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Activity Report 2018



There have been a number of milestones in FiBL’s more than 40-year history.

MilestonesNumber of staff members (Switzerland, Germany, Austria)
  • Construction work begins on the new research and education campus of FiBL Switzerland in Frick. The Swisslos Fund of the Canton of Aargau contributes 11 million Swiss francs to the construction budget of 25 million.
  • FiBL Switzerland is co-organising the first Schweizer Bio-Viehtag (Swiss Organic Livestock Day). It takes place every two years, alternating with the Schweizer Bio-Ackerbautag (Swiss Organic Arable Farming Day).
  • FiBL Austria and the Esterházy Estate host the first Austrian Organic Field Days.
  • For the first time, the International Conference on Organic Agriculture Sciences (ICOAS) takes place in Austria. The sixth edition is co-organized by FiBL Austria.
  • FiBL Europe publishes the first pan-European input list for organic farming. With this list, farmers from all over Europe can quickly determine whether a product contains only substances approved for organic farming.
  • FiBL initiates discussion on the development of organic agriculture (Organic 3.0) on a European and international level.
  • After a successful peer review in July 2014, the Swiss Federal Council decides to increase the Federal support for FiBL Switzerland starting in 2016.
  • FiBL Germany wins the tender for the Tierschutz-Kompetenzzentrum (a centre of competence for animal welfare), which will create a network of 120 demonstration farms.
  • Migros strongly increases support for research at FiBL Switzerland.
  • The websites www.bioaktuell.ch and www.bioboerse.ch are created as an additional consultancy tool.
  • Urs Niggli is elected as a member of the World Board of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) in Modena, Italy.
  • FiBL Austria launches project collaboration with organic brand "Zurück zum Ursprung".
  • Otto Stich, president of FiBL Switzerland, retires from his position due to old age. His successor is organic farmer Martin Ott.
  • Inauguration of the new building housing laboratories and offices in Frick, Switzerland. The building was co-financed by several supporters and donors and the lottery fund of the Canton of Aargau.
  • FiBL publishes manual on genetic engineering and dossier on safety and quality of organic products are published.
  • Flyer with reasons in favour of organic farming becomes a bestseller.
  • Organization of the first conference of the International Society of Organic Agriculture Research (ISOFAR) held in Adelaide, Australia, from 21 to 23 September 2005.
  • FiBL Austria launches the BioNet project, which brings innovation on arable and vegetable farms through on-farm research.
  • FiBL Switzerland starts long-term projects in India, Kenya and Bolivia (Syscom) to compare productivity andsustainability of organic farming systems with traditional and modern conventional systems.
  • FiBL Switzerland and ICCOA (Indian Competence Centre for Organic Agriculture) organise the first trade fair India Organic in Bangalore, which becomes a huge success. Four years later, India Organic becomes Biofach India and is taken over by NürnbergMesse.
  • FiBL Switzerland publishes its annual book on statistics "The World of Organic Agriculture" for the first time, which has been published previously by Stiftung Ökologie und Landbau (SÖL) and IFOAM since 2000.
  • Establishment of FiBL Austria.
  • Co-founding of Research Institute for Organic Agriculture in the Czech Republic.
  • Purchase of the FiBL winery in Frick
  • Strong increase of research projects that are supported by the EU.
  • Launch of www.organicXseeds.com, which shows availability of organic seeds for producers. Germany, the UK, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Czech Republic will later use the database as well.
  • Long-term research contract between Coop and FiBL Switzerland, as well as extension of financial support. Coop supports new projects in the fields of food quality, organic seeds and animal health (reducing antibiotics in dairy cattle farming).
  • The Institute for Organic Agriculture, Bonn, Germany, and FiBL establish the International Society of Organic Agriculture Research (ISOFAR) in Berlin.
  • FiBL inspection services are divested into the independent public limited company bio.inspecta AG.
  • Migros resumes support for research projects at FiBL after a six-year break.
  • Second service contract with the Federal Office for Agriculture (BLW), increase in basic funding. Extension of projects in Eastern Europe and Latin America (e.g. Cuba).
  • FiBL starts various projects and activities in the field of GMO-free production (quality control, controlling the flow of goods, additives).
  • New location of FiBL Switzerland in Frick, Canton of Aargau. Strong extension of laboratories and offices, conference centre and restaurant, creation of research facility with 40 hectares of land (including a vineyard).
  • Extensive data collection on production-related, ecological and social benefits of organic farms compared with IP-farms (IP = integrated production).
  • FiBL is now online with www.fibl.ch.
  • Publication of "bioskop" magazine (formerly "zB") ceases, cooperation with magazine "Ökologie & Landbau" starts.
  • President of the Foundation Council: Dr. Otto Stich, a former member of the Swiss Federal Council.
  • Extension of research in plant protection and functional biodiversity, animals (focus on animal health) and markets.
  • First project in Eastern Europe (Bulgaria).
  • First four-year service contract with the Federal Office for Agriculture (BLW): gradual increase of basic funding.
  • First EU research projects.
  • FiBL publishes the first list of approved auxiliary inputs, which provides a binding framework for plant protection products allowed in organic agriculture. The list later also contains fertilizer, substrates, cleaning agents and other inputs. In the Swiss Ordinance on Organic Farming, the list has been mandatory since 1997.
  • Conceptual contribution to the Swiss Ordinance on the Orientation of Direct Payments in Agriculture (Art. 31b of the Swiss Agricultural Act).
  • Launch of several projects in the field of professional training in organic farming.
  • FiBL starts to publish its successful technical guides and dossiers, in colour and of a didactic quality, for practitioners of organic farming.
  • Accreditation of FiBL as inspection and certification body by Swiss Federal Government and EU.
