Research in the Department of Applied Ecology

Our Research Projects

Project start: 01.05.2023
Project end: 30.04.2029
Sponsor: Federal Office for Agriculture and Food

In the HUMAX project, different measures for humus build-up are to be investigated in different combinations. The aim is to identify possible synergies of the measures and to show combined application options. The innovative potential of the HUMAX project lies in the fact that established humus building measures (catch crops, winter greening, undersowing, compost application, etc.) are to be combined and tested with promising measures such as plant charcoal. A unique feature of the HUMAX project is that these measures will be applied in combination with agri-photovoltaic systems and agroforestry systems. The combination with agroforestry systems opens up further potential as a carbon sink, in addition to the humus build-up, as the trees and shrubs store carbon in the above- and below-ground biomass and also bring with them a large substitution potential through the wood products and the material accumulating during the management of the woody plants. This should be precisely quantified in order to be able to make statements not only about the total carbon storage in the soil and the biomass, but also to quantify the substitution effects and biomass potentials for the production of plant carbon through pyrolysis. By combining the various humus-building measures, ways are to be found to maximise humus build-up and thus carbon sequestration, i.e. the function of the soil as a C sink. Based on this, a modular system will be developed that allows farmers to put together the best possible combination of measures for targeted carbon and humus management on their farms.

Project start: 01.01.2024
Project end: 31.12.2027
Sponsor: Hessen State Ministry of Higher Education, Research and the Arts

Adapting to climate change with increasing drought is currently one of the greatest challenges for agriculture. With the integration of deep-rooted plants or perennial taproot plants into crop rotations, mixed crops can use resources more efficiently, and greater drought stress tolerance can therefore be expected. At the same time, plant health, climate protection through carbon storage in the soil, and biodiversity should increase. The project “TRIO: Transformative Mixed Crop Systems for One Health", a joint project between Geisenheim University and the Universities of Kassel and Giessen funded within the LOEWE priority program, is testing these hypotheses by cultivation of the medicinal and aromatic plants fennel, caraway, and coriander in intercropping with wheat. At the department of Crop Protection, Geisenheim University the sub-project “Diversity, food webs, and migratory movements of arthropods in mixed cropping systems” is studied. Arthropods provide important ecosystem services that are relevant for plant health and yield. According to the hypothesis of biotic resistance, biological diversity in a cultivation system can reduce the damage caused by pests and increase productivity at the same time. This is investigated in this subproject via a comparative analysis of arthropod diversity and their ecosystem services in intercropping systems compared to the corresponding monocultures. In addition, migratory movements of beneficial arthropods between cropping partners as well as the volatile plant compounds of the partner plants are evaluated with regard to their attractiveness for selected beneficial insects and pests in choice experiments.

Hochschule Geisenheim
© Prof. Dr. Annette Reineke

Project start: 01.09.2023
Project end: 31.08.2027
Sponsor: Hessian Agency for Nature Conservation, Environment and Geology

Project start: 01.07.2023
Project end: 30.06.2026
Sponsor: Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz und nukleare Sicherheit

The preservation and planting of urban green, especially trees, play a crucial role in the adaptation of cities to global heating, as they provide natural cooling. Larger trees transpire up to 500 litres of water per day. Shade and evaporative cooling reduce the effect of urban heat islands. However, road salt, soil compaction and pollutants stress urban trees. Heat and drought intensify, so that new plantings often fail to grow and existing trees increasingly die before they reach a size that has an impact on the city's climate. Alternative tree substrates could provide a remedy, and also improve the infiltration of water from heavy rainfall events. One promising approach are biochar macadam substrates (PMS), i.e. defined mixtures of rock gravel, plant charcoal and compost. After compaction, the crushed stone results in a passable but pore-rich structure that creates space and aaeration for root growth and which are capable of absorbing high levels of precipitation. The production of the biochar also locks up biomass carbon over decades to millennia (=carbon sinks, i.e. carbon (dioxide) removal). PMS were developed in Stockholm and are so far only used in Sweden, Austria and Switzerland. The goal of "Black2GoGreen" is to create a network of municipalities, municipal enterprises, associations as well as manufacturers of biochar and biochar (tree, green-roof) substrates to transfer knowledge about already implemented solutions to Germany.

