Finished projects



Effect of the organic cultivation technologies on content of bioactive compounds in blueberry and grapevine fruits 

Supported by Estonian Science Foundation 2012...2015.
Project leader: Ele Vool, PhD.

Berries cultivated without chemicals are healthy and therefore very valuable. The pest resistant cultures are important for organic cultivation. Hybrid grapevine and blueberry are this kind of plants in our climate. The importance of berries is based on their biochemical content as well as on content of bioactive compounds beneficial for human health. The latter depends on environmental factors and cultivation methods. 

The fertilizers from different organic materials could influence blueberry growth differently. Plant nutrition changes the growth of plants and biochemistry of berries as well as consequently the winter-hardiness and productivity. The growth of grapevine is feasibly influenced with biostimulants. The spraying plants with the clycinebetaine solution in spring raise plants’ hardiness in cold spring season. Those plants flower and yield earlier. There is lack of information, how organic fertilizers and biostimulants influence berries’ chemical content and ability to produce yield rich in valuable bioactive compounds.

Improving the growing technology of horticultural crops at the aim of increasing yield quality and competitive strength of the producers

Supported by Estonian Ministry of Agriculture
Project duration: 2010-2014

Project leader: Marge Starast, Ph.D.

The joint research project of Estonian University of Life Sciences and Jõgeva Plant Breeding Institute includes 12 different experiments with vegetables, fruits and berries.
Vegetable trials aim to:

  • identify the influence of flaming and use of acryl-cover on the productivity and quality of carrot;
  • find out optimal technology of flaming of carrot and onion in order to ensure effective weed control with minimal cost;
  • identify the impact on growing technologies on the yield quality and storability of turnip, white cabbage, carrot, red beet, tomato and garlic;
  • find out the most suitable companion plants for white cabbage in Estonian conditions, in order to increase the impact of parasitoids as biocontrol agents.

Fruit and berry trials aim to:

  • identify the effect of burning of strawberry leaves on the spread of diseases and pests, plant viability, winter hardiness; and the effects of mulching and flaming on the soil fertility.
  • develop entomovector technology to control gray mould of strawberry;
  • identify the most suitable grafting combinations for organic apple production (rootstock + cultivar);
  • find out the effects of mulches and genotype on the productivity and quality of black currant;
  • identify the different effects of fertilizer on blueberry fruit productivity and quality.

Towards a sustainable and productive EU organic greenhouse horticulture COST Action no. FA1105

Acronym: Biogreenhouse
Project duration: 2012-2016


Organic greenhouse horticulture (OGH)(i.e the production in greenhouses or polytunnels) in the EU should improve its sustainability, production and productivity. Emissions of nutrients and its footprint should be reduced. Production and productivity are too low to meet the demand of the society.

The scientific challenges are - 

  • to design sustainable irrigation and fertilization strategies
  • to reveal the mechanisms of resilience, robustness and suppressiveness for the management of pests and diseases
  • to integrate crop management, energy saving, renewable energy sources and new techniques and combinations with other activities
  • business to realize climate neutral production.

This COST Action coordinates, strengthens and focuses the activities of the partners. It improves the communication, offers a common agenda, more and better knowledge for less money, sharing new techniques, an improved dissemination to OGH, basis for further collaboration in joint research proposals and support in the development of EU standards for OGH.

Antioxidant activity of horticultural crops grown in Estonia depending on cultivation and storage technology


ESF grant 7515 2008...2011
Principal investigator: Ulvi Moor, PhD., associate prof.
Much of the health beneficial effect of fruits and vegetables has been attributed to phytochemicals, which are the non-nutrient plant compounds such as the carotenoids, flavonoids, isoflavonoids, and phenolic acids. The content of antioxidants in horticultural crops depends on cultivar and climatic conditions, but also on growing technology and storage conditions. Bioactive compounds have different antioxidant activity; many of them are present in juice only as traces and cannot be identified. Furthermore, the synergistic effect could exist between different antioxidants, which mean that the total antioxidant effect may be greater than the sum of individual antioxidant activities and the isolation of one compound will not exactly reflect the overall action.
The aim of the present grant project is to study the effect of growing technology and controlled atmosphere storage on total antioxidant activity of Estonian horticultural crops (apple, strawberry, onion and garlic will be used as examples). Although the effect of growing and storage conditions on the content of bioactive compounds in horticultural crops is studied in many countries, the cultivars and climatic conditions are different and therefore the results of the present research are likely to be different. In Estonia content of vitamin C and some polyphenols in berries has been studied earlier, but there is no record of antioxidant activity of Estonian apples, also controlled atmosphere storage experiments have not been carried out yet.
Importance of the project: research data would help to understand better, which factors influence antioxidant activity of horticultural commodities and to select apple cultivars with high antioxidant activity. These cultivars could be used by apple breeders also in other countries for creating healthier apples. For local farmers information about storage potential of our crops in controlled atmosphere is valuable in order to prolong marketing period and to increase quality of their products. Since the topic of the grant project is relevant in other countries, it would enable our scientist to cooperate better with other scientists in future.

