Institute of

Agricultural Technology

Environmental Technology Soil/Plant

Heavy harvest and transport machinery can damage the soil structure in the case of high soil moisture. In our concepts for “good professional practice,” we have concretized recommendations for action derived from field and laboratory experiments and thus for preventative soil protection.

Sugar beet harvester travels over the measurement plot to calculate soil physical parameters
Sugar beet harvester travels over the measurement plot to calculate soil physical parameters (© Thünen-Institut)

The instruments we developed, 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 our research we 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. Our 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. Our mid-term goal is to develop management systems that permit a sustainable implementation of resources (machines, energy, water).

Our work is concentrated in the following areas: