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DOK trial: Sensory, yield and quality differences by production system

Organic, biodynamic and conventional wheat compared


Scientists at the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) in Switzerland found sensory differences in double-blind taste tests between flour grown biodynamically and non-organically. Winter wheat (cultivar Runal) was grown under the different farming systems as part of the long-term FiBL "DOK" comparison trial near Basel, Switzerland in the years 2006, 2007 and 2009. Organic and biodynamic wheat had lower dry matter yields, lower protein content and smaller kernel sizes.

The Triangle Test, a widely used sensory testing method, was used to prevent bias. Two separate panels of 30 persons each tasted freshly milled wheat flour. Testing of dry whole meal was challenging for the panelists, as opposed to sampling porridge or bread, but the method eliminated the possible sensory effects resulting from slight differences in cooking or baking. When the data from the three years and two panels were aggregated, it became evident that the number of correct answers in the tests was significantly highest when biodynamically and conventionally grown samples were compared. Further investigation is needed to determine if production method influences consumer preferences with final prepared products.

Further information



Arncken, Christine M.; Mäder, Paul; Mayer, Jochen and Weibel, Franco P. (2012) Sensory, yield and quality differences between organically and conventionally grown winter wheat. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture (J Sci Food Agric), doi: 10.1002/jsfa.5784. Available at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22865150


About the DOK trial

The DOK long-term trial compares the consequences of biodynamic, bio-organic and conventional farming systems in a randomised plot trial. The field trial was started in 1978. In the beginning the main goals were agronomic: yield and product quality. In the last decades, research has focused on processes in the soil and the long-term effects of organic farming practice on the environment. The database of agronomic results of more than thirty years has stimulatad the discussion about farming systems and has contributed significantly to the general acceptance of organic farming.