You can find more news in German here.
Passing on the KoGa coordination
After eight years as coordinator of the Competence Center Horticulture (KoGa), Dr. Hannah Jaenicke has handed over her duties at the end of 2022.
The KoGa would like to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Jaenicke once again, who has given the KoGa a face over all these years, has shown a lot of presence and has been involved in numerous
third-party funded projects. Thank you, Hannah, and a similarly good hand in your future tasks!
Dr. Jan Ellenberger has been KoGa coordinator since January. He studied agricultural sciences in Bonn, worked as a research assistant in the KoGa project TOMRES from 2019 to 2021, and received his PhD from the Chair of Horticultural Sciences in 2022.
HortiBonn participation at the 31st International Horticultural Congress in Angers – France
From August 14-20, 2022, 2333 scientists from all horticultural disciplines met for the 31st International Horticultural Congress (IHC) in Angers, France.
The Congress took place at the Congress Center of Angers, which is located next to the Botanical Garden, and at the University which is 7 walking minutes away. Clouds, wind and occasional showers offered a welcome refreshment in high summer temperatures. In 25 Symposia with diverse topics from fruit growing to greenhouse technology, participants were updated on the current state of play in horticultural research. Among the hottest topics were biostimulants, biodiversity, climate change and digitalization in horticulture. Among the most challenging moments for conference attendees were the digital poster sessions, some of which featured up to partly 3 simultaneous presentations in the same noisy room.
The HortiBonn team attended the IHC with a delegation of nine participants, who were involved in 11 presentations: Prof. Dr. Eike Lüdeling gave an inspiring keynote speech on “Forecasting tree phenology in a climate change context”. Dr. Hannah Jaenicke presented a study on biodiversity in apple orchards. Dr. Michael Blanke showed a new approach to develop a freshness index for bell pepper fruits and possibilities for long-term CO2 storage in orchard soils. His presentations were complemented by two posters on long-term soil temperatures and light deprivation as a herbicide. Zoe Heuschkel presented her consumer study on the introduction of a new sustainability label in fruit production. Nils Siefen explained the possibilities of a LiDAR sensor for characterizing apple tree canopies based on his study conducted at the Kompetenzzentrum Obstbau Bodensee. Posters on fruiting walls in apple orchards and dormancy release in Prunus avium L. were presented by Lars Zimmermann and Esteban Soto, respectively. Charlotte Hubert from the “INRES Nachwachsende Rohstoffe”, who was temporarily adopted by the HortiBonn family, also visited the congress and gave a talk on the reaction of Mentha genotypes to different UV-treatments. Christine Schmitz completed the HortiBonn travel group as a listener.
Also successful were the initiatives promoted jointly with US colleagues to appoint Prof. Alan Lakso and John Palmer as honorary members of the ISHS (International Society for Horticultural Science) and Profs. Luca Corelli-Grappadelli and George Manganaris as the new chairman and vice chairman of the Fruit Crop Section of the ISHS (International Society for Horticultural Science).
Besides the scientific program we had many opportunities to make contacts with other researchers during the coffee breaks and evening events. Some of us took part in one of the technical tours, while others made use of conference downtime to visit the nice city of Angers. Technical tours included trips to Inagro, where the role of apple trees to enhance the micro-climate in cities was shown, to hortival, a big producer of ornamental plants, and to the CTIFL de La Morinière, a pome fruit and berry research station. One evening we visited Terra Botanica, a theme park dedicated to plants. The typical French gala dinner included extraordinary food like snail crumble, followed by a nice party with live music after the dinner (including a stage dive by the conference chair…).
We are already looking forward to IHC 32 in Kyoto in 2026.
Authors: Dr. Michael Blanke and Christine Schmitz
EUFRIN-Meeting in Belgrade- News from the Thinning Working Group
The WG Thinning of EUFRIN meets every year in a fruit research location around Europe. The proceedings of the meetings with the reviewed and accepted articles are regularly published as Acta Horticulturae, with three books (Acta Horticutulturae 998, 1138 and 1221) already available from the ISHS.
EUFRIN Working Group Thinning in Belgrade – to the right the organiser of the meeting, Prof. Dragan Radivojevic (University of Belgrade), in the middle the group’s Chair, Prof. G Costa (University Bologna) with Secretary General Dr. Matej Stopar (University Ljubljana). Picture: © M. Blanke, University of Bonn
This year’s meeting took place from 27 February to 1 March 2020 in Belgrade – just before the corona crisis imposed travel restrictions. It attracted ca. 30 participants (Figure) from 15
countries with some contributions via live stream.
