The EU Research Project: ‘Reduced tillage and cover crops in organic farming’ seeks to explore early tillage to improve soil fertility in organic arable crops. 15 partners from eleven European countries are involved in the project, including scientists from Witzenhausen. The research project with the acronym, TILMAN-ORG ‘by the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture in Switzerland (FiBL) coordinates. The aim of this project is to develop reduced tillage under different site conditions in field trials for organic farming. The research team will also collect the existing knowledge into practice the participating countries, develop and evaluate site-specific recommendations. Comparisons will be made to the plow tillage and green manure will be used to increase soil structure and fertility. Soil structure, humus content, biological activity, nutrient exchange capacity are expected to be improved.
According to Prof. Dr. Jürgen Hess, Director of the Department of Organic Farming and Cropping is the reduced tillage in conventional agriculture is already widespread. However, the procedure was considered until recently as not suitable for organic farming because it can promote the spread of perennial weeds. In addition, the mineralization of nitrogen from soil and manure is unsatisfactory. The development of methods for efficient weed control and better nutrition is an important goal of TILMAN ORG. At the same time it will look for ways to reduce CO2 emissions and increase biodiversity. In the foreground are the nitrogen fluxes in different soil tillage and the effect of different cover crops on nutrient content and soil organic matter and on weeds. Experimental plots are located on the farm of the University of Kassel, Witzenhausen domain Frankenhausen and on the Osnabrück Meyerhof farm.
The duties of the Department of Organic Farming and Cropping include the implementation and evaluation of two short-term tests and a multi-year experiment. Dr. Thorsten Haase is the responsible researcher of the project at the Department of Organic Farming and Cropping. The TILMAN-ORG project is supported by national sponsors that are in the European ERA-Net project Core Organic II (Coordination of transnational research activities) involved. The project of the University of Kassel / Witzenhausen is supported by the Federal Agency for Agriculture and Food (BLE). (Uni-kassel). The project duration is three years.