Propagation material for organic farming

In organic farming, the use of organic starting material is obligatory according to the current EU regulations. However, sufficient material of high quality is not available for all crops, and in those cases farmers still rely on conventionally produced seeds, tubers, bulbs or cuttings.

Research Program: Quality of organic propagation material

This research program aims at developing solutions, needed for improving the production of high quality propagation material. The main emphasis is on the model crops cabbage, onion, wheat and potato. The projects within the program include epidemiological studies of seed borne diseases to develop disease prevention strategies, development of multi-spectral analysis and sorting techniques, methods for analysis and improvement of seed vigour, methods to improve resistance of seeds and seedlings towards pathogens and control of silver scurf in seed potatoes. Active involvement of producers and users of the seeds or seed potatoes ensures that the results will be implemented in practice. The program also aims at strengthening the international collaboration, amongst others through involvement in international research projects. Although the main emphasis of the program is toward improvement of organic seed production, spin-off toward a more sustainable conventional production is expected.

  • Starting date: 1 January 2005
  • Completion date: 31 December 2011   

Individual projects:

  • Production of healthy and vital starting material with focus on specific crop-disease combinations   
  • Methods for analysis and improvement of vigour
  • Improvement of pumpkin seed emergence
  • Improving shelf life of primed celery seeds

The program is sponsored by the Dutch Ministry of Economic affairs, Agriculture & Innovation. Organisations involved: Wageningen University & Research centre, Louis Bolk Institute.

Our international publications on organic seeds:

  • van der Wolf, J.M., Y. Birnbaum, P.S. van der Zouwen and S.P.C. Groot. 2008. Disinfection of vegetable seed by treatment with essential oils, organic acids and plant extracts. Seed Science and Technology, 36, 76-88
  • Groot, S.P.C., Y. Birnbaum, N. Rop, H. Jalink, G. Forsberg, C. Kromphardt, S. Werner and E. Koch. 2006. Effect of seed maturity on sensitivity of seeds to wards physical sanitation treatments. Seed Sci. & Technol., 34, 403-413.
  • Groot S.P.C. and R.W. van der Bulk. 2006. Improving the quality of propagation material for organic farming systems.
  • van der Wolf J. M., P.S. van der Zouwen, P. Garbeva and J. Köhl. 2006. Transmission of Xanthomonas campestris pv. campestris by the fly Calliphora vomitoria to blooming cauliflower plants (Brassica oleracea). Poster presented at the ‘Joint organic Congress’ May 30-31 2006, Odense, Denmark.
  • Schmitt, A.; M. Jahn, C. Kromphardt, H.J.  Krauthausen, S.J. Roberts, S.A.I. Wright, T. Amein, G. Forsberg, F. Tinivella, M.L. Gullino, M.  Wikström, J. van der Wolf, S.P.C. Groot, S. Werner and E. Koch. 2006. Stove: Seed treatments for organic vegetable production. Paper presented at the Joint organic Congress, Odense, Denmark, May 30-31 2006.
  • Groot, S.P.C.; H. Jalink, M. Hospers-Brands, J. Köhl, A. Veerman, M. Wenneker, J.M. van der Wolf and R.W. van den Bulk. 2006. Improvement of the quality of propagation material for organic farming system. Paper presented at Joint Organic Congress, Odense, Denmark, May 30-31, 2006.
  • Groot, S.P.C.; H. Jalink, J. Köhl, C.J. Langerak A. Michta, S. Werner, J.M. van der Wolf and R.W. van den Bulk. 2006. The need for a supply of high quality organic vegetable seeds. Paper presented at Joint Organic Congress, Odense, Denmark, May 30-31, 2006.
  • Amein, T., S.A.I. Wright, ; M. Wikström, A. Schmitt, E. Koch, J. van der Wolf, S. Groot, G. Forsberg, S.  Werner and M. Jahn. 2006. Non- chemical methods of seed treatment for control of seed- borne pathogens on vegetables. Poster presented at the Joint Organic Congress, Odense, Denmark, May 30-31, 2006.
  • Köhl, J.; C. van Tongeren, B.H. de Haas and R.G. Driessen. 2006. Epidemiology of dark leaf spot caused by Alternaria brassicicola in organic seed production of cauliflower. Paper presented at Joint Organic Congress, Odense, Denmark, May 30-31, 2006.
  • Groot S.P.C.. 2005. Production of Organic Seeds: Status, Challenges and Prospects. Seed Info, Official Newsletter from WANA (West Asia and North Africa) Seed Network. January 2005 p 9-12.
  • Groot, S.P.C., J.W.M. van der Wolf, H. Jalink, C.J. Langerak and R.W. van den Bulk. 2004. Como fare un buon seme (Italian). Bio agricultura July/August 2004 p 36-37.
  • Groot, S.P.C.,  J.W.M. van der Wolf, H. Jalink, C.J. Langerak and R.W. van den Bulk. 2004. Challenges for the production of high quality organic seeds. Seed Testing International 127: 12-15.
  • Groot, S.P.C., P. Oosterveld, J.W.M. van der Wolf, H. Jalink, C.J. Langerak and R.W. van den Bulk. 2004. The role of ISTA and seed science in assuring organic farmers with high quality seeds. In: Proceedings First World Conference on Organic Seeds, Rome 4-8 July 2004 p 9-11.
  • Langerak, K., C. van Tongeren, R. Driessen and R. van den Bulk. 2004. Critical control points in organic seed production.  In: Proceedings First World Conference on Organic Seeds, Rome 4-8 July 2004. p 113-115.
  • Groot S.P.C.. 2004. Challenges and opportunities for organic agriculture and the seed industry. Seed Testing International 128 p 46-47.

Our Dutch publications on organic seeds:

  • Groot S.P.C. and R.W. van der Bulk. 2005. Biologisch uitgangsmateriaal. Biologisch onderzoekbericht 26.
  • van der Wolf J.M. and S.P.C. Groot. 2005. Natuurlijke middelen die de weerstand van planten kunnen verhogen. Plant Research international Nota. 372. 34 pp.
  • van der Wolf, J.M.,  S.P.C. Groot , Y. Birnbaum, P.S. van der Zouwen, A. Schmitt & E. Koch. 2005. Natuurlijke componenten voor zaadontsmetting. Poster
  • Drenth, H. Zaaizaad in bad of sauna, OOGST Landbouw - 17 september 2004