On Wednesday, September 13, 2023, the Minister Presidents of Hesse and North Rhine-Westphalia visited Hochschule Geisenheim University to gain insights into Geisenheim’s research strategy. During a tour of the campus with Prof. Dr. Mirjam Hey, Vice-President of Academic & Students Affairs, Chancellor Marion Waldeck and Prof. Dr. Annette Reineke, Vice-President of Research, the Minister Presidents learned more about Geisenheim’s research priorities – particularly in the area of special crops – and were being informed about the construction projects and degree programs. Rhein called the university a “flagship of research excellence in Hesse”, while Wüst highlighted its “pioneering role for sustainability in viticulture and horticulture”.
After a welcome reception with a special edition sparkling wine commemorating the 150th anniversary of the academic and research institution, the Minister Presidents met with doctoral students participating in the Biodiversity Summer School, which is currently taking place on campus. Lucía Garstka introduced the agri-PV plant and the VitiVoltaic4Future project as a climate change adaptation strategy. Emilio DeLonghi, who is completing his bi-national doctoral degree, gave an overview of his research on the characterization of varietal aroma components of Riesling wines. Franca-Carlotta Foerster, who is completing her doctoral degree at the Department of Applied Ecology, spoke about the holistic sustainability assessment of the environmental and socio-economic aspects of the wine value chain, while Duc Le Ngoc from the Department of Food Safety presented the latest research on the allergenic potential of peanuts and hazelnuts in relation to different processing methods.
As the group made their way to the ZIG Laboratory Building, the Minister Presidents were being informed about the current construction projects on campus. Upon arrival, they were greeted by Prof. Dr. Ralf Schweiggert, Head of the Department of Beverage Research, who presented the department’s latest research projects and gave an introduction to the state-of-the-art analytical equipment and facilities. On the outdoor areas of the Department of Vegetable Crops, Jürgen Kleber spoke about the department’s field trials to improve the resilience of cultivation systems to mitigate the impact of climate change on crops. In this context, microlysimeters, which are used to test and study water use efficiency and nutrient and energy fluxes in crops under current and future climatic conditions and CO2 levels, play a key role in the development of sustainable special crop production systems.
At the end of the tour, Prof. Dr. Claudia Kammann, Professor for Research into Climatic Effects on Special Crops, and Prof. Dr. Thomas Schmid, President of the Hessian State Office for Nature Conservation, Environment and Geology, presented the FACE facility – a unique research infrastructure to study the effects of elevated carbon dioxide levels on grapevines and vegetables, and the only one of its kind in the world. The visit was concluded with a small wine tasting hosted by Prof. Dr. Monika Christmann, Head of the Department of Enology.
“At Hochschule Geisenheim University, we work closely with the industry to improve the environmental impact and performance of viticulture and horticulture production systems, particularly in the face of climate change: sensor-based fertilization and irrigation control, agri-photovoltaics, organic crop protection, biodiversity promotion and impact mitigation are just some of the wide-ranging research areas”, explained Prof. Dr. Annette Reineke, Vice-President of Research at Hochschule Geisenheim University. “It is a great pleasure that the Minister Presidents Boris Rhein and Hendrik Wüst took the time to get to know our institution.”
“I am very impressed by the current state of research and ingenuity. Hochschule Geisenheim University excels in cutting-edge research and education in special crops”, said Hesse’s Minister President Rhein. “In addition to innovative cultivation methods, the training of young people is, of course, a major focus. This is exactly what we as a federal state want to continue to promote in order to secure the future of vegetable, fruit and wine growing in our region for decades to come.”
Minister President Hendrik Wüst added: “Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time. It demands fast, innovative and sophisticated solutions in all economic sectors. Hochschule Geisenheim University is a pioneer in sustainable viticulture and horticulture thanks to its excellent research and forward-looking concepts. I am deeply impressed by the wide range of research and teaching programs. They are the cornerstone for a sound education in economically relevant fields and a pillar to ensure the supply of healthy and fresh food in the future.”