At our Research Centre, the following thesis topics are currently available. In case you are interested in one of these topics, please get in touch with the supervisors indicated and send them a brief motivational statement in which you describe why you are a suitable candidate for this topic, and your transcript of records. We will then get in touch with you shortly.

Tentative research topics

Development of an agroforestry concept that incorporates the production of Slow Flowers at the Lower Rhine

 The family business “Blumen Forscheln” in Heinsberg has started to take up the production of regional sustainable cut flowers, so-called “Slow Flowers”. The production is supposed to be expanded in the upcoming years and to integrate an agroforestry concept that combines suitable tree species, as well as annual and perennial cut flower varieties.

 The thesis is intended to (a) assess the available space in terms of size, soil properties, light conditions etc., (b) identify relevant and suitable tree and plant species for cut flower production, (c) develop a concept/design that is suitable for the available space whilst considering biodiversity, yield, light management etc.

Level: Bachelor
Period: Sommer Term 2024 or later
Supervisor: Prof. Jens Gebauer
Co-Supervisor: Nele Vahrenhorst

Thesis on drought tolerance of different apple rootstocks

 Within the agroforestry living lab of TransRegINT we have established an experiment with different apple rootstock cultivars at HSRW green house. The choice of surveyed rootstock cultivars was made together with our project partners including tree nurseries, LiKK e.V. and Berkhöfel fruit farm (Bittenfelder, Antonowka, MM111, D2212, M9, G214).  

 The gained knowledge is of interest for apple growing farms, for example those establishing apple cultivation within agroforestry systems. As water is an increasingly limited resource in times of climate change the drought tolerance of apple trees is of particular importance.

 Through writing your thesis within our project you will get the opportunity to get involved in experiment management, data assessment and analysis as well as depending on your interest the exchange with our project partners.

Time Schedule

Feb 24: experiment was planted

until Oct 24: experiment management (watering, fertilization) and data assessment: Phytohormone Abscisic acid (ABA), Amino acid Proline, leaf Chlorophyll concentration, Photosynthetic activity, Transpiration rate, Stomatal conductance, Number of Leaves, Leaf Surface, Roots inventory

Level: Bachelor/Master
Period: July 2024 or later
Supervisor: Prof. Jens Gebauer, Prof. Florian Wichern
Co-Supervisor: Anna-Lea Ortmann
(anna-lea.ortmann@hochschule-rhein-waal.de | 02821-806739951)

Exploring Small-Scale Cooperative Black Soldier Fly (BSF) Production in Africa

 Despite extensive research on Black Soldier Fly (BSF) farming, Africa faces unique challenges due to social structures, surplus labor, and economic pressures. This project aims to address this by developing a model system and process for cooperative small-scale BSF production using locally-sourced materials, shifting from large centralized facilities to a decentralized approach.

 The primary objective is to design a prototype cooperative BSF production system suitable for small-scale operations in Africa, promoting self-sufficiency and sustainable insect protein production.

 The local partner organization, the chicken farm ET VOICI, in Benin will provide crucial support for fieldwork, data collection, ensuring the successful implementation of the cooperative BSF production system, tailored to the unique needs and resources of the region. This initiative aims to make BSF farming accessible to a broader population, fostering economic development and food security. ET VOICI will be able to provide local supervision, support in finding local accommodation, shared office, contacts with representatives of the University of Parakou et

Level: Bachelor/Master
Period: Summer 2024 or later
Supervisor: Prof. Wiedemann, Prof. Kleinke

Solar-Powered Incubators for Sustainable Poultry Farming in Benin

 In Benin, a country plagued by frequent power outages, poultry farmers rely on low-cost Chinese plastic incubators for hatching eggs. These unreliable incubators can lead to complete hatching failures when temperature control systems fail, exposing eggs to prolonged high temperatures. Benin’s poultry industry comprises traditional natural incubation methods, industrial partnerships with Chinese companies for Lohmann chicks, and DIY incubators made from repurposed items like dressers and old refrigerators, primarily used for specialty breeds. This project aims to explore the development of one or two solar-powered incubators, with capacities of 500 and 1000 eggs respectively, potentially in collaboration with an electrical engineering department. These incubators should serve as models, constructed from readily available materials by ensuring affordability and sustainability, and support the establishment of purebred poultry populations for both local breeding and commercial hatching.

 HSRW will provide crucial technical expertise and support for the development of solar-powered incubators, enhancing the project’s feasibility and impact on the poultry industry in Benin. Fieldwork for this research will be supported by a local partner organization, the ET VOICI chicken farm, in Benin, which will be able to provide local supervision, support in finding local accommodation, shared office, contacts with representatives of the University of Parakou etc

Level: Bachelor/Master
Period: Summer 2024 or later
Supervisor: Prof. Wiedemann, Prof. Kleinke

Exploring Adaptation of ‘Bielefelder Kennhuhn’ to African/Tropical Environments and Its Resilience to Disease

 Investigation about the adaptability of the popular ‘Bielefelder Kennhuhn’ breed to African and tropical conditions, considering factors such as feathering, diet, outdoor access, and pre-existing health conditions. Currently, a group of 6 ‘Bielefelder Kennhühner’ is experiencing a significant decrease in egg production, with just approximately 1 egg per week collectively. Additionally, one of the hens succumbed to avian influenza during a time when all roosters and hens were housed together.

 The study will involve extensive field observations, data collection on feathering, feeding practices, and health histories of the hens, as well as genetic analysis to understand their resilience to tropical conditions and potential disease susceptibility.

 Fieldwork for this research will be supported by a local partner organization, the ET VOICI chicken farm, in Benin, which will be able to provide local supervision, support in finding local accommodation, shared office, contacts with representatives of the University of Parakou etc.

Level: Bachelor/Master
Period: Summer 2024 or later
Supervisor: Prof. Wiedemann

Investigating Gumboro Disease’s Impact on Poultry Mortality and Gender Susceptibility

 The Gumboro disease poses a formidable challenge to poultry health, with the potential to devastate valuable breeding stock. This project delves into the insidious nature of Gumboro disease, which has led to the loss of a significant generation of prized chickens. Notably, male chickens seem to exhibit higher mortality rates compared to females, a gender-specific susceptibility that has not been extensively explored.

 This research can be conducted using qualitative/quantitative/mixed research methods, or involving a research stay at ET VOICI chicken farm in Benin, which will be able to provide local supervision, support in finding local accommodation, shared office, contacts with representatives of the University of Parakou etc.

Level: Bachelor/Master
Period: Summer 2024 or later
Supervisor: Prof. Wiedemann

Sustainable finance in agri-food businesses: Theory and empirical evidence.

Agri-food enterprises that claim to contribute to the resolution of critical development challenges such as sustainable food provision have attracted significant investments during the past decades, indicating that they represent an attractive investment opportunity for venture capitalists and investors (see also https://doi.org/10.1007/s10460-022-10383-6). Building on a review of the theoretical underpinnings of sustainable company finance, the research aims to review recent empirical case studies of financing models described in the literature and/or on corporate websites.

Level: Bachelor/ Master
Period: Summer Term 2023 or later
Supervising professor:
Prof. Merbecks

Caveats and Opportunities of Planting Urban Trees: Predictors for Effective Communication

Which are the factors that influence whether a public communication campaign for planting urban trees is effective? Which environmental and economic, social and cultural aspects of such initiatives foster or hinder their public acceptability? Which caveats and concerns, hopes and expectations do citizens express when confronted with plans for urban trees to be planted in their neighbourhood, and which are the communication measures these attitudinal changes correlate with?

Level: Bachelor/ Master
Period: Summer Term 2022 or later
Supervisor:
Prof. Gerber, Mr. Bomblat (Stadt Kleve)

Inventory of trees in urban green spaces of Kleve municipality.

