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Ökologischer Betrieb
© BLE, Bonn/Thomas Stephan
Ökologischer Betrieb
Institute of

BW Farm Economics


Costs and benefits of improved nutrient management strategies in organic vegetable production

Pumpkin plants in the field
© Thünen-Institut/Hanna Wildenhues
Pumpkin plants in the field

Costs and benefits of improved nutrient management strategies in organic vegetable production

Sustainable nutrient management is a challenge also in organic agriculture. Scarcity of resources and increasingly restrictive legislation concerning the use of nutrients in agriculture are challenges for both conventional and organic vegetable production.


Background and Objective

The objective of the project is an economic analysis of current and new nutrient management strategies of organic vegetable farms. The results should support farmers in the optimization of nutrient management with regards to costs and benefits and contribute to decision making concerning the adoption of new strategies.


Interviews with organic vegetable producers in five federal states (Baden-Württemberg, Bayern, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Hessen and Niedersachsen) will be conducted about the status quo of nutrient management. Based on farmer responses and data from literature, relevant production systems are modelled, which are discussed and validated with a project advisory group of experts from research and extension services. The advisory group also provides support in identifying new nutrient management strategies that will be evaluated using the production system models. Continuous feedback from practice and experts during the project period will serve to specify the effects of implementation of the strategies for different farm types and to assess feasibility. From these results, also conclusions about the potential of adoption of the innovative strategies in organic vegetable production will be derived.

The project cooperates closely with other projects on nutrient management in organic agriculture, which are financed by the ministry of agriculture in the program on organic agriculture and other forms of sustainable agriculture (BÖLN). (see also

Data and Methods

The economic assessment of nutrient management and of innovative strategies is based on modelling of typical production systems. These do not reflect individual farm data, but represent the production system with quantities, prices and operations. The parameters of the models are derived from different data sources, such as farmers, farm advisors, farm documentation, statistics and literature. The model assumptions are validated in cooperation with the project advisory board. Changes in the production system through implementation of new nutrient management strategies with respect to input, labour and machinery use as well as possible output changes are assessed with respect to the status quo in the reference scenario. Using model calculations offers the advantages of broader relevance than individual farm data while maintaining confidentiality of data.

Our Research Questions

Which are costs and benefits of current nutrient management in organic vegetable farms and how are economic parameters affected by adopting innovative nutrient management strategies?

How important are cooperations for nutrient managements between farms and how can such cooperations be improved?

Which innovations in nutrient managements for organic vegetable production are most likely to be adopted into practice?

Funding Body

  • Federal Office for Agriculture and Food (BLE)
    (national, öffentlich)


1.2020 - 12.2022

More Information

Project funding number: 2818 OE 019
Funding program: Bundesprogramm Ökologischer Landbau und andere Formen nachhaltiger Landwirtschaft (BÖLN)
Project status: finished

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