Current Research Projects



Coordination in collaborative research projects


  • GreenGrass - Innovative grassland utilization for sustainable agricultural intensification at the landscape scale Details, project coordinator: Johannes Isselstein, Juliane Horn



  • Details Project GreenGrass
  • GreenGrass

  • Details Agrarsysteme der Zukunft
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    Single projects


    • RINGO – Root production is determined by grazing induced patchiness in temperate low-input semi-natural grassland irrespective of grazing intensityDetails
    • NEffMais– Sensor- und modellgestützte Quantifizierung von N-Bedarf und N-Angebot zur Steigerung der NEffizienz im MaisanbausDetails
    • SUPER-G – Sustainable Permanent GrasslandsDetails
    • GreenGrass - Innovative grassland utilization for sustainable agricultural intensification at the landscape scale Details
    • ADAM - Artenvielfalt im intensiv genutzten Dauergrünland: Aufwertungsmaßnahmen im Miteinander von Landwirtschaft und Naturschutz Details
    • biodiversity and dairy production - Reform of the Common Agricultural Policy from 2020: perspectives and recommendations for improved grassland biodiversity by adapted production strategies with reduced concentrate input in dairy farming systems“ Details
    • LLL - Limpopo Living Landscapes - Understanding the dynamics of ecological and cultural landscapes, in the face of global change, in the northern Limpopo region of South Africa (project website, project coordinator: Johannes Isselstein)




    Completed projects
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    Project Details



    RINGO – Root production is determined by grazing induced patchiness in temperate low-input semi-natural grassland irrespective of grazing intensity

    Martin Komainda (Projektleitung), Johannes Isselstein

    The project expects to advance the knowledge of patch-specific within pasture variability on the above- and belowground net primary production and its turnover to obtain precise estimates of processes involved in topsoil soil carbon cycling in extensive grassland. It expects advancement in methodological aspects of root and turnover assessments and to provide transfer function between in situ observations and actual carbon input. It further expects to advance knowledge of machine learning assisted image processing of root observations. The planned work aims to provide a basis for understanding, which will be deepened in possible follow-up projects in other long-term experimental platforms under varying environmental conditions. In particular, the DFG-funded biodiversity exploratories (Socher et al., 2013) as well as the oldest long-term grazing experiment in Europe 'Oldrichov' in the Czech Republic (Pavlu et al., 2006) would be points of contact for follow-up phases.

    Gefördert durch Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)
    Laufzeit 01.01.2022-31.12.2023



    NEffMais– Sensor- und modellgestützte Quantifizierung von N-Bedarf und N-Angebot zur Steigerung der NEffizienz im Maisanbaus

    Martin Komainda (Projektleitung), Johannes Isselstein, Manfred Kayser

    Joint Research Project between Christian-Albrechts-Universität Kiel (Institut für Pflanzenbau und Pflanzenzüchtung, Abteilung Pflanzenbau) CAU
    and Landesbetrieb Landwirtschaft Hessen, Fachinformation Pflanzenbau LLH
    Associated Partners:
    Landwirtschaftskammer Niedersachsen, Fachbereich 3.9 Grünland und Futterbau LK NDS
    Associated industrypartnerJohn Deere Walldorf GmbH & Co KG, European Technology Innovation Center John Deere

    Silage maize is the most important crop for energy production in Germany. Inaccurate estimates of the N requirement of the maize crop and the N supply from the soil often result in excessive N fertilisation and low N efficiency. This is associated with considerable N losses to the atmosphere and groundwater. The aim of the project is therefore a more precise quantification of N supply and N demand in maize cultivation by means of sensor data and modelling.

    In a two-year field trial at three environments (cooperation partners: Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Landesbetrieb Landwirtschaft Hessen), the relevant N pathways are recorded by means of drone-based crop monitoring, plant sampling and surveys of the nitrogen and soil water balance dynamics. The effects of different annual weather conditions, locations, maize varieties, forms of fertilisation (mineral/organic) and fertilisation rates are investigated. Empirical regression models are to be developed using the results of historical N-increase trials, which characterise the relationship between yield and optimal N supply, as well as between site and cultivation parameters and N replenishment. Process-oriented, dynamic models will also enable an estimation of the weather effect on maize yield and N replenishment. The project should thus contribute to the development of site- and year-specific and thus resource-saving maize cultivation systems.