Dr Michael Blanke, representing the University of Bonn, reported the results of two master theses at CKA Klein-Altendorf, jointly carried out with the Engineering Department on successful mechanical thinning of apple cv. Gala trees. Further news were on new thinning agents for apple, such as ACC (for integrated production) and Amicarp (for biological production), for which registration is sought. A report on the meeting was published in Mai in “Besseres Obst”.
Asian Vegetables in Europe?
Fresh vegetable consumption in the EU is barely growing. Along with an aging population in Europe, diet-related chronic diseases are on the rise. The recent coronavirus pandemic is emphasizing how important a robust immune system is.
But how can we prevent chronic diseases and keep ourselves healthy? Through an adequate consumption of vegetables? What does “adequate” mean? How
can we increase the volume of fresh vegetable consumption? One solution can be the introduction of new Asian vegetables into the European market. Why?
Introducing new Asian vegetables will enhance the diversity of nutritious agricultural products in Europe. It will also meet rising consumer demands for new vegetable species and varieties that are exotic and higher in value. However, publications and information about Asian vegetables are currently limited.
The introduction of new Asian vegetables into the European market
Jungha Hong, graduate student, and Nazim S. Gruda, professor at the Department of Horticultural Sciences at the University of Bonn, recently published a review in the journal Horticulturae focused on the diversity of fresh vegetable products for consumers.
The potential for new Asian vegetables
Indeed, consumer demand for diverse, nutritious, and exotic vegetables has been consistently increasing. The introduction of new vegetables from Asia is expected to have enormous potential in the European market. This review provides a list of Asian vegetables commonly consumed in China, Japan, Korea and the rest of Southeast Asia, many of which have not received any attention yet.
Four recommended Asian vegetables
The review recommends four Asian vegetables in particular. They possess health benefits and fit current trends of the European vegetable market with a unique taste for consumers and higher value for farmers. They are also increasingly in demand and easy to cultivate. Moreover, they are pleasing to the eye and relatively small.
(1) Korean ginseng sprout
(2) Korean cabbage
(3) Coastal hog fennel
(4) Japanese (Chinese or Korean) angelica tree
The European Market for Asian Vegetables
To increase market share of new Asian vegetables, consumer education, safety assurances, and marketing campaigns are needed.
Due to stricter European import regulations concerning safety standard of vegetables, the cultivation of new Asian vegetables within Europe can be a good opportunity for European growers to open a new premium niche market. Safe, local, seasonal and perhaps organic products of Asian vegetables in Europe can lead to a promising business. This might be the reason that stakeholders are showing interest in this study: https://www.fruchtportal.de/artikel/studie-potential-fr-einfhrung-asiatischen-gemses-in-europa/044729
Are we able to produce these vegetables despite climate change?
Climate change is threatening the production and quality of vegetables all across the EU, another aspect included in this study. For European growers, the new Asian vegetables should be easy to cultivate and should promise a good harvest with high yield. For consumers, these vegetables should be nutritious, clean, fresh, and high quality. Innovative greenhouse technologies that use renewable energy can lead to year-round, high quality and high-yield production, meeting food safety standards despite climate change.
Further information on the original article:
Hong, JH and NS Gruda. The Potential of Introduction of Asian Vegetables in Europe. Horticulturae 2020, 6(3), 38. https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae6030038
A visit from Latvia
On Friday 18th October 2019, Dr. Janis Lepsis presented a lecture on “Horticulture in the Northern climate of Latvia and the Baltic countries”.
The crops grown there include apple with ca. 5,000 ha, followed by sea buckthorn and Japanese quince (for processing to chips), strawberry, red and black currant, cranberry and blueberries as well as ca. 5000 ha vegetables.
Janis Lepsis has been a visiting scientist to Klein-Altendorf in the past since 1998, documented by a range of publications both in English and German in refereed journals. Dr M. Blanke acted as external examiner of his PhD thesis at Pure.
The work at the Latvian Institute of Horticulture in Pure includes selection of scab-resistant, highly aromatic old apple cultivars from their gene bank of ca. 100 apple varieties for cultivation under the harsh Nordic climate; climate change led to an increase in hail storms and summer drought.