Ulvi Moor harvesting 'Maikki' apples . Specialist Kaja Mölder in laboratory
Ulvi Moor harvesting 'Maikki' apples                                       Specialist Kaja Mölder in laboratory

Storage possibilities of Estonian fruits and vegetables in controlled and modified atmosphere
Supported by Estonian Ministry of Agriculture
Project duration: 2008-2012

Project leader: Ulvi Moor, Ph.D.
Cooperation with SME’s:
OÜ Kindel Käsi (Valdis Kaskema) – strawberries, raspberries;
Marjasoo Talu (Toomas Jaadla) – blueberries;
OÜ Uuevälja köögivili – dill, parsley, chives,
Jaagumäe talu – leek,
Controlled atmosphere (CA) storage experiments have not been carried out so far in Estonia. The mechanism of the technology is to reduce the respiration of the commodity by increasing CO2 and decreasing O2 in ambient air. Mentioned technology is also suitable for organically produced crops, since no chemicals are used postharvest. CA storage has proved to be suitable in increasing storability of fresh strawberries, raspberries and blueberries, because grey mould (Botrytis cinerea) infection is suppressed by elevated CO2. CA storage also helps to maintain firmness of strawberries and by that the transport ability is better. In other countries, CA has been effective in apples, while the effect is not only based on decreasing respiration, but also decreasing ethylene biosynthesis. Availability of domestic onion and garlic is limited due to the insufficient storability. This problem could be solved by using CA storage. Postharvest diseases and sprouting of onion are suppressed in CA conditions. At the same time there has been recorded different influence of CA regimes on biochemical content: pungency and flavonoids have been decreased and increased during CA storage.
Estonian berry growers have shown interest to use modified atmosphere packages in order to improve quality of berries in retail market. First CA storage facilities are under construction by Estonian apple growers. At the same time there is no information about CA and MA storage requirements for our cultivars. Most of the CA and MA experiments have been carried out in Southern parts of the World, where different fruit and berry cultivars are grown.
The aim of the project: to study the effect of modified and controlled atmosphere storage on postharvest quality of main Estonian horticultural crops (apples, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, plums, herbs, onions, leek and garlic).
Expected output: for local farmers information about storage potential of our crops in controlled atmosphere is valuable in order to prolong marketing period and to increase quality of their products. Based on research data, it would be possible to suggest suitable cultivars for long-term CA storage, to find most optimal storage time and gas composition and to find best materials for MA packaging of herbs and berry crops.


A Multilingual Federation of Learning Repositories with Quality Content for the Awareness and Education of European Youth about Organic Agriculture and Agroecology
Official homepage:

Organic.Edunet aims to facilitate access, usage and exploitation of digital educational content related to Organic Agriculture (OA) and Agroecology. It will deploy a multilingual online federation of learning repositories, populated with quality content from various content producers. In addition, it will deploy a multilingual online environment (the Organic.Edunet Web portal) that will facilitate end-users’ search, retrieval, access and use of the content in the learning repositories.

The project will study educational scenarios that introduce the use of the Organic.Edunet portal and content to support teaching of topics related to OA and Agroecology in two cases of formal educational systems, i.e., high-schools and agricultural universities. Furthermore, it will evaluate project results in the context of pilot demonstrators in pilot educational institutions, as well as through open validation events where external interested stakeholders will be invited.

Organic.Edunet focuses on achieving interoperability between the digital collections of OA and Agroecology content that producers in various EU countries have developed, as well as facilitating publication, access, and use of this content in multilingual learning contexts through a single European reference point. In this way, digital content that can be used to educate European Youth about the benefits of OA and Agroecology, will become easily accessible, usable and exploitable.