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Europe-LAND – Towards Sustainable Land-use Strategies in the Context of Climate Change and Biodiversity Challenges in Europe

In the context of climate change and biodiversity challenges, a pan-European vision that integrates regional, national, and international challenges for land use is urgent. The Europe-LAND project aims to enhance understanding the motivations behind Europe's land-use decisions, assess actors' awareness of climate and biodiversity challenges, and scrutinize their readiness to engage in mitigation. The project anticipates future land-use trends aligning with environmental goals, contributes to climate and biodiversity policy by analyzing land strategies through a telecoupling framework, and compiles land-use insights using a dynamic toolbox to help stakeholders visualize the impact of various actions on land use over time.

Our contribution to the project is to reveal land-use behaviour and its drivers by harmonizing and analysing data from the Integrated Administration and Control System (IACS) across the EU. The IACS data provide information on land-use at farm and field level, allowing an unprecedented analysis of land use at very high spatial resolution. Furthermore, we will apply interdisciplinary methods in the Schorfheide-Chorin Biosphere Reserve as a case study to understand and manage changes and interactions of socio-ecological systems.


Project Duration: 01.06.2023 – 30.06.2027

Funding: Horizon Europe program of the European Union

Contact: Prof. Dr. Daniel Müller

Staff: Prof. Dr. Daniel Müller, Dr. Zhanli Sun, Clemens Jänicke, Phillip Schmidts

Europe-LAND project

Resilience through RCC - Promoting Resilience and Food Security through Risk- Contingent Credit in Africa

Climate change, and particularly weather extremes, severely challenge agricultural production and food security, and raise production risks. Agricultural risks—particularly those associated with drought—are a major contributor to low agricultural productivity in Sub-Saharan Africa, both directly through compromising crop yields but also indirectly by lowering investments into production inputs, which would be lost during droughts. This project will pilot risk-contingent credit (RCC), a financial product that embeds within its structure an insurance protection which, when triggered, offsets loan payments due to the lender. The project will conduct randomized controlled trials to assess the impacts of the RCC products on agricultural productivity, resilience, and nutrition in Kenya and Ethiopia. The IAMO team will contribute to increasing the accuracy of the weather indices used for the RCC products by incorporating key environmental variables from remote sensing data along with measurements from weather stations.


  • International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

  • Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich, UK

  • Haramaya University, Ethiopia

  • Equity Bank, Ltd, Kenya

  • Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB), Kenya

  • APA Insurance, Kenya

  • Debub Global Bank (DGB), Ethiopia

  • Oromia Insurance Company (OIC), Ethiopia

  • Agri-Food Economics Africa, Kenya

  • Global Resilience Partnership (GRP), Sweden

Project Duration: 01.05.2021-30.04.2024

Funding: Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)

Contact: Prof. Dr. Daniel Müller

Staff: Prof. Dr. Daniel Müller, Dr. Florian Schierhorn, Max Hofmann, Christopher Krause


RIMARA - Development of a Risk Management Concept for small farmers in Armenia and Azerbaijan

On behalf of the German Sparkassenstiftung for International Cooperation, Max Hofmann, Florian Schierhorn and Daniel Müller conducted a study on historical and future climatic changes in Armenia and Azerbaijan and their impact on yields of selected crops. These will be combined with available agricultural ground data to advance the knowledge of climatic risks for agriculture in Armenia and Azerbaijan. The team will also examine most recent temperature and precipitation projections until 2100 and assess the potential consequences of future climate change for the main crops in the region. We will use the results from these analyses, including long-term climate changes as well as changes in the severity and intensity of weather extremes, to develop crop-specific climate risk indices. The data and findings will be shared in a web mapping service platform that aims to inform stakeholders of past and likely future climate risks.

On behalf of the German Sparkassenstiftung for International Cooperation, Max Hofmann, Florian Schierhorn and Daniel Müller conducted a study on historical and future climatic changes in Armenia and Azerbaijan and their impact on yields of selected crops.