The Institute in Pure is a popular partner in EU projects, which constitute ca. 95% of its revenues. The Nordic climate also provides many certified organic horticultural products for the European and particularly German market.
(Micro-)plastics in horticulture - from cradle to grave: GKL provides first data
The attractive topic of “Circular economy of plastics” attracted many participants to this year’s GKL annual meeting in September 2019 in Dernbach near Koblenz.
The meeting was led by Professor Karl Schockert, president of the GKL society, with Martin Balmer (DLR-RP) and Michael Blanke (University of Bonn) attending as KoGa members. The two day meeting covered the whole range of (micro-) plastics in horticulture from its use in fruit and vegetable crops, means to increase its longevity as well as ways of collecting and recycling used horticultural plastic waste (polyolefines) into new products.
TOMRES meeting with stakeholders and joint SolAce/TOMRES stakeholder event
During the 5th internal TOMRES meetings in Dundee, Scotland, partners and participating stakeholders were informed about current outcomes of the different project fields, such as the ranking of resilient tomatoes, root structure differences, supporting plant hormones and biostimulants, and optimized management strategies.
Experimental data of field as well as demonstration experiments were collected for a preliminary decision support system, while a consumer and farmer assay was analysed to estimate the impact of TOMRES tomatoes for climate protection.
Besides several scientific publications, also technical papers were published in farm magazines in Germany and Romania, while the ‘systematic map protocol’ for data analysis was prepared in UK. Further manuscript with essential outcomes will follow, also on the basis of ‘practice abstracts’ from the European Innovation Partnership "Agricultural productivity and sustainability" (EIP-Agri).
Finally, the highlight of this year’s autumn meeting was the TOMRES stakeholder event resulting in valuable and constructive suggestions by representatives of involved companies and associations, such as BASF, CISC, FoodDrinkEurope and IGZ Großbeeren. An excellent highlight to finalize the get together in Dundee was the joint stakeholder event and breakout sessions together with partners from the Horizon 2020 project SolAce. Interesting as well as important topics for both projects were discussed in a broad framework, while specific tasks per work packages were also targeted in small groups to intensify the discussion.
Watch out for the next meeting in spring 2020 taking place in Naples, Italy.
Final meeting of the Adapt2Clima project on combating climate change effects on agriculture under Mediterranean climate
The final meeting of the “Adapt2Clima” EU project in Heraklion, Greece, in June 2019 attracted nearly 160 participants from around 30 countries involved in mitigating climate change effects on agriculture. The meeting covered modelling, decision making, risk analysis and vulnerability of agriculturally relevant regions with Mediterranean climate.
For fruit trees, the weather at flowering was identified as one of the prevailing hot spots, when flower pollination is either hampered by cold-wet weather preventing honey bees from flying or pollen sticking together in hot weather, while storms with heavy rainfall during the summer adversely affect fruit development and induce fruit drop.
Dr M. Blanke of INRES - University of Bonn presented the results of the cooperation with DEMETER, Naoussa, Greece. Therein, the effects of climate change on flowering advancement of sweet cherry were compared at the two locations, including the resulting risk of a late frost and joint adaptation strategies.
Tomato stress test during the Summer Event of University of Bonn, Germany, June 2019.
TOMRES tomatoes confirmed their stress resilience during a hot summer day.
At sunny temperatures above 35°C visitors were informed about tomatoes coping well under both water and nutrient shortage as well as optimal growing conditions. To visualize differences between plants that grow better under water/nutrient deficit compared with plants doing worse, fluorescence measurements were shown. Based on this technique, accessing the fluorescence signal of the green leaf component ‘chlorophyll’, plant fitness can be quantified. In the context of TOMRES, scientists use this method to select tolerant tomatoes to make tomato production more sustainable.
BLE International Workshop on Quality Control of Fruit and Vegetables
The BLE organizes every second year the International Meeting on Quality Control of Fruit and Vegetables. The meeting is directed towards inspectors of governmental authorities as well as interested persons from industry from Germany and the delivering countries.
