The Johann Heinrich von Thünen Institute, Federal Research Institute for Rural Areas, Forestry and Fisheries, is a German research institute under the auspices of the German Ministry of Food and Agriculture.
The research is targeted at developing concepts for a sustainable, ecologically viable, and competitive
- agriculture and food economy,
- forestry and wood economy,
- fisheries and aquaculture.
The work of the Thünen Institute contributes to securing the sustainable use of natural resources, serves economic development, and ensures the quality of life for our society. They take a long-term approach to research and continually carry out monitoring activities. They provide political decision makers with scientifically-based decision-making aids on the basis of the research results. Results of work flow into guidelines and standards as well as into regulations and legislation.
The Johann Heinrich von Thünen Institute was established on January 1st, 2008. It is one out of four Federal research institutes under the auspices of the German Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (BMELV). With Headquarters in Braunschweig, the Thünen Institute comprises 14 specialist institutes.
The key tasks of Thünen Institute of Agricultural Technology include the scientifically-based consulting of policy-makers and the contribution to writing guidelines and standards.
The instruments developed by TI-AT, such as the estimation of the soil coverage level with organic residues or the analyses of the soil structure at certain depths, help practitioners to estimate the mechanical stress through agricultural machinery. In research they use sensors to recognize critical, wet soil conditions and to help adjust the vehicle parameters to the susceptibility of soil to compaction. In field irrigation, opportunity costs for water and energy play a decisive role. The work in irrigation management is therefore targeted to contributing to a sustainable use of water and energy with well adapted control of the technology. Sensor systems should help to recognize drought stress of plants. The optimization of the use of farm inputs with a simultaneous conservation of the environment and an increase in the product quality are the priorities in the optimization of agricultural processes and working chains, as well as new types of sensors and non-contact measurement processes which help the practice of precision agriculture in the area of soil tillage, crop management, irrigation and harvesting. The mid-term goal is to develop management systems that permit a sustainable implementation of resources (machines, energy, water).
In the Working Area Soil Protection recommendations for action to implement „Good professional practice“ are developed for farmers derived from field and laboratory experiments. For this purpose, sensors are used to document soil conditions and to adjust vehicle parameters. Research activities on soil protection are divided into two areas. On the one hand there is the study of the soil surface to reduce sludging and water erosion and on the other hand the consideration of the soil profile in order to derive measures to avoid soil compaction.
The Staff Unit Soil supports the President of the Thünen Institute in finding answers to cross-cutting questions on soil use and management in agriculture, sylviculture and soil protection policies. The staff unit bundles the soil-related research activities conducted under the auspices of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture.