Organic farming is a complex and responsible process that requires a lot of effort. We are growing organic products that comply with the European Regulations (EU) 834/2007, the Bio Suisse standards (Switzerland), Bioland (Germany), NOP USDA (USA) and internal organic standards.
Arnika uses traditional production technologies, combining them with innovative methods and world practices.
In organic farming, crop rotation planning is of prime importance because not only crop yield but also soil fertility depends on appropriate crop rotation in the field. In accordance with international standards, not less than 20% of field area is under legume crops, without taking into account soybean, and 50% is under cover crops. Moreover, 7% of the land bank consists of untilled land, meadows and forest plantations that allow the development of flora and fauna and the biogeocenosis development.
Soil tillage plays a leading role in organic farming. Both yield and soil conditions depend on how well technological processes were planned and performed.
The soil under maize, soybean and hemp is ploughed. Tillage is performed by John Deere 8520, 8310R, 8435R tractors aggregated with 6-furrow and 8-furrow reversible plows by Lemken, Gregoire Besson, as well as Challenger MT-865C tractor equipped with Lemken 12-furrow plow. After harvesting winter wheat, John Deere 8520, 8310R, 8435R tractors equipped with Kverneland Qualidisc 6000T discs are used for stubble ploughing. Stubble cultivators Horsch Terrano 6 FX are also used for cultivation.
In spring, harrowing helps to conserve soil moisture. For this reason, the company purchased heavy McFarlane tooth harrows with a working width of 9 m to 21 m that work with the Caterpillar Challenger MT-865C or John Deere 8520 tractors. The unit's capacity allows processing up to 440 hectares/day with fuel consumption of 3-4,5 l/ha.
Since organic farming excludes the use of any herbicide, tillage ensures weed control. The most effective machinery for this is the wide-coverage heavy harrows McFarlane and Great Plains. Harrows help to retain and accumulate moisture in the soil and also effectively work against sprouting weeds. In the battle against perennial weeds, Horsch Terrano 6 FX stubble cultivators are used together with the John Deere 8520, 8310R, 8435R tractors. These cultivators work at a two inches depth, forming a wet bed for future crops. Thanks to repeated tillage, we keep down and destroy weeds without applying chemicals.
Sowing of the main crops is performed with John Deere 1890, John Deere DB55 and Kinze-3600 seeders with the Interplant system in aggregation with John Deere 8520, 8310R, 8435R tractors. The machinery sow approximately 150-200 hectares of land per day.
2-3 days after sowing, the second stage of weed control begins — mechanical tillage before the crop sprouting. To do this, we use the Einbock Aerostar 1200 harrow with the MTZ-82.1 tractor. After sprouting, the third stage of mechanical tillage begins. In these processes, we use the Einbock Aerostar 1200 harrow with MTZ-82.1 tractors and John Deere tractors in aggregation with the Einbock Chopstar 1200 inter-row cultivators, equipped with video cameras and a hydraulic system for precise row management. In addition, this technique improves the soil air regime.
During the harvesting campaign, we use our own John Deere harvester equipped with a rotary threshing mechanism to reduce the grain damage. Grain storages transport grain within the field but do not cause soil panning.
In organic farming, the use of chemicals is prohibited. We maintain soil fertility applying a balanced organic nutrition system. Use of plant residues and green manure.
— Balanced crop rotation with a large proportion of legumes that ensure nitrogen fixation from the air, which is guaranteed by the following rules:
— One crop should not be grown annually in the same land plot.
— One crop should not occupy more than one-third of the total area.
— At least one year gap between two major crops of the same species.
— At least 20% of land under soil improvers (legumes).
— Growing cover crops on 50% of cultivated land after the vegetation period.
In addition, maintaining the depth of pre-sowing tillage no more than 2 inches creates conditions for soil aeration and, according to Ivan Ovsinskiy, the outstanding Ukrainian agronomist, perfectly guarantees both nitrification and atmospheric irrigation. This soil tillage maintains soil constantly aerated. The temperature in the lower layers is constantly so low that atmospheric irrigation occurs vigorously and, finally, the soil acquires a capillary structure. As a result, moisture rises to the upper, warmer soil layer where the nitrifying bacterium consumes it. At night, the top soil layer cools and condenses moisture, evaporating from the lower layers. Such a nutrition system does not harm the quality of organic products; it maintains the soil fertility and ensures a good harvest.
Since organic farming completely excludes the application of plant protection (from diseases, pests and weeds) chemicals, we have developed and are constantly improving our own biological protection system. It includes:
— Application of biologics certified for organic farming.
— Selection of disease resistant crop varieties. Particular attention is paid to breeding: having our own breeding center, we are constantly working on breeding disease-resistant and resilient varieties. The Research Institute, which operates within the Arnika agro-industrial group, studies various technologies, breeds new organic crop varieties of organic farming. The Institute conducts the selection of soybean, chickpeas, lentils and others.
— Mechanical weed control (soil tillage).
— Application of Trichogram as an effective and safe means of combating the most common pests.
— Use of the newest agrotechnical methods that reduce the weed infestation of crops and the incidence of plants.
These also include, for example, complementary sowing of legumes with cereals (binary sowing). This is a new "discovery" of our specialists, which is now being tested. In addition, for reliable spatial isolation of organic fields and guaranteed high-quality harvest, we separate all land plots bordering with inorganic land plots by 12-24 m buffer zones. Before introducing a new method, we carry out a thorough investigation and study the influence of the method on the crop and agrobiocenosis as a whole in the field. And only after successful research, it can be introduced in our fields as a part of the production system.
The basis of organic farming is soil conservation technologies and the promotion of maximum soil fertility restoration. We pay special attention to soil protection, using such methods of farming as:
— Gentle tillage technologies.
— Appropriate crop rotations with obligatory cultivation of cover crops.
— Monitoring and improving the soil water regime.
— Maintaining and restoration of forest belts between fields that protect crops from dry winds and prevent soil erosion. We always keep up with the times, but we do not forget the previous experience. Therefore, in our work, we successfully combine traditional technologies with innovative methods. We are constantly experimenting, researching, and searching for new effective solutions to produce really high-quality organic products.