The second ZuGAbe Summer School on "Greenhouse Hydroponics: Automation & Management" took place in Geisenheim this year between September 23 and 29. As with last year's Summer School hosted by the University of Thessaly in Greece, this year's event was fully booked out and attended by nearly 40 students from Germany, Greece, Italy, Israel and Indonesia.
In a diverse program consisting not only of lectures and workshops, but also several specialist field trips, professors, researchers and industry experts shared their knowledge of greenhouse hydroponic systems. For instance, Professor Canadas from Spain described the situation regarding protected cultivation in Almeria in his presentation, while modern companies such Knodt (Straelen) and Sinn (Lustadt) demonstrated their hydroponic production systems. Field trips to horticultural research centers such as the Versuchszentrum Straelen and LVG Heidelberg also proved to be highly fascinating for the international students.
"It was a wonderful study experience: the lecturers were excellent and it was very well organized. The research facilities at Hochschule Geisenheim University and the well chosen field trips really improved my skills”, said Ardy Kisworo from Indonesian, while Nir Berholtz from Israel added: "The classes included a wide variety of topics as each talk was given by an expert in the field. The farms we visited were very instructive with different kinds of crops and cultivation systems."
Just as important as the specialist knowledge transfer during the week-long program was the opportunity for students to get to know each other and engage in networking. This was made possible by the entertainment program which featured joint dinners and pub visits as well as relaxed evenings with live music and concerts and sightseeing including a cable car trip and castle tour.
"My fellow students and I really enjoyed the Summer School and we hope to be able to take part in these kinds of programs again in future. The best thing for me was being able to talk to the students and lecturers from many different nationalities; this provided me with a lot of insight and knowledge. The excursions really helped me to understand how things work on the ground; it was also great to have the chance to talk to the farm managers", said Luca Scheer from Geisenheim.
Simon Kaposztas from the Technical University in Munich summed up his experience as follows: "I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to take part in the Summer School. It challenged me and encouraged me all at the same time! I got to meet many people and networking opened up lots of new prospects for me. The really good coordination was a positive addition to the overall event."
The Summer School was organized by the ZuGAbe project – which stands for productivity, sustainability and environmental compatibility of protected greenhouse cultivation – a bilateral teaching and research cooperation between Hochschule Geisenheim University and the University of Thessaly (Volos, Greece) supported by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). The project manager is Dr. Evelyn Dimkou from the Department of Soil Science and Plant Nutrition. For more information, go to: hs-geisenheim.de/zugabe
A report by Dr. Evelyn Dimkou