Focus at BOKU

Gregor-Mendel-House, BOKU

In the eighties mainly students organized courses on Organic Agriculture. Institutional activities in Organic Agriculture research and teaching at BOKU started in 1991 with a guest professorship. In this phase, the activities were part of the Institute of Plant Production and Plant Breeding. in 1996, a research group dedicated to Organic Farming was established and became independent along with the foundation of the Division of Organic Farming. Today, this division is part of the Department of Sustainable Agriculture and consits of three research groups comprising in total one professor, two assistant professors, five assistants, one technician, one laboratory assistant (permanent) and several assistants and PhD students.

The facilities of the working group Soil Fertility and Cropping Systems consist of a stockless research farm with 26 ha and a second with 143 ha (partly used) for monitoring organic farming in a long term perspective (research project together with ten divisions of BOKU), a laboratory and a glass house. This research group focuses mainly on nutrient cycles, nitrogen fixation, cropping systems and dry stress.

The working group Knowledge Systems and Innovations recognizes organic agriculture as a farming system that is generated by an interplay and interdependency of ecological, social, economic and cultural components.
 This research group focuses on the actors within this system, the people, focusing on their relationships with each other as well as with their environment.

The working group on Transdisciplinary Systems Research is committed to produce outstanding empirically grounded and theoretically informed research, which describes, assesses and theorizes the complex transformation processes in organic and alternative agro-food systems. Aspects on the acceptance, behaviour and values / ethics of organic farming systems / products are the main research field.

In all working groups there are several activities in research with CGIAR institutions and Universities in subtropical and tropical regions. Furthermore the Division of Organic Farming is a member of the BOKU Graduate College.

Beside the Division for Organic Farming in total, eight departments with 15 institutes / divisions are engaged in Organic Agriculture research resp. 12 institutes in teaching at BOKU. They are all members of the BOKU platform Organic Agriculture, organized by the Department of Sustainable Agriculture. The platform coordinates information and activities in research and teaching. The topic Organic Agriculture is also included in four of the seven BOKU research platforms. Research areas of BOKU focus on nearly the whole spectrum of Organic Agriculture.

Within the Bachelor Course of Agriculture, 2 h of Organic Agriculture are compulsory. Additionally, several elective subjects are offered in Organic Agriculture. Since 2004 a Master´s Degree in Organic Agriculture is established.