    Financial support: Fachagentur Nachwachsende Rohstoffe e.V. (FNR)
    Duration 01.04.2021-31.03.2024

    SUPER-G – Sustainable Permanent Grasslands

    Bettina Tonn (principal investigator), Anja Schmitz

    The existence and management of permanent grasslands (PG) is key to the delivery of multiple ecosystem services (ES) across Europe. However, PG maintenance and functions are under threat from sub-optimal management of inputs, cultivation in higher output farming systems and abandonment in remote and marginal areas. The overall objective of the SUPER-G project is to co-develop sustainable PG systems and policies with farmers and policy makers that will be effective in optimising productivity, whilst supporting biodiversity and delivering a number of other ES.
    SUPER-G will apply a multi-actor approach, working with farmers; land owners/managers and their advisers; third sector and civil society groups; non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and researchers, policy and business communities to achieve:
    1) better understanding of the importance and functioning of PG;
    2) benchmarking of PG performance across Europe;
    3) co-development of integrated approaches for profitable and sustainable PG management4) co-development of tools and policy mechanisms, which are inclusive of stakeholder and citizen priorities, to support the maintenance and sustainable management of PG.
    The project will last five years to allow time for the establishment of farm networks for data gathering and analysis; and the development of good grassland practices, innovative techniques and farm-level and policy support tools.
    Using a responsible research and innovation (RRI) approach, the project will develop a comprehensive European grassland typology and a shared conceptual model of how PG can deliver in terms of productivity, biodiversity and other ES such as climate regulation, water quality, mediation of water flows and erosion control. The potential of PG to deliver multiple ES will be informed by benchmarking and testing, involving a network of farms and experimental platforms in 14 countries covering the Mediterranean, Atlantic, Continental, Alpine, Pannonian and Boreal regions.

    Funding: EU Horizon 2020
    Project duration: 2018-2023

    More information



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    GreenGrass - Innovative grassland utilization for sustainable agricultural intensification at the landscape scale

    Juliane Horn, Martin Komainda, Friederike Riesch, Johannes Isselstein

    Conception of a transdisciplinary collaborative research project to develop innovative grazing systems that will secure and enhance the provision of ecosystem services.

    Funded by: Federal Ministry for Education and Science (BMBF)

    Project duration: 2019-2024

  • First results with Virtual Fencing
  • Nofence Researcher Webinar

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    ADAM - Artenvielfalt im intensiv genutzten Dauergrünland: Aufwertungsmaßnahmen im Miteinander von Landwirtschaft und Naturschutz

    Anja Schmitz, Johannes Isselstein

    Conception of a transdisciplinary collaborative on-farm-research project to test and develop measures that will enhance biodiversity in intensively managed grasslands in Northern Germany.

    Funded by: German Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU)

    Project duration: 2017-2018

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    biodiversity and dairy production - Reform of the Common Agricultural Policy from 2020: perspectives and recommendations for improved grassland biodiversity by adapted production strategies with reduced concentrate input in dairy farming systems

    Katharina Bettin, Johannes Isselstein

    The target of the present research project is to identify strategies to enhance grassland biodiversity and profitable milk production in German dairy farming systems. Therefore we study milk production systems with reduced concentrate feeding in the diet. The main research hypothesis is: Concentrate reduced dairy farming systems provide a better opportunity for improvement of grassland biodiversity due to viable economic perspectives. The hypothesis is mainly attributed to the knowledge concerning the significant importance of grass for those farms.
    To quantify the consequences of reduced concentrate feeding on the grassland biodiversity, detailed recording of plant species diversity on the respectively farmed permanent grassland is conducted in conjunction with analyses of the production systems and their economic efficiency.
    The approach is based on a socio-economical subproject, which includes interviews and records of economic data of approximately 150 organic and conventional dairy farms in grassland regions of northern, middle and southern Germany. This project part is conducted by the ‘Kasseler Institut für ländliche Entwicklung e.V.’. The selected farms feed less than half of the common amount of concentrates. Furthermore regional workshops including group discussions with the participating farmers will be carried out.
    The second subproject analyses the biodiversity of permanent grasslands on farms feeding less concentrate and on spatially adjacent “control” farms with regional-specific standard concentrate feeding. For this purpose detailed vegetation surveys are conducted on permanent grasslands of 30 pairs of dairy farms, each pair being comprised of one farm with reduced and one with a common amount of concentrate in the diet. This part is carried out by the Institute of Grassland Science, University of Göttingen. Based on the management data from the farm surveys, the contribution of grassland to the milk production of each farm will be evaluated with special regard to the farm level phytodiversity.
    Based on these findings policy relevant recommendations and support strategies will be deduced. These are especially directed at the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy beyond 2020 but also at the question how grassland based dairy production can be promoted by e.g. marketing incentives or modified consulting tools.

    Project partner
    Kasseler Institut

    Funded by: Federal Agency for Nature Conservation

    Project duration: 2017-2020

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