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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 638: XXVI International Horticultural Congress: Sustainability of Horticultural Systems in the 21st Century

ECOLOGICAL APPLE PRODUCTION: A COMPARISON OF ORGANIC AND INTEGRATED APPLE-GROWING

Authors:   L. Bertschinger, P. Mouron, E. Dolega, H. Höhn, E. Holliger, A. Husistein, A. Schmid, W. Siegfried, A. Widmer, M. Zürcher, F. Weibel
Keywords:   Malus x domestica, sustainable apple production, crop production, soil management
Abstract:
In 1995, an experiment was planted at Wädenswil for comparing organic and integrated apple production. The overall goal of this experiment was to develop a data set which allows for an objective overall comparison of the two production concepts. Horticultural, ecological and economical traits were looked at. In practical terms, the study should particularly clarify how suitable the two systems are for producing marketable fresh fruit under Swiss conditions. The approach of an on-station comparison with a split-plot design with 3 replicate blocks and the factors “production system” (1st factor) and “variety” (2nd factor) was chosen. Ninety-four percent of Swiss apple acreage is managed according to integrated production, and 5% according to organic guidelines 2001. Conventional production is therefore lacking practical relevance and was not included in this trial. Cultivars Boskoop, Pommes Cloche, Idared and Resi were planted on rootstock M9 at a 3.4 by 1.4m spacing. The crop management was dynamically adapted every year according to the most advanced crop management technology that is appropriate in the particular in situ situation of the trial and that is permitted by the most recent Swiss guidelines for each of the two production systems. In particular, parameters of tree growth, fruit growth, yield and fruit quality, crop protection, crop economy and crop ecology were assessed. In 2001, additional analytical fruit quality parameters were measured and extensive sensory tests were performed. This study provides the first scientific comparison of organic and integrated apple production under European conditions. The paper presents preliminary conclusions while the last cropping season of the experiment is still on-going and final data analyses will be possible in 2003.
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