- Sustainable Intensification for a viable future
On 12 July 2016, Prof. Dr. Klaus Dittert spoke on the options of sustainably increasing agricultural yields, as proposed by Prof. Dr. Bernward Märländer, Director of the Institute of Sugar Beet Research (IfZ) and himself. This lecture was part of a series held at the University of Göttingen.
In this presentation, Dittert and Märländer pointed out the consequences of this intensification requirement, for both science and the industry. “Among agricultural scientists, there is a broadly shared consensus that future productivity increases will need to be realised without additional land requirement and without negative environmental impacts”, says Dittert. “This is indispensable for establishing food security in poorer countries, but also for solving existing problems in the agrarian sectors of industrial nations. We need to increase productivity and we need to protect resources, if we want to enable future generations to produce sustainably.”
Challenges for science and for practice
Among the greatest challenges crop cultivation is facing in Germany is nutrient pollution in the air and in water bodies, as well as the finiteness of resources such as phosphate. As a systems science, agricultural research meets such challenges with inter- and trans-disciplinary approaches. According to Dittert and Märländer, a primary objective is to intensify transfer of new research findings to agricultural practice, together with the inclusion of relevant questions from practical experience into scientific research. Integrative research structures which promote the dialog between scientists and practicians may contribute to removing this bottleneck.
Less nitrogen per tonne of sugar
The Göttingen crop research practice provided numerous examples of future-oriented scientific projects for sustainable increase, such as plant breeding and improved cultivation management as means for achieving markedly higher nitrogen efficiency in sugar beets: during the 1980s, sugar beets required approximately 30 kg of nitrogen per tonne of sugar; today this ratio is 10 kg to1 t. The goal is to reduce nitrogen application to 5 kg per tonne of sugar.
Development of Networks
As a conclusion, Dittert and Märländer highlighted the structures currently created at the Department of Crop Sciences and the two associated institutes, in order to facilitate the exchange between science, industry and practice. Educational and training programs will certainly play leading roles within the stakeholder network.
Agriculture between Idyll and High Technology
Audio and video recordings of the lectures held within the series „Agriculture between Idyll and High Technology” are available at the 2016 Summer Semester website. Lecture series in summer semester 2016
Institute of Sugar Beet Research (IfZ)
More about the IfZ on the website of the IfZ.