An urban tree cadastre exists of roadside trees in Kleve. In contrast, information on trees growing on other urban green space in Kleve is not yet available. The thesis aims to contribute to establishing a database, using tree and forest inventory methods.

Level: Bachelor/ Master
Period: Summer Term 2022 or later
Supervisor:
Prof. Gebauer, Mr. Bomblat (Stadt Kleve)

Development of a horticultural concept of an “edible forest” for Kleve municipality.

The municipality of Kleve plans to establish a multi-species perennial “food/ edible forest” near the city centre; the concept serves to identify suitable tree and shrub species, their spatial arrangement, and develop a management concept.

Level: Bachelor/ Master
Period: Summer Term 2022 or later
Supervisor:
Prof. Gebauer, Mr. Bomblat (Stadt Kleve)

Analysing the heat reduction effect of urban trees in Kleve.

Trees in cities can contribute to reducing the Urban Heat Island effect during hot summer days, thereby contributing to reduced energy consumption (for air conditioners) and health problems resulting from heat stress, for example. This thesis aims to experimentally determine the magnitude of this effect for selected urban green spaces in Kleve.

Level: Bachelor/ Master
Period: Summer Term 2022 or later
Supervisor:
Prof. Kleinke, Mr. Bomblat (Stadt Kleve)

Analysis and recommendation of suitable urban tree species and management strategies under conditions of climate change.

Dry summers, the spread of non-native tree pests and other consequences of global warming put high stress on urban trees. This research, through a review of literature and expert interviews, aims to identify promising approaches for the city of Kleve to make its urban trees future proof, including species selection and tree management strategies.

Level: Bachelor/ Master
Period: Summer Term 2022 or later
Supervisor:
Prof. Gebauer, Mr. Bomblat (Stadt Kleve)

Analysis of vegetation and plant biodiversity around “Haus Balken”

Carrying out a tree inventory and vegetation survey. The site is located in Xanten, ca. 20 km away from the campus.

Level: Bachelor/ Master Period: Summer Term 2022 or later Supervising professor: Prof. Gebauer

Analysis of soil biota around “Haus Balken”

The site is located in Xanten, ca. 20 km away from the campus.

Level: Bachelor/ Master Period: Summer Term 2022 or later Supervising professor: Prof. Wichern

Analysis of the water status at Hohe/ Niedere Ley
Limnological analysis, investigation of macrozoobenthos and/or aquatic flora, nutrient analysis (possibly in 2 separate theses). The site is located in Xanten, ca. 20 km away from the campus.

Level: Bachelor/ Master Period: Summer Term 2022 or later Supervising professor: Prof. Tiedemann, Prof. Kleinke

Economic valuation of selected ecosystem services around “Haus Balken”

Economic analysis based on the primary data collected in the other student research projects at Haus Balken, secondary sources, surveys if necessary. The site is located in Xanten, ca. 20 km away from the campus.

Level: Bachelor/ Master
Period: After completion of vegetation, soil and water analyses, around Winter Term 2022-23 or later
Supervising professor:

Prof. Tiedemann

Analysis of ecosystem services and socioeconomic performance of traditional silvopastoral systems in the Brazilian Cerrado (several research topics)

The topic provides the opportunity for a field research stay in Brazil. The research will be carried out in the context of a DAAD-funded collaboration between HSRW, the Universidade Federal de Viçosa and Embrapa (national agricultural research institute located in Brasilia).

Level: Bachelor/ Master
Period: Anytime 2022-2023
Supervising professor:
Prof. Wichern, Prof. Becker and others

Analysis of ecosystem services and socioeconomic performance of agroforestry systems in Kyrgyzstan (several research topics)

The topic provides the opportunity for a field research stay in Kyrgyzstan, co-funded by the DAAD project. The research will be carried out in the context of a DAAD-funded collaboration between HSRW, ICRAF Central Asia (international agricultural research centre located in Bishkek) and further university partners.

Level: Bachelor/ Master
Period: Anytime 2022-2024
Supervising professor:
Prof. Wichern, Prof. Gebauer and others