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University of Osnabrück and Leibniz Institute for Agricultural Engineering and Bioeconomy (ATB) in Potsdam launch Joint Lab

For sustainable agricultural science, the use of artificial intelligence (AI) is indispensable today. The University of Osnabrück and the Leibniz Institute for Agricultural Engineering and Bioeconomy (ATB) in Potsdam are responding to this need by establishing the "Joint Lab Artificial Intelligence & Data Science" as a joint institution. At its core, it consists of a graduate college for the training of doctoral students. Associated partners are Agrotech Valley Forum, German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) and Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences. On Thursday, October 12, the official kickoff event will take place at the Coppenrath Innovation Centre.

Since April 1, the Volkswagen Foundation has been funding the cooperation with around 6.7 million euros as part of the "Top Research in Lower Saxony SPRUNG" program (formerly "Niedersächsisches Vorab"). A total of 40 scientists from both institutions are working together with twelve doctoral students and three postdocs. The Joint Lab is a first major success in the long-term plan to establish a non-university research institute in Osnabrück as a branch of the ATB.

Thematic background: Agricultural technology and the bioeconomy directly influence the current challenges of food security, especially in times of climate change, biodiversity and other crises. They impact on the core issues of the future livelihoods and economic foundations of society. Meeting key challenges of the future, such as adapting to climate change, requires new innovative methods of animal husbandry, crop production, sustainability and environmental protection in agriculture and in the downstream areas of food and material use of biogenic raw materials. In addition to land management adapted to the natural environment, rising population figures and the currently exorbitant consumption require efficient use of resources.

A core idea of the Joint Lab is to meet these challenges through application-specific AI and data science technologies. The focus here is on optimization, efficiency enhancement and automation of agricultural engineering processes. The work and research program is based on the long-standing preliminary work and resources of the two partners: on the part of ATB, the research topics of the Joint Lab are precision crop production, precision animal husbandry, food processing and nutrition, biomaterials and residue management. The University of Osnabrück contributes its expertise in AI and data science from computer science, cognitive science, mathematics, and environmental systems/biosciences, which has already been used in a wide range of projects with partners.

The doctoral students, who mostly started their work on September 1, will conduct research at both locations, i.e. in Osnabrück and in Potsdam. They thus benefit from the expert knowledge from both fields with the aim of generating highly relevant findings from the basis to the application and transferring these their research results for implementation directly into agricultural applications and industry.

Around 50 scientists and other guests will attend the kick-off event. Greeting speeches will be given by Prof. Dr. Tina Cornelius-Krügel, Head of the Department of Higher Education in the Lower Saxony Ministry of Science and Culture, Prof. Dr. Susanne Menzel-Riedl, President of the University of Osnabrück, the Administrative Director of ATB, Alice Hohn, and Prof. Dr.-Ing. Cornelia Weltzien, Spokesperson of the Joint Lab on behalf of  ATB. As Executive Director of DFKI, Prof. Dr. Joachim Hertzberg will give a presentation on "On AI research going Agri in Agr[o/i]tech Valley". Dr. Masahiro Ryo, Professor of Environmental Data Science at the Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg, will give an overview of previous research in this field. Prof. Dr. Martin Atzmüller, Joint Lab spokesperson, and Dr. Stefan Stiene, Professor of Intelligent Agricultural Systems at Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences, will also speak. The moderation will be provided by Joint Lab spokesperson Prof. Dr. Tim Römer.

With the SPRUNG program, the state of Lower Saxony and the Volkswagen Foundation support innovative and highly competitive research projects in the state. The aim is to further strengthen the science location by establishing and promoting research alliances and focal points.

Further information:
Prof. Dr. Tim Römer, University of Osnabrück

Prof. Dr. Barbara Sturm, Leibniz-Institut für Agrartechnik und Bioökonomie e. V. (ATB)


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