Project start: 01.01.2024
Project end: 31.12.2025
Sponsor: German Academic Exchange Service

Pakistan's national GHG budget is not based on real measurements but on IPCC factors as there is no infrastructure to measure stable greenhouse gases (N2O, CH4, CO2). Therefore, the actual GHG emissions could be misjudged and awareness of mitigation measures is lacking. A novel technique (MIRA; enables the measurement of GHG concentrations with a robust portable analyzer directly in the field with higher precision at lower costs than gas chromatography. The Kammann Group has a MIRA CO2/N2O analyzer. In "AssessGHG-RemoveC", annual GHG Summer Schools are planned in Germany in 2024 and 2025, where 6 and 7 Pakistani scientists respectively will be trained together with 10 young German scientists. The Pakistani participants undertake to pass on what they have learned in a GHG workshop at NUST (multiplier approach); HGU colleagues provide support and bring measuring equipment. The GHG workshop in Pakistan takes place at the same time as a Biochar Academy. The production and use of Biochar is an established CDR (carbon dioxide removal) technology that combines C sinks in soils with many advantages for agriculture in subtropical/tropical climates. The aim is to incentivize rural Biochar production and use through the growing global trade in carbon sinks. A new certification guideline for countries with smallholder farming has created the conditions for C-sink payments to smallholders. To this end, annual Biochar Academies are held at NUST in Pakistan with the support of the International Biochar Initiative and Carbon Standards International. Workshops / academies are designed for networking and are problem-oriented.

Project start: 01.01.2023
Project end: 31.12.2025
Sponsor: Federal Ministry of Education and Research

The aim of the project is to develop and test for the first time an aesthetically pleasing, mobile, PV system for use in vineyards (Viti PV system), which can be set up and dismantled with little effort and which can be used by winegrowers wherever the need for protection and shading is particularly high, as well as in the future for regenerative energy in viticulture itself (digitalization). The design should be transferable to other row crops (fruit growing), which is guaranteed by the expertise of the partner HGU. In this way, the goals of the energy transition and viticulture, namely adaptation to climate change, digitization and reduced pesticide use and increased sustainability, are to be achieved at the same time by identifying and harnessing synergies beyond dual land use. Based on extensive experience in the planning of plants and movable structures for the use of solar energy, a tailor-made system for use in viticulture will be planned, manufactured and tested. The suitability for viticulture and the acceptance by winegrowers and the population in different regions of Germany will be investigated. The exploitation of the results is scientific (viticulture, acceptance, energy yield) and also commercial: The commercial exploitation by the SME is to take place through licensing of the developed system or manufacturing by a partner company and, if marketed, by the SME.

Project start: 01.07.2020
Project end: 30.06.2025
Sponsor: Hessisches Ministerium für Landwirtschaft und Umwelt, Weinbau, Forsten, Jagd und Heimat

The aim of the VitiVoltaic4Future project is to conduct research for viticulture in a newly created real laboratory for the use of agrophotovoltaics (APV). The infrastructure is to serve as an innovation platform beyond the project period; it is to enable research, development and knowledge transfer, as well as to encourage social participation in shaping the energy transition using practical examples. An overarching goal is to make land use more sustainable for special crops (here using viticulture as an example), to open up new ways of adapting the cultivation of special crops to climate change, and at the same time to develop renewable, decentralized power generation plus agricultural production in the field to application maturity iteratively with the stakeholders concerned as part of the energy transition. The concrete goal of VitiVoltaic4Future is to quantify the effects and possibilities of viticulture under Germany's first agro-PV system, to provide data for knowledge transfer, and to scientifically accompany adaptation strategy possibilities that could arise from such solar islands through viticultural research and know-how building. Within the project, measures for biodiversity promotion in viticulture (--> project "AMBITO) will be integrated. In particular, we aim to link "solar islands" with biodiversity islands in viticultural cultural landscapes, in order to holistically promote the sustainability of viticulture.

