From "Reports on Agriculture", October 2004

Significance of farm-scale and plot-scale nitrogen balances to reduce nitrogen inputs into the environment

Markus Quirin, Christoph Emmerling and Dietmar Schröder, Trier

Farm- and plot- scale nitrogen balances from four farms were compared in order to evaluate a reduction of N input into the environment. Nitrogen balances varied widely and depended especially on the cultured crops. High deviations of plot- scaled nitrogen balances from the mean of the farm- level were found especially in plots cultured with winter rye or green fallow. A high N surplus was found when mineral nitrogen was applied with organic manure. In sum, a reduced nitrogen input resulted in a reduced N surplus. Thus, we present a conceptual framework of N reduction on farm- level depending on crop rotation schedule. We suggest, that neither plot- scaled nor farm- scaled nitrogen balances alone are suitable to reduce N input into the environment.

Stakeholder networks on sustainable management in rural areas

Astrid Segert and Irene Zierke, Potsdam

The situation of the German agricultural economy is currently somewhat problematic and requires transitions to sustainable development. The authors consider the network of different stakeholders in rural areas an important social resource for the transition to sustainable agriculture as the change in European and national agricultural policies requires active target groups at regional level.

On the empirical basis of two case examples in East German rural areas, they studied the establishment of rural networks and their social development conditions. The study demonstrates how such regional networks must be organised and what socio-cultural contexts are shaping them. The institutionalisation of guiding principles for collaborative cooperation and the incorporation of regional networks in a framework of social environments are of significance for their formation and their ability to flexibly adapt to changing environmental conditions.

Reduction of emissions of confined animal production by the use of aluminum compounds

Peter Schweigert, Hannover

Confined animal production, in Germany for instance found in the Vechta/Cloppenburg area, can have various impacts on the environment. Both reactive nitrogen (N) and phosphorous (P) compounds from the animal manure are a threat to the regional soils and the groundwater. Agricultural politics is advocating a less intensive form of animal production, but occasionally it may take years before this policy becomes effective. In order to accelerate the relief of the environment, the use of technical means can be considered. To this end, the application of aluminum salts and drinking water treatment residues containing aluminum has been studied, particularly in the USA. These investigations have shown that the water-soluble P content in organic fertilizers and in soils can be reduced significantly. If applied in the field, a decrease of the P concentration in the runoff from soils can be achieved. By treating organic fertilizers, also the NH3 emission as a result of the decreased pH-values was reduced. Simultaneously, a better health of the animals in poultry production, and a better economic efficiency was achieved. Other positive effects are lower concentrations of heavy metals and hormones in the runoff. The results suggest, that also in Germany a reduction of non-point pollution may be achieved in the subject areas just mentioned. More research is needed, however, especially with respect to the optimally required quantity, as well as regarding the usefulness of other industrial by-products.

Prospects in land use - regions, landscapes, farms, decision-makers and tools - Report on the 43rd annual meeting of the "Gesellschaft für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften des Landbaus (GEWISOLA) 2003 in Hohenheim

Stephan Dabbert, Werner Grosskopf, Franz Heidhues and Jürgen Zeddies, Hohenheim

The article contains a synopsis of 60 presentations and 6 plenary sessions of the 43rd annual meeting of the "Gesellschaft für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften des Landbaues e.V." held in Hohenheim. The conference dealt with the overall subject "prospects in land use - regions, landscapes, farms, decision-makers and tools". The meeting was subdivided into four main topics

  • land use
  • evolution of enterprises and competitiveness
  • transformation processes and international context
  • consumer policy, food quality, and animal welfare.

As to land use, analyses and appraisals from recent land use research were presented. Papers on multifunctionality of agriculture and rural areas, land use models, interdisciplinary research on the effects of land use changes as well as the impacts of current proposals of national, European, and global agricultural policy were submitted and discussed. Concerning evolution of enterprises and competitiveness, analyses on the effects of policy options on the interregional and international competitiveness played a prominent role. For both, the reforms concerning the Agenda 2000 and the European sugar market regulations and for strategies concerning climate protection, the effects on farms and their adaptive potential were as well depicted as the consequences for structural changes. As far as transformation processes and international context are concerned, impact analyses relating to reform proposals of the European Union and accession treaties and their implications for the agriculture in the acceding country continued to take centre stage. In various papers account was given of ongoing research projects about effects on labour and capital markets and on institutions. In terms of consumer policy, food quality and animal welfare, several contributions dealt with quality management, quality assurance systems, purchase and consumer behaviour, as well as product innovations.

