Organic farming consists in developing aproduction of fruit or a production of vegetableswith the maximum respect for natural resources, in order to preserve the environment and the consumer's health.
Like all varieties of fruit and vegetables that are more traded, even salads now, being consumer fruit and vegetable products,are now evaluete from an organic point o view, in accordance with the possible parasite control done throughavailable phytosanitary products; nowadays, more attention is givent to organic farming and with it to the production of organic salad, as it is a farming that aims at prevention and acts especially to imporve soil fertility, with the purpose to control, reduce or eliminate cultivation problems. More and more are te producers of organic salad, importers of organic salad, exporters of organic salad, wholesalers of organic salad and retailers of organic salad that have embraced the methods of organic farming.
The farm is where the organic process begins and where ¨ il luogo dove il processo biologico inizia e dove i fruit and vegetable products, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, come to life.
Organic farms not only depend on nature to produce organic cultivations and to raise animals: they are themseves part of nature. The organic producers in fact, do their best to produce products starting from the environment that surrounds them, using production systems as similar as possible to what would happen spontaneously in nature. They are inspired by the concept of a close cycle of nature. For example, the use of animal manures and other agents of organic agents, like fertilizer help to create a a fertile soil tha is resistat to erosion and loss of nutrients and water. Furthermore, imputs, such as manure and forage, to minimize the need to utilize external fertilizers should be produced in thesame farm in which they will be used, or in neighboring farms.
As for farmers, all the subsequent processing process of thefruit and vegetable products must meet certain requirements, if the products bear the logo and theEuropean organic certification. The new EU regulation on the organic farming includes the processing from ingredient for the most of farming origins, and the use of ingredients the do not come from organic farming only if authorized by the Commission or by the Member State, the use of a very limited quantity of additives and helping agents in the processing, which are authorized under certain conditions,by the European Commission, the prohibition to use flavourings and colourings and a warranty that the organic and non-organic ingredients are stored , handled and processed separately in any stage of production.
Nowadays, the demand of organic products in Europe, and in particular the demand of organic salad, is greater that supply, which means that European citzens often need the possibility to buy imported food and drinks, if they want to buy organic products; other countries, therefore, are increasingly intervening in Europe, importing importano fruit and vegetable products, such as organic coffe from Brazil, organic kiwis from New Zeland, organic rice from Thailandia, organic banas from COsta Rica, organic tea from India, etc.
Today we are seeing the expansion of the production of organic fruit and vegetables across Europe: to the increase of the production of organic salad also contributed the lowering of prices caused by the increas of the copanies that produce organic salad, the ECC contribution for the organic farming and a wider distribution network for the organic salad.
In Italy, the organic sector has about 20,000 farms and fruit and vegetable companies operating on over 300,000 hectares, with an annual turnover of aout 920 billion euros (data 2010). The majority of the Italian organic fruit and vegetable products come from farms of South Italy, but are then processed and traded on the national fruit and vegetable market above all in the North.
Currently in Italy there is not a specific form of genetic improvement of the varieties for the cultivation of salad with organic production methods. Even if we do not have lists of recommended varieties for the organic production, we can referr to those used for the integrated production, making a further choice in function, as well as of the agronomic and product characteristics(high productivity, resistance to flower induction, colour, brightness, etc.) even to the hardiness, the tolerance and resistance to plant diseases ( downy mildew, aphids, virus).
Particular attention should be paid to varietal resistance against downy mildew and aphids, particularly feared adversities not only in organic farming but also in the integrated farming.
The density of plants, for the varieties of salad assigned to organic farming must be defined taking into account its considerable influence on microclimate and on the susceptability of plants of salad to biotic and abiotic challenges.
The greater broadness of the planting layout adopted for the production of salad coming from organic farming compared to the integrated one (for head lettuce approximately 36 cm between rows and 30 cm on the row) has the purpose to allow a better aeration of the cultivar of salad and to allow an easier access to fields by the producer of organic salad or farmer of organic salad to make any necessary mechanical removal of weeds (hoeing and weeding).
Cutivation too crowded ot too sparse in the production of salad through organic farming should in any case be avoided, as they can adversely affect the managing of the cultivation (fertilization, weed and parasites control interventions, etc.) and the productivity and quality of theorganic product.