In excess of 200 participants from 20 countries met at this year’s BLE workshop 25-27 March 2019 on fruit marketing standards at Stresemann Institute in Bonn. This year’s 32nd workshop was organised and led by Dr. Bickelmann and her team. The topics ranged from means of reducing food waste and plastic packing to internet food sales. The topics were chosen in response to public criticism on excessively strict, cosmetically-oriented marketing standards, which restrict the harvest and sale of class II fruit and can lead to waste in the field and the fruit supply chain. Alternatives, presented at the meeting, to plastic packaging included laser-lettering of fruit.
More information is available under https://www.ble.de/EN/Topics/Nutrition-Food/Quality-Control/International-Meeting/international-meeting_node.html
TOMRES Newsletter No. 1 and Consumer Survey
The first newsletter of the TOMRES Project can now be accessed through the project website: https://www.tomres.eu/newsletter/. Read about the activities of project partners and early achievements.
The newsletter also contains a link to a European consumer survey: https://unimivespa.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_bae42FtTD9QfSBf. Please take the time (10 minutes) to respond to the questions and thus contribute to the development of resource-efficient tomato varieties.
German annual Hort Congress - DGG-at Humboldt University in Berlin
In the first week of March, 277 horticulture scientists met for the annual congress of the German Association of Horticultural Science (DGG) at the historic Humboldt University in Berlin. The congress offered a record of 89 lectures and 45 posters. The Horticultural Sciences Department of KoGa-partner University of Bonn contributed 5 lectures and 5 posters to this meeting and provided four section chairs. Particularly the master students did very well and presented two talks, Florian Gierling on Carbon Footprint of German wine and Patrick Hess on plastic reduction potential in horticulture. The posters of Christa Lankes on specific apple replant disease, of master student Maike Schüsseler on non-invasive russet detection and Louisa Schmid on protected cultivation of sweet cherry as well as of master student Laura Hillman on endogenous plant frost protection mechanisms received great attention. The abstracts (in German) can be downloaded here: http://brickbornfarming.de/ocs_filesi/dokumente2019/Tagungsband_53_2019.pdf.
Next year, DGG will pause and be substituted by the Symposium on Horticulture in Europea (SHE) in June in Stuttgart, followed by another DGG congress in March 2021, presumably in Erfurt.
Prof. Peter Schulze Lammers retires
Prof. Peter Schulze Lammers, a long-standing member of the KoGa steering committee, officially retired on 1 March 2019.
He worked in many collaborative projects, culminating in 49 joint publications with the INRES Horticultural Sciences department of the University of Bonn. More than 60 guests and friends from his career attended his farewell seminar on Friday afternoon, 15 March 2019 where Prof. Schulze Lammers was honored with the Dencker-Honorary Pin for his achievements. Prof. Schulze Lammers will continue the Agricultural engineering lectures in the summer term until his successor Prof. Christopher McCool, who come to Bonn from QUT (Queensland University of Technology), takes over.
From drones to robot-ready orchards
Transatlantic symposium on ‘Mechanisation and automation in fruit orchards’ at ATB Potsdam/Berlin.
The satellite meeting of the Fruit Logistica on 5 February 2019 in Berlin attracted nearly 50 participants. Prof. Manuela Zude of ATB Potsdam organized and hosted the meeting with an exchange of progress and approaches on mechanisation and automation in both countries. The US visitors were from the Pacific Northwest of the USA in Washington DC, the world’s largest fruit growing region with ca. 44,000 ha and 2.5 million tons of apples annually.
The topics ranged from non-invasive determination of fruit maturation and optimum harvest, robot-ready orchards for automated picking, use of robots in the orchards, autonomous vehicles and image analysis of fruit trees in the orchards to ethylene removal and sensors for fruit storage.
Dr. Michael Blanke of the University of Bonn presented the latest results on discrepancies between the chlorophyll breakdown data and starch index in Klein-Altendorf to determine the optimum harvest date for apple (Acta Horticulturae 1228, 363-369. Doi 10.17660/ActaHortic.2018.1228.54).
The meeting was rounded up by a tour of ATB by Helene Foltan visiting labs and field trials.
A paper based on a BSc-work of division for Horticultural sciences, listed as high-cited paper in Web of Science, Clarivate Analytics
“Potential impacts of climate change on vegetable production and product quality – A review. Journal of Cleaner Production, 170, 1602-1620, 2018. doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2017.09.224” coauthored by Bisbis, Gruda and Blanke was published at the beginning of this year. In 2018, this paper received enough citations to place it in the top 1% of its academic field based on a highly cited threshold for the field and publication year. This list recognizes worldwide published articles selected for their exceptional research performance in Web of Science, Clarivate Analytics. This is a service of Essential Science Indicators. The paper is based on the BSc work of Mehdi Bisbis with Prof. Gruda as his first supervisor and Dr. Blanke as the second one. We congratulate Mr. Bisbis for the excellent work.
