Organic farming at Hof Ritzerau

Nature conservation and agriculture at Hof Ritzerau



In the research project Hof Ritzerau, the changes that go hand in hand with conversion to ecological farming methods are to be documented in their chronological sequence and, from the point of view of nature and landscape conservation, desired or desired effects are to be promoted through targeted measures. This also includes optimising plant cultivation measures by fine-tuning time and space. The following thematic areas will be examined in detail during the project's duration, which has so far been unlimited: Flora, fauna, soil, water and material balance, plant cultivation, Phytopathology, landscape ecology and landscape history, agricultural economics and environmental education.


Ritzerau, Fielmann, organic farming, ecological agriculture, vegetation, flora, ecohydrology, floristic diversity, zoology, fauna, earthworms, ground beetles, short wing beetles, birds, amphibians, butterflies, plant production, phytopathology, soil science, landscape ecology, landscape history, agricultural economics, environmental education


Project information

Duration: Since 01.03.2001Ritzerau-logo

Contact: Prof. Dr. Tim Diekötter

Project Coordination: Prof. Dr. Tim Diekötter (Projektkoordination 2001 bis 2015: Prof. Dr. Hartmut Roweck)

Scientific staff: Lars Biernat; Dr. Christiane Eschenbach; Dipl. Inf. Friedel Hosenfeld;  Prof. Dr. Ulrich Irmler; Dipl. Biol. Bernd Koop; Dr. Detlef Kolligs; Dipl. agr. Katharina Lohaus; Dr. Ralf Loges; Ali Mongol; Andreas Rinker; Dr. Kirsten Rücker; Nikolaj Savenko; Prof. Dr. Joachim Schrautzer; MSc. Dipl. Geogr. Christian Winkler; Hui Zhang

Technical staff: Dipl. Des. Doris Kramer; Mona Dahmen (Fotodesign)

Former employees: Dr. Lars Schröter; N. Schulz; Dr. Dirk Lorenzen; Dr. Günther Gubi; Dr. Stefan Reiß; Dr. Ulrike Werban; Dipl. Biol. Oliver Geweke; MSc. Derk Westphal; MSc. David Nannen; Dr. Helge Neumann; Dr. Sanna Matz; Dr. T. Tiedemann; Dr. Andrey Mitusov

Cooperation partner: Institut für Agrarökonomie, Universität Kiel; Institut für Pflanzenpathologie und Pflanzenschutz, Universität Göttingen; Institut für Pflanzenbau und Pflanzenzüchtung, Grünland und Futterbau - Ökologischer Landbau, Universität Kiel; Institut für Digitale Systemanalyse & Landschaftsdiagnose (Digsyland)

Client: Prof. h.c. Dr. h.c. Günther Fielmann 


Hof Ritzerau is located in the District Herzogtum Lauenburg in the federal state of Schleswig-Holstein, about 60 km northeast of Hamburg. About 70 % of the land area is used for arable land, 10 % for grassland, the rest for small water areas, bends, shrubs etc. Originally, Hof Ritzerau was managed using conventional methods before its new owner, Mr Günther Fielmann, initiated the gradual conversion of the farm to organic farming in 2001. This conversion is accompanied by an interdisciplinary team of scientists from various research institutes.



The aim of the research work is to document the changes in their temporal sequence that accompany the conversion to organic farming methods and to promote the desired or desired effects from the point of view of nature and landscape conservation through targeted measures. This means that the plant cultivation measures of organic agriculture are to be optimised by a temporal and above all spatial fine tuning. In order to achieve this goal, the following question must be clarified: How, in what intensity, at what time and where should individual measures be taken so that the objectives of nature and landscape conservation can be implemented in accordance with business management requirements?

Schedule of the project "Hof Ritzerau":

I. Phase (2001 – 2003): Start of the status quo. Analysis of the impact of changed land use on biotic and abiotic resources and development of a new management concept.

  • Mapping of vegetation, soil types and characteristics.
  • Recording of the hydrological initial situation, recording of hydrological and hydrochemical data.
  • Species recording of Carabidae, Staphylinidae, earthworms, amphibians, birds and vascular plants.
  • Collection and compilation of digital data such as a digital elevation model, long-term climate data, historical and geomorphological maps of various scales, etc.
  • Computer-aided landscape analysis of the "Hof Ritzerau" and its catchment area (determination of those areas which are particularly sensitive to soil erosion, nitrate leaching, etc.).
  • Ecohydrological analysis and monitoring of the effects of a change in land use and rewetting of a previously drained minerotrophic fen.
  • Analysis of the consequences of the changed land use system on flora and fauna.
  • Evaluation of different crop rotation sequences, seed experiments ("Bicropping").
  • Development and implementation of management strategies.
  • Restoration of arable herb vegetation by sowing.
  • Grazing concepts. 


II. Phase (since 2004: Monitoring)

Thanks to the long-term financing by the owner, Günther Fielmann, continuous monitoring at various levels is possible.

The second project phase (since May 2005) is dedicated to monitoring (observing the long-term effects of the changeover). The research project differs from comparable studies in German-speaking countries in the following aspects, among others:

  • Through a comprehensive status quo assessment prior to the changeover, so that their findings can be taken into account
  • Due to the broad time frame: for the first time in organic farming, the long-term effects of the conversion can be reliably assessed.
  • Through species and biotope protection measures - both on the farm and in the surrounding areas
  • The research activities do not stop at the company's boundaries, but take into account overall landscape interrelations in their objectives, e.g. the protection of soil, groundwater or flora and fauna. For example, the adjoining forests are considered as "spring biotopes" in the overall concept and material flows are not only investigated on the farm areas.


Project structure
  • Overview subprojects
  • Agricultural economics - Organic and conventional farming in comparison - productivity, technical progress and risk
  • Amphibians - Recording of amphibian populations in their spawning and land habitats
  • Soil science - Characteristics and development of the soil landscape
  • Breeding birds - Breeding birds on arable land and use of resources
  • Floristic Diversität - Floristic diversity of arable sites
  • Beetles - spatial and temporal distribution of ground beetles and short wing beetles on the agricultural areas of Hof Ritzerau
  • Landscape ecology - Structural and functional analysis of abiotic landscape elements
  • Ecohydrology - Vegetation science I: Ecohydrology and vegetation of groundwater areas
  • Crop cultivation - Optimisation of crop rotation systems in organic crop production
  • Phytopathology - Influence of different crop rotation systems on pests in cereals and grain legumes
  • Earthworms - Spatial and temporal dynamics of earthworms during conversion to organic agriculture
  • Butterflies - Near-natural forest margins as a habitat for butterflies
  • Environmental education - Holistic learning in organic farming








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