Project duration: 07.06.2021-31.10.2021

Funding: The German Sparkassenstiftung for International Cooperation

Contact: Prof. Dr. Daniel Müller, Dr. Ihtiyor Bobojonov

Staff: Prof. Dr. Daniel Müller, Max HofmannDr. Florian SchierhornDr. Ihtiyor Bobojonov

RIMARA project

LULCC – Land use and land cover change impacts of the sorghum and millet upscaling project in Mali

In this geo-spatial impact evaluation, we will assess land use and land cover change impacts of the Sorghum and Millet upscaling project in Mali, implemented by ICRISAT between 2014 and 2015. Over 100,000 sorghum and millet farmers across 227 villages in the Sikasso region in Mali, have adopted improved sorghum and millet technologies, leading to yield increases in the range of 30% to 60%. The impact evaluation will assess the heterogeneous causal effects of yield improvements induced by the technology upscaling on local land use. The impact evaluation will leverage a retrospective panel of remote sensing data spanning between 2008 and 2020 across Sikasso region covering both treated and non-treated villages. The heterogeneous adoption patterns induced by concurrent technology upscaling and market and policy changes, make this a particularly interesting ‘live-lab’ to extend current debates on Borlaug hypothesis versus Jevons’s paradox on land use.

In this project, we collaborate with ICRISAT (John Nzungize), the University of Louvain (Patrick Meyfroidt), and the University of California at Santa Barbara (Robert Heilmayr).


  • Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Transition Economies (IAMO), Germany
  • Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium
  • ICRISAT (International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics), Mali

Project duration: 01.10.2020 - 31.12.2023

Contact: Dr. Dilini AbeygunawardaneProf. Dr. Daniel Müller

LULCC project

SUSADICA – Structured doctoral programme on Sustainable Agricultural Development in Central Asia

Agricultural development in Central Asia requires a systemic approach that accounts for the various implications of agriculture resource use for economic, social, and environmental sustainability. Currently, there is no place in Central Asia where such an approach has been instituted in an academic environment that links cutting edge research to graduate education at international standards. This project aims at the creation of a collaborative research environment for doctoral researchers that is based at the Tashkent Institute of Irrigation and Agricultural Mechanization Engineers (TIIAME) in Uzbekistan and that is established and maintained jointly with IAMO, Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg, Regional Environmental Centre for Central Asia (CAREC) and a network of international partners. The establishment of this Graduate School is driven by four guiding principles: (A) competitive and transparent recruitment of doctoral researchers, (B) focus on research topics that build a bridge between the international academic discourse and agricultural development challenges relevant for Central Asia, (C) structured education and training of the doctorate students that enables them to conduct independent research, and (D) integration into a network of international partners and events. Doctoral researchers for the Graduate School are recruited internationally in an open call for applications and will be selected based on their prior qualification. Research and education are structured along a matrix defined by the three dimensions of economic, social, and ecological sustainability and the five research areas (1) farm restructuring & labor relations, (2) agricultural innovations & technology, (3) agricultural policy, (4) environmental change & agriculture, (5) water governance.

Project duration: since 01 January 2019 - 31. December 2022

Funding: Volkswagen Foundation

Contact: Prof. Dr. Daniel Müller

SUSADICA project 

FORLAND: Agricultural Land Markets – Efficiency and Regulation

The lease and purchase prices of agricultural land have risen steadily in recent years. The DFG research group “Agricultural Land Markets - Efficiency and Regulation” (FORLand) deals with the functioning and efficiency of agricultural land markets and land market regulation. The project objectives are to develop a better understanding of land purchase and lease prices, to assess the impact of market mechanisms and rising prices on society and the environment, as well as the impact of government intervention in the land market. Within the research group, IAMO staff members analyse spatio-temporal interdependencies between market outcomes and environmental impacts, the ethical question of land markets, and whether state regulation of land markets can meet the expectations placed on them.

Project duration: 01.08.2017 - 31.12.2023

Funding: DFG

Contact: Prof. Dr. Daniel Müller

FORLAND project




Completed Projects


SWECA: High-resolution daily snow reanalysis dataset for Tian-Shan and Pamir mountains (1979–2016)

Central Asia relies  on mountain snowpack for its water resources, which are crucial for both irrigated agriculture and hydropower. Scarce snow observations in the region, compounded by the discontinuation of systematic surveys in the 1990s, have created significant knowledge gaps. SWECA project addresses this challenge by reconstructing high-resolution Snow Water Equivalent (SWE) data for the period 1979-2016 in Central Asia specifically focusing on mountainous part of the region. Our approach is based on use of i) a novel machine-learning based snow mass model GEMS, ii) high resolution (1km) daily climate forcing data from CHELSA-W5E5, ii) extensive validation of the generated estimates with historical SWE records and satellite snow cover data.

