Research and projects
Productivity and climate
Both mitigation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through improved agricultural practices and strategies to enhance the adaptive capacity of agriculture to climate change are in the focus of our research. In recent meta-analyses we quantitatively assessed the contribution of organic farming to soil carbon sequestration and soil-derived N2O and CH4 emissions by analysing global datasets from published pairwise farming system comparisons. There, we also identified substantial research needs for non-CO2 flux and whole-profile soil carbon determinations in soils under organic farming management. Ideally these research activities are not just conducted at research stations but also on farmers’ fields as on-farm trials to increase the impact and to raise awareness among the various stakeholders. This leads also to the aspect of adaptation to climate change and weather extremes. In the last years Mid European agriculture was faced with relatively warm winters and pronounced dry periods in spring time. This posed particular challenges to organic farming, as plant nutrition there depends very much on nutrient release from complex organic compounds driven by microbial transformation processes.
Public goods: Ecosystem services and animal welfare
This area of research is closely linked with GHG mitigation and adaptation to climate change and suits very much the systems approach in organic farming. Meaning that sustainable farming approaches need to address productivity, climate aspects and all other important public goods and ecosystem services at the same time. Animal welfare and health are also addressed as livestock is in important component in the build-up and maintenance of resilient farming systems.
Agro-ecological food and farming systems
This topic combines the need for sustainable consumption of food with the environmental and social implications at farm and landscape or at an even larger level. In most urban centres and even in rural areas in industrialized countries food consumption is spatially and temporally disconnected from its agricultural production environment. Along this line we are aiming at developing locally connected food and farming systems that making complex, multifunctional, agroecological food systems equitable and sustainable, so they can nourish the world by 2050 with far lower greenhouse gas emissions.