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AKHWA - Adapting to climate change in Hesse - increasing soil water retention through regenerative arable farming strategies

Measure L 19 of the Integrated Climate Protection Plan Hessen 2025

Background information


A stable landscape water balance mitigates the consequences of climate change. The aim of measure L-19 of the IKSP Hessen 2025 is to adapt the landscape to progressive climate change in such a way that, by increasing the water retention potential of the soil, local climate effects (summer cooling through evaporation of the vegetation) and at the same time the other services such as water supply, soil fertility, recreational function, local climate and habitat function for animal and plant species are strengthened. It stabilises the material balance in the soil and reduces the risk of soil erosion during heavy rainfall events.


Research questions and research approach


  • Can regenerative arable farming improve the water retention function of soils?
  • Does an improved water retention function produce a significant temperature reduction in the microclimatic area?
  • Does the effect of the system differ under organic and conventional farming?

    The functional approach is new. Producers (plant cultures), consumers (humans, grazing animals), destructors (soil organisms according to number, interconnectedness) and the site (soil/topography) are considered together with water and the local climate. The aspect of economic efficiency is also integrated. The AKHWA pilot project started in 2020 and is expected to run for four years. Prior to the start of the project, a literature review and a survey of farmers were conducted. This preliminary work made it possible to specify the research questions of the project and to sharpen the experimental design.


Lead Partner


Justus Liebig University Gießen, Professorship of Organic Farming

Prof. Dr. Andreas Gattinger
Dr. Juliet Kamau

Dr. Wiebke Niether

Phone: 0641-99-37734

University of Kassel, Organic Agricultural Sciences

Department of Organic Plant Protection
Prof. Dr. M.R. Finckh, M.Sc. S.M. Junge

University of Kassel, Organic Agricultural Sciences,

Department of Farm Management
Prof. Dr. D. Möller

University of Kassel, Ecological Agricultural Sciences,

Department of Soil Science
Prof. Dr. S. Peth, Dr. Carolina Bilibio, Markus Hammer-Weis

University of Geisenheim, Institute for Applied Ecology
Prof. Dr. C. Kammann


Project duration


 2020 – 2024