Fresh inputs at the Swiss Organic Arable Farming Day

The 7th Organic Arable Farming Day has shown impressively that the event has become an established platform for the exchange between practice, market, advice and research. Around 1,800 people visited Urs Siegenthaler's organic farm in Münsingen, Switzerland, to find out about cultivation techniques, new varieties and market developments in organic farming.

Two rows of people looking at tilled soil

Exciting topics attracted around 1,800 visitors to Münsingen in the Canton of Berne, Switzerland. Photo: Bio Suisse

The demand for Swiss organic products has been rising for years. This is a good outlook for sales of organic arable products. In order to promote organic farming and to convince farmers of it, Inforama, the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL, Sativa Rheinau AG and Bio Suisse organised the 7th Swiss Organic Arable Farming Day on 13 June.

Facts worth knowing about organic arable crops

On 17 field posts, experts provided valuable information on various organic arable crops — including sugar beet, fodder crops, oilseed rape, potatoes, maize, wheat and alternatives such as millet, oats or flax. Visitors had the possibility to discuss their questions, ideas and experiences directly with experts and colleagues. In particular, soil-related topics were addressed. There were also demonstrations on the latest developments in weed control.

Exciting topics, a wide range of information and presentations and an overall attractive programme attracted around 1,800 visitors to Münsingen in the Canton of Berne, Switzerland. Both the organising committee and the experts were delighted with the success.

"We are honoured that even farmers and agricultural representatives from all over Europe attend the Organic Arable Farming Day," says Simon Jöhr of Inforama, president of the committee. "And it makes me happy to see so many people interested in a dynamic and forward-thinking agriculture".

Conscious consumption

"Consumers are increasingly turning to organic products," said Urs Brändli, president of Bio Suisse, in his speech. In response to consumers, the trend of switching to organic farming is continuing. "We are very pleased about this, but it requires Bio Suisse and its partners from processing and trading companies to continuously be innovative and committed on all levels.

"In view of the sharp rise in the number of conversion farms, it is important that sales of organic arable crops continue to grow accordingly," said Michael Scheidegger, brand manager at Coop Naturaplan, in his welcoming address. 2018, the year in which Coop Naturaplan, the retailer's organic line, celebrates its 25th anniversary, was particularly pleasing in this respect. "We were able to increase organic sales by more than 16 percent. And we are also expecting above-average growth in the organic sector in the coming years. The organic share of our total food sales, already at 14 percent today, will continue to increase in the coming years".

The Organic Arable Farming Day takes place every two years - alternating with the Organic Cattle Day (18 June 2020). The venue in 2021 has not yet been determined.

Steady growth in organic farming

Organic arable farming has experienced steady growth in recent years. For example, the proportion of organically cultivated open arable land has risen by an average of 10 percent over the last five years. However, the organic share in arable farming is still lower than the share of agricultural land, which is 14.4 percent for Switzerland as a whole.

In the Canton of Berne, 1,268 organic farms (certified with the Bio Suisse Bud) account for 12.3 percent of all agricultural holdings. With the 66 conversion farms that were added at the beginning of 2019, this shows a positive development. The proportion of organically farmed land, 12.5 percent of the canton's total agricultural area, has also increased massively in recent years. The fact that the Organic Arable Farming Day was held on a large arable farm reflects this development.

This text was translated and adapted from a media release by Bio Suisse.

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