From the grower to the baker

The breeding carried out by large seed companies is primarily focused on producing high yields and often makes use of genetic engineering resources. In order to obtain and strengthen GMO-free alternatives and produce the highest possible food quality for humans, a biodynamic seed breeding programme is important.

The Forschungsring für Biologisch-Dynamische Wirtschaftsweise e.V. ("Research Ring for a Biodynamic Subsistence Strategy") works together with the project partners Demeter (registered association) and several national working groups of Demeter, as well as processing companies, on the development and distribution of biodynamic types of cereal.

For over 20 years, gardeners, farmers and breeders have been developing their own varieties for the conditions and quality requirements of biodynamic farming. In German-speaking countries there are six biodynamic breeding initiatives that have already developed more than 30 biodynamic types of cereal, above all wheat.

Despite the many positive properties of the biodynamic varieties in terms of their cultivation and processing – for example, the high baking and nutritional quality – the extent of their distribution in practice is still small. For this reason the Forschungsring für Biologisch-Dynamische Wirtschaftsweise would like to increase the use of biodynamic types of cereal for cultivation and processing with the participation of stakeholders from the entire value-added chain.

In addition to the targeted advice provided to businesses on cultivation and the different varieties available, the networking of producers and processors and processing seminars on the properties of biodynamic varieties, eleven cereal field days were held in 2014. Interested parties were able to see for themselves the diversity which biodynamically and organically grown types of cereal bring to German fields. On selected farms involved in the cereal varieties project, the following key questions were discussed: How do the new varieties included in the project behave compared to the types already used on the farm? Which organic varieties satisfy the quality demands of farmers, bakers and consumers? Which breeds are particularly hardy and disease-resistant? What will the demands be in the future and what types of cereal will fulfil them?

The 21 participating Demeter farms are to lead by example: they are converting their cereal growing to biodynamic varieties and distributing products that have been made from such varieties. This is intended to create awareness of the added value of the varieties from the farmer to the consumer so as to integrate these varieties into practical use over the long term.

The aim of the project is to get the ball rolling with respect to the spread of the biodynamic types through knowledge transfer along the entire eco-value chain - from the breeder, through the seed dealer and farmer to the baker.