Spotlighton Honoured ISHS Members: Georg Noga
Interview: Chronical Horticulturae, Volume 58 | Number 4 | 2018
Welcome of Georg Noga (left) and Georg Ebert (third from left, Head of Research Division, Compo Expert Co. Ltd., Münster, Germany) by the Director (second from left) and staff of Najran Horticulture Development Research Center, Najran, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in 2006, in context with an FAO Expert Mission.
Former ISHS Treasurers Rob Bogers (left), Richard H. Zimmerman (second from right) and Georg Noga (right) as well as Dr. Jung-Myung Lee (second from left) at the get-together of the Lisbon Congress (IHC2010). In the background: Rod Drew.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself (hometown, current locale, family, hobbies, community
I was born in 1952 in Ratibor, Oberschlesien, moved with my parents at the age of six to the western part of Germany, and grew up in a small city (west of Hannover) surrounded by agricultural land. As a young boy, during schooI holiday periods, I earned some money on farmers’ fields by crawling on all fours along the rows and thinning young sugarbeet seedlings. This made me proud on the one hand, since I earned my own money, but on the other hand this was a very demanding job, resulting in awful back pains at the end of the day. This is probably the reason why – in my later career – I found thinning of fruit trees much more attractive. Originally I wanted to become a medical doctor. After finishing high school, I had to join mandatory military services in the German army starting as tank grenadier and being promoted to Lieutenant later on. Luckily, I received the chance in the last six months of my two-year service to transfer to the medical corps, providing me with good training as a professional nurse. These were the best prerequisites for my intended medical studies. Fortunately, with respect to my later horticultural career, I was not successful with my medical study application in the first run and therefore I decided to start out with food and nutrition sciences at the University of Bonn. Since I liked this subject, I carried on and received my major diploma in nutrition sciences. In my final oral exams, the director of the Institute of Nutrition Sciences offered me a position as a graduate student, and I accepted this totally unexpected offer. The topic I was supposed to work on was to elucidate and measure exothermy in humans as dependent on different diets and to find out – in simple terms – why certain individuals can eat a lot without being afraid of gaining weight. Forty years later, this still is a hot topic! However, after getting started and talking with experts in this field, I reached the conclusion that this would be “mission impossible” since it was supposed to be a one man show – with no major experience and active support from the institute.
2. What got you started in a career in horticultural science?
By chance, one month later, I received a letter of invitation from Prof. Dr. Fritz Lenz, who had just taken over directorship of the Institute of Fruit and Vegetable Crops at Bonn University. Dr. Lenz was well known
internationally for his photosynthesis expertise, and he had established excellent facilities for CO2 gas exchange and transpiration measurements as well as for nutrient element analyses in his institute. He attracted many outstanding scientists like the late Shaul P. Monselise from Israel, Alan Lakso, Ted DeJong and James Flore from the USA, and many other real photosynthesis experts. There were unique opportunities for scientific interaction, even though my PhD work was on “Rough peelness and retarded color formation in the Satsuma mandarins in West Turkey” comprising two central parts: one on chemical analyses (chlorophylls, carotenoids) and one on tree and fruit physiology. In this context, I developed an HPLC method
for separation and identification of citrus peel carotenoids. At that time, the first HPLC machines had just become available and by size occupied a whole lab. The physiological part of my study focused on plant hormones and growth regulators, at a time when, in the early 80s, one thought that they were the clue to solving many problems in plant production and crop management. At least, this period gave me a good insight and understanding of the role, use and physiological implications of growth regulators. Besides, in
context with my PhD work, I had the opportunity to conduct field experiments with citrus at Ege University, Izmir, Turkey, to further develop TLC and HPLC based carotenoid analyses together with Dr. Jeana Gross at
Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and to interact with Prof. Monselise and Prof. R. Goren. These were real exciting times, especially as a young PhD student to be given the unique chance of interacting with and benefiting from such outstanding scientists.
