Organic Farming of Vegetables

  • Margit OlleEmail author
  • Ingrid H. Williams
Part of the Sustainable Agriculture Reviews book series (SARV, volume 11)


Agriculture began organically. For many centuries, humans farmed without synthetic biocides or inorganic fertilizers, relying on organic fertilizers derived from plants and animals, and protecting crops from pests and diseases using naturally-occurring materials. From the second half of the nineteenth century growers around the world successfully developed and refined farming systems that relied on synthetic biocides or inorganic fertilizers. However, during the past two or three decades there has been a change once more towards organic cultivation. Here we review the effects of organic cultivation on the production quantity and quality characteristics of vegetables. Analyses of studies reported in the literature showed the following: (1) Organic cultivation affected the growth of vegetables positively in 43% of studies and negatively in 57% of studies. (2) Organic cultivation affected the yield of vegetables 59% positively, 29% negatively and 12% did not have any significant influence. (3) Organically grown vegetables have, in most studies (65%), better nutritional value than conventionally grown ones; 20% were not significantly different and only in 15% was there a reduction in nutritional value. Nitrate levels were lower in 86% of studies with organic cultivation and greater in only 14% of studies. (4) Organic cultivation of vegetables uses a variety of methods for disease and insect control: hot water, hot air and electron treatment, biological seed treatment groups like microorganisms, plant extracts and inducers of resistance, solarization for nematode control, biopesticides, insect net. (5) Weed control is the most difficult part of vegetable production in organic cultivation. (6) Efficient methods against weeds are tillage, mulching, flaming, hot water treatment. If the proper technology is used, the organic cultivation of vegetables is not so time- and money-consuming and produces vegetables of better quality and nutritional value with no pesticide residues.


Growth Nutritional quality Organic cultivation Plant protection Vegetables Weeds control Yield 



The present review was carried with financial support from Estonian Agricultural Registers and Information Board and with the help of the self-employed entrepreneur Galina Rehkli.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Jogeva Plant Breeding InstituteJõgeva alevikEstonia
  2. 2.Institute of Agricultural and Environmental SciencesEstonian University of Life SciencesTartuEstonia

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