Cur­rent Re­se­arch Pro­jects

Gari is an important staple food, especially in West Africa, and is produced through a fermentation and roasting process mostly on open wood fires. As part of an international cooperation project, innovative solutions for gari processing are to be developed based on solar technology. [more...]

Funded by: EC  (LEAP-RE)

responsible : Chikonkolo Mwewa, Mwape

Sustainable International Agricultural Value Chains: Income and development perspectives for producers from the global south through access to high-price markets – the role of certification and quality

Förderung : Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit and German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)

Mechanical weed control is the most important method for regulating weeds in organic farming, but in horticulture, especially in protected cultivation, there is a considerable mechanization gap between the manual labor stage and the use of tractors, which is now to be closed by innovative equipment technology. Especially in greenhouse cultivation, there is a lack of machinery and equipment that avoids the considerable health hazards (noise, exhaust fumes) caused by combustion engines, but can replace the physically strenuous manual labor. The 'E-Hack' project is intended to provide horticulture with innovative motorized equipment technology for mechanical weed control, based on modern, highly efficient electric drives. This will significantly increase the effectiveness of the process and secure the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises.

Responsible : Christoph Besse and Jette Götz

Funding : Bundesanstalt für Landwirtschaft und Ernährung 

 

The MORE-bot project is developing a robotic solution for slug control in horticulture. This development is important because snails contaminate products by eating, mucus and faecal traces, which makes marketing impossible. The snails thus cause a reduction in yield. Large quantities of lettuce, cabbage and other vegetables have to be disposed of every year. In order to avoid this damage, slug pellets are spread according to the current state of science and technology. The slug pellets are often only used when damage is visible. Due to the length of time it takes to take effect, the control success comes too late. The success of slug pellet application also depends on the weather. In addition, the possibilities for intervention are limited for commercial vegetable production. Apart from two active substances for slug control, only manual collection remains. Under the impression of invasive species, an alternative method is urgently needed. With the proposed research and development work, manual snail collection will be taken over by a robot. The aim of the proposed research project is to provide commercial vegetable growers with an efficient system that enables the production of high-quality food without the use of chemical pesticides. Several beds of cabbage and lettuce heads will be planted on the trial area to test laboratory models and prototypes of robot modules.

Responsible : Dr. Abozar Nasirahmadi and  Mohammadreza Hassanzadehtalouki

Funding : Federal Institute for Agriculture and Food

Partner : Juliuns Kühn-Institut Federal Research Centre for Cultivated Plants (JKI) and Hentschel Systemgesellschaft 

 

 

Concept sketches of the planned robot for slug control in vegetable growing

The project aims to develop a dynamic overall process model of a solar dryer with integrated latent heat storage for agricultural drying processes.  The simulation model is to be the basis and (design) tool for the technical and economic evaluation of measures for storage integration. Improvement potentials concern the equalisation of process control in day/night operation and the increase of product quality.

Responsible : Dr. Franz Roman

Funding : Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)

The object of the project is the systemic optimisation of the meat value chain using the example of pig farming through the development and embedding of digital tools. The aim is to develop a digital overall solution for optimised individual animal traceability and for continuous process diagnostics and process control along the WSK from breeding to processing. The following sub-goals are focused on: - Ensuring traceability of animal-related data within the SSC, incl. the use of medicines in pig farming - Further development and implementation of smart farming and smart food factory concepts - Increasing resource and energy efficiency, animal welfare and product quality - Reducing rejects and emissions both in animal husbandry and in downstream areas.

Responsible: Dr. Abozar Nasirahmadi, Dr. Jan Adolph, Hannah Arwen Graef and Jonas Payerl

Funding: Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMLE) 

Poultry farming in mobile houses has expanded considerably over the last ten years. This form of husbandry is recognised by the farming and agricultural sectors, but also socially by consumers, particularly with regard to the greater realisation of animal welfare. Nevertheless, there are some problems.

- Starting from a given central stable area, the connected runs are usually only used by the animals in the vicinity of the stable. This leads to a disproportionately high nutrient input in these areas. As a result, the contamination of these areas with pathogens of any kind grows very strongly. A strong and permanent infection pressure is created. Animal health and welfare suffer from this situation. This situation is also unacceptable for water management reasons and with regard to the fundamental consideration and evaluation of nutrient flows.

