Themes and discussion

Find out more about organic arable farming and organic livestock husbandry, join the discussions, and exchange ideas and information with colleagues and scientists.

Soil quality and fertility

Soil quality and fertility

Sustainable crop production is dependent on maintaining and improving soil quality and fertility, which are in turn dependent on organic matter in the soil and its impact on the soil’s chemical, biological and physical properties. Organic matter is the source of life for the immense variety of soil microbes and soil fauna that make nutrients available and build soil structure. Therefore, crop rotations should always include a phase that allows organic matter in the soil to build up i.e. through incorporating perennial grass-clover leys or catch crops during autumn and winter. To protect soil life, the input of nutrients via manure, crop residues or other fertilisers should be well-balanced. Compaction by heavy machinery should be avoided for the same reason.

On this page, you can find tools and resources to help you improve soil quality and fertility, and you can discuss the topic with others.


How to successfully convert to organic arable farmingMost popular tool

How to successfully convert to organic arable farming

The leaflet addresses farmers who are interested in conversion to organic arable farming. Information includes contact points for workshops and…

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Nitrogen budget calculator. A tool to calculate N-budgets in organic forage systemsLatest tool

Nitrogen budget calculator. A tool to calculate N-budgets in organic forage systems

The purpose of the tool is to help farmers in estimating the N content of forages based on the percentage of legumes, the management and harvesting…

