Master Research Unit Agrofood Systems for the MSc Environment and Natural Resources
Are you interested in sustainable food production and distribution? The MRU Agrofood Systems allows you to participate in creating solutions to current challenges.
This specialisation is focused on issues of great social relevance: What form must agricultural production and the food production supply chain take in the future in order to safeguard the food supply of the population, without destroying their own production bases? Methods and procedures are needed that enable a shift towards productive, sustainable and simultaneously more resource efficient agriculture. In addition to examining solutions, the Agrofood Systems specialisation involves studying and researching related socio-economic conditions and developments.
As a Master of Science ZFH in Environment and Natural Resources specialising in Agrofood Systems, you will:
- know the requirements of sustainable food systems in terms of food security, rural development and resource conservation.
- be able to analyse the importance of agriculture for rural development as well as its interactions with other fields (nature conservation, landscape, tourism) in Switzerland and abroad, and develop optimisation strategies.
- identify sustainability conflicts within the food value chain and design solutions for sustainable production and supply chains.
- be familiar with tools for controlling food production and consumption systems (sensitisation and communication); you will be able to estimate and analyse their effects.
Would you like to know where your career path could take you after graduation? We present an outlook on our career page.
As part of your Master's thesis, you will develop your own ideas and concepts to solve scientific challenges. This will enable you to tackle complex issues independently in your future professional life. You will be able to apply and develop scientific methods, even in new or multidisciplinary contexts.
You will write your Master's thesis within your chosen research unit. The content of the thesis can be adapted to your interests and the current project status. The following selection in German and English gives an insight into the possible subjects.
Research groups at the Institute of Environment and Natural Resources
You will spend half of your study time in the research group of your choice. This allows for individual specialization and gives you a deeper insight into research and development work. Already during your studies you will build up a professional network with our partners from industry and research. You will complete your Master Studio (Project Work 1 and 2 as well as Master Thesis) in the selected research group.
Agricultural and Resource Economics Research Group
"We evaluate programmes and instruments of agricultural policy and development cooperation. Based on this, we formulate recommendations with the objective of increasing productivity and sustainability in agriculture and along the food value chains. In our projects, we use quantitative approaches to socio-economic research to develop application-oriented solutions for decision-makers in politics and business." Raushan Bokusheva, Head of Research Group
- Productivity and sustainability in the agricultural and food sectors
- Economics of climate change and risk management
- Innovation systems and innovation in the agri-food industry
Soil Ecology Research Group
"We are committed to the sustainable use of soil as a resource and thus to the long-term preservation of soil fertility. In addition to the water balance, we are also interested in the effect(s) of different soil management and fertilisation on soil organisms, soil structure and nutrient availability in agriculture." Beatrice Kulli, Head of Research Group
- Irrigation in times of climate change
- Protection of the soil against contamination or compaction
- Holistic approaches to nutrient cycles in agriculture
Geography of Food Research Group
"We address local and global issues relating to sustainability in the food system. As an interdisciplinary team, we develop solutions and approaches at every level of the value chain, from the field to the plate." Isabel Jaisli, Head of Research Group
- Diversification potential in agriculture
- Impact of food imports in producer countries
- Innovations for a resource-efficient food culture
Horticulture Research Group
"Our research in centred on agricultural plants. We contribute to the sustainable production of healthy agricultural products, in the process focussing on the entire spectrum from low-input agricultural systems to digitisation, robotics and genomics." Johannes Fahrentrapp, Research Associate
- Production of vegetables, fruits, ornamental plants, fibre plants and viticulture
- Promotion of soil fertility and plant health
- Alternative production systems
Sustainability Communication / Environmental Education Research Group
"We want to win people over to more sustainable behaviour. With this goal in mind, we combine techniques from behavioural psychology, education, communication and art. We analyse which drivers and obstacles influence people's actions so that we are able to implement effective measures." Urs Müller, Head of Research Group
- Environmental Education and Education for Sustainable Development
- Methods and techniques of behavioural change
- Storytelling, visual and scenographic communication in the form of narrative environments
Life Cycle Assessment Research Group
"We assess the ecologically sustainability of food, agricultural production systems and nutritional styles. For this purpose, we specifically use ecobalance methods, i.e. Life Cycle Assessment, which considers the entire life cycle. Our commitment to research and education contributes to the further development of methods of ecobalance and to integrating life cycle thinking as the basis for ecological decisions in science, business, politics and society." Matthias Stucki, Head of Research Group
- Ecological hotspots in value chains of the agricultural and food industry
- Ecological footprint of new technologies, food trends and nutritional styles
- Strategies for environmental optimisation and increasing resource efficiency
Phytomedicine Research Group
"We develop new strategies and methods for biological crop protection and seek application-oriented solutions for practical use. We work with beneficial and harmful organisms in the micro- and macrocosm, and focus on agricultural crops and horticulture." Jürg Grunder, Head of Research Group
- Development of new biological pesticides and control strategies against diseases and pests
- Optimised use of pesticides through monitoring and new consulting concepts
- Monitoring and regulation of harmful organisms using traps and fragrances
Regional Development Research Group
"We deal with current issues of regional development on a national and international level. Together with local stakeholders, we seek practical solutions for the sustainable development of rural and mountain areas. In concrete projects, we develop new approaches in nature parks and communities for improving landscape quality, adapting to climate change and for sustainable value chains." Peter Marty, Head of Research Group
- Enabling and accompanying innovation processes in nature parks and regions by establishing networks between active parties
- Impact assessment of climate change and corresponding adaptations with respect to topics pertaining to rural and mountain areas
- Innovation networks for municipalities in the areas of value creation systems, regional agricultural products, biodiversity and landscape quality
Tourism and Sustainable Development Research Group
"Our emphasis is on the interface of landscape, tourism, agriculture and population in peripheral alpine regions. Based on regional economic, political and socio-cultural approaches, we investigate and initiate development processes. Practical work and close cooperation with the population, e.g. in the establishment of national and regional nature parks, is our main focus. In this way we revitalise rural areas, build regional value chains, create exchange platforms and opportunities for cooperation, and stimulate innovative and sustainable regional development." Rebecca Göpfert, Head of Research Group
- Sustainable tourism, cultural tourism, agrotourism, product development
- Regional development projects, development and completion of value chains
- International and national nature parks - together with the population, bringing regional nature and cultural values to life
- Mountain regions and (mountain) agriculture
Environmental Genomics and Systems Biology Research Group
"We focus on deciphering the life processes of plant pathogenic bacteria and fungi using genomic methods and we develop molecular biological tools for the diagnosis of agriculturally important organisms in the field." Joël Pothier, Research Fellow
- Genomics and bioinformatics of phytopathogenic bacteria
- Molecular biological detection of various organisms or pathogens (pests)
- Molecular ecology using population genetic methods, including metagenomics
Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL)
"Our goal is sustainable food production in Switzerland and internationally. This requires production systems that simultaneously promote animal welfare, make sustainable use of cultivated land and contribute to food justice. We develop appropriate solutions." Matthias Stolze, Research Fellow and MSc ENR Coordinator
- Potential of organic farming systems to reduce climate change
- Grassland-based milk and beef production: animal health and sustainability
- Sustainability and productivity of organic farming systems in Africa