Project start: 01.03.2022
Project end: 28.02.2025
Sponsor: Federal Ministry of Education and Research

Meeting the 1.5°C and also the 2.0°C target requires not only a rapid reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions, but also - in addition - a net removal of CO2 from the atmosphere (so-called Carbon Dioxide Removal, CDR). There are four terrestrial CDR methods that can be rapidly implemented, each of which supports a range of sustainable development goals (such as food security and a clean environment): (1) pyrogenic carbon sequestration (plant carbon), (2) enhanced weathering (EW), (3) soil organic carbon (SOC), and (4) biomass carbon capture (BCC), for example through the use of agroforestry systems. However, in order to maximise carbon sequestration (per area), the synergies of these methods must also be investigated and understood. So far, this has almost exclusively been studied separately - the potential synergies are part of our PyMiCCS project goals. Vegetable charcoal and volcanic rock flour for EW not only sequester carbon in soils, but also balance soil pH and redox potential, provide nutrients, improve soil hydrology and promote soil biodiversity, root growth, crop yields and thus BCC. If theoretically two tonnes of plant charcoal-based fertiliser and one tonne of volcanic rock dust were applied per hectare annually, carbon sinks would be of 5.4 t CO2eq would be created - without any synergies on SOC and BCC. Scaled up to 50% of the world's agricultural land, this would be 13 Gt CO2eq with improved food and feed productivity. feed. In a wide range of iterative experiments and analyses from laboratory from laboratory to field scale, with and without soils and plants, we are generating data to for the parameterisation of global models for C-sink potential analyses and for the evaluation of economic feasibility.

Project start: 01.05.2023
Project end: 31.12.2023
Sponsor: uratorium für Technik und Bauwesen in der Landwirtschaft e.V.

The aim of the project is to organise an industry discussion on dual land use for grapevines. To this end, the working group will prepare an overview article in specialist journals in advance. The ATW-HGU industry discussion on the topic of agri-photovoltaics (APV) will take centre stage, offering an open discussion platform on this topic. To this end, it is desirable to use the contacts of the DLG and to provide organisational support for the industry discussion via the KTBL so that the topic can also be transferred to other special crops. The topic of autonomous, electrified cultivation and innovations in this area, especially in combination with Agri-PV power generation, will be addressed in a practical manner in the form of a machine demonstration.

Hochschule Geisenheim
© Prof. Dr. Manfred Stoll

Project start: 01.04.2020
Project end: 31.03.2023
Sponsor: Hessisches Ministerium für Landwirtschaft und Umwelt, Weinbau, Forsten, Jagd und Heimat

The aim of the joint project "AKHWA" is to contribute to measure L 19 of the Integrated Climate Protection Plan Hesse 2025. The joint project is concerned with research into the implementation of cultivation measures from the "toolbox" of regenerative agriculture (ReLaWi) on soil fertility and ecosystem services, especially with regard to soil water retention, which is becoming increasingly important against the backdrop of advancing climate change and the recent heatwave summers.

Project start: 01.02.2019
Project end: 31.01.2022
Sponsor: Hessen State Ministry of Higher Education, Research and the Arts

Project start: 05.04.2019
Project end: 30.11.2021
Sponsor: Central Innovation Programme for SMEs

The ZIM cooperation project with Prodana GmbH involves the development of a new batch reactor by the start-up company for the carbonization of a farmer's own woody residues or wood chips. The task of the partner HGU is the development and evaluation of plant carbon-based organic fertilizers under examination of their environmental effects and environmental and yield effectiveness. At HGU, tests are therefore carried out with biochar from the novel retort, in which either a more extensive screening of various carbon fertilizer combinations for their nitrate retention capacity and possible N2O emission reduction is carried out in the greenhouse. In addition, selected carbon fertilizer combinations for a possible yield increases and improvement of the environmental balance are tested in the field under natural weather conditions using pseudo-lysimeters. The results of the project partner HGU will be used to improve the batch process of biochar production accordingly and to develop a field data basis that can be made available to potential interested parties and users.

