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How it all started


Grape-vine beside the main building, 1930s years 

The estate Gut Brigittenhof (175 ha) near Müncheberg is purchased by the geneticist Erwin Baur (1875-1933) and the first plant breeding trials are conducted


Ten years after the submission of an application to the Kaiser Wilhelm Society for the establishment of an institute in Müncheberg in 1917, Erwin Baur is able to secure the necessary funding to set up the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Breeding Research. The breeding of crop plants for unfavourable areas was to be advanced on the sandy, dry and wintery cold soils of northeast Brandenburg.


Breeding of a lupine free of bitter substances for fodder

1934 - 1945

In the course of the National Socialists’ prioritisation of strong agriculture, the Institute’s remit and facilities are expanded extensively. Vine breeding is expanded. As the front draws closer, in February 1945 the entire Institute and all movable material is relocated to Voldagsen, district of Hameln, and then in 1955 to Köln-Vogelsang, where it exists today as the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research.


Fresh start in Müncheberg

1945 - 1951

On 1 October 1945, the Müncheberg site, with its few remaining staff and meagre funds, was reopened by Dr. Otto Schröck and Dr. Bernhard Husfeld as the Zentralforschungsanstalt für Pflanzenzucht (Erwin Baur Institute). Following a change in the management, Dr. Erich Rübensam is appointed Director of the Zentralforschungsanstalt für Acker- und Pflanzenbau und Pflanzenzüchtung, with new key areas of research, such as fruit-growing.

1952 – 1969

Trial field lupine department 

Under the directorship of Dr. Rübensam, the Institute, now called Deutsche Akademie der Landwirtschaftswissenschaften zu Berlin, Institut für Acker- und Pflanzenbau shifts its focus in favour of researching soil fertility and soil management. During the first Five Year Plan (1951-55), the increase and preservation of soil fertility with intensive use on sandy substrate becomes the focal point of future research, alongside meliorative soil tillage. The Institute is restructured into three areas – crop farming, agronomic foundations and melioration research, each comprising four to six departments.


The paradigm of intensivation


The Institute, renamed Forschungszentrum für Bodenfruchtbarkeit Müncheberg (FZB), is developed into the central research institution in the area of soil management under the Akademie der Landwirtschaftswissenschaften of the GDR by incorporating previously independent institutes in Bad Lauchstädt and Jena (and Eberswalde in 1976).

1970 - 1980

Under the directorship of Professor Dr. Peter Kundler, further research is carried out into the intensivation of plant production by mechanisation, chemicalisation and melioration. This covers research activities in the areas of spray irrigation, ground water regulation and drainage, soil management, melioration of soil structure and stoning, supplying soils with organic substances and designing crop rotations for specialised cultivation.

1980 - 1987

Based on the agricultural policy strategy of the fund-saving comprehensive intensivation of agriculture, research is concentrated on new, fund-saving agronomic and meliorative solutions, hand in hand with the intensified development of key technologies (microelectronics, biotechnology).


The advent of sustainability

1987 - 1991

Intensified research into ecologically/economically balanced land management.


Against the backdrop of the further growing significance of ecological issues, the Institute is restructured into four faculties: Soil Protection and Soil Physics, Farming and Land Design, Water Budget and Water Protection, as well as Soil Biotechnology and Ecophysiology.


Following the formal dissolution of the establishment in the course of the Unification Treaty, continuation of research at the site with a different remit is prepared on the recommendation of the German Council of Science and Humanities (Wissenschaftsrat) of the Federal Republic of Germany.


Research in the landscape context

since 1992

ZALF was formally re-established at the beginning of 1992 as "Zentrum für Agrarlandschafts- und Landnutzungsforschung e. V." on the recommendation of the German Science Council in Müncheberg.

As "Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF)", it has been part of the ​Leibniz Association since 1997.

Directors since 1992

  • Prof. Dr. Karl Heinrich Hartge, Founding Director - Consolidation of nine newly created institutes, including one for socio-economy
  • Prof. Dr. Hans-Rudolf Bork, Director from summer 1992 to 1999 - Profiling of landscape research, collaborative modelling projects
  • Dr. Wolfgang Seyfarth, acting director until 2001 - Rapid replacement of the scientific leadership
  • Prof. Dr. Hubert Wiggering, Director until 2014 - Internationalisation, change to the Brandenburg Ministry of Science and Research
  • Prof. Dr. Klaus Müller, acting director from 2014 to the beginning of 2016 - Successful preparation for evaluation in 2016
  • Prof. Dr. Frank A. Ewert, Scientific Director​ since March 2016 - Positive evaluation, followed by structural reform, which replaces the six institutes with Research Areas and Research Platforms.

The Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research is working on societally relevant issues in connection with the use of agricultural landscapes, such as climate change, food security, sustainable management of natural resources, biodiversity and ecosystems. Research questions include the scientific fundamentals of processes in agricultural landscapes, the effects of different uses as well as the resulting conflicts of use and their regulation. Based on the results, ZALF develops concepts for a sustainable use of agricultural landscapes - in Germany, Europe and the world.



  • C. Dalchow, H.-R. Bork, P. Schubert (1998): Forschung in Müncheberg/Mark. Bild- und Schriftzeugnisse zur Entwicklung seit 1928. ZALF-Bericht Nr. 35, Müncheberg.
  • Rübensam, E. (1998): 70 Jahre Forschung in Müncheberg/Mark.Vom Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut zum Institut für Acker- und Pflanzenbau 1928-1968. -200 S.; Eggersdorf/Mü. -Berlin (Frankfurt Oder Edition).
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