Science: Saving trees in Sanssouci

With an innovative approach, a team of scientists from Potsdam wants to save trees threatened by climate change in Brandenburg’s historic parks and gardens.


Your idea is over injections from reinforcement humic substances in the area of ​​the roots of attacked trees water-binding capacity down increasesupport an active soil microbiome and thus improve the nutrient uptake of trees. The Ministry of Science, Research and Culture of the Federal State of Brandenburg is responsible for research in this field 250,000 euros how start-up financing supply.

Brandenburgers and tourists alike love its beautiful gardens and parks. However, in recent years they have also had to witness how strong it is sometimes irreplaceable trees under the influence climate change is suffering. There are many reasons for this: The long dry seasons with record summer heat, the drop in groundwater levels and the sandy soil ensure that The trees grow weaker and weaker become and finally diepartly by pest scourge accelerated. Experts expect this trend to continue, especially as irrigation water is not available in unlimited quantities. in one Research project The scientific institutions of the federal state of Brandenburg, the Prussian Palaces and Gardens Foundation Berlin-Brandenburg and the Free University of Berlin have joined forces sustainable solution to help save trees. This is what we focus on humic substances.

In nature, humic substances are formed as a result of the slow decomposition of plant debris by soil animals, fungi and microorganisms. The adsorption and water retention capacity of these natural organic compounds clearly exceeds that of clay minerals. humic substances play a key role in improvement this soil quality in terms of water retention, pH and redox buffering, while providing plants with valuable nutrients. Thus, humic substances act like a kind herbal biostimulantswhich help to improve the resistance of plants to abiotic and biotic stressors.

Until now, the humic substances available on the market have been obtained in a technical process by chemical extraction from peat or brown coal. One clearly a more sustainable solution offers a way to accelerated composting or humification, which was developed at the Institute of Colloids and Interfacial Surfaces Max Planck (MPIKG). By means of a chemical-thermal process hydrothermal humification, humic substances can be extracted from biomass residues with high efficiency, with almost complete preservation of carbon bound in the plant material. Research carried out in China shows that these so-called “artificial” humic substances (KHS) from regenerative biomass correspond to natural humic acids.

“We were very surprised ourselves with the first one positive results. The new process was initially intended only to speed up technically natural composting and make handling some biological residues more hygienic, but the effect of our sustainable products is obviously indistinguishable from the well-known charcoal or peat extracts, ‘says Prof. Markus Antonietti, director of MPIKG. “In doing this, we use and repair almost the entire carbon pool from biological residues, and thus create a large pool of Step towards one Brandenburg CO2 neutral“.

In funded by the federal state of Brandenburg start-up phase (November 2021 to December 2022). first try be carried out and Research project be created for financing at the supra-regional level. The experimental work in this first phase includes research into the hydrothermal humification of biomass waste, such as grass clippings or fermentation residues from biogas plants, up to the initial application of KHS in one of the gardens of the Foundation of Prussian Palaces and Gardens Berlin-Brandenburg.

“We are very happy with them in-depth knowledge and cooperation with the Potsdam Institute of Agricultural Engineering and Bioeconomy Leibniz and his partners! ” – says prof. dr hab. Michael Rohde, head of the Horticulture Department of the Prussian Palaces and Gardens Foundation Berlin-Brandenburg (SPSG). He sees the advantages: “Using biomass cycle Contributes to climate protection wi innovative soil improvements they are used to preserve valuable trees. Thanks to scientific support, our parks become laboratories model strategies of climate adaptationScientific partners bring their diverse specialist knowledge to the cooperation: Max Planck (MPIKG) in the field of synthesis and characterization of artificial humic acids and fulvic acids from biomass side streams, Free University of Berlin (FUB) in the area of ​​tree stress physiology, ATB at the interface between biology and technology, incl. in the area of ​​hydrothermal carbonization and soil microbiome.

“Our real territory is agriculture, where we want to protect the climate with our research through adapted management strategies, but also prepare agricultural production for the effects of climate change through technical innovations,” explains Prof. dr hab. Barbara Sturm, scientific director of ATB. “We are happier when, as a research institute in Potsdam, we can contribute to the preservation of Potsdam’s parks and gardens, cultural goods valued all over the world thanks to our knowledge of process engineering from the agricultural sector,” emphasizes Prof. Sturm.

Down Design “Method development deep injection With artificial humic substances against the effects of climate change – Save the tree in SanssouciInitial funding of € 250,000 will be available. Funding is provided by the Ministry of Science, Research and Culture (MWFK) of Brandenburg. The Leibniz Institute for Agricultural Engineering and Bioeconomy eV (ATB) is responsible for coordination. The partners of the project are the Institute of Colloids and Interfaces Max Planck (MPIKG), the Prussian Palaces and Gardens Foundation Berlin-Brandenburg (SPSG) and the Free University of Berlin (FUB). More partners will come.

This Institute of Agricultural Engineering and Bioeconomy Leibniz to me. V. (ATB) is pioneer and driver bioeconomy research. They provide the scientific basis for transforming agricultural, food, industrial and energy systems into a comprehensive circular bioeconomy. They develop and integrate technology, processes and management strategies for converged technologies to intelligently network and control highly diverse bioeconomic production systems in a knowledge-based, adaptive and largely automated manner. You conduct research in dialogue with society – motivated by knowledge and inspired by applications. (ATB)

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