BioTropic supports Saat:gut

On the Christiansen's organic farm, the Saat:gut association are dedicated to cultivating broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. On the Christiansen's versatile, 100 hectare vegetable farm, pioneering work is being carried out: the aim is to cultivate modern, seedfast vegetable varieties, which both meet the particular demands of ecological vegetable cultivation and are also suitable for multi-stage marketing. Seedfast means that the seeds, which grow from a plant, have the same positive characteristics as its parent plant. Hence, farmers can harvest their own seeds and free themselves from their dependency on seed companies. After visiting the Christiansen's organic farm, it became clear to us: we will support this!

These days, the standard is that the majority of all newly registered varieties of cabbage are sterile hybrid varieties. These so-called CMS hybrids do not produce pollen and are therefore not capable of reproduction ? they are male sterile (CMS stands for cytoplasmic male sterility). They meet the expectations of the mass market with a homogenous appearance, growth and yield to a significant extent.

However, this also involves dangers: the variety of seeds, and with that biodiversity, is being endangered by the CMS varieties. Technical and material characteristics, such as uniform appearance, uniform ripening, weight per plant and head resistance, are paramount to variety development. The food quality of the varieties, partly put together in the laboratory, is neglected. Furthermore, the new varieties, the sterility of which acts like patent protection, belong mostly to a few seed companies, thereby allowing them to control the global seed trade and vegetable cultivation.

But only a wide range of genetically diverse varieties ensures adaptation to regional conditions, such as the soil, climate and parasites. Organic farming needs robust varieties, which deliver consistent yields of the highest quality even under unfavourable conditions. Modern, seedfast varieties, which are characterised not only by "inner values", such as vitality, a high level of secondary plant compounds and good digestibility, but also by an attractive outer appearance.

In comparison to the CMS hybrids, there are still hardly any seedfast varieties on the market/they have not yet been further developed. The Saat:gut association is attempting to change this. The road to this is still long and labour-intensive, because traditional cultivation work takes at least 10 years and sometimes even more.

An online database for CMS-free varieties will be available in April of this year. The FiBL (Forschungsinstitut für Biologischen Landbau = Research Institute of Organic Agriculture ) will set the database up; BioTropic provided the initial funding.

Background information:
The founder members of the Saat:gut project are the organic farmers Barbara Maria Rudolf (public relations) and Heinz-Peter Christiansen (project management). Several years ago, it became clear to them that organic cultivation was necessary in order to provide organic farming with suitable varieties in the long-term. Together with the cultivator, Gesa Dalsgaard, and many other active helpers, field trials and reproductions with broccoli, cauliflower and carrots are being carried out on several organic farms.

More information at:


Tags: Forschungsinstitut für Biologischen Landbau (FiBL), Cauliflower (GB), Broccoli (GB), Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (GB), Carrots (GB)

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