Our mission is to shape the future of cropping systems, combining improved quality and quantity with enhanced ecosystem services and reduced environmental impact. We focus on innovative, multifunctional cropping systems for food, feed, fuel and fiber.
Agricultural Cropping Systems
Agriculture provides us with food, feed, fiber and at the same time many other services, for example, pollination, natural enemies and carbon sequestration. Our research goal is the development of sustainable farming systems for contemporary farmers and future generations. To reach that goal we use field trials, experiments in greenhouses, interviews and modeling. Often in close collaboration with farmers in different parts of the world – to make our results more usable and ensure a greater impact on society.
Crop production in relation to genotype and environment
We conduct research to identify crops that can make the best out of a given situation. Crops that are efficiently utilize the available resources on their growing site and also cope with the challenges they face in terms of diseases, pests and extreme weather conditions that are becoming more common due to climate change. Therefore, we investigate the relationships between individual plant characteristics, crop yield, agricultural system design and management. Our final goal is to favour the achievement of higher yields along with greater sustainability in agriculture. We work together with plant breeders.
Modelling human-plant-environment interactions
We develop and apply ecophysiological and ecohydrological models – process-based, quantitative description of vegetation response to random, potentially damaging, weather conditions – to quantify risks and the potential effects of management strategies – from species and variety selection, to implementation of irrigation or crop rotation.
We are developing sustainable crop protection strategies based on a mechanistic understanding of the interactions between plants, pests and their natural enemies/antagonists. The research demonstrates the importance of botanical and microbiological diversity for sustainable plant protection strategies.
Plant interaction in cropping systems
Plants do not see, hear, smell or test, but they communicate with each other in different ways including chemical signalling between different plants pairs. The aim of our research is to develop sustainable crop protection strategies based understanding of the interactions between plants, insects and their natural enemies.
Weed biology and management
In order to find sustainable weed management options, we need extensive knowledge of weed biology as well as we need to understand how weeds interact and compete with other organisms in the agro-ecosystem. Our research has led to new and improved weed control methods. We are also developing new cropping systems and measures that will increase the crop's competitiveness and crop yields. Our research is often done in collaboration with farmers.
Short rotation forestry (SRF)
Fast-growing deciduous tree species can be used to replace fossil fuels and to diminish human impact on the climate. Our research contributes to a more efficient and environmentally sustainable cultivation of tree plantations for bio-energy purposes. One of our research applications is the possibility to use fast-growing woody species as a vegetation filter which turns waste products into a valuable resource. Many of our results can be applied directly by growers and extension workers.