Nagy-Somló goes organic
The Hungarian Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (ÖMKi) contributes to training local producers.
Hungary’s smallest historic wine region is to go organic from March 2019 with the help of the Hungarian Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (ÖMKi)
The Wine Growers’ Association of the Nagy-Somló wine region has made its decision: from 2023 the whole wine region is converting to organic farming. Before the transition, a four year long training is being organized in cooperation with the Hungarian Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (ÖMKi) – the single Hungarian scientific institution specialized in organic agriculture – and Biocont Ltd. As a result of the process, Nagy-Somló will be the first historic wine region in Hungary where wine grapes are produced 100% organically.
"The popularity of organic farming is unstoppable: According to the latest surveys from 2017, nearly 400,000 agricultural enterprises deal with organic farming in Europe. Organic wine sector is one of the fastest growing sectors. The global acreage of organic vineyards has quadrupled in the last ten years, and the organic wine market is estimated to grow by 12-15% globally by 2022. We hope that the initiative of Nagy-Somló soon will be followed by other Hungarian wine regions recognizing the potential in organic wine production” – said Dr Dóra Drexler, director of ÖMKi, which is supporting the transition process with trainings on sustainable soil cultivation, related to the decision of the Nagy-Somló wine region made at the end of November 2018.
The four-year training will be organized for the wine growers of Somló by the Wine Growers’ Association. These wine growers will acquire knowledge on certified organic wine growing and winemaking, and they will take part in plant protection demonstrations, study tours and field visits. The conversion period is expected to start in January 2023, and by the end (2026) the first 100% organic certified Hungarian wine region will be born. “Due to this initiative and the organic certification the wine growers and winemakers of Somló will gain significant international marketing advantages, while sustainable farming practices will help to protect our historic landscape and increase its biodiversity. At the same time, consumers will enjoy the well-known highest quality wines of Somló free of residues.” – said Sándor Baráth, chairman of the Wine growers’ Association of the Nagy-Somló wine region when summarizing the benefits of the decision.
The sustainable soil cultivation technologies presented by ÖMKi can be also used by those wine growers yet not producing organically but who wish to protect the soil from erosion and unnecessary herbicide use besides searching for sustainable alternatives for weed control. “The Living Inter-row Seed Mix does really bring life to the vineyard. It has been developed during a six-year experiment from indigenous species (white clover, black medic, English plantain, bird’s foot trefoil, crown vetch and wild carrot), and today it is readily available for everyone. It supports biodiversity, increases the natural value of the site, keeps the inter-rows of the vineyard passable even in rainy weather, improves the quality of the soil, and works for years.” – said Dr Dóra Drexler in summary of the benefits of ÖMKi’s product developed based on research results.
More information on ÖMKi: The Hungarian Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (ÖMKi) works on research-innovation tasks leading to practically implementable results, thus guaranteeing the sustainable development of agriculture and food production in Hungary. To this end the organization develops professional networks in cooperation with local and international research institutes and farmers, carries out research and information activities, and provides technical advice. Its largest project called “On-farm research network” won the Agricultural Development Prize at the 78th National Agriculture and Food Exhibition and Fair (OMÉK) and also the E.on Energy Globe Award in 2018, and it is the only Hungarian project researching in close cooperation with farmers by applying a practical participatory approach for sustainable agriculture. The on-farm research method covers simple experiments conducted in real life situations on operating farms adapted to the production objectives defined by the farmers. The subjects of the experiments are elaborated together by ÖMKi and the participating farms since 2012. The organization’s work has also been acknowledged by the Association of Environmental Enterprises through the charter called “For the protection of the environment” in 2019.