Studies conducted at the Estonian University of Life Sciences have shown that increased biodiversity in a field achieved through diverse field margins increases conservation biocontrol. Mixed cropping and plant extracts regulate the occurrence of pests. Targeted precision biocontrol with bumblebees and honeybees as carriers to spread biofungicides reduces grey mould in strawberries. Organic crop rotation with winter cover crops and composted manure improves soil, crops yield and quality.
The comparison of conventionally and organically produced products has also shown certain quality differences. For example, there are no pesticide residues in organic products, and organic products have been found to contain more antioxidants than conventional ones. In different varieties of cereals, the quality of protein was better in organic crops than in conventionally cultivated cereals. Organic milk contained proportionally more omega-3 acids and CLA and less omega-6 fatty acids than conventional milk. Thus, organic production systems have shown certain advantages in view of environmental factors as well as from the point of view of product quality parameters, which have significant health benefits.
Regarding food, it is understood that in retail, wasting food is a big, though quite recent problem that is in direct correlation with human development. To tackle food wasting, design and engineering students from the Estonian Academy of Arts in cooperation with students from the Tallinn University of Technology started a project that focused on the end user, mainly because this has the maximum impact and is not overly restricted in view of legal regulations.
It was understood that wasting food is not connected to people’s mindset; it became clear from interviews that people consistently felt bad about throwing away food but they lacked tools that would enable to reduce the generation of food waste. The final outcome of the project was a service: a food-sharing platform called The Feast for people living in close proximity to each other. The platform utilizes virtual reality to show the users the extra food that is available in the food storages near them so they could then choose what they like and take it, which in turn enables social interaction and reduces food waste.
Prof. Martin Pärn
Design and Engineering
Head of the Joint Programme of Estonian Academy of Arts and Tallinn University of Technology
This article was supported by the European Regional Development Fund through Estonian Research Council.