppression in oat sole and pea-oat intercrops. Results from this study indicate that pea-oat intercropping is not able to compensate for the higher annual weed infestation after shallow ploughing. Nevertheless, owing to their good weed suppressive ability, intercrops with cereals are of particular suitability for the cultivation of weak weed suppressive semi-leafless peas in reduced tilled soils in organic farming. © 2015, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.


Gronle A.,Thunen Institute of Organic Farming | Hess J.,University of Kassel | Bohm H.,Thunen Institute of Organic Farming
Field Crops Research | Year: 2015

Winter peas (Pisum sativum L.) are a promising alternative to spring peas in organic farming. Intercropping winter peas and cereals may be a beneficial way to improve lodging resistance in normal-leafed and weed suppression in semi-leafless winter peas. At the same time, there is an increasing interest in a reduction in tillage intensity, e.g. shallow ploughing. A normal-leafed, coloured-flowered (cv. E.F.B. 33) and a semi-leafless, white-flowered winter pea (cv. James) were cultivated as sole crops or in intercrops with triticale (Triticosecale Wittmarck) on a loam soil under Northern German conditions during two seasons (2009/2010, 2010/2011) and compared for winter survival, lodging resistance, yield performance, grain quality and succeeding winter wheat yield. The two ploughing depths were short-term shallow ploughing to 10-12cm and continuous deep ploughing to 25-27cm. Intercropping did not improve winter survival, which depended on pre-winter development. Owing to the low lodging resistance of normal-leafed winter pea E.F.B. 33, sole cropping is not advisable. Intercropping normal-leafed winter pea E.F.B. 33 and triticale resulted in a better yield performance (2.54-3.39 td.m.ha-1) than the semi-leafless winter pea James sole (0.97-1.79 td.m.ha-1) or intercrops (2.05-2.86 td.m.ha-1). E.F.B. 33 had significantly higher grain crude protein, crude fibre and macronutrient contents, whereas the crude fat, starch and sugar content as well as the energetic feed value were higher in James. Wheat yields after E.F.B. 33 sole and intercrops were higher than after the corresponding James sole or intercrops. The biomass production, yield performance and the energetic feed value of winter pea sole and intercrops were comparable between ploughing depths or higher after shallow ploughing. Thus, E.F.B. 33-triticale intercrops provided better results than James sole or intercrops, except for the energetic feed value, and shallow ploughing was a good alternative to deep ploughing for the cultivation of winter peas. © 2015 Elsevier B.V.


Zipp K.A.,University of Kassel | Barth K.,Thunen Institute of Organic Farming | Knierim U.,University of Kassel
Applied Animal Behaviour Science | Year: 2016

In systems where dairy cows are milked and additionally suckle their calves during the first months of lactation, problems with alveolar milk ejection during machine-milking occur. As olfaction is a key sense for kin recognition and acceptance at the udder, olfactory stimulation might alleviate this challenge. In this pilot study, we investigated whether cows behaviourally respond to calf hair presented in the parlour, and whether this is affected by suckling the own calf or not. Discrimination between hair of the own calf in a thin cloth bag ('own'), hair of an alien calf ('alien') and a control cloth bag without calf hair ('no') was tested among 17 multiparous and 6 primiparous cows with free calf-contact ('contact') and 13 multiparous and 4 primiparous cows separated within 12 h after parturition from their calves ('control'). Both groups were milked twice daily in a tandem milking parlour, where they were individually tested in six consecutive milkings (trials) starting between the 12th and 20th day of lactation. Two of three olfactory stimuli were simultaneously presented. Sniffing or licking of the stimuli during the first minutes of milking (response duration in % of total observation time) and number of trials with any response (frequency of responses) were recorded. Calf hair ('own' or 'alien') elicited responses in 60% of the animals at least once, but altogether there were only overt responses in 23% of trials. Significant differences in responsiveness towards the different stimuli were found in terms of frequency of responses for all cows (n = 28 without missing data, p = 0.003). Response duration differed significantly for all responsive multiparous cows (n = 12, p = 0.049) and in tendency for all responsive heifers (n = 8, p = 0.061) and for responsive 'contact' cows and heifers (n = 11, p = 0.034). In all these cases, responses were highest for 'own', intermediate for 'alien' and lowest for 'no'. In the post hoc tests, no significant differences between 'own' and 'alien' could be detected. Despite low response rates to the presented olfactory stimuli in general, we conclude that the responsive multiparous cows and 'contact' heifers were able to perceive the presented calf odour and preferred to sniff/lick those stimuli compared to a stimulus with 'no' odour. © 2016 Elsevier B.V.