Finally, the prospects of land use were treated in the context of global developments like climate changes, perils of land use changes, resource protection, and development policy. Particular points of interest were chances and perils of the impacts of land use changes on the global food situation and on international agricultural trade. In this context, the significance of the international research on agricultural land use was discussed, amongst others also from the point of view of international institutions.

Comments on the farming situation in the new Länder

Heinz Gollnick, Hamburg and Herrmann Howitz, Halle (Saale)

This contribution briefly outlined at the beginning the agricultural production patterns in the new Länder before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Around 5000 hectare large socialist crop production farms, that were formerly in place, were mostly transformed into cooperative successor farms of an average size of 1500 to 2000 hectare, for example, that manage according to the principle of the free market economy.

The contribution highlights that the two manpower cutbacks, to around half of all workers respectively, posed the most serious problem in the reorganization process.

On the basis of accounting firms in Saxony, a detailed description is given of the three key groups of holdings: individual farm enterprises (100 to 300 hectare), partnerships (200 to 660 hectare) and legal entities (1100 to 1600 hectare), with an emphasis on their efficiency and competitive capacity (table 1).

The comparison was then extended to cover all other new Länder and the five largest old Länder (tables 2 and 3). "Economies of scale" obtained by the larger holdings, id est partnerships and legal entities, could clearly be proven in comparison with the smaller peasant farm holdings (table 4).

The contribution finally mentioned farm tours in summer 2003 that took place on several approx. 2000 hectare large holdings as well as on one 7000 hectare large agricultural holding. The outlined impressions provide indications of future developments where large agricultural holdings will perfectly well be able to compete with peasant farm holdings.

Possibilities of breeding for resistance to Fusarium in cultivated plants

Volker Lind, Doris Kopahnke, Ilona Krämer and Frank Ordon, Aschersleben

Fusarium species cause yield losses and produce mycotoxins that accumulate in the grains of cereals. The presence of toxins in human food and animal feed can be associated with serious health problems. The assessment of resistance in different growth stages is carried out after artificial inoculation with quantitative scoring procedures. The level of resistance is strongly influenced by a number of nongenetic factors. Nevertheless, a significant genetic variation is present so that a significant progress can be expected by breeding. The correlations between resistance traits and mycotoxin contents are medium and highly influenced by environmental factors. The use of new genes of resistance identified in genetic resources leads to broadening of the genetic base of resistance. In barley the genetic variation usable for breeding is lower than in wheat. Both in wheat and in barley the use of molecular markers aims at the combination of resistance genes and of different types of resistance in order to create cultivars with a high and long lasting level of resistance.

Fumonisin Intake of the German Consumer

I. Zimmer, R. Dietrich, E. Märtlbauer, Oberschleißheim, E. Usleber, Giessen, H. Klaffke, R. Tiebach, R. Weber, Berlin, P. Majerus and H. Otteneder, Trier

In order to calculate the average fumonisin intake of the German consumer, a large survey was performed on a variety of potentially contaminated products in the period between December 1998 and July 2001. A total of 1960 samples was analysed for fumonisins. Furthermore, 272 of these samples were also analysed for hydrolysed fumonisins. Enzyme immunoassays were used for routine analysis, and confirmatory and control analyses were performed using HPLC and LC-MS/MS. The daily intake of fumonisins was calculated by combining fumonisin contamination data obtained in this study with available food intake data. It was found that in general there is no increased risk for the German consumer of exceeding the recommended tolerable daily intake of fumonisins. However, certain products (or certain batches of products) were repeatedly found to contain elevated fumonisin levels, which in an extreme case could represent a potential risk for the consumer, in particular if foods for infants and young children are concerned. This could be solved by eliminating these peak contamination levels from the human diet through the introduction of maximum tolerable levels for fumonisins.

Released as article