Current research

Since May 2020, I am research group leader at the Chair of Crop Science as part of the PhenoRob cluster of excellence (DFG). The research group entitled “Optimizing crop mixtures for a sustainable and climate-resilient crop production by combining field experiments and crop models” strengthens PhenoRob especially at the interface of crop modeling, ecology, crop and soil science. I actively participate in the PhenoRob cluster of excellence in four out of six core projects. The research includes 1) data analytics, simulation of sensor signals (sEIT), and process-based forecasting of root and crop growth, soil dynamics and impacts of potential interventions, 2) robot-based selective weeding for improved biodiversity, 3) optimization of crop mixtures for a sustainable and climate-resilient crop production by combining field experiments and crop models (my research group), 4) phenotyping over scales combining destructive on-site measurements such as root and shoot obervations with UAV-based cameras, and 5) non-destructive diagnosis of nutrient deficiencies using deep learning algorithms.

Before leading the research group I worked as a PostDoc at the same Chair in the BMBF funded project “Soil3 — Sustainable Subsoil Management” which aims to explore how and to which degree the subsoil can be managed to secure or even increase plant yields by improving the overall nutrient and water use efficiency of crops. We presume that nutrient and water uptake from the subsoil can be elevated at given or even increased crop yields when there are attractive options for the plants to invest into subsoil roots, like low physical resistance for roots, hot spots of high microbially facilitated nutrient supply in the subsoil, as well as plant available subsoil water under conditions of seasonal drought stress in the surface soil. I developed process-based model routines to describe the observed impacts of different subsoil management options (tillage, subsoil amendments, rotations with deep rooting precrops) on plant water and nutrient uptake and on yield at field scale. I will be one of the PIs of this project in the next phase which presumably starts in October 2021.

The Crop Science Group develops a numerical model to describe the impacts of different subsoil management options (deep tillage, subsoil amendments, rotations with deep rooting crops) on food and biomass production at the field scale. Moreover, the data of several long-term fertilization experiments with field crops conducted in Germany (including Dikopshof, Berlin-Thyrow, Berlin-Dahlem and Gießen) will be used to setup the crop growth simulation model SIMPLACE to better understand soil water and nutrient dynamics and plant water and nutrient uptake. A short project description of the Chair of Crop Science cane be found here.