Switzerland is characterized by decentralized political and administrative structures. Subsidiarity in Switzerland is applied by placing responsibilities at the lowest possible level. Switzerland has high qualities and skills in education, science and technology which are recognised internationally. Moreover, the competitiveness of Switzerland is due to the considerable investments into research. On a percentage basis, the amount Switzerland spends on research and development in relation to the gross domestic product (GDP) puts this country near the top of the list. More than two-thirds of these resources come from the private sector.
Agroscope is attached to the Federal Office for Agriculture
. Agroscope takes account of the particular agricultural needs of Switzerland. It concentrates on both applied research and legal tasks. This linking ensures that an optimum use is made of the most up-to-date know-how and a high-quality infrastructure. The research of Agroscope is aimed at providing safe and flavoursome food, a healthy environment and an innovative and competitive agriculture.
Research Institute of Organic Agriculture
The Swiss Foundation for the Promotion of Organic Agriculture was founded in 1973 and the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture, set up by the Foundation, began its research work one year later. The research institute’s main task is to promote organic farming by scientific research and advice. In order to further promote the development of organic farming in Switzerland, the government funds the research institute. This financial assistance by the Federal Office for Agriculture allows the research institute to plan its research over a longer period in the sense of a medium-term research strategy.
The term universities encompasses all ten cantonal universities and both federal institutes of technology (FITs), i.e. the ETH in Zurich and the EPF in Lausanne. The Swiss Confederation has jurisdiction over the two FITs and each Swiss canton has jurisdiction over the university located within its boundaries.
Federal Institute of Technology
(ETH) in Zurich
ETH Zurich engages in basic research and in problem-solving research of lasting value. The Department of Environmental Systems Science
(D-USYS) studies the processes and interactions of different environmental systems on various scales, from the molecular scale to global environmental, production and supply systems. The Institute of Agricultural Sciences
(IAS) elucidates plant and animal systems as well as plant-insect-interactions with a view to sustainable production. The Department of Health Sciences and Technology
(D-HEST) includes natural scientists and engineers working in four specialized areas: Movement Sciences and Sport, Food and Nutrition, Medical Engineering, and Neurosciences. The Institute of Food, Nutrition and Health
focuses on secure access to safe, tasty food and a balanced diet for maintaining health and improving quality of life.
Faculties of veterinary medicine Vetsuisse
Basic research, from which agricultural research can benefit, is also being carried out in the faculties of veterinary medicine at the universities of Bern
. They are researching into questions concerning animal diseases, animal husbandry, animal nutrition, nutritional pathology and reproduction.
Departments and institutes of Swiss universities which conduct research in the fields of agriculture, food, nutrition and related environmental issues:
Universities of Applied Sciences
The Universities of Applied Sciences concentrate on applied research and development and pursue the establishment of close contacts between their laboratories and those in the private sector.
The cooperation between the Universities of Applied Sciences and the private sector has developed rapidly over the past 10 years.
• Bern University of Applied Sciences – School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Science
• University of Applied Sciences Changins
– Education and training in viticulture, oenology and arboriculture
• Haute Ecole Spécialisée de Suisse occidentale (HES-SO) – Haute école du paysage, d’ingénierie et d’architecture de Genève (hepia) – Institut Terre-Nature-Environnement
• Zurich University of Applied Sciences
– School of Life Sciences and Facility Management
• Haute Ecole Spécialisée de Suisse occidentale (HES-SO) – HES-SO Valais – Institute of Life Technologies
Private Agricultural Research
Switzerland is noted for its important worldwide chemical and life-sciences industry
which, among other things, is involved in the agricultural business throughout the world, whether in the area of genetics, plant protection, animal health or fertilizers. In relation to the globalization of trade, industry is undergoing notable reorganization and reorientation with a world-wide reallocation of production and research activities. This industry invests considerable funds in basic and applied research and development both at home and abroad.
Additional links to other Swiss organizations involved in Agricultural Research can be found by SFIAR Swiss Node