Review 2015

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In WS 2015/16, 1162 students were enrolled in the Department of Organic Agricultural Sciences. They were distributed among the individual courses of study as follows:

  • Bachelor Organic Agriculture: 670
  • Master Organic Agriculture: 147
  • Sustainable International Agriculture (SIA, cooperation with University of Göttingen): 167
  • International Food Business and Consumer Studies (IFBC, cooperation with Fulda University of Applied Sciences): 117
  • Exchange students: 10
  • Doctoral students: 51

As part of the Event Management module, the 23rd Witzenhausen Conference was held by the students from December 1 - 5 with 150 participants. This year the title was "Frohes Schaffen -Arbeit in der Landwirtschaft".

Larger excursions took place to Lithuania (Organic Agriculture course), Myanmar (Sustainable International Agriculture course) and Belgium (International Food Business and Consumer Studies course).

In the winter semester, the European Master's program "Sustainable Food Systems" was launched at the University of Kassel in cooperation with Fulda University of Applied Sciences and four other European partner universities.

In 2015, €7.6 million in third-party funding was raised in the Department of Ecological Agricultural Sciences.

In addition, the DFG Research Unit "Socio-ecological Systems in Indian Urban-Rural Gradients: Functions, Scales, and Transitional Dynamics," which will begin its work in 2016.

About 113 articles from our department were published in scientific journals (peer reviewed) in 2015 (see web pages of the individual departments). A total of 26 PhDs and one habilitation were completed.

Of the large number of research projects carried out last year, the projects with several scientific cooperation partners that were completed or started in 2015 should be listed as examples.

Completed cooperation projects:

  • Promoting good health and welfare in European organic laying hens ("HealthyHens") (ERANet, BLE).
  • Managing humus and nutrient budgets in organic agriculture, Research Training Group (DFG).
  • European Master Green Food Industries/ MSc Sustainable Food Systems - European Joint Degree Program (EU)Development of self-compacting backfill construction materials with increased root resistance with preferential use of excavated soil - for the protection of tree roots and underground infrastructure in urban areas (DBU)
  • Development of an economically oriented breeding program for the endangered pig breed "Bunte Bentheimer" (Landwirtschaftliche Rentenbank)
  • Development of a system for health monitoring in dairy cow farms (HVL)
  • Investigation on acoustic nozzle monitoring II (industrial project)
  • German-Pakistani Research Cooperation 2015 (DAAD)
  • C and N dynamics in soils and plants of established short rotation coppices (BMELV)
  • Tool for systemic recording and optimization of nutrient efficiency in dairy farming (BLE)

Started cooperation projects:

  • Improving animal health and welfare in organic cattle milk production through breeding and management (Organic Dairy Health) (ERANet, BLE).
  • Sustainable Food System (SFS) Consortium (EU)
  • Innovative approaches to optimize genetic diversity for sustainable farming systems of the future (INSUSFAR) (BMBF)
  • Development of a computer-aided decision support model (EHS) for the prevention of pea moth damage in grain legumes "CYDNIGPRO" 012OE012" (BLE)
  • 3D architecture of microaggregates and their influence on mechanical stability and on water and oxygen supply of microhabitats (DFG)
  • Soil-conserving use of machinery in forests; Subproject 2: Development and testing of a new test method for determining dynamic soil stress (FNR)
  • Establishment of preventive health management for domestic dual-purpose cattle in organic pasture production systems using novel breeding strategies based on innovative data collection systems (BLE)
  • Solar process heat (ZIM)
  • Securing humus supply with straw and green manure - Economic evaluation of management strategies (HumusGSEcon) (BLE Bonn)
  • International Centre for Development and Decent Work (ICDD) (DAAD/BMZ)
  • Regional fuel production from landscape management material - an exploration project in the Rhön Biosphere Reserve (DBU)

The following faculty members or projects have received awards:

  • Prof. Dr. Christian Herzig (FG Management in the International Food Industry) WITH OTHERS: 1st place in the 2015 International Congress on Social and Environmental Accounting Research (CSEAR) Teaching Case Study Competition for the case study "A New Era - Extending Environmental Impact to a Broader Sustainability Agenda: The Case of Commercial Group".
  • Johanna Stöhr (FG Management in the International Food Industry): Munich Sustainability Award 2015 of the Selbach Environmental Foundation for the master's thesis "The Relationship between Humans and Nature in Contemporary Film. An application of ecocriticism using James Cameron's Avatar as an example".
  • Arslan Afzal (FG Agricultural Engineering and ICDD): Pakistan Agricultural Award of the Pakistan Poverty Allevation Fund (PPAF) for the master thesis "Development of an indigenized solar distillery for value addition of medicinal plants".
  • Carlotta Hoffmann (FG Ecol. Agriculture and Plant Production): Organic Food Industry Research Award at Biofach: Best BSc thesis "Investigation of selected phosphorus recovery processes - where is the potential for organic farming?"
  • Eny Palupi (FG Ecol. Food Quality): Best Young Investigator Award for poster presentation at the 9th Asia Pacific Conference on Clinical Nutrition (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia).
  • Isaiah Muchiwa (FG Agricultural Engineering): First place in the 2015 UNIKAT Idea Competition for the development of a moisture measurement system for developing countries.
  • Special Botanical Gardens: In 2016, the University of Kassel received special budget funds from the state of Hesse for the first time in the amount of €124,000.
  • The Tropical Greenhouse has been awarded the certificate "Learning and acting for our future - certified education provider for sustainable development" by the Hessian Ministry for the Environment, Energy, Agriculture and Consumer Protection and the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Social Affairs.

The following members were appointed or elected to expert committees in 2015:

  • Ute Knierim (FG Livestock Ethology and Animal Husbandry): Appointed to the Scientific Advisory Board for Agricultural Policy, Nutrition and Consumer Health Protection at the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (February 2015).
  • Jürgen Heß (FG Ecol. Agriculture and Plant Production): Scientific Advisory Board National Action Plan for the Sustainable Use of Plant Protection Products (BMEL).

The department conducted a variety of tours and informational events for groups of visitors. Larger events in 2015 were:

  • International DAAD alumni seminars together with the Department of Agricultural Engineering: "Quality management along organic agri-value chains in developing countries - production, post-harvest technology, processing, marketing and trade" from 02. - 10.02.15 "Applied Solar Technology in Developing Countries" from 02. - 12.06.15 "ALUMNI - summerschool "Enhancing food and income security along agricultural commodity chains" of the Universities of Kassel and Göttingen" from 08. - 15.09.15.
  • Presentations and information booth at Biofach in Nuremberg from 11.-14.02.15.
  • Workshop "Village acquisition and use orientations: Building Blocks for a Transregional Comparison" on the DFG project "Acquisition and Use Orientations as Determinants for the Formation of Village Profiles" (FG Agricultural History) from 20.- 21.03.15.
  • Open day on 26.04.2015
  • Plant market on 26.04.2015
  • Summerschool "Solar technology in developing countries" of the FB 11 and FB 16 of the University of Kassel from 10. -12.06.15
  • Annual conference of the university association "Soils under pressure" on 17.07.15
  • Conference of the Research Training Group Control of humus and nutrient turnover in organic agriculture "Regulation of soil organic matter and nutrient turnover in agriculture" from 11 - 12.11.15
  • The department was represented at the Agritechnica from 12 - 18.11.15 in Hannover.
  • University day of the department in cooperation with the LLH on the topic "Model regions of organic farming" on 30.11.15.
  • Technical discussion "Quality hay through aeration" of the FG Agricultural Engineering for practitioners and consultants on 11.12.15

In 2015, 20 professors worked at our department together with a total of about 250 scientific and administrative-technical staff. One professorship (Prof. Dr. Eva Schlecht, FG Livestock Production in the Tropics and Subtropics) belongs to the University of Göttingen and the University of Kassel in equal parts.

Prof. Knerr (FG Development Policy, Migration and Agricultural Policy) resigned in the summer semester 2015. In addition, Ms. Haber, who was employed as an administrative assistant at the department for many years, and Ms. Amend, who managed the mail room, retired.