Our first written exam

Hej hej,

today we had our first written exam during the Master´s program here at SLU.
As I told you before, our current course “Environmental Economics and Management” is dividid into two parts: economics and management. We had 5 hours time today to answer 33 questions about economics. It was definitely feasible!
For next week we are divided into three smaller groups and each group has to hand-in a short paper and will have a presentation about one of these topics: degrowth, circular economy and sharing economy. Quit interesting topics!
After this, we are finished with the economic part. One of the most cool things I learned during economics was how to value non marketed good and services, like ecosystem services. We got to know five different valuation techniques and discussed advantages and disadvantages of them. “Conventional”/Neo-classic economics hardly considers non-marketed values of environmental services. Environmental and ecological economics consider those values more and I think it so important to calculate also for externalities because otherwise our resources will become more scarce, damages in environment will become more and more irreversible and future generations will not have the choices we had.

For the next task we have one week time to prepare for, enough time to travel! We will go to Germany, pruning some trees, visiting friends and enjoying the six hours ferry from Trelleborg to Rostock! 😉

And yes, we are still planning the Agroecology day and it is so exciting! Till now we developed a topic and at the moment we are organising funding for our possible speakers, contacting the speakers and informing ourselves about the procedure of booking rooms at SLU and stuff like this. It still will take time to present you our fixed program but as you know: the greatest pleasure lies in the anticipation! 🙂

The first snowdrops. Spring is coming – maybe a bit too early?


Working as a farmer

Recently, I (Ludwig) was hired on a farm as part-time farmer here in Skåne. I was lucky to get this job because this farm needs some more working force, due to its conversion to organic. Organic farming means more work in several areas. For instance in the weed management it seems quite efficient, to spray herbicides and the weeds are mostly killed. In organic farming these external inputs are restricted. Therefore it is necessary to e. g. work the weeds mechanically, for instance with a harrow.

This job means to me to get more experienced in practical farming and to follow the operation flow of the farm during a longer time. I am happy that I can manage this beside the studies even though its only 1-2 days per week at the beginning. Furthermore, I can bring in some valuable experiences and knowledge that could help the farm developing further. I will keep you updated how it is going there.

At the moment the work focusses on maintenance and rebuilding and preparing machines for the coming season. For instance the harrow, that I talked about before, needs to be revised and repaired. By doing that I get to know all the machines that I am going to work with later.

The Einböck harrow, including a sowing unit (8m working width), in the workshop.

Kallbadhus (Sauna) in Bjärred

We already mentioned the traditional Sauna in this blog before. Therefore I want to write about it briefly to give an insight to you how amazing this activity can be. Several times now we have been in Bjärred, a town near Alnarp where you can find a Sauna in the almost middle of the sea! Yes, you heared right. The Kallbadhus in Bjärred is at the end of a landing stage, 600 Meters in the sea. If you think this is not amazing enough, guess what makes it even better? Directly from the hot Sauna you can take the stairs into the water! That makes you feeling your blood circulation very well. 😉

Kallbadhus in Bjärred: http://www.bjerredssaltsjobad.se

What do you do after Sauna? Of course: enjoy a cold beer. Where? Of course: in the restaurant, right next to the sauna, in the middle of the sea. Do you think that isn´t amazing? Well, then you maybe get impressed by the hundred of Swans that stay there over the winter. With the light from the Sauna it makes the evening even more marvellous.

Sunset and Swans in Bjärreds Kallbadhus with the view towards Malmö and the Öresund bridge.
When you arrive by daytime it looks like this. Enjoying the sunset through the big windows of the sauna is just amazing. You will never forget this.

Leisure time activities around Alnarp

You may wonder what a student on a campus like Alnarp is doing in his/ her leisure time? If you think that – here in Alnarp, in the middle of fields – we only chill in the park, next to the lecture halls or go for falafel to Lomma or Lund then you are not right. There is plenty more to experience.

