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Contribution to ZALF research

Research Area 3 “Landscape Research Synthesis“ focusses on science-based methods and applications for synthesising the analytical understanding of biophysical and socio-economic processes in agricultural landscapes into knowledge required for decision making. In this context, the term synthesis refers to the combination of different ZALF-internal and -external knowledge sources with respect to specific societal challenges. This type of synthesis builds on the analyses conducted in Research Areas 2 and 3 and supplements them with integrated assessments, conclusions and recommendations for action for the different stakeholders in the economy, in politics, in science and in society.

The central research questions of Research Area 3 "Landscape Research Synthesis" are:

  • How can modelling approaches of cropping systems be combined to generate insights into yields, resource efficiency and environmental impacts across different spatio-temporal scales and to allow for the conceptual integration of cropping systems with systemic value chains for food production?
  • How can future developments of cultivation systems (e.g. cultivation technology, autonomous machinery, modified crop rotations, agroforestry systems) be anticipated, integrated into future scenarios together with other drivers, and evaluated with respect to their impact on resource efficiency (water, land, energy, raw materials, cost) and ecosystem services under changing framework conditions (e.g. climate change, policy)? Which indicators are suitable when the analytical knowledge basis is scarce, and what are the effects of different system boundaries (field, farm, landscape, region or product) on the results?
  • How do different spatio-temporal scales and system boundaries shape the determinants of land use changes? Which interactions exist between these determinants, and which patterns do they exhibit? How are preconditions and demands for land use services changing in the rural-urban continuum? What are their effects on the innovation potential of products and value chains?


Contribution to ZALF research 


Working groups


Impact Assessment of Land Use Changes

Image of the WG Impact Assessment of Land Use Changes 

Impact Assessment synthesises research to decision-relevant knowledge. By focussing on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), the working group couples the two approaches of impact and sustainability assessment. Emphasis is placed on assessing the impacts of soil cultivation and soil functions in the context of sustainable intensification. Indicators are developed to analyse contributions to the SDG at different spatiotemporal scales. The working group also evaluates future developments of soil cultivation using foresight studies and scenario development. Moreover, the working group investigates if and how impact assessment may be used to analyse the impacts of research itself.

Contact: Prof. Dr. Katharina Helming


Land Use Decisions in the Spatial and System Context

Image of the WG Context of land use decisions

Land use decisions are made by different actors and stakeholders at different levels depending on the spatial and system context. This working group focusses on the analytical combination of knowledge on determinants, processes and path-dependencies of land use decisions at the level of individual farms and the landscape as well as on necessary methodological and theoretical developments. In particular, this includes the consideration of societal land use demands in light of the natural and socio-economic conditions and challenges, stakeholder constellations as well as incentives for land use decisions. In addition, research is needed regarding the spatial dimensions of the above-mentioned determinants and processes, e.g. with respect to different conditions and demands in urban and rural areas.

Contact: Dr. Annette Piorr


Integrated Crop System Analysis and Modelling

Image of the WG Integrated Crop System Analysis and Modelling

Integrated food security, environmental or climate change impact assessments of cropping systems require simultaneous consideration of physiological, biophysical and socio-economic determinants of crop productivity, land use and ecosystem services. The core aim of this working group is to develop approaches, methods and models to improve the utility of biophysical cropping system analysis in integrated assessments, across a range of scales, to support the development of sustainable and resilient cropping systems. Two particular focus areas are the improved consideration of crop management in integrated assessments and representation of crop temperature for climate change impact studies.

Contact: Dr. Heidi Webber


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