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Paul Mäder
(Dr. phil, Dipl. Ing. Agr. ETH)

Department of Soil Sciences
Head of Department
FiBL
Ackerstrasse 113
CH-5070 Frick

Phone +41 62 865-7232
Fax +41 62 865-7273
paul.maeder(at)fibl.org

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Media release November 05, 2015

Federal Councillor Johann N. Schneider-Ammann and European ministers of agriculture visit the FiBL in Frick

How can agricultural soil be sustained and even improved? A tour through the department of soil sciences at the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL in Frick provided the ministers with good answers to this question. Prior to the tour, the ministers took part in a conference discussing the soil issue.

Group of people

(From left to right) Fernand Etgen, Minister of Agriculture, Viticulture and Consumer Protection (Luxembourg), Urs Niggli, Director of the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL, Christian Schmidt, Minister of Food and Agriculture (Germany), Christa Bauer of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management (Austria), Federal Councillor Johann N. Schneider-Ammann (Switzerland). (Photo: Franziska Hämmerli, FiBL)

Man giving insight into the topic to the visitors.

Paul Mäder, head of the department of soil sciences at FiBL, giving insight into the topic to the visitors. (Photo: Franziska Hämmerli, FiBL)

Man examines the structure of the soil aggregates in soil with reduced tillage.

Federal Councillor Johann N. Schneider-Ammann examines the structure of the soil aggregates in soil with reduced tillage. (Photo: Franziska Hämmerli, FiBL)

Fernand Etgen, the Agricultural Minister of Luxembourg.

Fernand Etgen, the Agricultural Minister of Luxembourg (left), came to the conclusion that “FiBL combines high scientific standards with a very practical approach.” (Photo: Franziska Hämmerli, FiBL)

(Frick, 5.11.2015) It provides us with food, it cannot be reproduced and should not become an object of speculation – that is why agricultural soil must receive better protection. Federal Councillor Johann N. Schneider-Ammann (Switzerland), Christian Schmidt, Minister of Food and Agriculture (Germany), Fernand Etgen, Minister of Agriculture, Viticulture and Consumer Protection (Luxembourg) and Christa Bauer of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management (Austria) agree on this point. On the occasion of the ministers’ meeting at FiBL on 29 October, they further discussed the implementation of the goals mentioned in the 2014 communiqué (see link below).

Organic agriculture increases soil fertility

After the meeting of the ministers of agriculture, the delegations were shown several advantages of organic agriculture during the tour. Organic agriculture increases soil fertility, which has been proven in the long-term DOK trial performed by FiBL and Agroscope. A meta-analysis by FiBL came to the conclusion that organic soil contains more humus than conventional soil. An experiment conducted on the FiBL farm showed that, when organic farming is combined with reduced tillage, humus increased by 24% over the course of a decade compared to tilled earth. Apart from humus, there has been a 34% increase in microorganisms and a 67% increase of earthworms over the years in reduced tillage systems. Due to the build-up of humus, a more active soil life and an improved water regulation, there is a potential for more stable yields. At the same time, the soil is protected from water and wind erosion. 

Fernand Etgen, who is also President of the Council of Ministers for Agriculture of the European Union, concluded the tour through the institute with the following statement: “The research carried out at FiBL adheres to high scientific standards and at the same time never loses touch with the practical side. I have never seen anything like it.”

Further information

Contact

  • Paul Mäder, Department of Soil Sciences, Head of Department
  • Questions concerning the media conference of the ministers of agriculture:
    Evelyn Kobelt, Spokeswoman for the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research EAER, phone +41 (0)58 462 20 59, mobile +41 (0)79 301 71 72, E-Mail: evelyn.kobelt(at)gs-wbf.admin.ch

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