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The octocopter is used to collect data on the vegetation covering the ground.
Sustainable bioeconomy is a bio-based circular economy that manages without fossil raw materials, instead relying on the efficient use of biological resources such as plants, animals or microorganisms. Scientists at Forschungszentrum Jülich have been developing new value creation processes, for example. They use customized microorganisms and biological catalysts to produce, from renewable raw materials or waste such as plant residues, valuable substances for medicines, bioplastics or even fuels. In biotechnology, automation, miniaturization and digitization play an important role in shortening development times and making them more predictable.
Agriculture and plant research are also part of the bioeconomy. Researchers use experimental data from trial fields and simulations of soil-plant interactions to help optimize yields, reduce fertilizer use and address changes caused by climate change. Digital monitoring supports tailored irrigation and can show stress in plants at an early stage.
It is to be demonstrated in the Rhineland region, which serves as a model region in this respect, how the switch to a fossil-free economy can succeed after coal-fired power generation has been phased out. One building block for this is the BioökonomieREVIER initiative. It is coordinated by Forschungszentrum Jülich and networks the local actors. For more than ten years now, scientific expertise and modern infrastructures in important fields of the bioeconomy have been pooled in the Bioeconomy Science Center, which is the competence centre of Forschungszentrum Jülich as well as the universities of Bonn and Düsseldorf and of RWTH Aachen University.
Under Jülich leadership, an international research team discovered that microalgae store vital nitrogen in the form of tiny guanine crystals. An efficient nitrogen balance makes CO2-storing microalgae excellent nutrient suppliers for agriculture.
An international team with Jülich participation has identified a gene that makes the roots of some barley plants grow much more steeply downwards than average. This allows the roots to better access water and nutrients at much further depths in the soil in times of drought.
The Jülich, wasser-monitor.de (in German) has been online since November 2021. The tool shows detailed simulation results of the water available to plants in Germany. It thus provides useful information in the face of extreme weather conditions, which are becoming more frequent in the course of climate change and which are significant for agriculture.
There is too much phosphate in German bodies of water and lakes, which damages ecosystems. Germany hopes to meet the benchmarks in all bodies of water in the country by 2027. A simulation model from Jülich is helping to meet this goal.
Images: Forschungszentrum Jülich/Sascha Kreklau, Forschungszentrum Jülich/Ralf- Uwe-Limbach