- At greater distances from the barn, on the other hand, the runs often remain unused and unattractive for the animals. Here, the dangers posed by predators are suspected to be the main cause. The efficiency of pasture use is also a factor to be observed in this context. These problems are to be solved by an innovative stable and grazing concept integrated into it. The stable concept to be developed provides for a stable area in the centre of a circular facility. Around this, a mobile run sector with design and service elements (feeding, drinking, predator protection) is installed, which can be periodically moved around the centre with little effort. The project aims at the further development and improvement of basically functioning mobile housing systems, taking into account the problems outlined above. The aim is to create a practical system that is clearly on the way to market maturity and can be taken up by appropriate designers and market partners.

Responsible: Boris Kulig

Funding: Federal Agency for Agriculture and Food (BLE)

Significant losses occurred in rice storage predominantly caused by insect pests to as high as 10% in terms of quantity. Detection of insect pests in stored grains is important to reduce losses and combat hunger. Several systems are available in the market such as automated monitoring of insect populations that is equipped with temperature sensors but the challenge is that these are not very reliable in early detection of insect populations and manual method is laborious. Often, this lead to huge losses because counter measures are implemented too late. An acoustic system for early detection of insect pest in stored wheat and rye (InsectTap) has been developed by the Department of Agricultural Engineering at the University of Kassel. Further works need to be done to adapt the system for application to rice. The software developed can classify sound patterns of insect pests on species level which is relevant in implementing appropriate control measures. The InsectTap can be modified with thorough study on the sound patterns of storage pests in rice. The proposed project aims to achieve the following – (1) thouroughly study and document the sound patterns of insect pests in stored rice and develop a handheld acoustic measurement system to detect the insect pest species; (2) establish a working prototype that can be developed for small and large scale applications; (3) develop and test the sensors and interfaces that can be used with mobile phones; and (4) assess potential application in other systems such as hermetic storage or grain cooling.Significant losses occurred in rice storage predominantly caused by insect pests to as high as 10% in terms of quantity. Detection of insect pests in stored grains is important to reduce losses and combat hunger. Several systems are available in the market such as automated monitoring of insect populations that is equipped with temperature sensors but the challenge is that these are not very reliable in early detection of insect populations and manual method is laborious. Often, this lead to huge losses because counter measures are implemented too late. An acoustic system for early detection of insect pest in stored wheat and rye (InsectTap) has been developed by the Department of Agricultural Engineering at the University of Kassel. Further works need to be done to adapt the system for application to rice. The software developed can classify sound patterns of insect pests on species level which is relevant in implementing appropriate control measures. The InsectTap can be modified with thorough study on the sound patterns of storage pests in rice. The proposed project aims to achieve the following – (1) thouroughly study and document the sound patterns of insect pests in stored rice and develop a handheld acoustic measurement system to detect the insect pest species; (2) establish a working prototype that can be developed for small and large scale applications; (3) develop and test the sensors and interfaces that can be used with mobile phones; and (4) assess potential application in other systems such as hermetic storage or grain cooling.

 

responsible : Carlito Balingbing 

in cooperation : ATSAF and IRRI

The International Rice Research Institute
The International Rice Research Institute

The aim of the project is to optimise breeding selection with the help of sensors in honey bees to improve bee health and productivity. The Varroa mite, introduced from Asia, is currently one of the biggest problems in beekeeping. If left untreated, this parasitosis usually leads to the death of the bee colonies. Control is mainly carried out with chemical agents, in organic beekeeping with less selective organic acids and essential oils, which on the one hand affects the vitality of the colonies, and on the other hand also burdens the entire beekeeping industry through recurring medium and labour costs. The starting point "prevention through breeding for selection traits", such as varroa-sensitive hygiene behaviour (VSH) and low varroa reproduction (SMR), has decisive economic significance here and thus a leverage effect for sustainable relief of the entire beekeeping sector. However, successful breeding work and the breeding value estimation it involves in honey bees requires solid expertise and time-intensive commitment on the part of the breeder. Regular intensive inspections to assess the condition of the respective breeding colony by the breeder are also necessary, but detrimental to the health of the colony. The use of sensor technology to support breeding selection offers considerable potential here compared to conventional breeding management to accelerate and improve breeding progress. The aim of the project is to optimise breeding work by identifying objective indicators through AI-supported data exploration. For this purpose, breeding colonies are continuously monitored by sensors and correlated with the breeding characteristics recorded by the breeder. In addition to general parameters such as colony strength and development, VSH, SMR, swarming tendency and winter brood tendency are investigated to enable improved breeding progress.