Project start: 01.01.2018
Project end: 31.12.2019
Sponsor: German Academic Exchange Service

This project investigates the application of nutrient-loaded biochar in less fertile agricultural soils of Pakistan with additional mechanistic investigations carried out in Germany. A set of field (Pakistan) and laboratory experiments (Germany) will be conducted to evaluate the effect of biochar on nutrient use efficiency and GHG emission per unit of agronomic yield production or per unit of agricultural land use. The field experiments will be conducted at University of Agriculture Multan (MNSUAM), Pakistan. All GHG samples collected from the Pakistan field study will be analysed at Hochschule Geisenheim University (HGU), Germany where the necessary gas chromatographic methods are established. The PI in Pakistan (Dr. Haider and his PhD and later master student) will visit Germany in 2018 and 2019 to learn GHG data analysis with the gas chromatograph (GC) and subsequent calculations and protocols using R protocols. They will also conduct controlled experiments (2nd year) using e.g. Pakistan soil or Pakistan vegetable species.

Recently, the combination of conservation farming methods with using biochar as a carrier for organic and mineral fertilizers applied to the root zone produced promising results. In this project we seek to test these novel approaches for improving yields while at the same time reducing the GHG emissions associated with agricultural production. Pakistan is the 6th largest population on the planet and there are rarely studies or data available on agricultural greenhouse gas emissions. Thus, the present project will investigate novel C-sequestering fertilization strategies, but also be the founding study in Pakistan to obtain first estimates of GHG emissions per unit of crop production or per unit of agricultural land, under specific cropping systems and fertilizer regimes.

Project start: 01.04.2017
Project end: 31.03.2019
Sponsor: Federal Ministry of Education and Research

BioCAP-CCS quantifies the global potentials and effects of large-scale land use with biomass plantations used to limit global warming to 1.5° by negative emissions for mitigation and compensation of temporary overshooting emissions. The project quantifies for the first time the global potential of biochar-CCS while considering concurrences for land, water, food security and protection of ecosystem integrity.

Project start: 01.01.2015
Project end: 31.10.2018
Sponsor: Federal Ministry of Education and Research, European Commission

A key role for a resource-saving, sustainable land use management of agricultural ecosystems are the interactions between biodiversity and associated ecosystem services. The PromESSinG project aims to identify management options for promoting biodiversity in order to reduce external inputs in vineyards ecosystems. It will be conducted from 2015 to 2018 in five countries of Central Europe : Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland, and Romania. The project intends to unravel biodiversity driven processes associated with the main ecosystem services in viticultural systems taking different management factors into account. A particular focus will be on the analysis of interactions between soil management strategies and soil biodiversity, as interactions between the diverse soil biota as well as chemical and physical properties of the soil environment are fundamental for the provision of soil-based ecosystem services. The intended research will be conducted in temperate vineyard systems in France, Switzerland, Germany, Austria and Romania, thus covering a gradient from maritime to continental climates. In a common study with all countries involved and using a standardized sampling design we will analyze the links between disturbance gradients and diversity of soil relevant species groups (soil microflora including mycorrhiza, macrofauna, plants), soil function and related supporting, regulating and provisioning ESS. Management effects on these interactions are analyzed on two different scales by combining: a) the factor soil management (local scale) including three vineyard ground management treatments of different disturbance intensities, b) the factor landscape management (landscape scale) consisting of three different landscape heterogeneity levels.

Project start: 01.12.2008
Project end: 31.01.2015
Sponsor: German Research Foundation