COMMECT - Bridging the digital divide and addressing the need of Rural Communities with Cost-effective and Environmental-Friendly Connectivity Solutions

/ In recent years, the importance and need for broadband and high-speed connectivity has steadily increased. The Covid 19 pandemic has even accelerated this process towards a more connected society. However, this applies mainly to cities and metropolitan areas. In Europe, 13% of the population still lacks connectivity in any form. This mainly affects rural regions. Due to the low commercial attractiveness, solutions there prove to be very difficult.
COMMECT aims to bridge this gap by providing quality, reliability and security in terms of digital access for rural areas. The goal of expanding broadband connectivity in remote areas is achieved by integrating non-terrestrial networks with terrestrial XG mobile networks and low-cost Internet of Things (IoT). Artificial intelligence, edge and network automation will reduce energy consumption at both the connectivity and compute levels.
A participatory approach with end users and IT experts working together on development challenges will be key to digitizing the sector. In doing so, COMMECT will build intensive exchange of best practices and technical knowledge among agroforestry value chain actors.
Five Living Labs (model regions) will be established inside and outside Europe, where "problems" and (connectivity) "benefits" will be derived from different perspectives for end users.
The Living Lab Luxembourg, which is also the focus of IBLA's work, deals with the digitalization of Luxembourg's viticulture. At the beginning, the needs of the stakeholders (winegrowers) for digital area information for the management in the areas of irrigation, fertilization and plant protection, among others, are determined in workshops. On this basis, relevant data will be made available to the winegrowers for their cultivation decisions, as well as decision-support systems will be made usable. Demonstration events will be held to improve awareness and acceptance of digital technologies in viticulture.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe Research and Innovation Programme under grant agreement no. 101060881.


Development of a semi-automatic, high-resolution monitoring of ESCA and other dieback symptoms in viticulture

Esca is a vine disease caused by several wood-decaying fungi. Its wide and rapid spread in Luxembourg is favored by climate change. The disease became relevant to the Moselle region in the 1990s and to date there is no effective control treatment. During the MonESCA1 project, it was possible to develop methods for monitoring Esca via drone-based imagery.
The main objective of the MonESCA I project is to monitor and understand the occurrence of disease, and in the continuation MonESCA2 a special emphasis is placed on knowledge transfer into viticultural practice. Therefore, the IBLA organizes several workshops for winegrowers on management practices for ESCA prophylaxis and control (gentle pruning, reset method, vine surgery). The second task of the IBLA in the MonESCA2 project is the development of a decision support system, which generates ESCA-effective measures for the winegrowers at different infestation intensities.
2022 – 2024
MonESCA2 is funded by the Luxembourg Ministry of Agriculture, Viticulture and Rural Development within the framework of EIP - European Innovation Partnership for Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability.

water protection

Methods of organic farming for the benefit of drinking water protection

Through soil management, agriculture has a direct influence on the quality of drinking water and can make a significant contribution to maintaining its quality. Organic farming is particularly suitable for active drinking water protection due to its management according to natural material cycles, area-linked animal husbandry, diverse crop rotations and the permanent renunciation of chemical-synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. With the financial support of the drinking water suppliers Ville de Luxembourg (VdL), the Syndicat des Eaux du Sud (SES), the Syndicat des Eaux du Barrage d'Esch-sur-Sûre (SEBES) together with the Landwirtschaftlech Kooperatioun Uerwersauer (LAKU), the Distribution d'Eau des Ardennes (DEA) and the Natur & Geopark Mëllerdall (NGPM) and the Administration de la gestion de l'eau (AGE) of the Ministère de l'Environnement, du Climat et du Développement durable, IBLA advises farmers on all aspects of organic farming and sets up field trials on topics relevant to water conservation, such as mechanical weed control or the cultivation of legumes, to help farmers manage land in drinking water catchment areas. In addition, IBLA participates in various working groups and monitoring committees.
since 2017

alter weizen

Aufbau einer Wertschöpfungskette vom Anbau von alten Weizensorten im biologischen Anbau bis hin zum Bio-Brot

