Written Answers. - Organic Farming.

Trevor Sargent


159 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development if his attention has been drawn to the need for more research into weed control in organic crops; if his attention has been further drawn to the fact that weed control causes organically grown cereals to have higher moisture levels which require more drying; and if he will organise for this research to be carried out. [4705/00]

The organic farming sector is reacting to the demands for produce produced in an environmentally friendly fashion. One of the most important inputs required for the expansion of the organic livestock sector is adequate supplies of organic cereals. I am aware that currently supplies of reasonably priced home produced organic cereals are inadequate and this is causing difficulties for organic livestock producers.

Proper weed control is a prerequisite to producing good yields of quality organic cereals. The building up of soil fertility by using farmyard manure or green manure, together with the use of appropriate crop rotations are two well tried methods of reducing weed infestation in tillage crops.

The improvement of soil fertility on an organic farm can best be achieved in an integrated crop-livestock system. I, therefore, draw the Deputy's attention to a new research project on organic milk production which commenced during 1999 at the Teagasc organic unit in Johnstown Castle, County Wexford. This new research project will also address the production of organic cereals to meet the needs for adequate supplies of organic concentrates essential for milk production.
The Teagasc research centre at Oakpark is responsible for research on organic grain production. In conjunction with the organic milk production project, Teagasc Oakpark is carrying out research into systems for the production of organic cereals, including weed control, at the organic unit in Johnstown Castle. This year organic crops of winter barley, spring barley and Triticale will be sown at Johnstown Castle with a view to establishing the best systems of production.