Project management: University of Kassel Department of Agricultural Engineering

Responsible: Dr. Sascha Kirchner

Project partner : Bioland beekeeping Ivan Curic

Funding : Federal Agency for Food and Agriculture (BLE)

 

Water shortage due to climate change - consequences and courses of action for agriculture

The third consecutive year of drought is having a devastating effect on agriculture and forestry. What does climate change mean for agriculture and the landscape? Withered plants, streams without water and discontinued navigation drastically show the need for action. If the amount of rainfall cannot be influenced, then perhaps the distribution, reduced runoff or adapted farming practices are solutions that can secure the long-term existence of agriculture. The Hammbach catchment area in Dorsten as a pilot region is located in the southern Münsterland, the Hammbach flows into the Lippe in Dorsten. The region receives its drinking water from the Holsterhausen and Üfter Mark well galleries. In addition to the town of Dorsten, small moors, wetlands and forest areas, the project area is home to many agricultural uses with different structures (such as maize, grain, vegetables, fruit, livestock farming) both in production and further processing. Many farms traditionally extract groundwater for irrigation and operational purposes. A funding project of the German Federal Foundation for the Environment (DBU) completed in 2019 already came to the conclusion: "The agricultural water demand ... of an estimated 27 million m³/a in dry years is water-budgetary, ... not recoverable. Top priority must therefore be given to more efficient irrigation and adaptation of the crops grown." Reduce runoff, convert management, stabilise use In the KlimaBeHageN project, scientists, economists, water management supply and disposal companies and agricultural interest groups will now work together until 2022 to try to find transferable solutions. The goal of the KlimaBeHageN project is, on the one hand, a balanced water budget with measurable attenuation of consumption peaks, especially in dry periods; on the other hand, economic activities and affordable water prices should also be guaranteed in the future. Questions include: What are the irrigation needs of agriculture in dry years and can more economical irrigation techniques be used? Are there crops that could be better used here and require less water? In addition, the question of how to organise and finance the provision of water in the future will be explored. Furthermore, ecological improvements are to be made.

Responsible : Michael Hesse

Project partners : Emschergenossenschaft and Lippeverband

Funding: German Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU)

 

The SmartFence project is dedicated to promoting grazing by developing a self-maintaining, digital fencing system. Currently, the potentials of pasture management with regard to animal welfare, climate, environmental and resource protection are insufficiently exploited. Obstacles are especially the potential labor disadvantages of pasture management (esp. fence maintenance). SmartFence compensates for these disadvantages and further paves the way to full automation of pasture management. To this end, a novel digital fencing system is being developed that not only monitors and documents its condition and correct functioning around the clock, but also precisely locates malfunctions and eliminates them. The fence system to be developed consists of a) fence material specially optimized for this purpose, which ensures particularly good detectability using computer vision techniques, b) an intelligent retrofit module, consisting of a master unit and several individual devices, which permanently monitors the fence voltage in real time, detects and localizes faults more reliably than any previous system, c) an autonomous control and maintenance vehicle, which starts periodically and in the event of a malfunction, navigates along the fence, evaluating and documenting the condition of the fence, precisely determines the type and position of malfunctions, informs the user, and combats vegetation growing into the fence, and d) a central server with a graphical interface through which users control the system and through which the components communicate with each other.

responsible : Carsten Bruckhaus

Characterization and utilization of solar energy in Kenya to improve agricultural productivity, food security and livelihoods

 

The main objective of the study is to close a knowledge gap in solar technologies for agriculture to improve agricultural productivity, food security and livelihoods in Kenya through collaboration with German institutions that have demonstrated success in solar energy adoption. The objective is to model spatial and temporal solar energy availability in the different parts of Kenya to determine the viability of solar energy utilization for agricultural applications such as solar irrigation, crop drying, evaporative cooling, solar cooking and industrial water heating in Kenya, furthermore development of solar equipment for off-grid electricity

