The Association of German Agricultural Analytic and Research Institutes (VDLUFA) looks back on more than a hundred years of history. Based on the work of Carl Sprengel (1787- 1859) and Justus von Liebig (1803 – 1873) which provided a solid scientific foundation for agricultural studies, agricultural research stations were established throughout the German Reich during the second half of the 19th century. These stations joined together in Weimar in 1888 to establish the Verband landwirtschaftlicher Versuchsstationen im Deutschen Reiche (“Association of Agricultural Research stations in the German Reich”). After several restructuring and renaming initiatives during the 1930s, the collapse of the Third Reich led to the end of the association. The association was re-established in 1948 in Hattenheim under the name of “Verband Deutscher Landwirtschaftlicher Untersuchungs- und Forschungsanstalten” (VDLUFA). It first included agricultural test and research institutes, centres for dairy science and vocational training, university institutes and other research facilities which were located in the British and American zones. These were then followed by facilities in the French zone. One of the highlights in the history of VDLUFA was the readmission of former members from the new German Länder after the German unification at the beginning of the 1990s.

The traditional tasks of the agricultural research stations in Germany included:

  • the implementation of applied research and experimentation to utilise basic scientific research (“research”);
  • the examination of agricultural means such as seeds, fertilisers, feedstuffs and soils (“examination”);
  • the instruction of farmers on options for the practical application of the results obtained from agricultural experimentation (“information and consultation”).

Depending on the period of time and institution, varied emphasis has been placed on these tasks. Nevertheless, the association has always provided its members with a platform for presenting and discussing the requirements and results of applied agricultural research be it in commissions, committees, sections at congresses or within the publication media of the association. The first convention was held in September 1888 and it paved the way for a tradition that still exists today in the form of the current VDLUFA congress which has been upheld with the exception of just a few years.

Early, a further working field focussing on the development and publication of uniform test methods emerged. As long ago as 1917, a book about the microscopic analysis of feedstuffs was published which was followed in 1929 by a comprehensive collection of methods called “Die Untersuchung und Begutachtung von Düngemitteln, Futtermitteln, Saatwaren und Bodenproben” (available in German only).

Providing a platform for applied agricultural research, developing uniform analytical methods and the harmonised assessment of results still make up the focus of the association’s current commitment. Yet the services provided by the association have expanded significantly due to the federal structure of Germany on the one hand and on the increasing significance of European institutions and legislation on the other.