  • Through active collaboration from FiBL, the VSBLO (Vereinigung Schweizerischer Biolandbauorganisationen) becomes Bio Suisse.
  • Financial crisis because of cutbacks by the Federal Office for Agriculture (BLW).
  • Publication of the "Bioaktuell" magazine for practitioners.
  • FiBL develops concepts and provides advisory services for conversion projects in Germany.
  • FiBL intensifies research on fertilization (farmyard manure), soil biology, seed and plant production, quality of organic products, plant protection and functional biodiversity. Development of socioeconomic research.
  • Dr Urs Niggli becomes the new institute director; Dr Martin Schüpbach becomes the new president of the Foundation Council.
  • Study on landscape and environmental benefits of organic farms.
  • Publication of the brochure "Natur aus Bauernhand".
  • Increase in financial contribution from Swiss Federal Government starting in 1990.
  • FiBL holds courses on organic farming at the ETH (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) in Zurich.
  • Publication of guidelines for a new, sustainable Swiss agricultural policy.
  • Selection of varieties and seed production for vegetable growing.
  • FiBL develops a conversion study for Canton of Zug.
  • Coordination and methodological development of controlling organic farms in Switzerland.
  • Concepts for controlling and certification of organic farms for the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM).
  • Analysis on suitability of vegetable varieties and on seed health.
  • The Federal Office for Agriculture (BLW) supports FiBL with basic funding for its advisory service.
  • Expansion of research to the testing of scab-resistant apple varieties as well as an extensive screening of natural substances for plant protection in the specific crops fruit, wine and vegetables.
  • Launch of project "Schutzwald" (protection forest) and organic soil improvement (in the region of Davos).
  • FiBL teaches first courses in organic farming at the cantonal agricultural colleges. These courses become a huge success due to the interest of both the new organic farmers and IP-farmers (IP = integrated production).
  • FiBL employee Otto Schmid presides over the Standards Committee of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) from 1977 to 1983 and from 1989 to 1992. The committee sets the worldwide standards for organic farming. From 1993 to 2011, Otto Schmid represents IFOAM in the Codex Alimentarius of the WHO/FAO creating guidelines for organically produced food.
  • Extension and research in cultivation of organic herbs.
  • Financial crisis and crisis of confidence: many employees leave FiBL.
  • Application for basic funding from the Swiss Federal Government fails.
  • Publication of the "zB" magazine for organic farmers.
  • Trials with old and new vegetable varieties in terms of their suitability for organic farming.
  • Research is extended to questions on biodiversity and environmental quality (Canton of Schaffhausen).
  • Research is extended to slugs, weeds among grains as well as fungal diseases and pests in vegetables.
  • Dr Henri Suter becomes new institute director.
  • Establishment of the Association of the Swiss Organic Agriculture Organisations / Vereinigung Schweizerischer Biologischer Landbauorganisationen (VSBLO), today Bio Suisse, initiated by FiBL.
  • Advisory service for Migros-Sano organic vegetables producers enables FiBL to hire another advisor.
  • Research on phytochemicals (e.g. phytoalexins) focussing on plant health and nutritional quality.
  • Publication of the organic standards for Switzerland and IFOAM.
  • FiBL Knospe (Bud) logo becomes the Swiss organic label.
  • Research on the feeding of laying hens.
  • New institute location at Bernhardsberg in Oberwil in the Canton of Basel-Landschaft.
  • Launch of the first FiBL project in Latin America (Cochabamba, Bolivia).
  • Extension of compost research by precisely balancing materials.
  • New President of the Foundation Council: Dr. Heinz Zumstein.
  • FiBL gives lecture series on organic farming at the Landwirtschaftliches Technikum (agricultural technical college, today the School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences).
  • The General Secretariat of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) is located at FiBL (until 1981). Hartmut Vogtmann is the General Secretary of IFOAM (1976 to 1982); in 1982, he becomes honorary president of IFOAM.
  • Research starts on undersown clover in maize.
  • Extension of trials on farm fertilizer processing (manure and slurry) and their effects on yields, nitrate contents and soil fertility.
  • Organization of the first International Scientific Conference of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) in Sissach.
  • Establishment of the advisory service. Otto Schmid is the head of advisory services from 1997 to 1989.
  • Extension of research in the field of quality of organic products with alternative research methods.
  • Study on fertility, performance, health, productive lifetime and feeding of dairy cows.
  • Launch of the DOK trial, a systematic comparison of biodynamic, organic and conventional agriculture. The trial is supported by the Federal Office for Agriculture (BLW) and carried out together with the Research Institute of Environmental Protection and Agriculture (IUL) in Liebefeld Canton of Berne. The aim of the trial is to provide a scientific base to assess organic farming.
  • First meeting of of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), established in 1972, to strengthen organic research in Seengen, Switzerland.
  • Launch of a 5-year study on the economic situation and work process of organic farms (in cooperation with the Federal Research Institute FAT).
  • Planning of experimental research work on the farm Bruderholzhof in Oberwil in the Canton of Basel-Landschaft.
  • Establishment of the institute; Director Dr Hardy Vogtmann.
  • FiBL becomes the 10th member of IFOAM, the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements.
  • Establishment of the Foundation; President: Heinrich Schalcher, a member of the Swiss National Council. Other founding members: Prof. Dr. Philippe Matile, ETH; Ernst Neuenschwander, staff of the Federal Office for Agriculture; Dr. Michael Rist, university lecturer at ETH; Dr. Willi Hauert, Dr. Wander AG; Werner Schär, architect; Hans Ramseier, director of Jowa (Migros); Fritz Baumgartner, biodynamic farmer.