November 2004 No. 1


Introducing the QLIF research project

Advancing research collaboration in organic food and farming

Mediating QLIF research

Organic Eprints – an open archive

EcoWiki – a tool for co-operative work

International organic congress

About the congress

If you want to participate

Evidence on higher vitamin levels in organic food will be presented

Research articles

Underlying Principles in Organic and “Low-Input Food” Processing

New tendencies on the organic food market

QLIF Notes

Identifying challenges and possible solutions for organic processing

The result of Open Call for experiments on dairy management

QLIF-training workshop February, 2005


Open Call on an experiment on the effect of dairy management practices on production efficiency, milk quality, herd health status and reproductive efficiency

By Urs Niggli, FiBL

For the Open Calls made by the QLIF consortium by 1st of April 2004 for a huge feeding experiment, involving 160 dairy cows, we received 6 proposals from 6 European countries: Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Romania, Spain and United Kingdom. The 6 applications were evaluated by 3 board members and 3 external scientists from Canada, USA and Switzerland. As the design of the experiment was multifactorial and a high number of animals were needed in order to address effects on complex factors like health status, special attention was given to statistical problems by the evaluators.

The 6 consortia, which applied for the experiment (see the description on our website (PDF), were faced with different difficulties: Several of the partners were not able to provide a sufficient number of dairy cows (160). From the management side of the experiment, it was not possible for some of the partners to divide dairy groups into real replications. Some of the consortia wanted to do the experiment on 2 or more different farms that resulted in an additional variation and it might be difficult whether the confounding factors such as breed, people looking after animals, farm characteristics, milking equipment, milk storage tanks etc. can be controlled. It was very important in the experiment to concentrate on potential differences of conventional and organic dairy farming practices. Only the application from UK (the consortium of Carlo Leifert, William Taylor, Gillian Butler, Philip Cain, Elizabeth Stockdale, Kirsten Brandt, Michael Bourlakis, Christopher Ritson and Sandra Edwards) was able to meet what was required by the open call. Nonetheless, also the Newcastle consortium was required to make some alterations of the experiment (number of replications) to be accepted by the assessors.

The evaluation was finished by August 20 and all applying consortia were informed within one week. Workpackage 2.2.2 started in September 2004 at Newcastle University. It is a very ambitious and expensive experiment and the funding of the project by QLIF is only limited (330'000 €). An additional funding will be necessary. The report for this research project is due on December 2008.

We would like to thank all colleagues who applied for this interesting workpackage and a special thanks goes to the 3 external scientists, who helped us to do the evaluation.