The Johann Heinrich von Thünen Institute, Federal Research Institute for Rural Areas, Forestry and Fisheries, is a German research institute under the auspices of the German Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL). It develops scientific basics as decision-making helps for the policies of the German government. The Thünen Institute is scientifically independent. It publishes its research results and makes its results, conclusions, and recommendations transparent.
With Headquarters in Braunschweig, the Thünen Institute comprises 14 specialist institutes and additional joint service units.
The Johann Heinrich von Thünen Institute was established in 2008. It is one out of four Federal research institutes under the auspices of the German Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (BMELV).
The origins of the Thünen Institute lies in three German Federal research centres, all of which were founded after the Second World War, and several of which have even older roots: The Federal Research Centre for Fisheries (BFAFi), the Federal Research Centre for Forestry and Forest Products (BFH), and large parts of the Federal Agricultural Research Centre (FAL).
Agriculture shall produce high-grade food and renewable resources in a reliable manner. In future, agricultural production will face increasing pressure to release fewer greenhouse gases and air pollutants. International agreements on climate change mitigation and air pollution control oblige Germany to reduce emissions.
As agriculture is the largest source of some greenhouse gases – nitrous oxide (N2O), methane (CH4) and ammonia (NH3) - it has a special responsibility for emission reductions. Likewise agricultural land management will decide whether soils are a source or sink of climate relevant CO2-carbon.
We carry out research between the conflicting priorities of agricultural production and climate change mitigation with an interdisciplinary team of scientists. We support the development of resource-efficient, climate-smart and environmentally-friendly agriculture with our research and produce scientifically sound solutions and decision support for policymakers:
- We assess how agricultural production methods, land use and agricultural policy measures affect emissions of greenhouse gases and air pollutants.
- We analyse the formation and turnover of greenhouse gases in agriculture. We carry out the National Agricultural Soil Survey, which enables us for the first time to systematically quantify the organic matter stocks in German agricultural soils.
- We annually compile the national greenhouse gas inventory for the sectors agriculture and land use as part of the German reports under international climate conventions.
- We develop strategies for climate change mitigation in agriculture.
Our research approach extends from fields to farms and up to the national level and differentiates by environmental conditions. It comprises our own experimental studies how to quantify and reduce greenhouse gases and air pollutants, the co-ordination of national and international research projects, the integrated assessment of research findings, and the modelling and regionalisation of emissions and of the effect of climate change mitigation measures. On the one hand, we aim to elaborate and assess climate change mitigation measures that are effective for the agricultural sector as a whole. On the other hand we tailor measures to regions, processes, farm types and environmental conditions. We see our role as an interdisciplinary task. We therefore include economic and technical assessments in close co-operation with several other Thünen institutes .