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Organic-vegan farming

Vegan organic agriculture is the term used to describe organic farming without livestock or  the use of animal products (fertilizers, preparations), thus attempting to completely detach agriculture from the meat industry.

Aim and innovation

Agriculture is usually closely linked to animal husbandry. Among other things, this can be associated with serious problems concerning animal welfare as well as climate and water protection. Intensive animal husbandry also leads to large areas of land being used worldwide for the cultivation of animal feed (in Germany approx. 53 percent of cultivated land is used for animal feed production).[2] In order to counteract these developments, organic-vegan farms operate without keeping livestock and - beyond the approach of livestock-free agriculture - without the use of animal and synthetic fertilizers.

This innovative concept is implemented, for example, by using plant-based compost, green manure, mulch, etc. instead of animal or synthetic fertilizers, which enables comparable crop yields.[3] A special feature of biocyclic-vegan cultivation is the use of biocyclic humus soil, which comes at the end of a long composting process and is characterized by a physiologically stable molecular structure (which prevents, for example, leaching of nutrients) and whose use leads to comparatively high yields. [4] In addition, soil fertility shall be promoted through a varied crop rotation, mixed crops and the cultivation of legumes such as grass-clover, lupins or peas. Regional marketing as far as possible and the preservation of biodiversity are among the other goals of organic-vegan farming. [5]

Examples

Gärtnerhof Bienenbüttel (organic-vegan cultivation since 1978), Biohof Hausmann, organic-vegan Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Rhein-Main, Bioland KräuterGut Dworschak Fleischmann, Hof Windkind, Biolandhof Hund (fruit growing; first farm certified according to the organic-vegan guidelines), PfalzBio GbR, CSA ‘PlantAge’

Category

Production

Actors

Farms, associations of producers, networks, consumers

State of development

According to ProVeg Germany, about 1.3 million people in Germany are vegan.[7] In contrast, however, there are only 13 organic-vegan farms. The challenges for expanding the niche include plant nutrition, weed pressure, pests and diseases, soil structure and economic disadvantages.[8] Orientation and transparency are provided by the ‘Biocyclic Vegan Guidelines', which were accredited at the end of 2017 as the world's first organic-vegan farming standard by the IFOAM (International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements). So far, two farms in Germany have been certified biocyclic-vegan, with further certifications to follow in 2019. [9]

Sustainability potential

Ecological

  • biodiversity

  • soil (indirect)

  • climate

  • air (indirect)

Economic

  • strengthening of regional economic cycles (indirect)
  • promotion of the recycling economy (indirect)

Social

  • Animal welfare

Risks / disadvantages

Conversion to intensive compost management is a labour-economic obstacle for some farms. Additional certification could also be associated with additional expenditure of time and money for farms.

Conclusion

Organic-vegan farming is the term used to describe organicl farming without livestock or the use of animal products (fertilizers, preparations). Instead of animal or synthetic fertilizers, plant-based compost, green manure or mulch are used. The use of bio-cyclic humus soil can lead to comparatively high yields. In addition, there are numerous direct and indirect ecological benefits associated with organic-vegan farming, such as relatively lower resource consumption (water), emissions (GHG emissions, ammonia emissions) and inputs of pesticide residues, manure and veterinary medicines. The sustainability potential can therefore be classified as very high, although economic disadvantages in the form of higher production costs still need to be reduced at present. The transformation potential is considered to be very high with regard to some aspects, such as the profound and integrating concept, the existing infrastructure of organic agriculture and supporting societal megatrends. At the same time, the lack of social debate and large numbers of supporters among consumers are still seen as obstacles. The regional character can be strengthened through links with CSA and Regionalwert AG. A change in the Fertilizer Ordinance regarding the handling of compost stored for longer periods would support the development of the niche.


[1] Bonzheim, A. (2016): Potenziale und Herausforderungen möglicher überbetrieblicher Organisationsstrukturen für die bio-vegane Landbaubewegung im deutschsprachigen Raum. Masterarbeit, HNE Eberswalde.

[2] Baumgarten et al. (2018): Daten zur Umwelt 2018: Umwelt und Landwirtschaft. Umweltbundesamt (Hg.)

[3] Choden, T. (2019): Can Plant-Based Nitrogen Replace Externally Produced Animal-Based Nitrogen? Master Thesis, Wageningen University.

[4] Eisenbach et al. (2018): Effect of Biocyclic Humus Soil on Yield and Quality Parameters of Sweet Potato (Ipomoea batatas L.). Scientific Papers. Series A. Agronomy, Vol. LXI, (1). S.210-217; Eisenbach et al. (2019): Effect of Biocyclic Humus Soil on Yield and Quality Parameters of Processing Tomato. Bulletin of University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine Cluj-Napoca. Horticulture 76(1), S. 47-52

[5] Vebu (2018): Bioveganer Land- und Gartenbau: Landwirtschaft ohne Tier. Web, 28.04.2018. vebu.de/tiere-umwelt/umweltbelastung-durch-fleischkonsum/bioveganer-landbau/

[6]ebd.

[7] ProVeg Deutschland (2019): Vegan-Trend: Zahlen und Fakten zum Veggie-Markt. Web, 19.01.2019. proveg.com/de/pflanzlicher-lebensstil/vegan-trend-zahlen-und-fakten-zum-veggie-markt/

[8]Bonzheim, A., Mettke, D., Rieken, H. (2015): Bio-vegane Landwirtschaft in Deutschland: Definition, Motive und Beratungsbedarf aus Sicht der Praktiker_innen. Beitrag zur 13. Wissenschaftstagung Ökologischer Landbau.

[9] Albert-Schweizer-Stiftung für unsere Mitwelt (2018): Erste biozyklisch-vegane Betriebe anerkannt. Web, 17.06.2018. Web, 01.10.2018. albert-schweitzer-stiftung.de/aktuell/erste-biozyklisch-vegane-betriebe-anerkannt.