„Janetzkis begrannter Dickkopf“, „Schwarzer Wintergrannendinkel“ oder „Roter Sächsischer Landweizen“…noch nie gehört? Kein Wunder, denn diese alten Weizensorten hat der modernen Zuchtweizen von den meisten Äckern verdrängt. Alte Weizensorten sind robuster gegen Schädlinge und Krankheiten, tolerieren karge Böden und feucht-kaltes Klima. Weil sie eine lange Teigführung benötigen sind sie nicht für die industrielle Produktion geeignet und bieten handwerkliche Betriebe eine Möglichkeit, sich von standardisierter Massenware abzugrenzen. Vor allem für Verbraucher mit Weizenunverträglichkeit sind Produkte aus alten Weizensorten besonders empfehlenswert. Aufgrund der enthaltenen Anthocyane können vor allem Rotweizensorten das Risiko einer Krebserkrankung senken. Im Rahmen des Projekts berät das IBLA ProduzentInnen von der Auswahl des Saatguts bis zur Ernte. Parallel wird eine Wertschöpfungskette errichtet, welche Produzenten, Mühlen und verschiedene Verarbeiter wie Bäckereien und Brauereien miteinander verbindet. Zusätzlich werden mehrere alte Weizensorten in einer Sortenprüfung angebaut. Für die teilnehmenden Betriebe wird eine Vermarktungskonzept erarbeitet, welches ein einheitliches Marketing von Produkten aus alten Weizensorten unterstützt.
Im Oktober 2022 wurde auf insgesamt 12 Hektar Rotweizen ausgesät, der nach der Ernte im Sommer 2023 verarbeitet werden kann.

fact sheets

Preparation of fact sheets for organic farming

In order to provide farmers with the basics of organic farming as well as new scientific and at the same time practice-relevant findings from this field, there is a need for specialized written materials that are specifically targeted at practitioners. Since 2009, IBLA has already participated in the preparation and publication of such information materials in collaboration with European partners such as the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FIBL).
To ensure that the target group of Luxembourg agriculture can be informed in a way that is as tailored as possible to their needs, the IBLA has been drafting relevant technical literature specifically adapted to Luxembourg as a location since 2021. The advantage of such an approach lies in the fact that the knowledge communicated on the basis of existing international technical brochures is both brought together and supplemented by experience gained in-house.
In addition to preparing and publishing leaflets, IBLA is now also working on variety information sheets containing the results of variety trials in organic farming. These are a supplement to the national list of varieties and contain more detailed information on plant development, which covers the special information needs of organic farms.
since 2009

gypsum-lime power

The "Gypsum-Lime Power" project uses an on-farm strip trial at four sites to investigate the effects of fertilizing with lime and granulated natural gypsum/sulfur fertilizer in combination on various parameters. The site in Kalborn and Kahler and the two in Eschdorf are legume field forage and permanent grassland. The parameters collected and to be evaluated are yield, plant constituents, legume content in the crop and various soil parameters.

As this is a demonstration trial, a further objective is the communication of the results as well as the exchange within the network of consultants, scientists and practitioners.
March 2022 – December 2022

luxembourg in transition

Spatial vision for the zero-carbon and resilient future of the Luxembourg functional region

Luxembourg in Transition
Spatial vision for the zero-carbon and resilient future of the Luxembourg functional region
In the "Luxembourg in Transition" competition launched by the Spatial Planning Department of the Ministry of Energy and Spatial Planning, we developed together with LIST, the University of Luxembourg, the Center for Ecological Learning Luxembourg (CELL) and OLM paysagistes & urbanistes, how Luxembourg has to change spatially by 2050 in order to become climate-neutral, sustainable and resilient.
Not only aspects of spatial planning, mobility or the modeling of greenhouse gas emissions, but also the way of life of the Luxembourgers, their diet and their consumption, as well as questions of governance are part of the dossiers submitted. Of course, agriculture also plays an important role in these considerations. IBLA supports the elaboration of how Luxembourg´s agriculture could develop spatially and in terms of farm management in order to achieve a sustainable, resilient and less CO2-intensive system. In three competition phases, a metric is developed in the first phase, which serves as the basis for evaluating the change. In the second phase, the necessary transformation steps for the CO2-free and sustainable future are worked out on the scale of the cross-border functional region, whereas in the third phase the remaining project teams show the transformation, the necessary steps towards the zero carbon and resilient future using different case studies.

