DFG Research Unit FOR2432/2 (copy 1)

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Coordinating Universities:
Universität Kassel & Georg-August-Universität Göttingen

Funding agency: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)


Prof. Dr. S. von Cramon-Taubadel
Agricultural Economics
University of Göttingen

Prof. Dr. A. Bürkert
Ecological Agricultural Sciences
University of Kassel

Project Management
Dr. Ellen Hoffmann
Project Secretariat:
Sonja Klinger (Witzenhausen)

Project phase II
01.04.2019 - 31.12.2023

Video documentation

Press release of the universities
>>> Kassel
>>> Göttingen
>>> Download

Research questions

(1) How do agricultural production systems and household structures change at different stages of urbanisation?

(2) How does urban expansion affect the ability of regional ecosystems to provide food and other ecosystem services?

(3) How do exchange processes between agroecosystems, producers and consumers, or different social groups change as urbanisation advances?

(4) How do social and ecological systems interact where rural and urban livelihoods, traditions, aspirations, and forms of land use clash?

These research questions lead to the General Hypotheses which guide the work in Clusters A, B, and C.

Research Cluster

Cluster A

Resource use patterns in agricultural production systems.

Cluster B

Supply and demand of social-ecological services

Cluster C

Feedback effect of consumption and changing values on land use


Urbanization and the accompanying socio-ecological transformations in rural-urban transitional spaces are of global significance. FOR2432 investigates these processes using the example of Bangalore in South India under the framework concept of Social-Ecological Systems (SES), and in close cooperation between German and Indian project partners and various scientific disciplines.

FOR2432 investigates these transition processes and their ecological implications in a hypothesis-driven manner at different analytical levels and collects data on soil physics, crop and livestock production, local market structures and value chains, consumer behavior and people's attitudes. The operational framework includes interdisciplinary factorial experiments, a staggered sampling scheme in two research transects, and the use of remote sensing and modeling to link the different analytical scales. In Phase I, FOR2432 demonstrated that rural-urban change is reflected in polycentric patterns of land use and dietary behavior. The accompanying changes in the multifaceted demands for ecosystem services and in the distribution of socio-economic household structures and value chains revealed spatially and temporally non-linear characteristics and structures within transects. Moreover, the influence of urbanization extends far beyond visible landscape changes.

The basic hypotheses (GH) were adapted to these findings. GH 1 (competition for land and water leads to agricultural intensification and increases vulnerability of affected households) takes water as a cross-cutting theme in Pase II, with studies of hydrology of entire watersheds, through water quality in lakes, irrigation and drinking water, to conflicts over water use and management. With respect to GH 2 (Conflicts between productive, regulatory, and cultural ecosystem services intensify with increasing urbanization), the linkage between environmental quality and human health is of particular interest here. Under GH 3 (Diversity of production systems and exchange processes is highest in the intermediate stages of rural-urban change) and GH 4 (Ecological constraints and economic opportunities increase with the degree of urbanization, making decisions and governance more complex), (micro)variability and polycentricity are systematically analyzed along rural-urban gradients. The notion of polycentricity forms a bridge into 'governance' research, thus broadening the research scope of FOR2432 by better integrating social science approaches.

Rural-urban change is documented in FOR2432 in real time through repeated observations at different temporal resolutions. This time window will be extended by a retrospective view of land use history (historical satellite imagery) and projections into the future through model-based simulation of development scenarios. Thus, FOR2432 will contribute to a better understanding of the social-ecological interactions in urbanization processes and to be able to control them in a sustainable way.

Agriculture is one of the oldest examples of coupled, social-ecological systems (SES) in which environment and society are interdependent. Given the global challenge of increasing urbanization, FOR2432 aims to study agricultural transition processes in the rural-urban gradient, using the megacity of Bangalore as an example. The research will be conducted in close collaboration with a partner consortium in Bangalore, co-funded by the Indian DBT.

Increasing competition, diversity, and conflict place high demands on a variety of individuals and actors at the rural-urban interface, so efficiency and complexity should increase in the systems under study. Based on hypothesis-driven studies of soil physics, crop production, and livestock production, FOR2432 seeks to provide empirical evidence for the presumed intensification in response to rapidly advancing urbanization at the field and household levels. The accompanying changes in the multifaceted demands for ecosystem services in rural-urban areas and in the distribution of socio-economic household structures and value chains will be analyzed as spatio-temporal processes. Finally, it will be investigated whether and how the transition processes are reflected in changing regional land use patterns and food consumption. The operational framework of the project includes joint factorial experiments at an experimental station and on farms, a comprehensive sampling scheme focused on a common transect, and the use of remote sensing and modeling to link the different analytical scales. Different approaches to the SES concept will be compared to synthesize the results and further hypothesis development. By doing so, FOR2432 aims to contribute to urban development processes worldwide and to the SES debate in agricultural sciences beyond the application case of the study object.

Member Area






General part of the application
> > > pdf

Global Land Program

>>> FOR2432 Endorsement

Partner institutions in India:

  • UASB - University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore
  • NIANP - National Institute of Animal Nutrition and Physiology, Bangalore
  • ATREE - Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment, Bangalore
  • ISEC - Institute of Socio-Economic Change, Bangalore
  • IIST - Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology, Trivandrum
  • IWST - Institute of Wood Science and Technology, Bangalore
  • APU - Azim Premji University, Bangalore

Partner collaborative project:
The Rural-Urban Interface of Bangalore: A space of Transitions in Agriculture, Economics, and Society

Funding agency: Department of Biotechnology (DBT), India