Georg Noga (center), Walter Müller (former Internal Auditor of ISHS, left) and Jozef van Assche (Executive Director of ISHS, right) inspecting the impressive Amorphophallus titanum plant with world record flower organ (in the back) in the Botanical Gardens of Bonn University in 2009 after a KoGa Advisory Board meeting.
Welcome of DGG-President Prof. Christian Ulrichs (fourth from left) and DGG members by Prof. Ulrich Schurr (center, red sweater) at Juelich Research Center, Germany, for demonstration of the phenotyping facilities. The visit was part of the post-congress program, when Georg Noga and his team were hosting the Annual Meetings of the German Horticulture Society (DGG) in 2013.
3. Give a brief overview of your career/achievements.
After finishing my PhD under the guidance of Prof. Lenz in early 1981, he strongly encouraged me to spend a postdoc with Dr. M.J. Bukovac, distinguished full professor at Michigan State University and member of
the National Academy of Sciences. Luckily, I was awarded a research grant by the German Science Foundation (DFG) to elucidate the physiological basis of fruit thinning chemicals. I also used the opportunity of my postdoc to study the mechanisms for uptake of pesticide active ingredients and the role of surfactants, one of the special research topics of John Bukovac. I learned a lot from him, for example good hypothesis based research and facts of life, such as “There is no reason not to be as precise as possible” or: “Whatever
you do, always have a plan B ready in case something does not work or goes wrong.” He also taught me that in addition to becoming a good researcher or scientist I should not neglect to further develop skills for managing private affairs and my personal future including my economical situation. He was like a father and a fantastic mentor – for science and life. I am very grateful to him. After returning from the US, I accepted an
offer from Prof. Lenz and took over a tenure track administration/management oriented position. Mainly in the evenings, after regular office hours and on weekends, I devoted my extra time to elucidating the biological side effects of adjuvant application. With significant financial support from industry, I established methods and equipment for measuring pigments and carbohydrates (HPLC), ethylene, ABA, CO2 and O2 (GC), and proteins (gel electrophoresis). Even today I am very grateful to Prof. Lenz for providing me with as much operational freedom as possible to allow me to achieve my individual research goals and build up my own group. In 1990, I completed my “Habilitation” thesis, and became head of the Postharvest Division in
the Institute of Prof. Lenz. In 1995, I accepted an invitation from Stuttgart-Hohenheim University to become Chair of the Specialty Fruit Crop Institute and head of Bavendorf Fruit Research Station at Lake Constance. Collaboration with extension services and fruit growers broadened my mind, and I learned how to align or bridge specific interests of science and industry. In 1998, I was invited to take up a chair back in Bonn, and became head of the Institute after retirement of Fritz Lenz. Twenty years later, I am looking back on 40 challenging but also highly rewarding years as a horticulturist, bridging the sometimes diverging or even contradictory views and interests of academia, horticultural practice, consulting and executive management.
As a plant/fruit physiologist and head of an internationally oriented, highly dedicated research team, I have been privileged to do pioneer research in elucidating and understanding central plant defense mechanisms
in fruit and vegetable crops. In the last decade of my research I very much enjoyed engagement in interdisciplinary research and development clusters (Crop-Sense, BioSc) together with leading groups
of the ABCJ (Aachen, Bonn, Cologne, Juelich) region, to contribute to the development of non-invasive techniques for sensing and differentiating biotic and abiotic stresses in plants. Special emphasis was also given to the implications of stress for health benefits, e.g. enhancing the content of vitamins and secondary metabolites in fruits and vegetables. Overall, the outcome of my research resulted in five patents and more than 150 refereed scientific publications in international journals.
