University of Kassel, Department of Ecological Plant Protection

The Faculty of Organic Agricultural Sciences holds a prominent position in the university landscape in Germany and internationally with its definitive organic profile. Questions of ecology are central to all research and teaching, forming the theoretical framework in all disciplines. This focus is not in discord with conventional agriculture and agricultural sciences, but represents an important supplement and enhancement. The scientific interest of the Department of Ecological Plant Protection, directed by Prof. Dr. Maria R. Finckh since 1999, lies in applied research topics addressing the specific crop protection needs in organic agriculture. The main focus is the development of preventative control strategies to enhance and to improve crop health, as well as their implementation in modern organic production schemes. The interdisciplinary work covers the three crop protection sectors - plant diseases, arthropod pests and weeds. The Department of Ecological Plant Protection specializes in plant pathology, molecular and phenotypic pathogen population analyses, soil health management with suppressive composts and minimum tillage, and plant population ecology.

The group has access to two large organic research farms owned by Kassel University, and a further research farm at the University of Göttingen. The research group has acquired over €2M in research funds over the past 8 years.

Prof. Dr. Maria Renate Finckh is the head of the research group with a team of currently 8 scientists conducting research on (a) plant protection strategies for organic agricultural systems based on the use of biodiversity, population biology, insect habitat management and soil health management and on (b) identification of organic breeding goals and selectable traits for wheat.

Odette Weedon, M. Sc.,completed her Master of Science degree in the Department of Ecological Plant Protection conducting research on composite cross winter wheat populations and effective population size.