Research focus

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1. soil health and wine quality in biodynamic viticulture:

Many wineries have recently been converting to biodynamic and organic farming practices, especially because more complex and better wine qualities can be realized. What does biodynamic farming mean for soil health on vineyards and how does it affect wine quality?

Projects Soil studies France 2016, Soil studies Burgundy 2020 to 2022: studies in vineyards treated partly with and partly without biodynamic preparations. Project article:

Fritz J., Jannoura R., Lauer F., Schenk J., Masson P., Joergensen R. G. (2019): Functional microbial diversity responses to biodynamic management in Burgundian vineyard soils. Biological Agriculture & Horticulture, 36:3, 172-186, DOI: 10.1080/01448765.2020.1762739.

Fritz J., Lauer F., Wilkening A., Masson P., Peth S. (2021): Aggregate stability and visual evaluation of soil structure in biodynamic cultivation of Burgundy vineyard soils. Biological Agriculture & Horticulture (accepted).


Within the framework of the continuous fertilization experiment InBioDyn (Integrated, Biological, Dynamic) of the University of Geisenheim, grape juice and wine of 6 cultivation years were examined with the image-creating methods. A differentiation and classification of the cultivation methods was possible for grape juice and wine. Articles:

Fritz J., Athmann M., Meissner G., Kauer R., Schultz H.R. (2020): Quality assessment of grape juice from integrated, organic and biodynamic viticulture using image forming methods. OENO one, DOI:10.20870/oeno-one.2020.54.2.2548.

Fritz, J., Athmann, M., Meissner, G., Kauer, R., Köpke, U. (2017): Quality characterization via image forming methods differentiates grape juice produced from integrated, organic or biodynamic vineyards in the first year after conversion. Biological Agriculture & Horticulture, doi: 10.1080/01448765.2017.1322003

Meissner G., Athmann M., Fritz J., Kauer R., Stoll M., Schultz H.R. (2019): Conversion to organic and biodynamic viticultural practices: impact on soil, grapevine development and grape quality. OENO one. DOI:10.20870/oeno-one.2019.53.4.2403


2. differentiable milk quality and nutritional importance.

Cows are an integral part of a biodynamic farm, where they keep their horns and usually eat grass on pasture in summer. What effects does this husbandry method have on milk quality and can this milk be differentiated from conventional milk? It could be shown how the milk differs by means of fatty acid analysis and also in its sensory properties. Especially milk from biodynamic low-input systems shows the highest qualitative potential. What nutritional and physiological effects are associated with the consumption of this milk?

Kusche, D., Rübesam, K., Baars, T., Jahreis, G., Kuhnt, K., Rohrer, C., Nierop, A.F. (2015). Fatty acid profiles and antioxidants of organic and conventional milk from low- and high-input systems during outdoor period. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 95, 529-539.

Coppa, M., Chassaing, C., Ferlay, A., Agarbriel, C., Laurent, C., Borreani, G., Barcarolo, R., Baars, T., Kusche, D., Harstad, O.M., Verbic, J., Golecky, J., Delavaud, C., Chilliard, Y., Martin, B. (2015). Potential of milk fatty acid composition to predict diet composition and authenticate feeding systems and altitude origin of European bulk milk. Journal of Dairy Science 98, 1-13.


2.1 Organic farm effect and raw milk in the context of human health and resilience.

Milk from different organic farming systems (pasture, hay, mountain) and human health. How do processing and further processing affect milk tolerance? Can raw milk consumption and exposure to farming even strengthen children's health?

Abbring, S., Kusche, D., Roos, T. C., Diks, M. A. P., Hols G., Garssen, J., Baars T., van Esch, B. C. A. M. (2019) Milk processing influences the allergenicity of cow's milk in a murine model for food allergy - preclinical evidence supported by a human proof-of-concept provocation trial, Clin Exp Allergy. 2019 Jul; 49(7):1013-1025.

Kusche, D. (2018): Biodynamic Milk Quality in Germany and human health, Contribution to Evolving Agriculture and Food - Opening up Biodynamic Research. Contributions to the 1st International Conference on Biodynamic Research, September 5th to 8th 2018, Dornach.

Kusche, D., Behrendt, S. and Hermann, J. (2018): The organic-farm-effect -allergy preventive measures in the context of organic agriculture in early childhood years, Poster for Evolving Agriculture and Food - Opening up Biodynamic Research. Contributions to the 1st International Conference on Biodynamic Research, September 2018, Dornach.

Kusche, D. (2016): Investigations on quality and tolerance of organic milk -Differentiability of biodynamic and conventional milk quality on farm level based on analytical quality parameters and including tolerance testing in children with food allergies. PhD thesis, University of Kassel, Kassel University Press, Germany, 177 pp. urn:nbn:de:hebis:34-2016091550892



3rd Copper Chloride Crystallization GESTE 3 Project (Design Evaluation and Structural Evaluation III) (2016-2022).

The copper chloride crystallization method

In recent literature on the evaluation of food quality, the matrix, i.e. the structure in which the ingredients are incorporated, is assuming increasing importance. The copper chloride crystallization method provides information on properties of the matrix/structure of the food by examining the aging resistance of the whole food.

