Research projects

Controlling and decision support

  • Development of an economic model of vegetable farming for assessing the effect of changing framework conditions
    Previous analyses of the future development of German horticulture are mostly evaluations of existing statistics, which are supplemented with qualitative statements on the future and recommendations for action. Such analyses can be deepened with model calculations by incorporating insights into the interrelationships and developments of companies from empirical data. The inter-company comparison at the Centre for Business Administration in Horticulture e.V. (ZBG) documents the structural change in the sector based on time series of annual financial statements and structural data of individual horticultural enterprises. The aim of the work was to develop a quantitative model for estimating the economic development of horticultural enterprises on the basis of the data from the inter-company comparison using the example of vegetable production. The special feature of the model is that it takes into account the heterogeneity of horticultural enterprises. In order to analyse as homogeneous as possible groups of farms, sub-models were designed for specialised outdoor and greenhouse horticulture with indirect sales. In the first step, the most important factors influencing farm development were selected from the database (1997-2007) and supplemented with external quantitative framework conditions. Hypotheses about the interaction of these factors were then tested and quantified using statistical procedures and standard costing data, so that the factors could be linked into an operating model. The designed farm model calculates the financial statements and structural data as well as economic key figures for a company on an annual basis. In order to increase the model's own dynamics, the results of a forecast year serve as input in the next forecast year. In order to take very different economic structures in a sector into account, several companies, which are selected according to the question, pass through the model. For all enterprises of a model application, the user defines external framework conditions for the forecast period and suitable adjustment strategies once. The results of different scenarios can then be compared. In contrast to more highly aggregated models, farm models allow the direct description of farm development paths. Feedback about the markets is missing. Missing information on the individual framework conditions and production processes in the anonymous data of CBMH as well as individual entrepreneurial goals, which are not always rational, complicate the interpretation of different developments in a sector. The validity of individual functions in the model is limited to the value range of the data basis examined, since values outside this range can lead to distortions of the results. In order to avoid highly cumulative forecast errors, a medium-term forecast period should not be exceeded. For individual farms, a good agreement between the calculated and actual values could be achieved over a period of seven years. Sample calculations illustrate the applicability of the model to current economic issues. Finally, the model results show that year-end data are suitable for simulating the economic development of horticultural enterprises with adaptation strategies on an abstract level.
    Led by: Prof. Dr. W. Lentz
    Team: Dr. Conny Kölbel
    Year: 2012
    Duration: 01.01.2009-31.12.2012

Sustainable horticultural production

  • Evaluation of strategies for managing apple replant disease in fruit tree nurseries and fruit orchards
    Apple replant disease is a serious problem in fruit tree nurseries as well as commercial fruit orchards, for which only few managent options exist. The general approach of extended crop rotations is a hindrance to specialization, which is economically sensible. An exchange of land between apple farmers and those growing different crops is only rarely an option in the highly specialized apple production regions and is otherwise limited by increasing land rental rates and land competition with biogas production. The project is part of the research consortium ORDIAmur and aims at providing an overview of the apple production in the "Altes Land" region (northwest of the city of Hamburg) by means of a survey among apple farmers and other farmers in the region. The survey shall form the basis of a quantitative analysis of the production systems. Another, yet rather qualitative survey, will be conducted among the small group of rootstock nurseries and fruit tree nurseries in Northern Germany. Both surveys will be coordinated with other sub-projects of the consortium and cover experience with and perception of apple replant disease by the farmer as well as details on current management practices and the history of land use in the farm. This information will be used to evaluate conventional management strategies for ARD in economic terms.
    Led by: Dr. Bernd Hardeweg
    Team: Iris Brenneke
    Year: 2018
    Funding: BMBF (Förderinitiative BonaRes)
    Duration: November 2015 – Oktober 2018
  • Sustainability evaluation of horticultural enterprises
    Agriculture, horticulture and the food industry like many other sectors, are affected by concerns about ecological, social and economic sustainability. For horticultural companies, the implementation of these goals entails production risks. One obstacle to implementation is the combination of sustainability features with the existing production system and the associated costs and time expenditure. An evaluation system is required in order to demonstrate the added value generated by the implementation of sustainable production. An evaluation system can have different objectives. On the one hand, a sustainability assessment can serve as a management tool and help to focus on sustainable development in the company. On the other hand, an assessment system can improve transparency and communicate this development to consumers. So far many features in the production process of horticulture have been barely visible to consumers. A transparent evaluation procedure can create trust for horticultural production and create added value for horticultural companies. A large number of sustainability assessment systems already exist at both European and national level. There are also specific assessment systems for agriculture. Due to the many similarities between horticulture and agriculture, these can be used as a basis for developing a system for horticulture. Thus, a pool of indicators from existing assessment systems and scientific literature can be collected. Since the demand for sustainable products is determined by the consumer, consumer interests cannot be ignored. The willingness to pay for sustainable production in horticulture depends, among other things, on preferences for and knowledge of characteristics of sustainable production. Therefore, consumer preferences for sustainable horticultural production are recorded. For this purpose, the attitude towards various sustainability characteristics with respect to the areas economy, ecology and socety is determined. Consumer preferences are considered separately for the food and non-food sectors of horticulture. In addition, the feasibility and actual relevance of the indicators determined for horticulture must also be examined. Finally, measurement concepts must be found to quantify the indicators.
    Year: 2019
    Funding: CMBH Funders