Cooperation with Dr. Duncan Onyango Mbuge, University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya

Financing by:  Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

 

Knowledge for Tomorrow – Cooperative Research Projects in Sub-Saharan Africa

PostDoc projects:

Enhanced flame retardancy of bio-composite plastics developed with rice husks and clay fillers Dr. Michael Lubwama, Makerere University, School of Engineering, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Kampala/Uganda

Nature Assisted Low-Cost- Low-Temperature Storage Structure by Combining Different Principles of Cooling for Rift Valley Production Areas and Retail Distribution Centers in Ethiopia Dr. Yetenayet Tola, Jimma University, College of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine, Department of Postharvest Management, Jimma/Ethiopia

Software-based decision-making and control tools for optimizing Organic Municipal Solid Waste collection and composting in Tiassale, Southern Cote d'lvoire Dr. Kouassi Dongo, Swiss Center of Scientific Research (CSRS), Abidjan/Ivory Coast

Optimization and Upscaling of Hybrid Desiccant / Solar Dryer and Granary to prevent Aflatoxin Contamination in Maize Dr. Duncan Onyango Mbuge, University of Nairobi, School of Engineering, Department of Environmental and Biosystems Engineering, Nairobi/Kenia

Development of a technology for optimal use of bioactive carbons from rice husks in Uganda for water purification Dr. Peter Wilberforce Olupot, Makerere University, College of Engineering, Art and Technology, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Kampala/Uganda

 

responsible :  Joana Albrecht & Lilian Beck

Optimisation of Recirculating Water Treatment Process for a Smart Communal Hand Washing System

COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. This prompted the Government of Uganda to take bolder steps aimed at curbing the rapid spread of COVID-19. Such steps include extensive promotion of handwashing with soap and clean water. Handwashing still remains limited among some communities in Uganda, due to water scarcity. Moreover, with the increased practice of handwashing among the populace, a significant amount of wastewater is generated, which is merely left to go down the drain. Using wastewater treatment technologies, the handwashing wastewater can be treated, and subsequently recycled for similar purposes. With the activated carbons produced from our ongoing research, we propose to develop a low cost wastewater treatment system for incorporation in the communal hand washing systems.

responsible : Dr. Peter W. Olupot Department of Mechanical Engineering, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda

The project objective is to develop a sensor system for automatic monitoring of the condition of the lashing equipment used for tie-down lashing. It allows immediate information of the driver in case of loosening of the lashing means by an optical and acoustic signal.

The loosening is detected by acoustic sensors on the vehicle body that measure the vibration frequency of the lashing means. A loosening of the lashing means leads to a change in the vibration frequency, which is evaluated by software.

Responsible for the project : Ulrike Wilzek , Boris Kulig

 

Development of multivariate regression models for real-time monitoring of physicochemical changes of foodstuffs during drying process using Vis-NIR optical imaging

 

Drying is the most widely used method of long-term foodstuffs preservation. Currently employed drying methods result predominantly in a low retention of product quality. Polyphenols, carotenoids, and vitamins are some of the most important nutritious substances which are very sensitive to heat. Furthermore, physical attributes undergo severe changes during the thermal processing. For the optimization of the process, it is intrinsic to fully understand the dynamic changes of a product (and its components) undergoing throughout the process, which is only possible if reliable non-invasive quality inspection systems are available. To this end, optical techniques as non-destructive, non-contact, and rapid tools for monitoring of foodstuffs exposed to the drying process have gained a significant interest over the last decades. The current study intends to develop, evaluate, and compare multivariate regression models based on the data acquired using a hyperspectral and four multispectral imaging techniques (i.e. laser-light backscattering, biospeckle, Filter- and LED-based imaging techniques) in the spectrum range of 400-1700 nm with the aim of prediction of total polyphenols, total carotenoids, vitamin C (ascorbic acid), soluble solid contents (SSC), moisture content, shrinkage, rehydration, and firmness of apple, potato, and carrot (two varieties and maturities each) during a hot-air drying process. Most research in the field of optical monitoring of foodstuffs exposed to drying process is limited to the measurement of moisture content. There is a severe lack of knowledge in optical measurement of polyphenols, carotenoids, and vitamins (particularly vitamin C) during the drying process, particularly with a view of the development of non-invasive real-time measurement devices and protocols. Furthermore, previous studies have mainly focused on the application of the hyperspectral imaging technique, whilst the current research will investigate the possible replacement of hyperspectral imaging with different multispectral imaging techniques with the aim of delivering a smart drying system which is in line with the principles of Agriculture 4.0 and Industry 4.0. Biospeckle imaging, one of the multispectral imaging techniques which has a great potential for the inclusion in drying process, will for the first time be studied for its appropriateness. The results of this study will significantly contribute to a deeper understanding of optical techniques and their potential use in real-time observation of drying processes. The developed methods and set-ups will also open new possibilities for wider application across the field of food processing and product quality driven process control.