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Tools

TitleIssuing organisationYear of releaseRating
A farmer’s guide to organic fruit and vegetable productionOrganic Centre Wales20083.5 (2)
Advanced system in wheat: Combination of agronomical levels: The French...PURE-
Aerated compost tea (ACT) to improve soil biology and to act as a...The Organic Research Centre ORC, Elm Farm20174.7 (3)
Assessing soil structure with two simple methods : Spade Test and mini 3D soil...Arvalis Institut du Végétal (technical Institute)2017
Autumn cover cropsAIAB20182 (2)
Bringing the dirt to your doorstep: organic no-till weed managementRodale Institute20142.8 (4)
Catch crop in maizeResearch Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL)20174 (1)
Cereal Disease EncyclopaediaAHDB Cereals & Oilseeds2008
Choosing cover crops for arable crop rotationsInstitut Technique de l’Agriculture Biologique...2018
Commercial organic fertiliser as supplementary fertilisers in potato crop...Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL)20174 (1)
Composting leaflet – agroecological approach at your farmBioforum Vlaanderen vzw20134.5 (2)
Control of creeping thistle by stubble cultivationResearch Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL)20174.5 (2)
Controlled traffic farming: A new track for soil and weed control in organic...INAGRO2018
Controlling docks by stubble cultivationResearch Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL)20174.5 (2)
Cover Crop (Rye) and No-Till System in WisconsinResearch Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL20145 (2)
Cover crop and living mulch toolboxTechnical University of Munich TUM, School of Life...20143.4 (10)
Cover crop management and terminationSustainable Agriculture Research & Education2014
Cover crop mulches and no-till maizeAssociazione Italiana Agricoltura Biologica (AIAB)2018
Cover crop mulches and no-till soybeanAssociazione Italiana Agricoltura Biologica (AIAB)2017
Crop rotation and its ability to suppress perennial weedsSEGES20174.5 (2)
Crop rotation and its ability to suppress perennial weedsSEGES20163 (1)
Crop Rotation in Organic SystemsDalhousie University, OACC-
Crop rotations on diversified farmsSouthern Regional Extension Forestry2013
Cultivating a diverse wheat population suitable for low-input and organic...Organic Research Centre (ORC), Elm Farm2017
Demonstration of Hoeing Machines in Arable FarmingResearch Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL2011
Demonstration of Plough DethatchersResearch Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL20144.5 (2)
Direct drilling of winter cerealsAIAB2018
Direct Sowing of MaizeResearch Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL2015
Direct sowing with green manureOrganic Farming Foundation Bioselena , IFOAM EU2018
Diverse fertility building leys in arable rotationsOrganic Reserach Centre (ORC), Elm Farm20173.5 (2)
DSS "Weed Control in Organic Winter Wheat Production"Institute of Organic Agriculture - University Bonn2004
Earthworms: architects of fertile soilsResearch Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL,...20143.6 (11)
ECOPHYTOPIC – The portal for integrated crop protection of arable cropsLes Instituts Techniques Agricoles ACTA-3.3 (3)
Efficient nitrogen use from livestock manureSEGES2016
Efficient use of nitrogen from livestock manureSEGES20174 (2)
Friedrich Wenz on Soil Fertility and Reduced TillageResearch Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL20145 (1)
Getting your land ready to grow organically – certified or notMichigan State University2016
Grain legumes and soil fertility - Strategies for a successful cultivationBundesamt für Naturschutz (BfN)20143.5 (2)
Green manure and cover crops in organic agriculture: general introductionFrench Research Institute for Organic Farming ITAB2012
Green manure and cover crops in organic agriculture: guide to the choice of the...French Research Institute for Organic Farming ITAB20124 (3)
Growing cover crops in organic arable crop rotations: Best practices from...SEGES20174 (2)
Growing cover crops in organic arable crop rotations: best practices from...SEGES2016
Hairy Vetch – an Excellent Green Manure for Dry ConditionsResearch Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL20144 (2)
Healthy Grassland Soils PocketbookAgriculture and Horticulture Development Board...2015
How to successfully convert to organic arable farmingLändliches Fortbildungsinstitut Österreich20175 (2)
Incorporating Green ManuresResearch Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL20134.5 (2)
Inter-row cultivation for mechanical weed control in winter oilseed rapePURE-
Intercropping grain peas with barleyResearch Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL2015
Intercropping grain peas with barleyResearch Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL)20174.3 (3)
Knowledge exchange platform for agroecologySOLAGRO-3.2 (6)
LeNiBa - the KTBL / isip app for nitrogen balancing of legumesKuratorium für Technik und Bauwesen in der...-
Ley Destruction with Shallow Ploughing or CultivatorsResearch Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL2016
Managing for Soil Health on an Organic Farm - A Farmer's PerspectiveSouthern Regional Extension Forestry2014
Mechanical Weed Control in MaizeResearch Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL2013
Mechanical weeding in arable cropsFrench Research Institute for Organic Farming ITAB20124.6 (9)
Multispectral remote sensing in participatory on-farm variety trialsHungarian Research Institute of Organic...2018
NDICEA - Nitrogen Planer – version 6.2Louis Bolk Instituut20144 (4)
New ways of stubble cultivationForschungsinstitut für biologischen Landbau FiBL2010
Nitrogen budget calculator. A tool to calculate N-budgets in organic forage...Leibniz-Zentrum für Agrarlandschaftsforschung...20133.8 (4)
No-till cultivation of maize in rolled forage peasResearch Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL)2017
Nutrient Budgeting: Organic Considerations for Implementing NRCS CPS 590Southern Regional Extension Forestry2014
Nutrient management in farms in conversion to organicSächsische Landesanstalt für Landwirtschaft2008
Nutrient supplyResearch Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL2011
Oregon Tilth 2017 WEBINAR SERIESOregon Tilth2017
Organic CerealsResearch Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL20104 (2)
Organic Cover Cropping and IntercroppingWashington State University - Puyallup2011
Organic cultivation in autumn 2016 - Varieties, Seeds and Crop managementLändliches Fortbildungsinstitut Österreich,...2016
Organic Cultivation in Spring 2016 - Varieties, Seeds and Crop managementLändliches Fortbildungsinstitut Österreich2016
Organic Field Crop ProductionDalhousie University, OACC-
Organic no-till systemsSouthern Regional Extension Forestry2013
Organic quality wheat production - Results of long-term field trials of...Ländliches Fortbildungsinstitut Österreich,...2016
Organic Small Grain ProductionSouthern Regional Extension Forestry2011
Organic Weed Management: A Practical GuideCharles Merfield2000
Pest Management in Organic Cropping SystemsDalhousie University, OACC-
Pest Management in Organic Production SystemsSouthern Regional Extension Forestry2011
Potato Crop ManagementResearch Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL)2010
Practical advice for organic production of lupinesVerband der Landwirtschaftskammern Arbeitskreis...20144 (4)
Processing Quality of Organic WheatResearch Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL2015
Quick test for infiltration of arable soilsBioland , FiBL Projekte GmbH2018
Reduced TillageResearch Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL)2014
Reduced Tillage Stubble Incorporation - Comparsion of Different Machine TypesResearch Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL20134 (1)
Reduced Tillage Systems - Practical RecommendationResearch Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL20143.7 (3)
Regionally adapted humus balance in organic farmingSächsische Landesanstalt für Umwelt,...20133.7 (3)
Results an lessons learnt from field vegetables activity - cabbagePURE-
Results and lessons learnt from wheat-based cropping system activityPURE-
Rolling of grains to prevent winter kill damageResearch Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL)2017
ROTOR: organic crop rotation plannerLeibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research...20074.4 (7)
Satellite based and camera-controlled steering systemsResearch Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL20152 (1)
Shallow Ploughing of Leys – Comparison of Different Plough and Cultivator TypesResearch Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL2015
Simple building blocks for improved soil fertility – Look and judge yourselfINAGRO2007
SmartSOIL ToolAarhus University20152 (3)
Soil and Fertility Management in Organic SystemsDalhousie University, OACC-
Soil fertility - manure treatmentLandwirtschaftliches Zentrum Liebegg2009
Soil protection and Crop RotationForschungsinstitut für biologischen Landbau (FiBL)2007
Soil quality test kit guideUnited States Department of Agriculture USDA20013.1 (7)
Soil tillageResearch Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL2013
SOILappSchool of Advanced Studies Sant'Anna, Institute of... , Scuola Esperienziale Itinerante di Agricoltura... , The Greek Network for Biodiversity and Ecology in...2018
Sort Out Your Soil: A practical guide to green manuresCotswold seeds & Garden Organic Cotswold Seeds Ltd , Garden Organic-4 (5)
Spade testISARA Lyon2016
Testing peas for legume fatigueResearch Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL)20175 (1)
The Basics of Soil FertilityResearch Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL20133.5 (2)
The Muencheberg Soil Quality Rating (SQR)Leibniz-Zentrum für Agrarlandschaftsforschung...20074 (4)
The Spade test - Visual soil assessment in the fieldResearch Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL20164.5 (2)
The use of legumes - Nature-compatible cultivation practicesBundesamt für Naturschutz (BfN)2014
Transition to organic productionDalhousie University, OACC-
Use of variety mixtures to reduce disease, increase resource-use efficiency...PURE-
Using crop rotation to control wirewormsResearch Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL)20174 (1)
Visual soil assessment: field guide for croppingLandcare Research20004.4 (5)
Weed control in organic farming through mechanical solutionsUniversität Kassel20113.5 (4)
Weed control in soy with the finger weederResearch Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL)2017
Weed harrowing in spring cerealsPURE-
Winter field peas as green manure before maizeResearch Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL)20174.5 (2)


Discussion forum

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