BACKGROUND: There is a need to advance the study of the effects of organic and conventional systems on product quality. In particular, little is known about the importance of different farming practices concerning nutrient cycling and the use of external inputs within organic farming for the quality characteristics of the products. In this study the quality characteristics of carrot grown under different farming practices (conventional and three organic cropping systems) over a two-year period were analysed with the aim of discriminating between organic and conventional and investigating the effect of different organic farming practices concerning nutrient recycling and use of external nutrient input.
RESULTS: All quality characteristics measured did not give a clear differentiation between the carrots from the different growing systems, even when multivariate statistical evaluation (principal component analysis) was applied, because of the significance of the differences between the field replicates within each management system and of the seasonality. Only some tendencies were emphasised over the two years that could be related to the fertilisation practices and the external inputs used.
CONCLUSION: The results indicated that it was not possible to discriminate over the years between carrots from conventional and different organic cropping systems even though controlled conditions and a multi-method approach of analysis were adopted. Copyright © 2012 Society of Chemical Industry