© The pictures are part of the report “LUXEMBOURG 2050: PROSPECTS FOR A REGENERATIVE CITY-LANDSCAPE”, Phase II:

soya made in luxembourg

Optimization of the value chain from the soybean to the egg in Luxembourg and further development of soybean cultivation in Luxembourg

IBLA advisors have been assisting farmers in Luxembourg with soybean cultivation since 2018. After the first cultivation experiences, the joint project "Soya made in Luxembourg" was set up, which contributes to the implementation strategy of the national soybean cultivation. Initiated by the organic egg marketer BIO-OVO S.A., it aims to support farmers in cultivation and subsequent marketing and processing, and to use the processed soya in return as domestic laying hen feed on the farm. The key factor is the high annual import numbers in Luxembourg for livestock with currently 27,500 t of soybean extraction meal (Zimmer, et al. 2020). Luxembourg is 100% dependent on soybean imports, most of which originate from North and South America and thus come with social and environmental problems. Soya is difficult to substitute in the feeding of monogastrics such as pigs or poultry due to its high biological value, a.G. the high protein content and the essential sulfur-containing amino acids. In ruminant feeding (dairy cattle and suckler cows), a demand-oriented feeding without soybean, instead with optimal grassland and field fodder use, is quite possible. Possibilities to reduce the soya import are therefore on the one hand the minimization in feeding, mainly in cattle husbandry, and on the other hand the national cultivation of soybeans. This nationally produced soy should be used exclusively for the feeding of monogastric animals.
The support of the soybean growers by IBLA includes the site selection, the soil preparation, the accompaniment before and during the sowing, the mechanical weed control as well as the harvest and the organization of the delivery to the feed producer SCAR scrl in Belgium, which takes over the further processing in the feed rations for the BIO-OVO laying hens. For the mechanical weed control, the agricultural machinery dealer Wolff-Weyland S.A. supports the farmers by providing the necessary sowing and hoeing equipment.
The aim of the project is to further develop and economically optimize soybean cultivation and the soybean value chain by providing cost-effective but competent advice for the farmer from sowing to harvesting, which will bear fruit in independent cultivation in the long term. In addition, the process of further processing of soybeans is optimized logistically and economically to promote national soybean production and increase protein self-sufficiency.
Since 2018
As part of the Organic Action Plan, the project has received financial support from the Ministère de l'Agriculture, de la Viticulture et du Développement rural since 2020.

fabulous farmers

The European INTERREG project supports farmers in the practical implementation of agro-ecological farming methods to reduce their dependence on external inputs such as mineral fertilizers and pesticides. To this end, farmers are encouraged to implement methods and measures on their farms that improve Functional Agro-Biodiversity (FAB) and promote, among other things, pollination, optimise the natural regulation of harmful organisms by promoting natural counterparts and improve soil and water quality on agricultural land. A network of pilot farms with a "lighthouse effect" serves to disseminate knowledge in the context of "FAB-Farming" within agriculture and also in society and politics. For this purpose, in 12 pilot regions and five countries (BE, NL, LUX, FR and UK), there is a cooperation with other stakeholders such as landowners and municipalities, with the aim of creating an integrated FAB landscape integration plan. In addition, local society is involved through both practical and entertaining activities and the use of "citizen-science tools".
2019 - 2023

méi weed

Pasture optimization by adapting pasture management to pedoclimatic conditions

Grazing is economically profitable for the farmer if the use of the pasture grass is high. However, to achieve this goal, it is necessary to correctly estimate the amount of grass available on the pasture plots in order to prevent overstory pasture grass and thus pasture grass losses.
In this project, a prediction model of daily grass increment is adapted to Luxembourg pedoclimatic conditions. The forecasts will allow for predictive pasture planning and will help in the future with regular adjustments of grazing areas, feeding of roughage and/or concentrates to grazing animals, etc.
Five pasture-based dairy farms are participating in the project. These pilot farms are located in different pedoclimatic zones throughout Luxembourg. The pilot farms will be intensively accompanied in their pasture management for the whole duration of the project. In this way, the practical benefits of the grass growth model will be implemented on the farms.
In parallel, a survey of consumers will be conducted to determine their added value in pasture management and its influence on their purchasing behavior. Furthermore, a sustainability analysis with the SMART (Sustainability Monitoring and Assessment RouTine)- Farm Tool will be carried out on the pilot farms at the beginning and end of the project in order to develop farm-specific improvement approaches and recommendations and to monitor the development of the farms.
2020 - 2023
Pilot farms: Thielen, Stockem; Thiry, Schouweiler, Weirich, Gostingen; Elsen, Boeuvange-sur-Attert; Vassen, Weiler


Simulating economic and environmental impacts of dairy cattle management using Agent Based Models