4. What do you consider your greatest achievement to be?
First of all, I suppose, I have found great satisfaction in providing leadership to and motivation of my team(s), identifying the strengths and weaknesses of each individual thoroughly and making efficient use of the positive attributes, experiences and strengths. This has laid the foundation for driving the positive developments and to stand up with my institute to the various challenges and tests in a highly competitive
and dynamically changing environment. In 2002, with the Federal State of Rhineland-Palatinate as a partner, on my initiative, we established KoGa (Center of Competence for Horticulture) at Bonn University. In 2009,
Juelich Research Centre (FZJ) with a strong focus on development of innovative technologies, and, in 2012, the Chamber of Agriculture for North Rhine-Westphalia (LWK-NRW), joined the consortium. KoGa is a unique
consortium in Germany providing a rapid transfer of research results into the respective target groups. It also enriches education and training, by allowing students, trainees and young researchers to interact within
interdisciplinary research groups very early in their careers. Since its establishment, KoGa has made
important contributions through numerous national and international collaborative projects and project clusters. In 2009, we launched the KoGa/African Research Network Initiative (ARNI) based on the strong
involvement of Alexander von Humboldt (AvH) fellows, where I had the pleasure to have been selected as host for their repeated postdoc stays in Bonn. We identified joint research priorities, focusing on environmental issues that constrain food production in African countries. It is an endorsement of all our hard work and also fills us with pride that the Humboldt Foundation – inspired by the KoGa-ARNI concept and taking this as a model – established AGNES, the African-German Network of Excellence in Science. Together with my colleagues Hassan Ali-Dinar and Clement Adebooye, I had the honour and pleasure to be invited to be one of the founding members of AGNES in the constitutive meeting in 2011 in Nairobi. Another highlight was when my friend and Humboldtian, Isaac Aiyelaagbe, was elected as member (representing Africa) of the
new ISHS Board of Directors recently in the ISHS Council meeting prior to the IHC2018 in Istanbul. I always loved networking and bringing things forward for the benefit of the community. I am pleased that apparently some of these contributions were acknowledged. It definitely was a great honor, when in 2013 I was awarded the status of Honorary Member of the Italian Society for Horticultural Science (SOI), in 2016 ISHS Honorary Membership, and in December 2017 the Gold Medal of the Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association of Rhineland. I am very much honoured to have been granted these great awards and dedicate these to the staff of my institute, who backed up my various involvements through all the years and made my engagement
for society and industry possible.
Visit of the Tropical Greenhouse of Prof. Jens Gebauer, Kleve University, Germany, as part of a KoGa-African Research Network Initiative (ARNI) workshop in 2017. From left: Prof. Dr. Clement Adebooye (Humboldt Ambassador for Nigeria), Prof. Dr. Mohamed Fouad Abdalla (AvH Fellow and Pro-Dean, Assiut University, Egypt), Georg Noga and Prof. Dr. Isaac Aiyelaagbe (AvH Fellow and current representative for Africa on the Board of Directors of ISHS, Ibadan University, Nigeria).
Georg Noga receiving the Tenhaeff Gold Medal for extraordinary services from the President of the Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association Rhineland, North-Rhine Westfalia, Germany, in 2017.
5. Did you encounter difficulties along your career path and how did you deal with them or how did you turn them into opportunities?
I would not say difficulties, I would prefer the term challenges! This has a positive implication. And there were many challenges along my scientific career. Let me highlight just the first and the last in my career. My PhD, under the scientific guidance of Prof. Lenz, included field trials in Izmir. I had no background in horticulture except for a two-semester lecture that was mandatory in the nutrition sciences study. Therefore, Prof. Lenz proposed and arranged a three-day practical instruction session on the field experimental station in Bornova, Izmir. However, after flying in, he was completely “captured” by the Dean and department chairs and their great Turkish hospitality. And I was waiting impatiently on the experimental station for three whole days looking for shade under the citrus trees at outside temperatures of about 40°C. Then, about an hour before boarding the aircraft, Prof. Lenz finally showed up on the field station. He was followed by four department
chairs who kept reminding him that it was time to go to the airport. Lenz looked at one of the citrus trees and recommended finding out where specifically rough peel and color deficient fruits were located. Then he left.
From that moment I knew that I was on my own and that it was up to me to design and develop the thesis – independently and under my own responsibility. This was a very valuable experience and I am grateful that I
made it at the beginning of my career path!
The other major challenge was about two years ago, at the end of my career. In times when in the industrialized countries horticultural departments were increasingly being questioned, I had
been hearing rumors in my faculty that after my retirement, my institute was also top of the list for closure. I immediately
laid aside several of my honorary duties, decided not to stand for another term as candidate for the ISHS Board and devoted all my time and energy to preparing a turnaround of the tentative faculty decision. It
took extraordinary efforts (about a year) to convince individuals/colleagues and faculty. Due to an increasing number of students in horticulture, the strong involvement of our institute in strategically important interdisciplinary projects, excellent support from regional horticultural industry and great performance
of the institute, we successfully pursuaded the faculty to refill my position.