The advantage of Alnarp is that it is located near to very interesting cities. As I mentioned there is Lund, a small town full of student life and culture. On the other side there is Malmö, a bit bigger in size and with interesting places to go as well. For instance have we been in a small cafe, near the Slottet (castle), where you can sit in a cozy old greenhouse with wooden tables and a stove in the corner. There you can experience a nice Fika with Kanelbullar (see https://blogg.slu.se/agroecology/2018/09/30/fika-with-friends/) or Semla (another Swedish traditional pastry) and have some rest from the freezing wind outside.

Follow the Link for more information about the cafe: http://slottstradgardenskafe.se
The nice little warming stove in the corner of the greenhouse at Slottsträdgårdens Kafe.

To the right you can see the little stove that helps heating up the greenhouse in the winter time. But probably in summertime the Slottsträdgården is worth a visit. Don´t miss it, when you are around in Malmö.

Another good thing you can do here in the region is to visit Copenhagen. It takes only one hour by train to go there, because of the famous Öresund-bridge that connects Sweden with Denmark (Malmö-Copenhagen). Copenhagen is a lively city with a lot to experience as well. Just one example is the great concert venue VEGA where we have been recently at a concert of an Australian singer, Matt Corby. Almost every day you can visit concerts of amazing artists there and in a lot more places around Copenhagen and Malmö.

VEGA impressed us so much, because the entire building is held in 60´s/ 70´s style with original interior and wood-covered walls. Above the concert hall there is a gallery where you can sit on old wooden folding chairs, like in a theatre. This setting, in contrast with amazing contemporary artists and a well mixed sound, makes up an unforgettable experience.

Matt Corby and Band in the venue VEGA, Copenhagen.

Africa´s Agriculture & entrepreneurship

Hej,
so today I want to talk a bit about the involvement of SLU in international projects, especially about one with Agcelerate.

The multi-stakeholder partnership initiative Agcelerate was founded in 2017 by a small group of researchers, academics and social entrepreneurs. Agcelerate focus on linking academics research in agriculture with practice. At the core of Agcelerate are north-south linkages. One main idea of Agcelerate is to bring together students from Sweden and Africa. The focus will be exchange of knowledge and experiences and on entrepreneurship in agriculture. Students from Sweden get involved in the whole field of agriculture in Africa during their visit there, for example involvement in agribusiness. The last visit from Swedish students was in Uganda, where a lot of small scale agricultural entrepreneurships are developing. The projects, in cooperation with the SLU, are also dealing with scaling up those start-up in the agribusiness to become even more sustainable and larger.

On the website of Agcelerate you can also find a video of Prof. Kostas Karantininis who is a professor at Alnarp and he had some lecture in our current course as well.
Follow the link and be inspired: http://agcelerateglobal.org

Maybe one day when you are here you will be also part of this exchange! 😉

Environmental economics and management

Hej,

since one week now we have a new course, called “Environmental economics and management”. This course is organised by two female PhD students who are sharing the lectures: one is talking about the economic part and the other one is responsible for the management part with which we will deal later on in the course. Since it is a new semester, a lot of our fellow students lefts because they were here only for one semester (exchange students). That is a bit sad but some of our friends stayed which makes everything much more fun!

So far we learned the basics in economics which sounds now boring to you but it is really interesting. We are dealing with problems like how to measure the environment monetary, how can we deal with ecosystem services which have no market price and how can we maintain common goods which are over used by society. These are some examples which we are focusing on. Of course, to understand the principles and mechanisms of the economic system you have to learn at first the basics. If you have studied something with economics before it is a lot of repetition in the beginning, as it is for us, but there is always something new and we will more and more apply the principles we learned on real cases and the reality in general.
Today for example we had a role play where we represented different stakeholders who have to evaluate costs and benefits of an intervention in the environment. For this week we also have to do a lot of assignments: reading, answering questions in groups and prepare a 5 minute-presentation about a country and its efforts for a sustainable development. So as you can see, there is always something to do. But therefore we only have two days lecture during this week. 😉

Incidentally, we are working on organising the Agroecology day which is a lot of fun! More details about that are coming later, we are still in progress 🙂

Climate change, local innovation and the Global Goals

Today we went with some friends for a talk about climate change, local innovation and the Global Goals to Malmö. It was an free event, organised by Malmö United Nations Association. The focus was on local innovators and entrepreneurs who have creative ideas for a more sustainable world. We will present you the small heroes of our daily lives:

Package-free store: “Gram” is an package-free grocery store in Malmö which tries to sell products without producing waste.