Moos J.H.,Thunen Institute of Organic Farming | Schrader S.,Thunen Institute of Biodiversity | Paulsen H.M.,Thunen Institute of Organic Farming | Rahmann G.,Thunen Institute of Organic Farming
Applied Soil Ecology | Year: 2016

Reduced tillage has several advantages over conventional tillage (CT), including the promotion of earthworm communities and the reduction of input of energy and labour. However, its application in organic farming is mainly hindered through increasing weed pressure. One way to counteract this drawback might be to introduce occasional reduced tillage (ORT), which means applying methods of reduced tillage only in combination with selected crops. Against this background we hypothesized that (i) ORT rapidly promotes biomass, abundance and species richness of earthworm communities and that (ii) ORT generates a financial surplus for farmers. Therefore, a field experiment was established for triticale (x Triticosecale) cultivation on loamy soils in Northern Germany. The influence of tillage regimes on earthworms was investigated in a non-randomized design with n = 3 fields for the ORT and CT treatment. Earthworm biomass, abundance and species richness were investigated in October 2012 and in April and October 2013. Yields were determined for the three fields under each tillage system, each field with four non-randomized replicates, before harvest in 2013. The ORT treatment consisted of two to three tillage operations prior to seeding with a maximal cultivation depth of 15 cm and without ploughing, whereas the CT treatment consisted of a ploughing depth of 25-30 cm and one to four other steps for seedbed preparation prior to seeding. In total, seven earthworm species were identified. Our data revealed that earthworm biomass was significantly reduced under CT, both four weeks and about seven months after tillage. This effect holds true for the number of earthworm individuals in autumn (four weeks after ploughing), but not for the number of earthworm individuals in spring (seven months after ploughing). Results of contribution margin analysis showed no consistent trend referring to tillage measures. Two fields, which performed well under CT, showed a financial surplus (+24% and +13%) when managed with ORT. At the same time one field, performing poorly under CT, generated financial deficits (-10%) under ORT. Overall ORT had immediate positive effects on earthworm populations. Furthermore, this management scheme might have positive effects on the economic outcomes of organic crop rotations if overall growing conditions are sufficient. Along with methods usually applied to investigate earthworm performance, we checked whether the number of surface casts could help estimate earthworm performance. It became apparent that the number of surface casts cannot be used as a general predictor of earthworm performance. The number of individuals of Lumbricus terrestris, the number of anecic individuals and the total earthworm biomass can be estimated the most reliable by counting surface casts. © 2016 Elsevier B.V.


PubMed | Thunen Institute of Organic Farming and University of Gottingen
Type: | Journal: Meat science | Year: 2016

This study investigated the acceptance of pork with varying levels boar-taint related off-flavours both, within a meat-alone (pure) and a meal context. In total, backfat samples of n=24 animals were evaluated by a trained panel. The fat score was then related to the consumer liking of the pork chops. Repeated ANOVA of chop liking with consumer as a random factor (n=37) and fat score as an interval predictor shows neither a main effect of context (dwithin=0.015) nor the interactions of context with linear and quadratic coefficient of the fat score. The linear (b=-0.20) and quadratic (b=-0.24) coefficients of the fat score main effect demonstrate the necessity and effectiveness of sensory quality control at slaughter. The quadratic coefficient showed a distinct penalty for higher fat scores. Sensory defects detected by trained panellists may not be noticed by usually less sensitive consumers.

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