Cur­rent Re­se­arch Pro­jects

Optimisation of goat cheese quality in organic artisanal milk processing taking into account milk quality fluctuations that occur

Sponsor: Federal Agency for Agriculture and Food

The majority of organic goat milk producers in Germany process the milk in farmstead cheese dairies with the aim of producing an authentic cheese quality with a high enjoyment value. Experiences from artisanal cheese dairies show that, especially on goat milk farms with seasonal lambing, short-term changes in milk constituents can lead to strong fluctuations in cheese quality. Furthermore, the pasture grazing practised in many organic dairy goat farms is associated with much higher fluctuations in milk quality than stable feeding systems.

The aim of the project is to research the milk quality, the cheese-making properties of organic goat's milk and the sensory quality of organic goat's cheese and to develop and test technological measures (process parameters) with which artisanal cheese technology can adapt to fluctuations in milk quality.

Responsible: Dr. Edith Kalka

Cooperation partner: Max Rubner Institut (MRI), Verband für Handwerkliche Milchverarbeitung e.V. (VHM)

Digitalisation in organic farming

(Experimental Field 'Farms of the Future') - BMEL / BLE

The object of the planned project "DigiPlus" is the establishment of a future farm on which the possibilities and limits of digitalisation under the conditions of organic farming (ÖL) will be worked out. For this reason, digitisation approaches are to be tested for their transferability in organic farming on the Hessian State Domain Frankenhausen and potentials of digitisation for organic farms are to be developed. With a focus on organic farming, the entire value chain in both plant and animal production will be examined and covered in more detail in this joint project. In addition to production-related areas, nature conservation and biodiversity aspects will be investigated and the entire production chain will be examined. Here, all areas are to be linked to a quality management system with the help of digital tools and the socio-ecological dimension of digitalisation is to be illuminated. It is also planned to integrate a training component. The main branches of the farm, animal and plant production, are the focus of the project.

Responsible: Dr. habil. Abozar Nasirahmadi

Web: DigiPlus

Collaborative Project Land Management Sub-Saharan Africa:

Increasing efficiency in rangeland-based livestock value chains through machine learning and digital technologies (InfoRange)

In close cooperation with pastoral land-users and further societal actors along the rangeland based livestock value chain, InfoRange aims at improving rangeland use and governance and increasing resource-use and production efficiency in rangeland-based livestock production through digital and Information and communications technology (ICT) applications/services that permit user-generated information acquisition and transmission. It seeks to contribute to integrating external telemetry and observatory data with land-user generated data on bio-geo-physical ecosystem features to render digital and ICT services more relevant for land-users’ immediate management decisions on grazing, watering and health management.

Responsible: Dr. habil. Abozar Nasirahmadi, Sebastian Schmidt

Grant by:  BMBF

More: https://sustainable-landmanagement-africa.net/project/inforange/

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

Link: https://www.leap-re.eu/sungari/

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 

 

E-Hack Project page

 

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 (opens enlarged image)E-Hack in ECOmenic Gardener's Newsletter 03/2023
E-Hack in ECOmenic Gardener's Newsletter 03/2023

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. habil. 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, Dr. habil. Abozar Nasirahmadi

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.

publication 2022 : Optimization of roughing filtration unit for a handwashing wastewater recirculation point-of-use system

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