Signs made by sustainable material: Accus is a company which designs and installs signs of durable materials.

An architect and researcher talked about how to face the global challenges of today with architecture and urban construction, e.g. against the background of population growth or unused space in crowded cities.

SwopShop: This is a shop where you can easily get rid of your clothes, shoes, etc. and swop them to “new” ones. It is a great opportunity to renew the content of your wardrobe!

Urban Farming: There is a small-scale urban farm in Malmö which produces different kind of crops on 2500m2. They are using hand tools, organic seeds and different composting methods (Bokashi, worm compost) to get a fertile and good structured soil. The farm delivers products to restaurants as well.

All this was very inspiring and gave us new motivation and hope to work further on a more sustainable society where everyone takes care for each other.
Like the motto I found somewhere: Keep your friends close and your farmers closer. 🙂

All speakers from the talk about local innovations organised by Malmö United Nations Association


South Scania Waste Company

Today we started at campus a visit to the waste company SYSAV in Malmö. When we arrived, we got a tour in the bus through the area. It was impressive how large the industrial area is. Afterwards, we had a lecture from one guy of the company inside the building with tea & coffee. He was really inspiring and connected the waste problems of our society today on a global scale. We also discussed the scenario where you live in a house and are not allowed to throw away anything: no garbage bins, no compost. You can´t even burn due to emissions through the chimney. Just think about a bit what you would do – it is quit hard 😉
SYSAV collects all forms of waste from households and industries in southern Skåne, and also gets waste from Great Britian (SYSAV gets payed for “recycling” the waste). Every day, 600-800 trucks arrive there and unload the waste (you can see this unload-station on the picture). The company considers waste a resource which should be reused and recycled. A lot of the food waste is transformed into slurry which is delivered to biogas stations. They are also “producing” heat, energy and compost.

If you are interested in learning more about waste, follow the link: https://www.sysav.se/en/

SYSAV – waste collection station

2nd Agroecology Europe Forum

Here comes a short spoiler: who ever thinks that holidays in Crete, Greece could be a nice idea for this autumn is right! In the last week of September (26-28, 2019) there will the 2nd Agroecology Europe Forum take place. 

Agroecology Forum Europe
Announcement of the 2nd Agroecology Europe Forum.

From experiences of older agroecology students we have heard that this forum could be a great opportunity to get in touch with some agroecologists and exchange some valuable thoughts. So why not joining? A few students from Alnarp are thinking to join this meeting, if you are interested – save the date. Information about this are going to come sooner or later. We will keep you updated here as well but you can check out their website or Facebook page for further information: 

http://agroecology-europe.org

https://www.facebook.com/AgroecologyEurope/

Hello Sweden again!

I´m back in Sweden again. I have had a nice time with friends and family abroad and in my home country, but now it was time for me to come back to Alnarp. On Monday my classes are starting again. It will be the last two weeks of the course Agroecology and Sustainability of production systems. 

As Jana already told you, I have finished my individual Assignment (writing a paper about perennial arable crops) before Christmas.  This decision of the teachers to set the deadline before Christmas was not too stressful but made the holidays around Christmas really relaxing. No stress, no thought in the head about pending deadlines.

Therefore, the next two weeks will be hopefully relaxed as well as interesting. The schedule says that we are going to talk about designing sustainable production systems. Because talking about problems is not enough: we need solutions! I am looking forward to get some new ideas how to make agriculture a bit more sustainable.

If you like, leave a comment here which topics you would like to read about more this year. 🙂 

Cheers, Ludwig