In copper chloride crystallization, an aqueous copper chloride dihydrate solution with added plant extract crystallizes in the form of juice or extract (Busscher et al. 2010). Spontaneous crystallization in the form of needles occurs when the saturation limit of the salt solution is exceeded during the phase of evaporation of the liquid. The resulting crystal images are evaluated either with computer-assisted texture and structure analysis (Andersen et al. 1999, Doesburg and Nierop 2013) or visually (Huber et al. 2010, Doesburg et al. 2015,). Visual evaluation allows conclusions to be drawn about the aging resistance of the food under investigation based on comparison with reference images of different aging stages of the food extract (e.g. Fritz et al. 2011, 2017, 2020). Quite a few coded samples from different cultivation trials were investigated, always showing higher aging resistance of organically vs. conventionally grown wheat (Fritz et al. 2011, 2018), grapes (Fritz et al. 2017, 2020), apples (Weibel et al. 2000), and beet (Mäder et al. 1993). The GESTE consortium is an expert panel that has documented the methodological basis of visual evaluation of copper chloride crystal images since 2013 and then trained on these defined criteria. The panel evaluates aging resistance of samples from different backgrounds (e.g., fertilization, cropping systems, varieties, processing (Doesburg et al. 2015, 2021, Fritz et al. 2018).


Project goals

The Geste group is a consortium of 8 researchers from 4 laboratories , further developing the visual evaluation of the copper chloride crystallization method.



Participants at FÖL

Head: Dr. Jürgen Fritz (together with Paul Doesburg)

Prof. Dr. Miriam Athmann

Further participating research institutes

Dr. Claudia Scherr, Paul Doesburg, Hiscia, Association for Cancer Research

Dr. Uwe Geier, Roya Bornhütter, Research Ring e.V.

Dr. Nicolaas Busscher, Gaby Mergardt, University of Kassel' Department of Organic Food Quality and Food Culture


Software AG Foundation

BÖLN (Federal Program for Organic Farming and Other Forms of Sustainable Agriculture)


Busscher, N., Kahl, J., Doesburg, P., Mergardt, G. & Ploeger, A., 2010a. Evaporation influences on the crystallization of an aqueous dihydrate cupric chloride solution with additives. Journal of Colloid and Interface Science 344, 556-562

Andersen, J.-O., Henriksen, C. B., Laursen, J. & Nielsen, A. A., 1999. Computerised image analysis of biocrystallograms originating from agricultural products. Computers and Electronics in Agriculture 22, 51-69

Doesburg, P. & Nierop, A. F., 2013. development of a structure analysis algorithm on structures from CuCl2.2H2O crystallization with agricultural products. Computers and Electronics in Agriculture 90, 63-67

Doesburg, P., Huber, M., Andersen, J.-O., Athmann, M., van der Bie, G., Fritz, J., Geier, U., Hoekman, J., Kahl, J., Mergardt, G. & Busscher, N., 2015. Standardization and performance of a visual Gestalt evaluation of biocrystallization patterns reflecting ripening and decomposition processes in food samples. Biological Agriculture & Horticulture 31, 128-145

Doesburg, P., Fritz, J., Athmann, M., Bornhütter, R., Busscher, N., Geier, U., Mergardt, G., Scherr, C., 2021. Kinesthetic engagement in Gestalt evaluation outscores analytical 'atomic feature' evaluation in perceiving aging in crystallization images of agricultural products.  PLoS ONE, 16(3), e0248124.

Huber, M., Andersen, J.-O., Kahl, J., Busscher, N., Doesburg, P., Mergardt, G., Kretschmer, S., Zalecka, A., Meelursarn, A., Ploeger, A., Nierop, D., van de Vijver, L. & Baars, E., 2010. Standardization and Validation of the Visual Evaluation of Biocrystallizations. Biological Agriculture & Horticulture 27, 25-40

Fritz, J., Athmann, M., Kautz, T. & Köpke, U., 2011. Grouping and classification of wheat from organic and conventional production systems by combining three image forming methods. Biological Agriculture & Horticulture 27, 320-336

Fritz, J., Athmann, M., Meissner, G., Kauer, R. & Köpke, U., 2017. Quality characterisation via image forming methods differentiates grape juice produced from integrated, organic or biodynamic vineyards in the first year after conversion. Biological Agriculture & Horticulture 33, 195-213

Fritz, J., Athmann, M., Andersen, J.-O., Doesburg, P., Geier, U. & Mergardt, G., 2018. Advanced panel training on visual Gestalt evaluation of biocrystallization images: ranking wheat samples from different extract decomposition stages and different production systems. Biological Agriculture & Horticulture 0, 1-12

Fritz, J., Athmann, M., Meissner, G., Kauer, R., Schultz, H.R., 2020. Quality assessment of grape juice from integrated, organic and biodynamic viticulture using image forming methods. OENO one, DOI:10.20870/oeno-one.2020.54.2.2548.

Weibel, F. P., Bickel, R., Leuthold, S. & Alföldi, T., 2000. Are organically grown apples tastier and healthier? A comparative field study using conventional and alternative methods to measure fruit quality. Acta Horticulturae 517, 417-427.

Mäder, P., Pfiffner, L., Niggli, U., Velimirov, A., Boltzmann, L., Balzer, U., Balzer, F. & Besson, J.-M., 1993. Effect of three farming systems (bio-dynamic, bio-organic, conventional) on yield and quality of beetroot (Beta Vulgaris L .var esculenta L.) in a seven year crop rotation. Acta Horticulturae 339, 11-31.

Completed research projects

  • 2015 - 2017: BLE project: "Development, in-house validation and practical testing of a bioassay with garden cress to record plant reactions after treatments with the biodynamic horn manure preparation".
  • until 2015: Dissertation Daniel Kusche: "Investigations on the quality and tolerance of organic milk".