Book of Abstracts
11th IFOAM Scientific Conference
11-15 August 1996, Copenhagen, Denmark
The Farmers Association of Iceland BŠndah÷llin, P.O. Box 7080, 127 ReykjavÝk, Iceland.
In Iceland, a mountainous country of 103.300 km2 just south of the Arctic Circle with a population of 267.000, agriculture is of great importance as its 4500 farmers produce sufficient food of animal origin for the domestic market as well as substantial amounts of vegetables, partly in geothermally heated glasshouse.
Organic agriculture is, however, still in its early stages of development, with only 15 certified farmers, moving gradually from small scale vegetablegrowing by the pioneers to the production of hay, silage, barley, herbs, eggs and meat, mainly of beef and lamb, according to a law and regulations on organic agricultural production. Other certified products are likely to follow in the near future, such as arctic char, eider-down and milk. Although the growing season is short and the climate is cool there is clearly a great potential for the development of organic agriculture in Iceland since, for example, the use of drugs and agrochemicals is at low levels and there is little pollution in a sparsely populated and isolated country which is free from several well known animal and plant diseases.The standard of animal welfare is generally high. On the other hand, there are several obstacles to be overcome, for example, difficulties in growing legumes, such as white clover, shortage of organic fertilizers and feeds and soil erosion in some parts of the country. The enhanced interest in the conversion to organic farming practices in all parts of Iceland is indeed a great challenge to the scientific community to seek sustainable solutions to such problems. This is reflected in certain measures to strengthen research, teaching and advisory work and parallel to this development special efforts are being made to promote and market ecolabelled produce. Organic farmers have founded both local societies and a national association and inspection and certification services have been established.
This presentation reviews the scientific and technical prospects of organic farming under Icelandic conditions with special reference to soil fertility, crop production, rangeland management and animal husbandry.