Origin and structure
In the 1950s there was no research activity dealing with organic farming at public institutes. This was true not only for Germany, but for most of the countries in the world. However, biodynamic farmers and consultants were looking for help and solutions for several problems they were faced with. Naturally, an own institute was needed. This was the impetus for establishing the Institute for Biodynamic Research (IBDF) in November 1950. It was founded as a privately maintained non-profit institution, incorporated as an association under german law. As the first active institution in its field in Europe, if not worldwide, it has been conducting research into organic agriculture for more than five decades. Today the IBDF employs some 20 members of staff, 8 of whom are scientific researchers. Trainees, undergraduates and PhD students in agriculture and other related fields are temporarily at the IBDF.
Main research areas
Long-term trials and fertilization
a comparative study is carried out over 20 years of farmyard manure - with and without biodynamic preparations - and mineral fertilizers, looking at soil fertility, yields and food quality of different crops. This trial is one of approx. five long-term experiments worldwide running under conditions of organic farming. Other field trials investigate farmyard manure and manuring with plant material and their effects on soil development, crop yield and quality. Additionally, composting stable manure is studied in field and lab trials.
Responsible researcher: Dr. Joachim Raupp; firstname.lastname@example.org
Organic plant breeding; crop diversity; seed health; organic plant protection
For many years site-appropriate cereal and vegetable varieties are bred wich are adapted to the specific conditions of production in organic agriculture. This work is part of the Association of biodynamic Plant Breeders. Another focus of this department is the development of biological techniques for plant protection and mainly against seed-borne diseases.
Responsible researcher: Dr. Hartmut Spieß email@example.com
This research team is involved in defining breeding goals, wheat breeding, assessing wheat and vegetable quality, selecting varieties for food quality, analysing food produced with different farming methods, testing the effectiveness of biodynamic preparations.
Responsible researcher: Dr. Ingo Hagel (until Sep. 2003)
Optimization of biodynamic preparations
This team investigates the production process (e.g. stirring methods, components) of the preparations. Other projects aim at developing peat-free propagating mediums for large-scale use and evaluating perspectives of renewable resources in organic farming. In some trials the picture creating methods are used for the assessment of the samples.
Responsible researcher: Dr. Uli Johannes König; firstname.lastname@example.org
The branch institute at Dottenfelderhof biodynamic farm
Research activities on farms have a long tradition in biodynamic agriculture (Koepf, H.H. 1993. Research in biodynamic agriculture: methods and results. Bio-Dynamic Farming and Gardening Assoc. Inc., Kimberton PA, USA). Accordingly, at Dottenfelderhof (a biodynamic farm with 150 ha close to Frankfurt/Main, managed as group farming) the intention was to combine farming and research. Since 1977 a research department has been established at Dottenfelderhof as a branch institute of IBDF. A task force was formed at the farm to discuss future research needs (chronobiology, effects of biodynamic preparations, ecological plant breeding; plant health; potassium manuring; weed control). The scientific head of the branch institute (H. Spieß, mentioned above) is also involved into education and further training programs offered by the Agricultural School for Biodynamic Farming, Dottenfelderhof. The main course lasts one year and is designed for professional farmers and gardeners and for those with some considerable experience in these fields.
Interdisciplinary, international networking and communication
Groups from all over the world visit the IBDF to learn about our work. Major research reports are published in our own monograph series, articles appear in scientific journals, proceedings, and technical journals. Our scientists are members of various expert bodies. An annual report on current projects and activities is published for free. Joint projects are carried out with universities and other public and private research establishments in Germany and abroad. A number of PhD theses originated in this cooperation. Such projects have resulted in wider dissemination of numerous issues relating to organic and especially biodynamic practices, extending beyond the immediate audience of organic practitioners.
The IBDF is funded exclusively by project grants (approx. 95%) and donations (5%). Project grants are provided mainly by private foundations, to a much smaller extent by public institutions (Federal Ministry, European Union). No public subsidy is received towards running costs and overheads. We warmly welcome new members to support us through subscription.
Some research papers and monographs are available for download as PDF-files at www.ibdf.de/down/list.htm