Margita Hefner


Margita Hefner


PhD project: Plant-Soil Interactions in Reduced-Tilled Organic Vegetable Systems – Nitrogen Dynamics and Root Growth

University: Aarhus University

Department: Department of Food Science

Supervisor: Hanne Lakkenborg Kristensen, Associate Professor

Co-supervisor: Karen Koefoed Petersen, Senior Scientist

Project term: 01.11.15 – 31.10.18

Master’s degree: MSc in Organic Agriculture and Food Systems, University of Hohenheim (GER)/ Aarhus University (DK)



Organic farming aims to develop ways of sustainable agricultural production. In the light of increasing environmental problems like global warming, soil degradation and nitrate leaching into aquifers there is still need to improve current practices in organic farming, in particular in vegetable production, which was shown to have high nitrate losses. Reduced tillage and the use of agro-ecological service corps (ASC) provide useful implements to improve organic vegetable production systems in terms of improved soil condition and nutrient dynamics.



The aim is to provide knowledge of improved cropping systems in organic vegetable production in terms of enhanced soil conditions and reduced nitrogen pollution, which are a benefit to the environment and can improve the profitability of the farm at the same time.



Two projects, Organics in the Trail and SoilVeg, form the basis for the investigation. In Organics in the Trail the effect of reduced tillage and controlled traffic farming (CTF) will be investigated. The aim in the SoilVeg experiment is to study the impact of agro-ecological service crops (ASC) termination as well as ASC species. The effect of these management systems on a variety of parameters will be measured in both experiments, including crop yield and quality, plant and root growth, nitrogen dynamics in the plant, root and soil system, soil structure and nitrogen mineralization in the soil.



Organics in the Trail:

  • Skiftekær Økologi in Tåsinge
  • Vostrup Øko in Tarm


SoilVeg (Core Organic Plus):

  • Centro di ricerca per lo studio delle relazioni tra pianta e suolo (RPS), Roma (Italy)
  • Unità di ricerca per sistemi colturali degli ambienti caldo aridi (SCA), Bari (Italy)
  • University of Maribor, Faculty of Agriculture and Life Science (Slovenia)
  • Spanish National Research Council (Spain)
  • Alma Mater Studiorum – Università di Bologna. Dipartimento di Scienze Agrarie (Italy)
  • Estonian Crop Research Institute (Estonia)
  • Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research (Belgium)
  • Universitat de Barcelona (Italy)
  • Ghent University (Belgium)
  • Inagro (Belgium)
  • Groupe de Recherche en Agriculture Biologique (France)
  • Centre wallon de Recherches Agronomiques (Belgium)
  • State Stende Cereals Breeding Institute (Latvia)

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