Research Institute of Organic Agriculture
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The Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (German: Forschungsinstitut für biologischen Landbau) (FiBL), is an independent, non-profit research institute with the aim of advancing cutting-edge science in the field of organic agriculture.
FiBL's research team works together with farmers to develop innovative and cost-effective solutions to boost agricultural productivity while never losing sight of environmental and socio-economic impacts as well as considerations to human and animal health. Alongside practical research, FiBL gives high priority to transferring knowledge into agricultural practice through advisory work, training and conferences.
The institute was founded in Switzerland in 1973 by a group organic farmers together with scientists with the goal of supporting organic farmers through research projects and advisory services.
Key research areas
- Organic soil management: The soil science division investigates the efficiency of organic and conventional farming systems in terms of fertilizer and energy use.
- Organic horticultural sciences: Explorations are made into practical solutions to the key problems associated with growing these special crops which include fruit, berries, grapes, vegetables, herbs and ornamental plants.
- Plant protection and biodiversity management: This division investigates and develops practical methods of controlling pests and diseases in fruit and vegetable growing, viticulture, and crop farming.
- Holistic animal health: emphasis of this division's research is on the causal agents of diseases, preventive measures, and complementary and alternative medicine for animals.
- Animal husbandry and organic animal breeding: Develops strategies for improving livestock husbandry on organic holdings.
- Socio-economics: This division explores agricultural policy impact as well as business skills and sustainable management practices essential for farmers.
- Food quality and processing analysis: This division is involved in projects focussing on aspects of product quality, food safety, food processing and risk assessment.
International development of organic agriculture
FiBL has also long been committed to the worldwide development of organic agriculture with its various cooperation initiatives aiming to help small-holder farmers adapt to the challenges of climate change and boost agricultural productivity. One such collaborative project underway is the African Organic Training Manual. The project's purpose is to provide best farming practice training materials to help farmers move towards a path of long-term and economically viable agriculture. The training materials illustrate and emphasize techniques and technologies that are good for the soil, the environment and for rural communities.
Three prominent international projects include long-term farming systems comparisons in the tropics, comparing organic and conventional agriculture in Bolivia, Kenya and India, and have been running since 2005. The goal is to provide solid data on the benefits and drawbacks of organic agriculture in the tropics.