Mid-conference Tours (Tuesday, August 31)

A couple of grassland relevant topics in northern Germany (intensive dairy farming, natural grassland conservation, biogas plants, organic beef production) will be highlighted during simultaneous mid-conference tours

West coast tour

Renewable energy from grassland and arable cropping

The production of methane from anaerobic digestion of slurry and/or biomass to generate electricity/heat has greatly expanded in Germany since 2004. While initially regarded favourable, criticism has been voiced recently concerning an extensive bioenergy cropping due to fuel-food competition and potential environmental impact. On this tour, we will visit a farm in the marsh region of Schleswig-Holstein. The Albrecht family runs a 135 ha farm with pig raising/fattening and biogas production (360 kW), around 100 km northeast of Kiel close to the North Sea coast. The farm is involved in the interdisciplinary Biogas-Expert project conducted by the Agricultural Faculty of Kiel University. We will demonstrate a field trial on the yielding potential and environmental performance (N2O and NH3 emission) of biogas cropping systems based on grassland, whole crop wheat and maize.

The tour ends in the idyllic town of Friedrichstadt, founded by Dutch settlers in the 17th century. Dotted with lots of pretty gabled houses and romantic canals, the town reminds of Amsterdam. After a guided tour we will have dinner in one of the town's oldest and prettiest merchant houses.

Anticipated arrival time in Kiel: 22.00

More information: Dr. Antje Herrmann
E-mail: aherrmann@email.uni-kiel.de

North tour

Extended grazing for organic milk production

Dairy production in Germany is typically characterized by high resource inputs but low resource efficiency resulting in negative environmental impacts. The optimization of milk production systems with respect to their resource use and carbon footprint is the main aim of the Focus project, carried out at the Agricultural Faculty of Kiel University. This tour will take us to the organic farm of Ezra and Katharina Lehmann in Sterup, which represents a low-input dairy production system. The farm is located in the region of 'Angeln' between the Flensburg fjord and the river Schlei, 50 km north of Kiel. The Lehmann family keep 30 cows on 42 ha. An intensive ley pasture management together with an extension of the grazing period to around 260 days allow milk yield from forage to exceed 6000 kg per cow and year. Research related to the impact of sward age on yield performance and environmental impact (C, N flows) will be demonstrated.

In the late afternoon, we will visit Glücksburg castle, Germany's largest 'water' castle and one of the most significant family residences in Northern Europe and enjoy dinner in the old town of Flensburg.

Anticipated arrival time in Kiel: 22.00

More information: Prof. Dr. Friedhelm Taube
E-mail: ftaube@email.uni-kiel.de

Central tour

Eider-Treene-Sorge river landscape - nature conservation and grassland management

The Eider-Treene-Sorge river landscape is the largest lowland area in Schleswig-Holstein. The landscape of this region is characterised by rivers, peatlands, moors and grassland, which is predominantly used for milk production. The area is registered in the list of wetlands of international importance. Large parts of the Eider-Treene-Sorge region are recognised as important bird areas. We will visit the beautiful village of Bergenhusen, which is famous for its high population density of white storks. Members of the resident "Michael-Otto-Institut im NABU" will give us detailed information about the area, including options and limits of the local agriculture practice as well as measures for conservation of threatened meadow birds. A local farmer will give us an introduction to grassland management for milk production and protection of meadow birds as well. In the evening, we will enjoy a barbeque with food from the region.

Anticipated arrival time in Kiel: 22.00
More information: Dr. Helge Neumann
E-mail: hneumann@email.uni-kiel.de

South tour

Intensive dairy production

Intensive dairy production in northern Germany is located on light sandy soils, which is reflected by the experimental farm Karkendamm, located 50 km south of Kiel. Approximately 150 high genetic merit dairy cows are managed in an all year confinement system by the Institute of Animal Breeding and Animal husbandry. A turnstyle rotary parlor and individual voluntary feed intake measurements as well as animal behaviour are research topics of that group. Performance testing and selection for yield and functional traits with conventional and molecular genetic techniques are carried out. The diet of dairy cows is based on silage maize, grass silage and amounts of concentrates according to milk yield. The average milk yield per cow is 11.700 kg per cow and year. The group Grass and Forage Science/Organic Agriculture conducted the "Karkendamm project" together with other groups during the last decade dealing with nitrogen fluxes in the soil-plant-animal system. Currently, the so called biogas-expert project deals with the eco-efficiency of forage crops dedicated to biogas production.

We will continue visiting the natural park Trappenkamp. In a guided tour, we will be involved in nature protection programs of the federal state Schleswig-Holstein and we will finish the tour with a barbeque in the park.

Anticipated arrival time in Kiel: 22.00

More information: Prof. Dr. Michael Wachendorf
E-mail: mwach@uni-kassel.de

East tour

Experimental farm Lindhof (Organic agriculture) and grass breeding (NPZ)

We will visit the experimental farm Lindhof, one of three experimental farms belonging to the agricultural faculty. Lindhof is dedicated to research in organic agriculture since 1997. It is located close to the shore of the Baltic Sea and organized as a mixed farm with cereal, potato and forage production (116 ha) as well as permanent grassland (17 ha). Lindhof is stocked with a herd of suckler cows (Limousin bred) and 50 sows managed in an outdoor system rotating on grass-clover leys with the aim of beef and pork production (1000 pigs per year). Lindhof is certified by the German organic growers organisation "Bioland" and products are sold to organic wholesale traders and cooperatives as well as in the own farm shop. Research topics are:

  1. comparative assessment of ecosystem services in conventional and organic production systems;
  2. optimised organic crop rotations in terms of productivity, nitrogen fixation and nitrogen efficiency;
  3. forage quality;
  4. carbon and nitrogen losses due to grassland renovation.

During our visit crop, forage and animal production at Lindhof with respect to the German standards for organic farming will be presented. Besides of field trials on yield and forage quality of grass/clover with respect to legume, herb and grass species, experiments with focus on yield, nitrogen fixation and -leaching, greenhouse gas (N2O) emission, root growth and carbon sequestration as influenced by grassland renovation will be shown.

After a coffee break we will continue to the commercial breeder NPZ ("Norddeutsche Pflanzenzucht Hans-Georg Lembke KG "). NPZ-Lembke - is a privately-owned, plant breeding company located at Hohenlieth, a few car minutes from Lindhof.

NPZ-Lembke is active in more than 30 countries, distributing over 150 varieties of the following crops:

During our visit the breeding program for forage plants will be presented, we visit the breeding station (glass houses, nurseries and production trails) and the company's seed conditioning and distribution capacities.

In the evening, we are invited for dinner in the historical storage house of the Hohenlieth estate.

Anticipated arrival time in Kiel: 22.00

More information: Dr. Ralf Loges
E-mail: rloges@email.uni-kiel.de