Research in the Department of Pomology

Our Research Projects

Project start: 01.02.2019
Project end: 31.12.2023
Sponsor: European Commission, Hessian Ministry of the Environment, Climate Protection, Agriculture and Consumer Protection

The main aim of this very applied project is to increase the proportion of regionally produced apples for cider production in the state of Hessia. The regional fruit juice companies are supporting new plantations, especially meadow orchards, and their management with a divers range of measures. However, the delivery of apples for juice prodcution is decreasing constantly. This is in contrast to the consumers wish for more regional products. Currently, only 20% of the total demand by the companies comes from regional meadow orchards. In order to increase this, commercial apple production for fruit juice and cider shall be introduced in Hessia. For this, the project should define the requirements for a commercially successful production of high quality apples for fruit juice production. A map to identify possible production areas in Hessia is to be produced. Aspects of biodiversity and landscape development are to be included. By this new growers should have a good basis for a decision towards developing new plantations. In addition, commercial plantations shall be evaluated against tradtional meadow orchards.

Project start: 16.03.2020
Project end: 15.05.2023
Sponsor: Federal Office for Agriculture and Food

The project "Apple4.NULL" aims to improve the sustainability of German apple production through automation and digital technologies. To this end, a network of non-destructive sensors will be set up to use data for targeted model-based control of various processes in apple production and storage. In addition to seasonal weather conditions, the most important factors influencing fruit quality and storage life, during the pre- and post-harvest periods, can be monitored with sensors. Control mechanisms and modelling related to water usage and fruit stress will be developed and the management of the orchard and storage adapted accordingly. In the "Apple4.NULL" orchard, the sprayer will be equipped with a digital assistant to optimise plant protection product usage, to reduce spray drift and access weather data and GIS information with the legal spray boundary requirements. The sprayer will use LiDAR sensor technology to assess the tree canopies. Existing sensors controlling CA storage rooms will be enhanced with intelligent defrosting algorithms for the refrigeration system. In storage changes in fruit quality will be continuously monitored and storage systems controlled via an intuitive software interface that will also enable other partners in the fruit value chain to access information. New technologies developed in the project will be directly implemented in commercial fruit growing practice via a number of industry project partners. Our focus will be on the integration of irrigation management in the decision support system.

Project start: 01.08.2017
Project end: 30.06.2020
Sponsor: Hessian Agency for Nature Conservation, Environment and Geology

Climate change effects may foster the development of new pests of high societal importance in the state of Hessia (Klimaschutzkonzept Hessen 2012). However, in some cases the developmental rate may also be greatly reduced. Own research suggests that the developmental rate of two insect species of high medical and economical relevance, the asian bush mosquito (Aedes japonicus japonicus) and the spotted wing drosophila (Drosophila suzukii), may be largely reduced or even stopped under conditions of high summer temperature. This may result in a largely reduced damage or risk of infection. However, the effects of a changing climate and temperature regime on population dynamics of the asian bush mosquito and the spotted wing drosophila are largely unknown. In this project we will identify frequency, length and regions in the state of Hessia with a higher or lower risk of a high population build up of these two insect species using phenological modelling in combination with climate change scenario ensembles.The parallel project PEST will deliver data on the effects of daily temperature variations and extreme weather situations on the development of the two insect species to allow an improved phenological modelling approach. The synergy between the two projects will allow a realistic estimate as a basis for the respective governmental agencies in Hessia.

Project start: 01.11.2016
Project end: 31.10.2019
Sponsor: Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture

The aim of the planned project is to accomplish an early and reliable selection of growth types of the columnar apple, that are best suited for commercial growing systems, on very young plants from crossings. To achieve this, a combination of a few molecular markers will be identified. In combination with other already known markers such as the one for the typical apple aroma (Rowan et al., 2009; Souleyre et al., 2014) an early selection system for the combination of valuable traits including the growth habit of the future trees will be established. To further develop the early selection system, a fast breeding approach will be adopted to allow for a very efficient development of new varieties for the growers. This will allow for a fast introduction of an effective and economically sound production system for a regional production of cider apples for the fruit juice industry. The very effective production system will allow for a production where both, grower and juice industry, work on an economically feasible basis providing income opportunities for both sides.