Skip to main content
[Translate to English:]
[Translate to English:]
Institute of

LV Rural Studies


NatApp – smartphone-based documentation of nature conservation measures

One measure to promote biodiversity in agricultural landscapes is the creation of perennial flower strips
© ZALF/Holger Pfeffer
One measure to promote biodiversity in agricultural landscapes is the creation of perennial flower strips

Implementation study of the application of a Nature Conservation App (NatApp) in agricultural and administrative practice in different federal states of Germany

The NatApp in development will be a tool for advising, planning, applying and documenting nature conservation measures on agricultural land. The purpose of the tool is to support farmers and agricultural entities in the implementation of measures to promote biodiversity.

Background and Objective

To protect biodiversity in the agricultural landscape, small-scale nature conservation measures within the framework of agri-environmental and climate measures (AUKM) are particularly effective. However, the states only include such measures in their funding programs to a limited extent. One reason for this is the high administrative effort. Due to the complicated application process and the risk of sanctions, farmers seldom use them. The NatApp shall facilitate the implementation of small-scale AUKM, especially for agricultural businesses and administrations.

An integrated “information desk” (Infothek) will  describe the measures offered in the respective states and support farmers in planning measures. A schedule, as well as reminders and

warning messages, facilitate the correct implementation of the measures and reduce the risk of sanctions.

The farmers document the specified management activities independently with the NatApp, for example using GPS and geotagged photos. With this documentation, on-site checks by the administrations should be reduced.

Target Group

official nature conservation, agricultural administration, farmers


In the previous project "Konzept Pilot NatApp" the demands on the NatApp were specified. Among these were administrative needs, the necessary interfaces for data exchange, AUKM to be tested with the app and its documentation possibilities. Based on these results, the current project will test and validate the NatApp concept, program a NatApp pilot version and test it in four federal states.

The project uses survey results to clarify which information the respective state administrations provide to farmers about the AUKM and which information the farmers need in the Infothek. The surveys will be used to establish how federal states can prepare the information with little effort, feed it into the Infothek and keep it up-to-date.

The quality requirements for photos with GPS data, as well as further GPS and GIS functions (e.g., track), needed for the documentation function will be calculated. They will be evaluated under practical conditions for content, deadlines and legal certainty, and ultimately implemented in the app. Selected demonstration farms were trained about the documentation options. The prototype of the NatApp is being tested for practical suitability. Simultaneously an analysis is being conducted to measure the processing effort of the recorded data and how this information can be used by the agricultural administration and whether the administrative effort can be reduced.

Data and Methods

A prerequisite for the development of the Infothek is the clarification of the information needs of the farmers and the administration. This is based on research, expert and stakeholder surveys.

For legally compliant documentation, farm data, agricultural application data, plot geometries and other GIS and GPS data are integrated into the app. A risk analysis is carried out to assess the security of the data exchange between the farm and the administrations. In acceptance studies, farmers and administrative representatives are interviewed about the practical application of NatApp. Any need for adaptation can be identified by analyzing and evaluating the acceptance, operability and quality of NatApp.

Our Research Questions

  • Does the use of the NatApp increase the farmers' willingness to implement small-scale AUKM?
  • Does the NatApp reduce the administrative effort of small-scale AUKM and promote their implementation in the federal states' funding programs?
  • Which minimum requirements do geotagged photos have to meet for a regulation-compliant documentation of the implementation of AUKM?
  • How can Sentinel data be efficiently integrated into the NatApp?
  • Can AUKMs without fertilization and plant protection also be documented with the NatApp?


With the Naturschutz-App „NatApp“ we provide farmers a tool that simplifies the planning, implementation and documentation of nature conservation measures. For farms, NatApp simplifies documentation and reduces the administrative effort, as nature conservation parcels are already documented during processing. The complete and transparent documentation reduces the potential risk of being sanctioned for implemented measures.

During the project period, the federal state administrations have increasingly developed their own photo apps to provide evidence. In future, geotag photos will be a mandatory addition to the area monitoring system for area related agricultural funds. The need for the NatApp as an overall system for agricultural administrations is therefore no longer given. However, it is conceivable to integrate the information desk into the applications of the federal states. In addition, there are various application and extensions options for the NatApp. For example, for private nature conservation measures and projects or other programs that require a suitable monitoring tool. The development under an open source license enables the use and further development of the NatApp by interested third parties.

Links and Downloads

Involved external Thünen-Partners

Funding Body

  • Landwirtschaftliche Rentenbank
    (national, privat)


7.2020 - 12.2022

More Information

Project funding number: 880755
Funding program: Zweckvermögen des Bundes bei der Landwirtschaftlichen Rentenbank
Project status: finished

Publications to the project

  1. 0

    Tönshoff C, Bellingrath-Kimura SD, Dettmann H, Geppert F, Nostiz-Wallwitz I von, Pfeffer H, Röder N, Schwierz F (2023) NatApp - Smartphone-gestützte Dokumentation von Naturschutzmaßnahmen. Braunschweig: Thünen-Institut für Lebensverhältnisse in ländlichen Räumen, 2 p, Project Brief Thünen Inst 2023/13, DOI:10.3220/PB1673259863000

  2. 1

    Tönshoff C, Bellingrath-Kimura SD, Dettmann H, Geppert F, Nostiz-Wallwitz I von, Pfeffer H, Röder N, Schwierz F (2023) NatApp - Smartphone-supported documentation of nature conservation measures. Braunschweig: Thünen Institute of Rural Studies, 2 p, Project Brief Thünen Inst 2023/13a, DOI:10.3220/PB1659619093000

    Scroll to top