Organic Farming Systems: from Kenya to Cuba

The first session of guided posters presentation was held on Monday, 19th September. I personally got particularly interested in the organic farming systems topic. There are six intriguing poster presentations related to current studies on organic farming. The following are the overviews of the presentations:


Christiane Ringler described agrobiodiversity in 15 urban gardening plots in Havanna, Cuba. She found 130 different plant species mostly as leafy vegetables, tubers, fruits and spices from 65 different families, and concluded that small urban farms might have higher species richness and evenness compared to larger gardens.

Bernhard Freyer, head of the Division of Organic Farming at BOKU and among the main organizers of Tropentag 2016, offered a stimulating lecture on growth and productivity of clover in the highlands of the Ethiopian Awi Zone. Different levels of organic treatment applied to clover, farmyard manure, fresh sesbania manure, and a combination of the two manures. As he explained, a high amount of organic manure as fertilizer has a strong impact on clover yield.

My personal highlight of Tropentag so far: Workshop 9 on Forest and Tropical Trees' Conservation

The different areas of expertise presented by the panelists, the intensive discussions following each topic, and the art to eventually sort, combine and conclude every presentation, made this workshop my highlight so far.

Beside the great job of the presenters, two more reasons why it succeeded in my mind were:

1st. The discussions that critically analyzed the research finding and its (limited) impact on development Discussions (2)

2nd. The closeness and approachability of the panel experts concearning ideas and knowledge exchange during the coffe break and afterwards.

Check the Hans H. Ruthenberg Award for Graduates 2016 Here!

This year independent scientific jury finished their assessment. Three winners with excellent research theses have been selected. Thirteen applicants submitted their theses this year. In order to be reckoned, the research should fulfil requirements such as academic excellence, scientific evidence, and it should address improvement in food security. However, for next year, the jury hopes that there will be more entries from international student. Take a look at the Hans H.Ruthenberg Award for Graduate 2016 winners and their excellent works.

Mareike Aufderheide-Voigts

Mareike Aufderheide-Voigts

Mareike studied reproductive performance and modelled herd development of cattle kept. Borana pastoralists as dominating ethnic group in Sothern Eithiopia focus on keeping Boran cattle. During her field research, the student from Kassel-Witzenhausen University, found a different grazing system: families are split up between two grazing areas and the cattle are seasonally moved from one to the other section. In this sense, families practice an almost sedentary lifestyle, while the animals are still managed somehow as mobile. This usual procedure proved to improve food security in the region.

Crop Diversity Poster Session - Amaranth for the Win

The first round of poster presentations took place this evening, with “Crop Diversity and Plant Breeding” showcasing its inaugural topics. Many the research projects of the session, including a handful of Master’s degree theses, such as an Andean tuber crop that can be used to treat diabetes; the amaranth plant which has religious Mayan significance; and sage genetic diversity, known for its seed oil uses.

Roland Schafleitner Amaranth

One poster which stood out to me was the “unconventional vegetable” amaranth, presented by Roland Schafleitner. This plant can be used as both a grain and vegetable product, although it is highly perishable as the latter. This plant is popular in Africa and Asia, but no breeding research is currently being undertaken. It presents an opportunity for crop breeding and innovation, as well as collaboration between project cooperators (which the presenter is actively searching for!). It is an especially good research subject for genetic diversity as it is a C4 plant (resistant to heat and drought), and can produce new generations (and seeds) relatively quickly.

Biochar and Thirsty Goats

I don’t know if everyone would agree with me that poster sessions are very entertaining. The first one on Monday about soil fertility and nutrient management (1.2) was actually quite insightful (supposing one has some interest in fertilisers made from waste and fecal sludge or manure from thirsty goats, which sounds meaner than it is – or isn’t it?).

The main topic of this session was biochar: Just put biochar on maize and see what happens. Irrigate your crop with wastewater or add biochar and, again, see what happens. Filter your wastewater with biochar, put the biochar on your crop and, oh yes, see what happens.

Soil fertility and nutrient management I

These research topics were indeed highly interesting, and I would invite you to go see the posters yourself and get your own impression. You will also find more information about conservation agriculture practices in Kenya and how to grow Cassava in the D.R. Congo.

By the way, there will be another poster session about this subject tomorrow morning, and the oral presentations at 11:30 am. It’s certainly worth a look!

Guided Poster section 3.1

Delayed, but in a very warm atmosphere, the guided poster session about forestry and agroforestry started at 5 pm today. The mostly young researchers faced bravely the challenge to present their findings in front of the dispersed, interested group of listeners.

In a very short X minutes wrap up, a big diversity and good mix of presentations and topics from all over the world were presented.

7 Posters from latin America, 4 Posters from Asia and 3 from Africa were displaied. They included topics of Forest Establishment, Agroforestry, Fodder, Policies, Community Forestry, Livelihood Enhancement and Landscape Restoration.

Group picture Even though the short time didn't allow to dive deeper into the topics, the presentations have definitely given hope to see the next generation of researchers growing up, continuing the strive to gain knowledge and foster improvement.

For an overview of the presenters with all the related poster just have a look at

First Words from Tropentag 2016 Keynote Speakers

“Population is rising, and we must therefore produce more.” – Michael Hauser, this year’s keynote session moderator.

Tropentag 2016 kicks off with keynote speeches from three prestigious experts in the world of food security and science. These speakers set the tone for the conference and give the first insights into this year’s topic: solidarity in a competing world – fair use of resources. This is an exciting opportunity to hear words from experts and scientific contributors from around the globe, including Italy (and the United States), Thailand, and Nepal!


YPARD workshop Mission 2026: Acting now to support youth in agriculture

Having long heard about YPARD, I felt the need to join them during at their participatory discussion. "Young Professional for Agricultural Research and Development", well known as YPARD, organized an interactive workshop this Monday morning on the theme "Mission 2026: acting now to support youth in agriculture". They posed a most important challenge: when looking back, what actions will the youth of tomorrow wish today´s environment-custodians had taken in order to improve the agricultural sector of 2026 and their place on it?

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