We celebrate our 25th anniversary renewing our commitment to the Basque agricultural, livestock and forestry sector

4 September 2023


  • The Lehendakari Iñigo Urkullu today presided over the commemoration ceremony of NEIKER, which has become one of the main references in research in the agro-livestock and forestry sector.
  • The development of sustainable production processes and solutions that facilitate the fight against climate emergency are some of the focal points of our research.
  • Leire Barañano, Director of NEIKER: “We renew our commitment to support the sector in its transformation and progress towards more productive, sustainable systems that are resistant to the effects of climate change”.

Alternative microalgae crops to cover future nutrient demands and guarantee the sustainability of agriculture and livestock farming or measure methane emissions from cattle to contribute to the decarbonisation of livestock farming. These are some of the main advances that we have been promoting at NEIKER since our birth as a public company in 1998.

Our origins date back to 1851, when the Model Farm of Agriculture was created in Arkaute (Araba) to promote agricultural activity in the territory and the seed of what NEIKER is today. This year, it is 25 years since NEIKER was set up as a public company attached to the Basque Government and became the Basque Institute for Agricultural Research and Development, NEIKER.

To commemorate such an important date, this morning we organised an event at our headquarters in Arkaute (Araba) with the participation of the Lehendakari, Iñigo Urkullu; the Basque Minister for Economic Development, Sustainability and the Environment, Arantxa Tapia; the Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Policy, Bittor Oroz and Leire Barañano, Managing Director of NEIKER. The event was also attended by a representation of the main players in the agri-food sector in the Basque Country.

During her speech, Leire Barañano highlighted NEIKER’s role as a driving force in the Basque agri-food and forestry sector. “Since its origins, NEIKER has contributed to boosting, through applied R&D&I, the agri-food and forestry economy of our environment, helping numerous companies in the first sector to overcome the economic and environmental challenges and to take advantage of the market opportunities that are presented to them”.

Innovation, new technologies and agricultural trends, always present in the technology centre, are enabling it to boost its implementation in companies in the first sector. In this sense, Barañano did not want to overlook NEIKER’s capacity to adapt to new emerging needs such as biotechnology, biostimulants or the bioeconomy, which NEIKER has put at their service since its origins in order to “create innovative solutions with high added value, differentiated quality and full security”.

Towards a ‘green’ and technified agriculture

The development of sustainable production processes and solutions that facilitate the fight against climate emergency are some of NEIKER’s research axes on which this morning’s visit to our facilities focused. Among other novelties, we have presented a new line of work focused on the potential of microalgae crops for decarbonisation, circularity, ecosystem protection and replacement of fossil-based products.

In this regard, we have just incorporated new photobioreactors in our facilities, structures that allow the massive cultivation of microalgae in order to “have raw material to obtain new products with a high protein content such as livestock feed and improve the quality of meat or cosmetic creams with a high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory content”, explained Sonia Suárez, a researcher in NEIKER’s Plant Production and Protection department, during the meeting.

During the event, we also showed our latest technological incorporation to facilitate the sustainability of ruminant livestock farming. This is ‘Green Feed’, an equipment that allows us to measure methane emissions from cattle and thus check whether feeding, genetic selection and management are bearing fruit to reduce methane emissions from cows. This new infrastructure is added to the equipment available at NEIKER to work on decarbonisation projects and to continue research into improving feed and production efficiency and the sustainability of ruminant livestock farming.

To round off the visit, we showed the germplasm bank where you can see our contribution to obtaining and improving plant varieties, specifically in the cultivation of potatoes, the queen of the Alava countryside. In this field, thanks to NEIKER’s expertise and experience in the production and protection of this tuber, around 50 varieties have been obtained or improved. “This has been possible thanks to the good work of our technical team generation after generation and the fact that we have the latest technological advances in our facilities, such as, for example, a germplasm bank to conserve seeds of different plant species or biotechnology laboratories for the genetic improvement of crops”, explained Natxo Ruiz de Galarreta, researcher in the Production and Protection department.