Experimental Sites: Test centres support practice
What is a test site?
There are different types of soil in Brandenburg. In addition, the global climate has been changing for many years (global warming), which in some cases has a strong influence on the regional rainfall and the number of dry spells: Brandenburg recorded its driest year in 2018. Thus, depending on the environmental conditions, farmers are faced with adapting the farming of their fields and grassland. However, if a farmer would like to change crops after years of growing wheat, there are many considerations to be made e.g., ploughing methods or fighting pests, both require practical experience. To personally test concepts and methods will cost the farmer a lot of time and money.
This is where agricultural testing centres come into play. They take on the task of experimenting, researching, and testing. For this purpose, the offices not only have employees and all kinds of practical tools, but also have test sites and areas. At test sites, scientists can for example cultivate new varieties, undertake irrigation and fertilization experiments or look for solutions to control pests more efficiently.
The test results are published in print or at special informative events. For example, many test centres organize field days where people interested in the sector can visit and see the practical results on site for themselves. Farmers and workers in arable land and orchards throughout Brandenburg benefit from the work carried out at test centres.
Brief presentation of some of the test sites in Brandenburg
ATB Experimental Station Marquardt
The Leibniz Institute for Agricultural Engineering and Bioeconomy e.V. (ATB) is extensively testing possibilities for digital applications in agriculture and horticulture on over 20 hectares at the Marquardt test station. The location is mapped in high resolution and equipped with sensors for specific research questions. Here, the scientists want to develop models, technologies and cultivation systems for environmentally and resource-friendly crop production.
FIB Experimental Station Grünewalde
The Grünewalde field test station is located on the recultivation areas of the former Koyne open pit coal mine in the Lusatian area.
There, the Research Institute for Post-Mining Landscapes e.V. (FIB) examines the leachate formation of agricultural crops in almost 100 large lysimeters (soil vessel columns). These data are used, among other things, to model the water and material balance in post-mining landscapes.
In addition, cultivation and variety trials have been carried out here since the mid-1950s, for example on energy wood and other renewable raw materials.
IASP Research Station Berge
The Berge experimental station is located in Havelland. It has been operated by the Institute for Agricultural and Urban Ecological Projects at the Humboldt University of Berlin (IASP) since 2010. The IASP is a non-profit, non-university research institution and a member of the Zuse community.
The focus of the work in Berge lies in the analysis and improvement of soil fertility, the research of plant properties and the effect of fertilizers. The tests carried out also deal with agricultural material flow and emission.
IGZ Test Station Großbeeren
The Leibniz Institute for Vegetable and Ornamental Plant Cultivation (IGZ) e.V. also conducts research at the Großbeeren Test station. The research here examines ingredients that can be found in vegetables as well as plant-microorganism relationships. Research is also being carried out into sustainable horticultural systems in greenhouses and in the field. Climate chambers, greenhouse cabins and an outdoor area are available for experiments at Großbeeren.
LVGA Test Station Müncheberg
The Teaching and Research Institute for Horticulture and Arboriculture (LVGA) and the Fruit Growing Institute are active at the test areas in Müncheberg. The LVGA carries out fruit cultivation experiments and maintains an extensive orchard with around 1,000 different apple varieties, 200 pear varieties and numerous sweet and sour cherries.
LVGA can also be found at the test centre in Großbeeren, south of Berlin. Here, LVGA are the only professionally organized, nationwide, vocational training centre in the green sector. Every year around 1,500 specialists take part in inter-company training and 1,500 specialists and managers take part in further education courses.
ZALF Test Stations
The Leibniz Center for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF) e.V. has three research stations:
At the test station in Dedelow, 100 kilometres north of Berlin, various agricultural cultivation systems can be tested on 42 hectares. In addition, the ZALF employees oversee technical measuring systems, such as lysimeters, for monitoring the soil water balance or automatic gas measuring systems to record greenhouse gases in different settings. Dedelow is located in the ZALF “AgroScapeLab Quillow” landscape laboratory, in which numerous studies on the functionality of agricultural landscapes are carried out.
The second location in Paulinenaue is also near Berlin. At this site, the institute’s cattle and sheep graze on 60 hectares of fen grassland. Many aspects of animal husbandry can be examined in this way, for example, the effects on biodiversity or the nutrient balance of fens. It is worth mentioning the extensive groundwater lysimeter system, with over 100 lysimeters, is one of the largest in Europe.