responsible :  Dr. Arman Arefi

 

 

Decentralised postharvest processing of underutilised species into innovative value added products for improved food and nutrition security in West Africa

 

Rural societies in SSA countries often suffer from a lack of access to balanced diets and “feast or famine” due to the seasonality of many agricultural products, limited means of preservation, transportation and lack of appropriate small-scale storage facilities. Current measures to address malnutrition involve micronutrient supplementation, fortification of staple foods and bio fortification. Earlier attempts to address the need to fortify foods in small and medium scale food processing units failed as they lacked a scalable technology solution and a sustainable business model to support target beneficiaries. Due to the preceding, resource-constrained rural people often rely on traditional food processing techniques such as manual peeling, chopping and grinding as well as sun drying to process food for household consumption and local markets. Thus emphasising the need for an innovative, user-friendly, low-cost, low maintenance and environmentally friendly processing machinery for targeted beneficiaries in rural areas.

The UPGRADE Plus project aims to develop a scientifically grounded modular, decentralised solar driven food processing unit (peeling, chopping, drying, grinding) and improve the diets of women, infants and young children while at the same time creating income generating opportunities for women’s self-help groups in West Africa and reducing post-harvest losses in underutilized agricultural produce. Specifically, the project seeks to:

i)       develop innovative small-scale modular, decentralised photovoltaic driven post-harvest food processing units suitable for local conditions,

ii)     utilise high-value underutilised species for the production of innovative and diverse nutrient-rich processed food products with extended shelf-life,

iii)   to empower women, especially those in self-help groups, in order to prevent  micronutrient deficiencies in children as well as increase the health status of pregnant and lactating women,

iv)    stimulate the rollout of the technologies and processes through training of local artisans who will build the systems using mainly locally available materials and selected members of women groups who will train new users.

The UPGRADE Plus project commenced in October 2017 and will continue for the period of 4 years. The project is supported with 1.1 Mio Euros by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture Germany (BMEL) and executed through the Federal Office for Agriculture and Food Germany (BLE).

UPGRADE Plus consortium consists of six partners from 4 different countries. These include University of Kassel (Germany) as the Project Coordinator, German Institute for Tropical and Sub-Tropical Agriculture (DITSL) (Germany), Innotech Ingenieursgesellschaft mbH (Germany), University for Development Studies (Ghana), Njala University (Sierra Leone), National Horticultural Research Institute (Nigeria)

 

UPGRADE Plus - Mehr und bessere Lebensmittel [publik MAGAZIN 04/18] 

UPGRADE Plus FLYER

Project Management  – Dr. Sharvari Raut

EcoStack - Bundling Ecosystem Services: Mechanisms and interactions for optimal crop protection, pollination and productivity.

EcoStack will provide European farmers with the knowledge and tools needed to maximize ecosystem services for crop production, while minimizing the environmental impact of agriculture and ensuring agricultural profitability. Goals will be achieved by pooling ecosystem services to synergistically improve the effective interaction of service providers.

Duration: 01.10.2018 to 31.09.2023.

Keywords:

Species interactions / Agriculture related to crop production, soil biology and cultivation / Functional biology / Microeconomics, behavioral economics / Socioecological systems.

Press release of 11/13/2018 EcoStack - Optimized Crop Production.

Project responsible : Dr. Sascha Kirchner, Julian Winckler.