The Institute organized a professional development event titled `Current events in arable land organic production: spotlight on soy production’ on September 15-16 and September 22. The topic was justified by the fact that although domestic soy production has increased with the demand for GMO-free soy production and soy subsidies (in 2015 the country had more than 67,000 hectares in total) at the same time organic soy production is still less than 1000 acres. Production averages 1.6-2.3 tons per hectare, a wide range that makes profitability uncertain. For this reason both increasing production areas and stabilizing production are essential goals.
The first topic of discussion focused on the fact that the Institute`s two-day program on soy was incorporated into the by-now regularly-organized, thematically-grouped professional days series. The goal of this was that those producers and other professionals working in this area could be able to spend a significant amount of time on exchange of information and networking, discussing and debating topics in as broad a range of areas as possible. In the interest of this on September 15, the first day of the two-day event, lectures were given in Tornyiszentmiklós where participants could also view growing experiments at Organic Food Inc.’s organic soy production farm. Following this was a professional meeting hosted by major domestic soy seed producer Lajtamag Inc. On the next day participants could visit the Burgenland region of Austria, where they could tour two organic soy production facilities.
Summary of the events of September 15-16
The first site of the two day professional event was Organic Food Inc.’s facility, which was converted nearly 15 years ago to organic. Mixed production is carried out here, with special attention to production of high-protein products essential to animal feed, including soy. Several agricultural innovations were highlighted that enhance the success of soy production, which could also strengthen domestic organic production – including precise seeding machines and cultivators.
The first day started with a tour of the facility by director Tamas Gergye. Krisztián Sabjan of the NAK Zala County Directorate gave a presentation about subsidy opportunities for organic agriculture for the time period 2016-2020. After this there was an introduction to the Institute and its work in the course of a lecture by Zoltan Dezsény, who expanded the topic to include the institute’s activities, their connection to rural development, its co-operations with professional organizations, educational and research institutions and their cooperation with organic producers, the importance and results of on-farms.
Eva Borbély-Hunyadi followed with a presentation on current tendencies in soy production, the significance of organic soy production and the Institute’s soy farm research results. She also devoted time to discussing issues related to irrigation deficiencies, a factor that impacted production levels in 2015 as well. Lack of irrigation can reduce production to half or a third of the expected level. Mrs. Mandi, director of the development department for LajtaMag Inc., gave a report on the research results of Hungarian Soy Nonprofit Inc., which included variety and production technology tests at several points around the country. She emphasized the need to harmonize variety and production technology, as well as the importance of paying adequate attention during growing season to row density, given that in many production sites producers only have access to seeding machines for row distances of 70-76.2 cm instead of the machines ensuring the more optimum 45-50 cm.
Katalin Allacher-Szépkuthy of Hungaria Öko Garancia Inc. explained the more significant criteria of the BioSuisse requirement system to the audience. This was followed by a demonstration by the Institute’s colleague Ildiko Heim of the new online system by o-tx.com for organic product markets, an IT innovation that can help producers in acquiring market information, finding sales opportunities and executing commercial transactions. The afternoon continued with viewing of field production areas where participants could view this year`s tests on soy varieties and seed treatments. The September 15 events concluded with a round table discussion at the Hédervár facility of LajtaMag Inc.
The second day continued with visits to two Austrian organic production facilities, where 2.5-3.5 ton per hectare production average yields of organic soy are reached on a nearly 10,000 hectare area, frequently in agro-ecological conditions that compared to Hungarian ones are quite disadvantageous. Contributing factors to this include a crop rotation practice that differs from Hungary’s, along with a practically required irrigation schedule that delivers between 150 to 250 mm of water in addition to natural precipitation during the growing season.
Following this event, participants viewed the soy production experiments at LajtaMag Inc., where individual varieties were introduced in detail by Mrs. Mandi, the experimental project`s director.
Improving the amount of production area as well as the level of production of organic soy is not just justified from the standpoint of producing protein-rich animal food, but also by the current market tendencies, which indicate that reliably GMO-free organic (or rather BioSuisse quality) soy is increasingly sought after in foreign markets. Successfully-produced plants fitted appropriately into the crop-rotation system can contribute to increasing the amount of organicly-farmed land in Hungary, which for years has stagnated at about 130,000 hectares.
Summary of the professional day event on September 22nd
The event, held in Mezőberény, focused on the topics of field production and various topics related to soy production. The Institute has four experimental projects related to soy production in the area. Lecture topics were similar to the previous event`s.
At the beginning of the day director Lajos Izsó introduced Bio Csárda Inc., where for many years they have produced soy, and he gave detailed explanations of the company`s relevant practical experiences in the field.
Following this the Békés County directorate of NAK, represented by József Hoffmann, gave a presentation on subsidies available for organic production. The Institute`s activities and research related to field production were explained by Mihaly Földi. Current news about soy production and the Institute`s soy farm experiments were introduced to the group by Eva Borbély- Hunyadi. The more significant criteria of BioSuisse certification was the topic of a talk that followed by Zsolt Kanyó of the control body Biokontroll Hungária Inc., including the relevant specifics about field production. Following this came a demonstration of the IT tool o-tx.com by Ildiko Heim, a colleague of the Institute. The day continued with viewings of production fields, where participants could look at Biocsárda Inc.`s soy varieties under testing and also experiments done on organic soy production by producers Lajos Puski of Csárdaszállás and Mihaly Földi and Imre Földi of Füzesgyarmat. Weed control in the Great Hungarian Plain region is an area of great concern for local organic growers. Regular tending of the fields resulted in not just weed-free crops, but can also mean that in certain areas in spite of the dry conditions more species are able to reach medium levels of productions.
Dr. Anna Divéky-Ertsey of Corvinus University of Budapest`s Faculty of Horticulture Organic and Sustainable Production Systems Department gave a brief explanation of the professional history of the department`s tomato research as well as its general direction and results. After this László Csambalik of the same department told about his three-year heirloom tomato research, followed by doctoral candidate Dániel Reiter, who shared a detailed description of his field research.
Following this was a round table discussion where there was an opportunity for producers and representatives of the profession to share experiences with several varieties and also tell of their visions for the future and look for opportunities for research cooperation among the others present. In the course of this discussion several ideas came to the fore, including the development of a website for publicizing and swapping heirloom variety tomato seeds, development of the on-farm research structure, and the many questions related to professional maintenance of heirloom varieties.
At this event we provided the possibility for participants to compare and taste 22 tomato varieties, among them both registered and heirloom. Results of the tasting can be seen HERE.