This research group is investigating whether permaculture can be implemented in Swiss agriculture and whether it is ecologically, economically and socially sustainable.

Permaculture strives for an agro-ecosystem that is resilient and adaptable. It follows holistic principles that take into account farm-specific characteristics in its implementation. Certain approaches are taken: small-scale cultivation systems, site adaptation, high diversity of plants and structures, use of local and natural resources and the circular economy. The fact that permaculture works is demonstrated by numerous domestic gardens and some farms around the world. However, it is still rarely implemented in Swiss agriculture, partly due to its high requirement for manual labour and the associated labour costs. 

We develop solutions for a future-oriented development of permaculture in agriculture. Thanks to our partnership with the Permakultur in der Landwirtschaft association, we ensure a close exchange of knowledge with practitioners. Together we operate the competence platform for permaculture in agriculture.


  • Research on the current challenges of permaculture in agriculture
  • Operation and development of the competence platform for permaculture in agriculture
  • Answering questions about permaculture in agriculture, political conditions, approaches, farming methods, sources of support
  • Advice on the planning and conversion of farms
  • Organisation of working groups, field visits and excursions for farmers and advisors
  • Establishment of a permaculture farm network in Switzerland
  • Various permaculture experimental plots (outdoor laboratory)
  • Educational activities on permaculture and agroforestry for students
  • Guided tours, courses and workshops on permaculture
  • Wide range of permaculture literature (books and journals) in the BFH-HAFL library


  • Implementation of permaculture principles
  • Documentation of an emerging permaculture system (inputs, outputs, expenditure, yields)
  • Insect monitoring on the ground and in the air
  • Analysis of soil parameters
  • Experiences with forest gardens
  • Network of farms doing pioneering work in permaculture


To advance research into permaculture for use in agriculture and forestry on the one hand, and to be able to offer learning and showcase examples on the other, two permaculture teaching gardens have been set up at BFH-HAFL since mid-2017. By early 2023, the construction work will be completed and scientific monitoring started.


  • Conduct teaching events and student projects
  • Scientific monitoring of soil, biodiversity and yields/system services
  • Participation of students and staff in the development process and in workshops
  • Guide to and information on the plots
  • Documentation of the emergent process as a guide for interested practitioners
  • Research into the sociological and economic framework conditions and the inclusion of products in value chains
  • Networking with other permaculture actors
  • Publications and press articles

Period (planned): 01.04.2020 - 31.05.2023

Permakultur, Biodiversität, Bodenmonitoring, Praxisbeispiele, Ausbildung, Waldgarten, Systementwicklung, Baumscheibe, Mandalagarten Enlarge image

Funding organisations

  • OGG
  • Mercator
  • Fondation Sur-la-Croix
  • VISIO-Permacultura
Logo OGG Bern
Logo Fondation sur la Croix
Logo Mercator
Logo Visio Permacultura

Pioneer farms in the region have been successfully cultivating existing permaculture areas for several years or are planning initial permaculture elements on their land. The BFH-HAFL Plant Protection and Agroecology Research Group has been supporting a group of these farms since the beginning of 2020. They aim to assume an advisory role in the planning and implementation of permaculture systems or individual permaculture elements, and to investigate both the economic viability of the farms and the effects of permaculture on the environment.

For this latter purpose, two types of insect monitoring are being carried out. Firstly, flying insects are caught with landing nets and the species composition evaluated. This enables us to test the hypothesis that permaculture systems lead to an increase in beneficial insects and a decrease in harmful insects over time. Secondly, ground beetles are caught and the population composition evaluated. Ground beetles are described as bioindicators because they react very quickly to changes in habitats and thus reflect environmental conditions. Here, too, we are investigating whether an increase in species occurring in intact systems can be observed.

Soil monitoring (spade samples, composite samples with subsequent analytical tests in the laboratory) is used to investigate the extent to which soil-building management affects individual soil parameters such as humus content or nutrient stocks. In addition, operational data from the individual farms are evaluated to obtain key economic indicators, such as labour and land productivity, and assess the management of permaculture systems according to economic criteria.

This project aims to investigate, for the first time in Switzerland, the effects of managing farms according to permaculture principles and the potential of permaculture for Swiss agriculture.

Period (planned): 01.04.2020 - 31.12.2025

Permakultur, Biodiversität, Bodenmonitoring, Praxisbeispiele, Ausbildung, Waldgarten, Systementwicklung, Baumscheibe, Mandalagarten Enlarge image

Funding organisations

  • Federal Office for Agriculture FOAG
  • Stiftung Sur-la-Croix
  • Stiftung VISIO-Permacultura
Logo BLW
Logo Fondation sur la Croix
Logo Visio Permacultura

The demand from farmers for information and advice on permaculture in agriculture exceeds the currently limited supply. BFH-HAFL and the Verein Permakultur-Landwirtschaft aim to close this gap with this project. By creating a central contact point, questions about permaculture in agriculture can be answered. A network of pioneer farms is being established. Professional exchange is being fostered by means of working groups and excursions. The latest research findings are being publicised and knowledge collected is being published in appropriate forms, e.g. in leaflets. Education and training in the field of permaculture complement the offering.

Together with our project partners AGRIDEA, INFORAMA and FiBL, we are encouraging farmers to enter permaculture step by step and to develop the system successfully on their farms. This can make a significant contribution to productive and, at the same time, resource-conserving agriculture. 

Period (planned): 01.08.2021 - 31.07.2025

Permakultur, Praxisbeispiele, Ausbildung, Agroforst, Systementwicklung, Finanzierung, Höfenetz, Regenerative Landwirtschaft, Agrarökologie Enlarge image

Funding organisations

  • Federal Office for Agriculture FOAG
  • Paul Schiller Stiftung
  • VISIO-Permacultura
  • Verein Permakultur Schweiz
Logo BLW
Logo Paul Schiller Stiftung
Logo Visio Permacultura
Permakultur Schweiz




Note on the permaculture/agroforestry module at BFH-HAFL

BFH-HAFL students can take the module ‘Planning and Management of Permaculture & Agroforestry Systems’. They learn about the principles of permaculture and agroforestry and the agroecological significance of these systems, the importance of soil for site selection, plant selection and composition, and the structure and functioning of a permaculture and agroforestry system. Exercises in the field complement the teaching. External experts and specialists work in the module.