6. Tell us about one funny/exciting/interesting experience that happened to you during your career.
A funny experience I recall was a very painful one – at least for me. During my Hohenheim/Bavendorf period, I had been invited to give a presentation to 200 growers in South Tirol, Italy. Unfortunately, the day before I
suffered from awful back pain due to a prolapsed disc. I could not move at all or bend my back. Not giving my presentation was a no go! So I asked two of my PhD students, Michaela Schmitz and Guido Schnabel, both
full professors now, to lay me in a horizontal position in the trunk of a station wagon and to transport me over the Alps to Tirol. You should have seen their incredulous looks! However, they followed my instruction, unloaded me in Bozen-Meran, put me in the vertical position in front of the microphone in the big conference hall, and I gave my presentation, followed by great applause by the audience.
7. What made you become a member of ISHS and why did you keep the membership? What contribution or role has ISHS played in your career?
In 2000, when I was elected Vice-President of the German Society of Horticultural Science (DGG), my colleague Manfred Schenk, University of Hannover, served as President of DGG. The two of us were invited to represent Germany as delegates at ISHS Council meetings. Application for ISHS membership was a long
overdue act then. I recognized the potential, outreach and fantastic services that ISHS provides to its members, especially when compared to our relatively small DGG. I made so many friendships in ISHS and I felt like being part of a family I could always count on. When elected as President of DGG, the Society was going through a critical period with enormous challenges: progressively declining membership, and we were confronted by the fact that no more manuscripts were coming in to “Gartenbauwissenschaft”, the DGG owned journal, in which the majority of articles were written in German. Inspired by the positive development of ISHS, the idea matured to strengthen DGG by boosting internationalization through
- establishing a closer partnership with ISHS;
- giving the stranded scientific journal “Gartenbauwissenschaft” a new design and orientation and renaming it to “European Journal of Horticultural Science” (eJHS) with articles in the English language only.
- the initiative to launch together with our friends in ISHS the “International Symposium on Horticulture in Europe (SHE)” in Vienna. It is a well-established symposium series now.
Since the start of my membership over all the years until most recently, I was given the opportunity to serve ISHS and to give something back in return for all the continuous support, friendship
and hospitality I have received: German delegate in ISHS Council (2000-2004), Internal Auditor of ISHS (2004-2010) and member of the ISHS Board of Directors (2010-2014) – probably the highlight
of my career. From 2014-2018, I contributed
as Internal Auditor of ISHS, first with Geoff Dixon and then with Rob Bogers, both experts in finances and real good friends.
8. What advice would you give to young people interested in a career in horticulture/horticultural science?
You should have a great interest in plants and curiosity to discover and explore their diversity, structure, role and function as well as their potential use. This should go along with strong determination, passion and commitment, with other words: Go for what you are burning for! If you pursue a career in horticulture, you have to really enjoy what you do. This is the best prerequisite for finding your way. You don’t necessarily have
to follow the mainstream. Try to find out your own priority field or niche. Fascination paired with curiosity will certainly help you to move forward from the descriptive approach to elucidating and understanding the often very complex phenomena. Here, ISHS with its profound data base, vast literature collection, symposia and contacts is a fantastic supporter and partner!
9. What are the most interesting new roles or opportunities you see emerging in the future within horticultural science?
First in line is to combat climate change and to develop sustainable solutions for feeding the world in order to secure the basis of life for future generations. In this context, there are (too) many new opportunities that are
emerging but also challenges, such as digital farming and precision horticulture, including precision irrigation systems, introduction and implementation of advanced sensor technologies and pesticide application devices
to compensate for increasing restrictions for use of pesticides and inorganic fertilizers. Another challenge is to find solutions and alternatives for the growing amounts of plastics used in agriculture/horticulture, where the yearly plastics usage amounts to 6.5 m tons, threatening our environment and health. Availability and affordability of labour is a driving force for robotics in horticultural production, where besides the need for “hightech” developments there is also a need for competence in horticultural science. I am fascinated by the opportunities that vertical farming is providing, where plants can be grown well-protected from adverse climate and being highly resource efficient (water, nutrients) in closed systems in almost any part of the world, even in the desert, and in a more sustainable way. Who else other than horticulturists, embedded in
a strong community like ISHS, could provide such fundamental knowledge and expertise on plants, sustainable production processes as well as on produce quality and food safety?