Pre- and postharvest quality optimisation of organic vegetables that can stimulate an increased consumption

Crop rotation experiment with application of organic waste derived fertilizers. Photo: Randi Seljåsen / NIBIO
Finished Last updated: 03.10.2017
End: dec 2010
Start: jan 2006
Organic vegetable production on stock less farms has a need of various off-farm nutrient resources. The parts of agricultural co-streams that not can be used as food or feed are relevant to be used as fertilizers for those needs. Our research within this project is related to utilization of anaerobic digested food waste, pulverized shrimp shell and alga meal in comparison with animal manure and mineral fertilizers. We have studied the nitrogen use efficiency, mineralization time, product yield, sensory quality and content of glucosinolates. Our studies was performed at two locations in Norway as a three year crop rotation with broccoli, potatoes and lettuce.
Objective and goals

Objectives

The main objective is to gain better knowledge on how certain pre- and post-harvest factors influence quality of organic vegetables in the market place as a basis for increased production and consumption of these vegetables in Norway.

Subgoals:

Develop recommendations for pre- and post-harvest handling of organic vegetables to obtain a consumer acceptable shelf quality through:

1) Investigate the impact of intrinsic quality and packaging of products on consumer acceptance of organic vegetables with particular focus on perception of health value and environmental factors.

2) Under a northern climate, investigate how animal manure fertilization and soil cover influence nutrient mineralization dynamics, plant growth and the resulting flavour and content of health affecting compounds in organic vegetables.

3) Measure storage capability for vegetables packed in different environmentally friendly packaging types when exposed to common distribution and retail temperatures.

4) Evaluate critical control points studied under Sub goal 2 and 3 with respect to vegetable quality and consumers- and wholesalers preferences of product characteristics.

Start - end date 01.01.2006 - 31.12.2010
Project manager Randi Seljåsen
Funding source Norwegian Research Council
Summary

Norwegian consumers purchase less organic foods than consumers in most other European countries and important obstacles for consumption of organic vegetables are said to be quality, availability and price. The main objective of this project is to achieve better knowledge on how certain pre- and post harvest factors influence quality of organic vegetables in the market place. The project is expected to identify which factors that have the most important influence on sensory characteristics and health promoting compounds like vitamin-C and glucosinolates, and to find recommendations for pre- and post harvest handling of organic vegetables to obtain a consumer acceptable shelf quality.

The project will investigate the impact of product quality for consumer acceptance of organic vegetables. It will be investigated how animal manure fertilisation and soil cover influence nutrient mineralization dynamics under a cool northern climate and hence plant growth and the resulting flavour and content of health affecting compounds in organic vegetables. Storage capability of the product will be investigated in different kinds of packaging. Critical control points related to maintaining product quality in the production and distribution chain will be studied and recommendations given.

 The project was initiated by the North Norwegian Agricultural Council in the intention to create a more sustainable agriculture and vital agricultural communities. The project was given priority after a wide process which included discussion groups with representatives from agricultural industry, governmental bodies and researchers. The project is collaboration between the Norwegian Crop and Environmental Research Institute, the Norwegian Food Research Institute, University of Newcastle and the companies SPOR, Helios and Polarplast.

The project is expected to identify certain bottlenecks in Norwegian organic vegetable production and distribution and hence build a platform for increased production and consumption of organic vegetables in Norway.

Publications in the project