Project duration: July 12, 2023 - February 12, 2024

Funding: GEO Mountains

Contact:  Prof. Dr. Daniel MüllerAtabek Umirbekov


BALTRAK: Balancing trade-offs between agriculture and biodiversity

The Vokswagen Foundation will fund a new 3-year-project in Kazakhstan headed up by the Working Group Ecosystem Research. Together with our Kazakhstani partners at the Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity in Kazakhstan (ACBK) and Karaganda university, as well as the German partners at University of Muenster and HU Berlin we will implement a three-year research project entitled 'Balancing trade-offs between agriculture and biodiversity in the steppes of Kazakhstan (BALTRAK)'. Within the project, we will analyze agricultural and restoration potentials on abandoned arable land, the distribution of key steppe grassland biodiversity (small mammals, birds and plants), and biodiversity responses to changing agricultural use and wildfires. Ultimately, we aim to develop strategies to reconcile agriculture and biodiversity, and contribute to the development of protected areas in Central Asia.

Funding: Volkswagen Foundation

Contact: Prof. Dr. Daniel Müller , Dr. Florian Schierhorn

BALTRAK project



PASANOA wants:

  • focus on the part of the Argentine Chaco within the five provinces of Salta, Formosa, Santiago del Estero, and Chaco
  • provide new insights into the trade-offs and synergies between agricultural production, ES provisioning and biodiversity
  • explore drivers of land use decisions and how they vary across land systems
  • assess how trade-offs between production and conservation land uses may vary across a set of plausible future land-use scenarios
  • identify optimal landscape patterns that mitigate trade-offs along with guidance on how to implement such landscapes.

Funding: Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Bioeconomy International

Contact: Prof. Dr. Daniel Müller , Dr. Zhanli Sun

PASANOA project 



The overall goal of the project “CROSSGRASS” is to analyze the extent and the drivers of changes in grassland greenness, a proxy for plant growth, for the grassland biome in Asia's drylands. We derived these insights by combining remote sensing data, agricultural statistics, and climate data with high spatial and temporal resolution. Using insights from past changes, we forecast potential future developments under various alternative climate change scenarios.

The proposed research and training action will use a highly interdisciplinary approach that integrates remote sensing, statistical analysis, resource economics, and agricultural sciences. The scientific part of the action will be structured into the listed work packages:

  • Mapping dynamics of grassland greennes
  • Analyzing the drivers of changes in grassland greenness
  • Exploring future scenarios of grassland greenness

Project duration: April 1, 2018 - March 31, 2020

Funding: European Commission via the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship

Contact:  Prof. Dr. Daniel MüllerDr. Lijuan Miao


GERUKA : Global food security and the grain markets of Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan 

GERUKA is funded by the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (BMELV) and the Federal Office for Agriculture and Food (BLE). Our group analyzes agricultural production potentials for the selected case study regions (Lviv, Ukraine; Kostanay, Kazakhstan; Ryazan, Russian Federation).


KULUNDA : How to prevent the next “Global Dust Bowl”? – Ecological and Economic Strategies for Sustainable Land Management in the Russian Steppes: A Potential Solution to Climate Change


EPIKUR : Economic and natural potentials of agricultural production and carbon trade-offs in Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and Russia 

EPIKUR assesses agricultural production potentials consisting of yield gaps and unused land resources in Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and Russia. Yield gaps are estimated by combining spatially explicit crop growth models with farm-level efficiency analyses. A spatial allocation model is used to estimate production potentials of abandoned land. Future production potentials are assessed under scenarios of technological progress, climate change, and the economics of recultivation. The assessment of production increases includes a trade‐off analysis between CO2 emissions and economic benefits of recultivation. EPIKUR contributes to building a strong network for advancing the science and understanding of agricultural potentials in transition economies.  


I-REDD+ : Impacts of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation and Enhancing Carbon Stocks 

I-REDD+ is funded by the 7th Framework Program of the European Commission. Our group is responsible for scrutinizing potentials and pitfalls of MRV of REDD+-type activities.


VOLANTE : Visions of Land-Use Transitions in Europe 

VOLANTE is funded by the 7th Framework Program of the European Commission. We support the VOLANTE group at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin in analyzing drivers and hotspots of land-use transitions in Europe.