The Department of Organic Farming and Cropping Systems investigates how productivity in cropping systems can be increased while simultaneously improving ecosystem services via using biological processes. Research areas include optimising cropping systems, measures to increase soil fertility including composting techniques, root ecology and root-soil interactions, diversification of cropping systems e.g. via mixed cropping and agroforestry, and integration of nature conservation measures in agroecosystems. Furthermore, inter- and transdisciplinary topics such as environmental effects of organic farming especially with respect to ground water and nature protection, and quantifying societal impact of practice oriented research are covered.
Teaching includes organic crop production, soil fertility and nutrient cycles, land use systems and questions related to the conversion from conventional to organic farming. The section is responsible for the research farm “Hessische Staatsdomäne Frankenhausen” and is a member of the Hessian practice research network. Affiliated is a teaching position for Organic Vegetable Production and a coordination office for biodynamic farming with own teaching and research activities.