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FiBL Switzerland

Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL)

Ackerstrasse 113, Postfach 219
CH-5070 Frick 

Telephone +41 62 865 72 72
Fax +41 62 865 72 73 

info.suisse(at)fibl.org
www.fibl.org

Activity Report 2014

FiBL Switzerland – 40 years of organic farming research

FiBL in Frick

The Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) was founded in 1973 and is situated in Frick since 1997. It is one of the world’s leading research and information centres for organic agriculture and employs over 175 experts. The close links between different fields of research and the rapid transfer of knowledge from research to advisory work and agricultural practice are FiBL’s strengths. Outside Switzerland the Institute’s competence is also sought after, and FiBL is involved in numerous international projects – not only in research, consultancy and training but also in development cooperation.

FiBL operates a vineyard which produces its own wine, a fruit-growing area, and a restaurant, all of which are run on organic lines.

Organization chart (81 KB)

Research for farming practice

Since it was founded in 1973, FiBL has worked to establish scientific foundations for organic farming and species-appropriate livestock management.

Fruit, wine, vegetables and potatoes are the main subjects of crop research at FiBL. Trials have been conducted on resisting pests and diseases by promoting beneficial organisms, applying direct control measures, and improving cultivation techniques. Another key emphasis is to keep and to raise soil fertility. One departement of the institute is dedicated to the quality of organic products and the processing involved.

Veterinarians are engaged in research into udder health and parasites. They optimize husbandry, feeding and pasture regimes and test homeopathic remedies and plant preparations. The socioeconomics division analyses business problems at organic farms, pricing of organic goods and cost recovery levels, agricultural support measures and marketing issues.

On the working farm in Frick the emphasis is on fruit, viticulture, arable farming, dairy livestock and bees. Furthermore numerous projects and data collection programmes are taking place on more than 200 working farms throughout Switzerland.

Aerial photograph DOK-Trial

In Therwil, near Basel, the long-term DOK trial which started back in 1978 is still in progress. It compares biodynamic and organic agriculture with conventional systems. This trial has yielded a large amount of internationally recognized evidence for the ecological benefits of organic farming in comparison to conventional agriculture.

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FiBL consultancy: taking know-how to farms

In conjunction with its research FiBL operates an advisory service, so that results can quickly have an impact on practice. Alongside the provision of advice to individual farms and to groups, the most important advisory channels are courses, the monthly journal “bioaktuell”, the website www.bioaktuell.ch and FiBL’s technical leaflets. The cantons, FiBL and the private organic organizations cooperate closely within an alliance of organic advisors (Bio-Berater-Vereinigung, BBV). Its office is based at FiBL.

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FiBL publications: important tools for disseminating information

Different FiBL-Publications

FiBL media place the results of FiBL research within the reach of farmers and other people with an active interest in agriculture, and disseminate these results to extension workers. Many of FiBL’s publications are available in several languages and some are distributed internationally.

FiBL technical leaflets give concise information on a topic and highlight solutions to key problems. They are an indispensable aid to working farmers. In its dossiers, FiBL provides evidence to support the case for organic agriculture. It publishes the monthly magazine “bioaktuell” jointly with Bio Suisse. A cooperation arrangement exists between FiBL and the German Foundation Ecology & Agriculture SÖL, the publisher of “Ökologie & Landbau” magazine which is aimed primarily at experts and researchers in the field.

Furthermore FiBL publishes several Internet sites on different themes concerning organic agriculture, for instance www.bioaktuell.ch, the platform for Swiss organic farmers. It is published in cooperation with Bio Suisse as well as the advisory services of the cantons.

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FiBL – International networks

Fieldwork in the tropics

FiBL cooperates on numerous projects and in technical commissions with experts in Switzerland and abroad.

... in research

FiBL is sought after as a partner in European Union research projects. With different European partners FiBL is working jointly to address issues of food quality, animal health, future development, agricultural policy, optimization of farming techniques and crop protection.

... in advisory work and development cooperation

The FiBL range of advisory services is also in demand internationally. FiBL experts take their knowledge to numerous countries all over the world. A dedicated division of FiBL coordinates these activities. Examples of FiBL’s international work are the establishment of a certification organization in India (Indocert) or the introduction of organic citrus production in Cuba.

... in cooperation with international organizations

The competence of FiBL is also sought after within international organizations. FiBL contributes to the work of the Codex Alimentarius Commission of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization FAO and was involved in drawing up the European action plan for organic agriculture. Furthermore FiBL is one of the initiators of the International Society of Organic Agriculture Research ISOFAR.

In the worldwide umbrella organization IFOAM, the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements, FiBL contributes its competence to numerous committees (Board of directors, Standards committee, European Union Regional Group, Codex Alimentarius working group).

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FiBL set up the independent institutes FiBL Germany (2001) and FiBL Austria (2004). It also co-founded the Bioinstitut in the Czech Republic (2004) and the Institut fir biologesch Landwirtschaft an Agrarkultur Luxemburg (IBLA, 2007).

Bioinstitut Tschechien
Institut fir biologesch Landwirtschaft an Agrarkultur Luxemburg

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History

The Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) was established in 1973 by organic farmers and scientists, in the form of a private foundation.

Its mission was to support the organic farmers who, at that time, were sidelined by the federal and canton authorities, with research projects and consultancy. The Institute began its work in 1974 in Oberwil in the canton of Baselland, and has been in action since 1997 in Frick, in the canton of Aargau.

Major milestones in the history of FiBL include the organization of the 1st IFOAM conference in 1977 in Sissach, and that of the 13th IFOAM conference in Basel, 2000.

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Financing

The Research Institute and its advisory service are financed by the Swiss Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG), the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), cantonal and municipal agricultural authorities, and private organizations (Coop, Bio Suisse, Hiscia, Migros and others) and individuals. Furthermore FiBL finances itself by means of numerous pieces of commissioned research and is involved in many EU research projects.

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Information

Urs Niggli, Director FiBL