Establishment in practice across the value-added chain
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.
What phases has the project already reached?
The project started in July 2013. The first seeds were sown in the autumn of 2013 on 21 Demeter farms in the south, centre-west, north and east regions. In June and July 2014, eleven cereal field days were held on selected working farms of the cereal variety project, distributed throughout the whole of Germany. An inspection of the cereal growing in the fields in the cultivation year of 2013 attracted a good deal of interest; in addition to Demeter farmers from the region, other participants were processing companies, eco-consultants, advisers from the State Offices and other organic farmers associations. The balance is already extremely positive: the interest in and exchange of information on biodynamic varieties of cereal has visibly increased as a result of the project, both in terms of their cultivation and their processing.
What are the concrete objectives of the project?
The aim of the project is to get the ball rolling throughout the entire eco-value chain to increase the distribution of the biodynamic varieties.
- Expanding the knowledge on the farms of the optimum cultivation strategy, variety selection etc. and creating enthusiasm for the different varieties.
- Optimisation of the processes with respect to cereal processing, creating approaches to marketing strategies as well as enthusiasm for the different varieties.
- In the consultation process, developing tools for targeted advice on biodynamic varieties which lead to optimal use of the varieties with the best possible yields and qualities, as well as the transfer of research results into practice.
- Continuing to promote exchanges and networking across all levels of the value-added chain.
The Forschungsring für Biologisch-Dynamische Wirtschaftsweise ("Research Ring for a Biodynamic Subsistence Strategy")
The Forschungsring für Biologisch-Dynamische Wirtschaftsweise in Darmstadt is a non-profit institution that conducts research for Organic and Biodynamic Agriculture. The research ring is one of the pioneering organisations of Organic Agriculture in Germany. It works closely together with Demeter. The main focal points of the research are soil fertility and food quality.
What are the funds of the MAHLE FOUNDATION specifically used for?
The MAHLE FOUNDATION paid for various personnel and material costs, such as analyses of the cereal samples, travel expenses, printing costs and costs of workshops and field days.
For how long has the MAHLE FOUNDATION been funding the project?
The project has been sponsored by the MAHLE FOUNDATION since 2013.
In 2015 workshops will be held for the processing companies in order to optimise the processing and marketing strategies for products made from biodynamic varieties of cereal. The seeds were sown for the second growing period in the autumn of 2014, after a further four interested organic farms had joined. The field days will be held again in the early summer. The results of the second cultivation year are eagerly awaited.