Type: Book

Improving organic crop cultivation


Professor Ulrich Köpke is Director and Head of the Institute of Organic Agriculture at the University of Bonn, Germany. He was Founding President of the International Society of Organic Agriculture Research (ISOFAR) which plays a leading role in promoting collaboration in international organic research. Professor Köpke has written over 200 publications on nutrient management, life cycle analysis and other techniques for optimising agronomic practices in organic agriculture, as well as coordinating a number of major European research projects in organic agriculture.



Publication date:

30 November 2018

Length of book:

568 pages

ISBN-13: 9781786761842

Request Permissions


"Improving organic crop production provides a valuable resource for the current ‘state of the art’ on understanding mechanisms in these systems that are both similar and different from those in conventional systems….The book is especially recommended for libraries and other places that will provide access to large numbers of interested people, and as it gives a valuable overview on current organic farming to graduate students and others in academia." review by Professor Charles Francis in Agronomy Journal

Global sales of organic products have grown significantly, yet organic farming remains a small percentage of overall agricultural production with lower yields than conventional methods. Organic crop cultivation thus faces a range of challenges if it is to grow significantly. This volume reviews the wealth of research addressing these challenges.

Part 1 reviews developments in improving cultivation across the value chain, from breeding more robust, low input varieties to ways of maintaining soil health and improving crop nutrition. Part 2 discusses the key topic of pests and diseases with reviews of integrated pest and weed management as well as organic plant protection products. Part 3 covers ways of monitoring the environmental impact of organic farming whilst the final part of the book discusses ways of supporting organic cultivation in the developing world.

With its distinguished editor and an international team of expert authors, this will be a standard reference for all those interested in understanding, improving and promoting organic farming.

Key features

  • Reviews key advances and best practice in cultivation techniques across the value chain of organic farming 
  • Discusses ways of monitoring and improving the environmental impact of organic crop production 
  • Particular focus on ways of supporting organic farming in the developing world

Sample content

Not sure what you're getting if you buy this book? Click on the cover image below to open a PDF and preview pages from the book or watch our informative video introduction.

What others are saying...

"Arable and particularly horticultural crops are central to organic agriculture. There remain tremendous challenges in research whilst the best sustainable practices are still not fully adopted by all organic farmers. A comprehensive reference book covering the latest research on improving organic agriculture is therefore indispensable and currently missing. With their wealth of expertise, the editor and the authors fill this very gap." Professor Urs Niggli, Director of the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), Switzerland

Table of contents

Part 1 Crop breeding and cultivation
1.Key issues in breeding and trialling robust cereal cultivars for organic farming: H. Spieß, B. Schmehe and C. Vollenweider, LBS Dottenfelderhof, Germany;
2.Organic seed production, certification and availability: Steven P. C. Groot, Wageningen University & Research, The Netherlands; and Maaike H. J. E. Raaijmakers, Bionext, The Netherlands;
3.Maintaining soil fertility and health in organic crop cultivation: C. Watson, Scotland's Rural College (SRUC), UK and Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden; and E. A. Stockdale, Head of Farming Systems Research, NIAB, UK;
4.Cover crops in organic crop cultivation: Peter von Fragstein und Niemsdorff, Universität Kassel, Germany;
5.The role of crop rotations in organic farming: Bernhard Freyer, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), Austria;
6.Conservation tillage in organic farming: Maike Krauss and Paul Mäder, Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), Switzerland; Joséphine Peigné, ISARA-Lyon, France; and Julia Cooper, Newcastle University, UK;
7.Manure management in organic farming: Peter Sørensen, Department of Agroecology, Aarhus University, Denmark; Luca Bechini, University of Milan, Italy; and Lars Stoumann Jensen, University of Copenhagen, Denmark;
8.Organic fertilizers and biofertilizers; Lidia Sas Paszt and Slawomir Gluszek, Research Institute of Horticulture, Poland;
9.Improving water management in organic crop cultivation: Michael J. Goss, University of Guelph, Canada; Adrian Unc, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada; and Wilfried Ehlers, Georg-August University, Germany;

Part 2 Crop pests and diseases
10.Disease and pest management in organic farming: a case for applied agroecology: M. R. Finckh, S. M. Junge, J. H. Schmidt and O. D. Weedon, Universität Kassel, Germany;
11.Direct plant protection in organic farming: Bernhard Speiser, Hans-Jakob Schärer and Lucius Tamm, Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), Switzerland;
12.Integrated weed management in organic cropping systems: Paolo Bàrberi, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Italy;

Part 3 Standards and monitoring
13.Setting and reviewing standards for organic farming: Susanne Padel, The Organic Research Centre, UK;
14.Measuring and improving the environmental performance of organic farming: A. Muller, Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) and Institute for Environmental Decisions, Department of Environmental Systems Science, Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, Switzerland; M. Meier and C. Schader, Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), Switzerland; A. Gattinger, Justus-Liebig University Giessen, Germany; and M. Steffens, Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), Switzerland;
15.Eco-functional intensification of organic farming; Thomas F. Döring, University of Bonn, Germany;
16.Biodiversity as a prerequisite of sustainable organic farming: Lukas Pfiffner and Laura Armengot, Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), Switzerland;
17.The impact of organic agriculture on diet and health: Kirsten Brandt, Newcastle University, UK;

Part 4 Organic crop cultivation in the developing world
18.Supporting smallholders in organic crop cultivation: the case of East Africa: R. Onwonga, University of Nairobi, Kenya; K. P. Sibuga, Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania; H. Nduku, University of Nairobi, Kenya; L. Sigsgaard, University of Copenhagen, Denmark; A. Saria and L. Shechambo, Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania; M. Montoro, University of Copenhagen, Denmark; C. Chepkoech, Q. Genga and R. Wahome, University of Nairobi, Kenya; N. Halberg, Aarhus University, Denmark; and H. Høgh-Jensen, Technical University of Denmark, Denmark;
19.Improving organic agriculture in the developing world: Africa: Victor Olowe, Institute of Food Security, Environmental Resources and Agricultural Research (IFSERAR), Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), Nigeria;
20.Improving organic agriculture in the developing world: Asia: Sang Mok Sohn, Dankook University, South Korea;
21.Organic agriculture and agroecology in Latin America: Roberto Ugas, Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina, Peru;