Innovative use of grassland for the sustainable intensification of agriculture at the landscape scale
Grassland on the decline
Grassland has developed over centuries, defined to a large extent by farm animals grazing in the landscape. A significant part of the existing diversity of species in grassland co-evolved with grazing by farm animals. Today, grassland is an important supplier of diverse and significant ecosystem services in agriculture.
However, the use of grassland is continuously decreasing for various reasons, thereby putting the important ecosystem service it provides at risk. On the one hand, modern stock farming increases the pressure to use arable land for feed production. On the other hand, many farmers no longer employ pasture farming because it is too labour-intensive and time-consuming to produce a milk output that is comparable to the indoor housing of animals. Costs incurred due to the additional work are not adequately compensated either. A trend reversal is urgently needed to bring grazing animals back to agriculture, and to restore and maintain the ecological, economic and cultural significance of grassland.
Trendsetting technologies for the preservation of grassland
In order to counteract the current trend and realise the potential of grassland, the time has come for sustainable pasture farming to include the application of innovative technologies. That is exactly what GreenGrass wants to accomplish. Virtual herding technologies are being developed and tested in the course of the project to enable the tending and herding of animals in the landscape without the use of fences. These are combined with monitoring the seasonal supply of forage plants using modern remote reconnaissance systems.
Drones and satellite images are being used for the guidance of animals in the landscape. They collect and deliver all required information. Subsequently, the data are combined in a novel, multi-level information system where they are analysed to ensure the computer-controlled guidance of animals in time and space. Protected habitats, for example, are bypassed. Thus the tremendous expenditure of work for pasture farming can be reduced for farmers while realising the sustainable use of pastures. High-end quality products that can be profitably marketed by farmers are the result.
In order to realise trendsetting, sustainable pasture farming and conserve grassland, GreenGrass integrates transdisciplinary expertise from all relevant fields: Scientists in the areas of grassland research, landscape ecology, remote reconnaissance, information technology, business administration, environmental economics, agricultural policy and transformation research as well as industry partners along the entire value chain.
Prof. Dr. Johannes Isselstein
Department of Crop Sciences
University of Göttingen
Tel.: +49(0) 551 39-24375
University of Göttingen
Humboldt University of Berlin
Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus - Senftenberg
University of Hohenheim
University of Kassel
University of Cologne
horizont group GmbH
Texas Trading GmbH
Grünlandzentrum Niedersachsen/Bremen e.V.