The management of a dairy farm decides significantly on its economic success and ecological impact. The simulation of the impact of management decisions was identified as an important challenge when modeling agricultural systems; so-called agent-based models (ABM) are used. The project aims to develop a decision support system (DSS) based on an LCA (life cycle assessment)-ABM-coupled simulator. This way, the economic and environmental effects of different herd management strategies can be tested. For the design and validation of LCA-ABM, phenotypes are collected in more than 320 dairy farms in Wallonia and Luxembourg (e.g. animal characteristics, milk composition and yield, feeding and farm-specific economic data) or on an individual animal basis using milk spectra in the mid-infrared range (body weight, methane emissions). Further phenotypes are predicted in this project from easily collected parameters using machine learning algorithms. These relate both to the behavior of the farmers and to the pasture methodology. Phenotypes, in connection with standard literature equations from the field of life cycle assessments, enable to calculate the environmental impact of individual cows with a higher temporal resolution than with the existing life cycle assessments. Finally, the robustness of the assumptions behind the LCA-ABM-based decision tool is assessed on the basis of detailed economic, feed and production data, which are collected from ten pilot farms in Luxembourg.
2019 - 05.2023
Supported by the Fond National de la Recherche Luxembourg“INTER/FNR/18/12987586“


Connecting advisors to boost interactive innovation in agriculture & forestry

To strengthen the skills, competencies and attitudes of advisors to support interactive innovation, by: identifying and sharing best practices, developing tools and methods, training, and organizing peer to peer learning & networking.
To enhance and profile the role of advisors in interactive innovation processes, at different scales: by a better understanding of the AKIS at country level, by identifying providers of advisory services across Europe, by creating an enabling environment within advisory services, by better connecting and embedding advisory services within the AKIS and by appropriate public policies.
To create a social support network and a networking culture among advisors facilitating innovative innovation processes. In particular emphasis will be given to ensure that advisors in Central and Eastern European countries make use of the opportunities being created in the project.
This project has received funding from the European union horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

2000 m² for our food

Project to promote a sustainable agricultural and food culture

To feed themselves, the Luxembourg population uses on average about 3700 m². However, only 2000 m² per capita are available to the inhabitants of Luxembourg for the production of food. This area is divided into 50% grassland and 50% arable land. The arable land can be used to grow food for direct human consumption (e.g. potatoes or vegetables). With these products, a healthy, seasonally varied diet is possible, while fodder for the production of animal food can also be grown. The available 1000 m² of grassland are used for keeping cattle, because only they can make the best use of the grass. At the "Haus vun der Natur" this is illustrated on a demonstration area of 2000 m² and made accessible to the public. Here, regional crops are cultivated in organic farming methods in the proportions of land that could represent a possible healthy diet for the population of Luxembourg. On the project area, possibilities of an environmentally friendly diet are shown and the amount of climate-damaging greenhouse gases associated with the cultivation is presented. We welcome you at the "Haus vun der Natur", just contact us!


Integrated analysis of dietary patterns and agricultural practices for sustainable food systems in Luxembourg

Luxembourg is currently facing many environmental problems. The agriculture sector is as much a victim as also a driver of these problems, and changes in the farming practices are needed in order to face them and ensure food security for future generations. Apart from production practices, the sustainability of the food and agriculture sector is also influenced by consumers’ food choices. The aim of this project is therefore a) to assess holistically the current sustainability level of the Luxembourgish agriculture sector, b) to identify necessary changes to dietary patterns and production practices, and c) to develop differentiated strategies for the development of sustainable food systems in Luxembourg. The project will assess the sustainability of the Luxembourgish food system on two levels: the farm-level and the food system-level. Together, the results from these two levels of sustainability assessments will be synthesised and used to formulate target-group specific recommendations for the development of sustainable food systems.
2018 - 2024
Apart from financial support from the "Ministère du Déveleoppement Durable et des Infrastructures" and from the "Oeuvre National de Secours Grande-Duchesse Charlotte" and sponsoring from BIOGROS S.A. and OIKOPOLIS S.A., this project is also supported through private donations.

variety trials

in organic agriculture in Luxembourg

The aim of the variety trials is to give Luxembourgish organic farmers meaningful recommendations for the variety selection. For this purpose, winter wheat cultivation trials in organic farming were implemented by IBLA in cooperation with the Lycée Technique Agricole (LTA) in the season 2009/10. In recent years, further crops have been added to the variety trials. On the basis of these trials, a list of varieties is issued each year by the National Variety Commission as an aid for the selection of varieties for the farmers.
• Winter cereal variety trials since 2009
• Summer cereal variety trials in 2014-2016, and again since 2019
• Soybean variety trials in 2014, and again since 2018
• Clover grass mixture variety trials in 2013-2015 and again since 2020
• Pea and faba bean variety trials since 2016
• Potato variety trials since 2016
• Maize variety trials since 2020