Frick Long-term Experiment

Local identifier
Years operational
Effect of tillage, fertilization and biodynamic preparations on soil properties and yield
In Frick (Switzerland), a long-term experiment was established at the farm of the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) in autumn 2002. In this three factorial experiment, a reduced tillage system (with a cultivator) is compared to conventional plowing to a depth of approx. 20 cm, a liquid manure system is compared to a compost manure system and the adding of biodynamic preparations is compared to none preparations. Biodynamic preparations had been assessed previous in system comparison experiments, however, their effect is difficult to elucidate separately in a system comparison approach. One reason for setting up this experiment was therefore a demand among farmers and researchers in early 2000 to disentangle the influence of biodynamic preparations from the influence of manure compost on soil fertility. On the other hand it should be tested, if and how reduced tillage is feasible in organic farming.
Data Access Statement
Available to any researcher on request
Data Access Notes
Data and archived samples are available to researchers on request (archived samples: depending on the amount required) and in collaboration with the data owners, provided there are no conflicts of interest with existing users.
Data license
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Data policy
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Research Institute of Organic Agriculture
research organisation
 +41 62 865 72 72
Dr. Meike Grosse
experiment manager
Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), Ackerstrasse 113, P.O. Box 219, 5070 Frick, Switzerland
Department of Soil Sciences
 +41 62 865 6397
Dr. Paul Maeder
principal investigator
Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), Ackerstrasse 113, P.O. Box 219, 5070 Frick, Switzerland
Department of Soil Sciences
Dr. Maike Krauss
Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), Ackerstrasse 113, P.O. Box 219, 5070 Frick, Switzerland
Department of Soil Sciences

Site: CH-5070 Frick

research farm
Geographic location
47.511983, 8.023667
© OpenStreetMap contributors
350 Metres
Visits permitted?
Visiting arrangements
Visits are possible for professionals after arrangement by email or telephone.
Before the trial was established the land had been managed organically for seven years according to European Union Regulation (EC) No. 2092/91 (later No. 834/2007) and was certified to the Bio Suisse Standards, with an arable-ley rotation ploughed to 15–20 cm. Previously, the farm had been conventional with an arable-ley rotation ploughed to 25 cm. In 2010, the farm was converted to biodynamic farming (Demeter certification).
Soil type
Soil description
The soil is a clay loamy soil, a stagnic eutric Cambisol. It consists of 45% clay, 33% silt and 22% sand. It had 2.2% soil organic carbon and a pH of 7.1 (H2O) in 2002. The soil was rich in available P and K at trial start.
Climatic type
temperate oceanic climate
Climate description
The annual average temperature and precipitation in 2003–2018 was 10.4 °C and 1030 mm respectively.

Design period: Ongoing (2002—)

Design Type
The crop rotation was modified slightly over the years with silage maize, winter wheat, an oat-clover-vetch intercrop, sunflower, spelt and a 2-year grass-clover ley mixture in the first two rotations. Since the third rotation, winter wheat was grown after grass-clover to facilitate ley termination in the reduced tillage plots in late summer and to adjust for the new rotation of the FiBL farm. The third rotation accordingly consisted of winter wheat, silage maize, spelt and two years of grass-clover since 2014.
Design description
The three factors – tillage, fertilisation and biodynamic preparations – were arranged in a strip-split plot design. These eight treatments were replicated four times to total 32 plots of 12 × 12 m size that allow for management with normal farm machinery. Block distribution accounts for the spatial gradient in clay content.
Number of subplots
Number of replicates
CropYears grown
winter wheat
cover crop
grass clover leys
Crop Rotations
Crop rotation 1  2002—2014
  • 1
  • 2
    winter wheat
  • 3
    cover crop
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
    grass clover leys
Crop rotation 2  2014—
  • 1
    winter wheat
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
    grass clover leys
Factor name
Factor levels
tillage process
Annual full inversion tillage with a mouldboard plough (15 to 18 cm depth) is compared to annual shallow mixing in the 1st and 2nd rotation (up to 5 cm depth (Rototiller, “Stoppelhobel”) and loosening to 15 cm after wheat (“WEcoDyn” chisel) and in the third Rotation annual shallow non-inversion tillage to 5–10 cm (“WEcoDyn” chisel).
conventional tillage  (15-18 cm depth)
Application method: mouldboard plough
reduced tillage  (5 cm depth)
Application method: chisel plough
natural fertilizer exposure
Liquid cattle slurry (SL) is compared to liquid cattle slurry, 0.5 times the rate of SL, plus composted cattle manure.
slurry  (1 livestock unit)
Chemical form: slurry
farmyard manure  (1 livestock unit)
Chemical form: cattle manure
biodynamic preparations
The application of biodynamic preparations is compared to no application.
BD500 – cattle manure, BD501 – silica, BD502 – Achillea millefolium L., BD503 – Matricaria recutita L., BD504 Urtica dioica L., BD505 – Quercus robur L., BD506 – Taraxacum officinale, Wiggers, BD507 – Valeriana officinalis L.
yield componentsAll cropsannually
grain yield traitAll crops
thousand grain weightAll crops
hectolitre grain weightAll crops
plant heightAll crops
plant densityAll crops
plant biomassAll crops
plant quality traitsAll crops
weed abundanceAll crops
weed species richnessAll crops
soil pHSoil
soil organic matterSoil
soil densitySoil
water holding capacitySoil
aggregate stabilitySoil
total soil nitrogenSoil
plant available nitrogenSoil
phosphorous contentSoil
potassium contentSoil
calcium contentSoil
magnesium contentSoil
microbial biomassSoil
dehydrogenase activitySoil
basal respirationSoil

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